Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sid Hamed and Mac Urga "Always Use Öberg's Playing Cards"

"Sid Hamed always uses Öberg's
 Playing Cards at his performances."
Today's post is the tale of  two semi-professional magicians from Sweden, Sid Hamed and Mac Urga, and the nation's largest playing card company, Öberg's Spelkort, which translates to Öberg's Playing Cards.   First a word about the playing cards: Joseph Oscar Öberg, who is credited with developing the standard Swedish playing card deck (which differs from that found in other countries) founded a printing company in 1845.  He travelled to the U.S. to study printing techniques, and the company eventually ventured into lithography and still continues operations today (though now owned by Cartamundi).

Poster for Sid Hamed
Our first performer is Sid Hamed (Pehr Logander 1921-2003), This fine-looking fellow was a very active semi-professional magician who performed 50 shows each summer in Sweden's public parks. He had another calling, however: Hamed was an executive who introduced the game of Bingo to Sweden.  This endeavor proved quite profitable, such that he spent many years wintering in Las Vegas frequenting all of the illusion shows that "The Strip" has to offer. His fine throwing card, seen here, features a handsome, evocative portrait and charming period typography.  It also has an interesting back, featuring advertising by Öberg's Playing Cards.  It roughly translates to "Sid Hamed always uses Öberg's Playing Cards at his performances."  Clearly, like the co-branding deal offered by Bicycle Playing Cards, and other companies, Öberg's saw the marketing potential of subsidizing the production of throwout cards for magicians.
Which brings us to our second performer, Mac Urga.  His throwing card, moody and brooding, has always numbered among my favorites:

Mac Urga (Björn Barck-Holst 1897-1949) was dentist in Stockholm.  He was a frequent performer but never accepted any payment for his performances, donating all proceeds of his shows to The Red Cross.  Magic magazines in the 1940s document several appearances by Urga, and a feature in The Perennial Mystics describes him as "an estimable amateur magician in Sweden and the neighboring countries [and] a great collector of magical literature, apparatus, posters, programmes, etc."  Like Hamed's card, the backs of Urga's monochromatic cards also feature an ad for Oberg's: 

And while continuing to examine the trove of cards obtained from the Swedish Magic Archives, I have come across a number of beautiful card backs that, I am advised, were manufactured by Öberg's Playing Cards.  Check these out:

And what wonder workers grace the faces of these cards?  More to follow . . .

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