Friday, November 9, 2018

Zennia – "Mystifying Wonder"

When composing a post for Propelled Pasteboards, I like to find out as much information as I can about the magician who had the throw-out card made. Try as I might however, sometimes there is just very little to go on as to their history. I am afraid this is one of those times, though just because little can be found, we still need to display these interesting examples of throw-out cards from long ago.
Zennia Throw-out Card with a Bicycle Red League Back.
Zennia the magician was in reality a man named Will H. Adams. He was from Kansas City and besides being into magic, he was also known as a very fine musician. The magic magazine The Sphinx thought enough of Zennia to feature him on the cover for their November 1904 issue, and to write this brief biography of him.
I found a reference to an Edmon Zennia in The Cherokee Sentinel in Cherokee, Kansas from November 18, 1898. While the first name is different, they referred to him as “the distinguished magician” and mentioned that “He is also a fine musician and cannot be excelled on the banjo.  The mandolin-guitar took the eyes of everyone”. It appears to me that this is our man. The Sentinel went on to say that “He expects to play in this city sometime during the coming season and it will pay all to attend”.
Zennia also tried his hand at being a magic dealer. He created some of his own effects, and advertised them in The Sphinx. Here are two of them from the April 1906 issue. At $5.00 and $2.50, they could be considered rather expensive tricks for that period of time.
In 1908 he advertised his own catalog in The Sphinx. It had his image on the cover and was the same image that he used on his throw-out card. In a Potter and Potter auction held on October 31, 2015, one of these catalogs from 1908 was sold.
There is not a lot about Will H. Adams or “Zennia” written in the magic journals after the early nineteen hundreds. I could not pin down his birth or death dates as there are many William H. Adams out there. There was another magician named William H. Adams, but he was from Connecticut and died in 1962. As he was born in 1891, that would have Zennia as being 7 years old when he was written up in The Cherokee Sentinel back in 1898. I would pretty much venture, they were not the same man.

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