Sunday, September 2, 2018

Rauscher Revisited

Tom Ewing has previously provided this excellent post about author/magician William Rauscher and his wonderful throwout card.   While I don't have Tom's extensive experience with Bill Rauscher, I had the great fortune of seeing Bill perform in 2016 at the New England Magic Collectors' Association (NEMCA), where he offered a wonderful, full evening stage show.

It was a classic performance, featuring this gentlemanly star and some intriguing, beautiful magic pieces, including Aerial Fishing and the Flags of All Nations.

This spring I bumped into Mr. Rauscher at the New England Magicians Conference (NEMCON), and inquired as to whether I could obtain one of his throwout cards for my collection.  Mr. Rauscher, true to form, generously offered to send me one, and we exchanged contact information.  A few weeks later, a package arrived which not only contained the aforementioned scaling card (as pictured in Tom's post), but two other items of interest.  The first is a commemorative token featuring Mr. Rauscher.  While I'm no expert on tokens (which prove much more difficult to photograph than throwing cards), it's one of the prettiest tokens I've seen.

The second item is even more relevant to our discussions here.  Bill provided me with a copy of a baseball card-style collectible produced by an outfit called Big League cards.  This charming piece, seen above, nicely showcases our star and provides a succinct biographical summary on the reverse.  And what kid didn't dream of being featured on a baseball trading card?

Turns out, though, Mr. Rauscher isn't the only magician appearing on this line of trading cards.   Poking around the Internet, I turned up card for "Mr. Fun, the Fun Fun Man" (identified as Nick Tomei), as well as a card promoting Ray Goulet's Magic Museum (conveniently dated 1991).

Several years back, our friend Bill Mullins made some inquiries about these unusual trading cards, and learned a little of their history.  Big League Cards were produced by a firm founded by retired professional pitcher Jim Bouton,  who wanted to produce affordable short-run trading cards.  The prices proved too reasonable, and the firm eventually folded.  However, it left some terrific collectibles that may be obtained by collectors.  Mr. Mullins has collected several very interesting specimens, including pieces for famed magic author Herman Hanson, Silent Mora, Walter Gibson, and his wife Litza.  Images of several of these, along with related tokens, appear below.

Several of these cards appear to sport caricatures by magic artist Alan Wassilak.  Thanks to Bill Mullins for sharing these images and to Bill Rauscher for providing this interesting material.  

You can read more about Bill Rauscher's career here.

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