Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ben Franklin IV – An Extraordinary Card Thrower! by Jay Hunter

[Jay Hunter, whose generosity knows no bounds, has drafted this wonderful post for us, along with some additional specimens from his collection.  Thanks, Jay! -Judge Brown]

Benjamin  Franklin IV was a high school principal in Point Pleasant,  West Virginia.  He was born on December 27, 1913 in Point Pleasant.  Besides his day job, for many years he was active as a semi-professional  magician. I found many references to him on the “Ask Alexander” search engine.  Many of these references alluded to the claim the he indeed was a descendant of “THE” Ben Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States.

Franklin was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and was even the President of Ring # 197 in Parkersburg, West Virginia in 1977. The “Linking Ring” through the years had many glowing things to say about him. The one thing they said he really excelled at was his card throwing.

In the March 1958 issue, they had an article on the 27th Columbus Magi-Fest held in February of 1958. C. L. Schmitt wrote, “Ben Franklin IV not only thrilled all by duplicating Thurston’s great card tossing feat, but graciously glided a card into my waiting fingers.  You could sense the thrill of excitement of the magicians as he sent many cards to the audience, including top seats exactly to where he pointed, a la Thurston.  He also tossed cards through five stretched sheets of newspaper spaced one foot apart.  The ovation he received for his nostalgic performance was well deserved”. The clipping here showing Franklin in action is from that performance and is courtesy of the “Linking Ring”.

Here's Franklin circa 1960 performing his signature cigarette act.

In the April 1965 issue of M-U-M, in discussing the 37th annual S.A.M. convention this was written, “One of the acts at the S.A.M. convention will be Ben Franklin IV and, for most of us attending, we will see card throwing for the first time.  THURSTON taught BEN and taught him properly since the guarantee is that cards can be scaled over a six-story building and, certainly, from the stage to the most distant point in the auditorium.”

Here's a rare window card used by Franklin in his "hey-day".

In July of 1971, John Braun wrote an article entitled “On Throwing A Card” in the “Linking Ring”.  Braun wrote, “This inquiry into the art of throwing a card was inspired by seeing the unbelievable exhibition of Card Throwing by Ben Franklin IV at the 40th annual Magi-Fest, Columbus, Ohio, last February.  Ben not only shot cards with great accuracy to any part of the large ballroom, but topped his exhibition by throwing cards through an opened sheet of newspaper held like a target by two assistants.  The cards burst through the paper like darts, cutting it to shreds”.

I have included several examples of Franklin’s cards that he used. I found it fascinating to be able to read about Franklin’s skill at actually scaling his throw-out cards, as opposed to just handing them out, as so many magicians did as advertisements.

Here's another family pleasing window card that was used.

This is BFIV's older brother Carter Long Franklin

Benjamin Franklin IV died on January 21, 1986 in Gallipolis, Ohio and was buried in his hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Nice post folks. BFIV was my great uncle and it was wonderful to read this article. He taught me to throw cards as a child when we’d visit in Point Pleasant WV. Unfortunately I never mastered the art as he had.

    One correction to the post I’d make is that the photo of him in his later years is actually of his older brother, my grandfather, Carter Long Franklin.

    Again, thank you for the post and the pleasant memory of my uncle.

    Carter Long Franklin III (Trey)

  3. Wow, Carter, thanks for the comments and the correction. If you have any other photos, materials or information you'd like to share, we'd be happy to post it here on the site. A biography of E.J. Moore written by his granddaughter has proved to be one of our most popular posts!

    Thanks again.

  4. My grandparents owned and lived in Ben Franklin's former home in Point Pleasant for many years. They personally restored the home and discovered many interesting artifacts from his days as a magician during the renovation process.

    There were several original versions of the 'window cards' and playing cards pictured in your article. On the second floor was a large wooden contraption that I recall being told was a 'cut the woman in half' box.

    One of the more interesting finds was in the kitchen. When my grandparents removed the old drop ceiling, they discovered the original 10'-12' ceiling had been covered with dozens of period playing cards, which were glued to it and scattered randomly across the ceiling.

    The cards were removed during the renovation, but when the work was complete, my grandfather placed one of the original playing cards back on the ceiling.

    He had fun with this playing card, letting family & friends know that the card would mysteriously move positions every night, showing up in a different location on the ceiling every morning. Sure enough, the playing card would always be in a different spot when I would wake up and come down to the kitchen. We accused him of moving it since he was always the first one up, but he pointed out that the ceilings were so tall he couldn't possibly reach the card.

    Many great times were had in that home, and I thank Ben Franklin for continuing his magic and entertaining our family long after he passed.