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Percy Abbott biography

Biography of Percy Abbott (1886 - 1960), Australian magician, American magic dealerBiography of Percy Abbott (1886 – 1960), Australian magician, American magic dealer

Percy Abbott (May 3, 1886 – August 26, 1960) was an Australian magician and magic dealer who founded Abbott’s Magic Novelty Company in Colon, Michigan. At one time, Percy Abbott’s business was  the largest manufacturer and retailer of magic tricks and stage illusions in the world.

Percy Abbott was born in Braidwood, Australia on May 3, 1886, as one of four children. Early interests included theater and magic.  As a boy, he participated in amateur theatrical productions and discovered magic and ventriloquism. In the early 1920s, Percy Abbott found himself performing regularly in Sydney and other Australian towns, eventually working for a company that supplied magicians with the tricks of their trade, the New York Novelty Co. Percy Abbott would eventually open his own supply house for magicians, called the Abbott’s Magic Novelty Co., on Pitt St. in downtown Sydney. He continued performing and was reportedly one of the first magicians to perform the Sawing a woman in half illusion in Australia. Percy Abbott turned the reins of his magic shop over to his brother Frank, and leftAustralia permanently. He toured the Orient and eventually landed in America, where in 1926 attended the first annual convention of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

He met Harry Blackstone, Sr. and the two men agreed to form a partnership to establish the Blackstone Magic Company in the small village of Colon, Michigan in 1928, but only lasted for 18 months. Four years later, after having worked on Coney Island with Jean Hugard, playing school shows throughout the Midwest, and getting married, Percy Abbott opened another magic shop in Colon, Michigan. The Abbott Magic Novelty Company began advertising in trade journals in 1933, and Recil Bordner, a magic enthusiast, joined the firm as a partner in 1934.

The shop moved into larger premises in Colon and celebrated the event by hosting the first annual Abbott Magic Get-Together that fall. The event became an annual tradition that continues to the present day. He also founded the Abbott Magic Co.’s magazine called Tops, in January 1936, editing it for several years before turning it over to the Abbott company’s staff artist, Howard Melson.

By the end of 1945, Percy Abbott’s business was spread over seven buildings and employed over 54 workers with Abbott branch stores established in Detroit, Indianapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Abbott’s issued the largest magic catalog of all time, some 832 pages long, and featuring over 1800 different products, most manufactured at the Abbott factories.

Percy Abbott maintained an active interest in the magic business until his retirement in 1959. At that time, he sold his share of the company to his long-time partner, Recil Bordner.

In 1959 Abbott wrote his memoir, A Lifetime of Magic which was published just months before he died, on August 26, 1960, from a heart attack at the age of 74.

 

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