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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Flavors from the past... » » Cost of magic ... then and now (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

docguitarman
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Thousand Oaks, California
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The subject of Vic Lawston and the House of a Thousand Mysteries came up recently. Rekindled my youthful memories and led me to buy a copy of a 1961 Lawston catalog... appears to be exactly the one I had!

So after reading it through again (nearly 60 years later!) I wondered what my set of tricks I had in my magic show would cost today!

Here, for our amusement and without further ado is the list (first, after name of the trick, is the price in 1961 found in the "House of a 1000 Mysteries" catalog followed by prices today ... found by representative google search!)
A subtitle of this post might be the "Diminishing Dollar" !

Linking Rings 2.50 20.00
Rice bowls 1.00 4.70
Chinese Egg bag 1.00 5.95
billiard balls 0.50 4.00
spirit nut 0.98 7.50
miracle floating ball 3.00 15.00
transparent vanishing silks tube ??? ???
Svengali deck 1.00 3.50
mental photography deck 2.50 8.95
haunted deck 1.50 4.60
electric deck 2.50 5.95
two card Monte 0.50 ? 2.50
three card Monte 0.50 ? 3.50
Repeat Bill mystery or
multiplying dollars 1.25 9.00
viz escape 0.50 1.95
tube and ribbon rope escape ???
chain escape 1.00 4.50
vanishing quarter in water 0.25 2.00
card through coaster
(fantastic mystery) 1.00 5.95
Thumb Tip 0.50 2.00
hooked coins 0.50 12.00
cups and balls 0.75 3.50
multiplying rabbits 0.50 3.00
penny to dime 0.50 6.95
devils box 0.50 3.50
nickels to dimes 1.00 10.00
card penetration frame 2.50 7.95
silk to egg miracle egg 1.25 3.60
Chinese sticks 1.95 10.00
two color changing silk 3.50 12.50
Jumping Gems/ jamboree jewels 1.00 3.00
Lota water vase 1.50 5.30
color vision cube box 1.00 3.00
upside down glasses 0.50 1.00
wonder blocks 0.65 4.00
enchanted block (cubio) 0.98 6.50
ball and tube 0.50 4.00
finger chopper 1.00 4.50
Chinese secret bottle 0.79 6.00
folding coin 1.00 20.00
magicians egg bag 1.95 10.00
pop bottle trick 0.35 0.75
spirit slates 0.98 9.00
shrinking cards 1.00 17.95
royal magic card box 2.00 5.00
mirror glass 1.50 10.00
circle to square 1.00 8.23
Hindoo color tags 0.50
magic vanisher (pull) 0.50 6.00
Deland automatic deck 1.50 9.95
brainwave deck 1.50 6.50
magic milk pitcher 3.50 17.95
rising wand 1.50 5.00
miracle book test 1.00
card in picture frame
multiplying coin tray 0.49 2.73
spring flowers load 1.00 est. 4.50
enchanted card 0.25 (old style flap card with metal wire spring)
Magic producto box 3.00 15.00 est.
Total $67.37 $370.41
daffydoug
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Look mom! I've got
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What a trip down memory lane! *sigh*

I often pine for those long gone, golden days of yesteryear!

I remember well Lou Tannen's catalog and my first purchase as as Airman serving my country. My first taste of the wonders of the world of magic! Then there was the Mark Wilson Course In Magic...

It sure would be nice to be able to turn back the clock.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
farmerkarl
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If you think about it in 1960 money $1.30 is a hair over 1oz fine silver so the old prices are more then the new prices. Of course the quality of the old tricks is prob way better the the stuff you can buy today.

But whatever it is daffydoug is correct nice trip down memory lane.

Thanks
meridianfan
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Quote:
On Jun 22, 2018, farmerkarl wrote:
If you think about it in 1960 money $1.30 is a hair over 1oz fine silver so the old prices are more then the new prices.



The internet prices listed are much cheaper than I think we could find in a conventional B&M shop today. It costs less to operate a website these days than a conventional shop, so some of that savings is passed onto the consumer contributing to the cheaper prices. Also true they don't make things the way they used to, and quality has likely suffered.

Great post and thanks for sharing.
docguitarman
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Thousand Oaks, California
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Quote:
On Jun 23, 2018, meridianfan wrote:
Quote:
On Jun 22, 2018, farmerkarl wrote:
If you think about it in 1960 money $1.30 is a hair over 1oz fine silver so the old prices are more then the new prices.

The internet prices listed are much cheaper than I think we could find in a conventional B and M shop today.


True. Some of beginner tricks I listed typically go for around $5.95 (or more) at a B and M.

The comparison I made was a 1960's mail order catalog (Vick Lawston) with today's web prices... should be roughly an apples to apples comparison. Of course my price checking was just a quick search also, so mileage may vary Smile
daviddelrey
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It kills me when I purchase something for a couple hundred bucks at auction or on eBay and it arrives with the very original $2.75 sticker on it.
meridianfan
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On Jul 28, 2018, Saint-Pol wrote:
It kills me when I purchase something for a couple hundred bucks at auction or on eBay and it arrives with the very original $2.75 sticker on it.


I know how this feels. I have a few Tenyo items like this- an Ultra Tube with a $3.50 sticker on it!
Dick Oslund
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Yeah! My first purchase was of a PROP, NOT A TRICK! --'CUZ YA CANNOT BUY TRICKS! --A TRICK, somewhat like MUSIC, only exists while it is being PERFORMED! (If you stop dragging the rosin soaked horse hair, over the catgut strings, the music ceases!)

My first PROP purchase from Percy Abbott, in the spring of 1945, was a Brakawa Fan. It had BRASS "ribs" and SILK RIBBON was the "cover". It was $1.75, and, Percy paid the postage!

For a buck seventy five, in those days, you could have a very nice dinner! (sirloin steak, baked potato, vegetable, salad. --and, often, a scoop of ice cream AND coffee or teal!!!

That fan, after about 20 years, finally got a new ribbon. I retired it ten years later, when I bought the last five of the Ed Miller fans,in stock, from Jay Marshall. They were lighter (fiber ribs) and as good, or better than Abbott's. I've been using one of Ed's fans, since about the mid '70s. A few years later, I began selling the rest of Ed's fans! (about #10 each!).

My fan routine always gets a half dozen LAUGHS, AND APPLAUSE at the finish, and, on two occasions, I received a STANDING OVATION, in high schools! I wrote the routine in my book.

That first $1.75 fan, lasted until I learned how to PRESENT it. I think I paid $5,00 each for the Ed Miller fans. I quadrupled my investment, when I sold the Ed Millers!

I consider that first $1.75, and the $25.00 for the Millers, an INVESTMENT, that really paid off!

Most of the TRICKS in my show came from Doc Tarbell. (The PROPS, except for a Jeff Busby made Mardo Egg Bag, $5.00, like new, at a swap meet, 3 linking rings about $20.00, a big needle, $10.00, a Pom pom stick, $10.00 -used-, a comedy balloon pump, $10.00, a Mutilated Parasol, $25,00, used, and a Disecto, $100.00, used, and, a Stan Payne bunny, that doesn't eat (!!) about $10.00. The rest of the PROPS are generic (silks. rope, cards, bucket for Misers Dream,) etc. Those simple props were my tools to make a good living with for 50 years! (I have never spent money on the "latest and greatest".)
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Mad Jake
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All the voices in my head helped me make
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My dad's first Bob Kline Swirl It Box from Tannen's Magic was 35.00. He had another he purchased from John Mendoza, which like all of John's items was Pristine, 350.00.
For quality Paul Fox Cups spun on Danny Dew's Paul Fox tooling visit us at www.airshipmagic.com
Dick Oslund
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OH! For those interested.....Ya can't BUY "MAGIC"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MAGIC ONLY EXISTS IN THE MIND(S) OF THE SPECTATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
meridianfan
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@Dick- I think you made your point earlier. No need for the CAPS and excessive exclamation points.
docguitarman
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Of course, the phrase uses a figure of speech called "synecdoche!" Title is short hand for "Cost of apparatus for producing deceptions in the minds of the beholder!" Smile

BTW, no offense taken by me.
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On Dec 31, 2018, meridianfan wrote:
@Dick- I think you made your point earlier. No need for the CAPS and excessive exclamation points.


So! I'm 87, I don't know how to italicize. Anyhow, THAT'S the way I talk! (!!!)
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On Dec 31, 2018, docguitarman wrote:
Of course, the phrase uses a figure of speech called "synecdoche!" Title is short hand for "Cost of apparatus for producing deceptions in the minds of the beholder!" Smile

BTW, no offense taken by me.


Good response doc! --Only "apparatus" is a very antiquated term from the 1700s!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On Jan 1, 2019, Dick Oslund wrote:
Quote:
On Dec 31, 2018, docguitarman wrote:
Of course, the phrase uses a figure of speech called "synecdoche!" Title is short hand for "Cost of apparatus for producing deceptions in the minds of the beholder!" Smile

BTW, no offense taken by me.


Good response doc! --Only "apparatus" is a very antiquated term from the 1700s!
heehee I don't know how to make that cartoon face!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
martini
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delta, pennsylvania
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Greetings Doc;
That was a trip down memory lane.

Dick, I just wanted to say thank you for writing your excellent book. I have
enjoyed every page of it. This is the type of material that our younger generation
should be reading instead of trying to do a double undercut single handed butterfly
swivel with a rolling caterpillar reversal all in one hand. lol (I'm sure that you
understand) With so much vanishing today, keeping history alive in magic is one of
the most important things we can all do and I tip my hat to you and encourage anyone
who does not have your book, to BUY IT NOW !

My memory lane scares the hell out of me for my Grandsons who are just starting
into magic. Back when I was a kid, I worked a paper route and bagged groceries as
well as working in my uncles restaurant to save up and buy my first Illusion:

Abbott's Temple of Benares in 1971 the price was $275.00 Today Abbott's lists it
at $6,000.00

I bought my Chinese Idol in 1972 for $195.00 (my Mother demanded that I use my sister
in shows so I had to get something big. Today Abbott's price is $4,000.00

The cost of everything keeps going up, yet for us old guys, the nite clubs are gone,
the Poconos and Catskills resorts are finished, now they cater to casino and family
vacations, and the only entertainment they seem to have is a D.J. So now we have to
think outside the box and look for work in other areas where the compensation is not
what it used to be either.

Just my thoughts, but read all you can about magic history, it really is the last thing
we have to hold onto. & Buy Dick's Book!

All the Best
Marty
Dick Oslund
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Hey Martini! Thanks for your very kind thoughts! I never thought, as a 16 year old, that, one day, I would write a book that would sell around the world! I wrote it for fellows like yourself, who know that: "Those who don't study history, are "condemned" to repeat it!"

When you wrote your post, I was in the VA Hospital 'fighting" cancer. I wasn't posting much! The 29 radiation treatments were successful. I'm in remission!

I'll try to be a contributing member again. I've retired from the road, 10 years ago but, I still do an occasional date (with the same old act!). They still laugh! --And applaud! (I was fortunate to have had GOOD MENTORS!!!)

The orders still come in with requests for the book, and the dvd, so I keep the post office folks busy! Your "ENDORSEMENT" helps!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
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