In 1951, 14-year-old Robert “Bob” Law of Franklin, Kentucky ordered a few items from Abbott’s Magic Novelty Company, including a “wacky wand” and an “applause card.” The magic bug must have bitten hard, because he was soon corresponding with magicians’ clubs, associations and suppliers seeking membership information and more tricks of the trade. The Lindhorst Magic Den in St. Louis sent him a price list for essentials such as a “spook hand,” a “comedy growing flower” and a break-apart beer bottle. Bob obtained the secrets for performing such famous illusions as the “Hindoo rope trick,” a levitation routine called “Grant’s Miracle Suspension,” and the “Dagger Chest,” in which the head of a lovely female assistant appeared to take leave of her body. Magicians across the country were friendly and helpful to the young man who wanted to join their ranks. Jack La Wain (“The Mysterious La Wain”) signed off on a letter to Bob with this blessing: “May the Goddess of Magic smile upon you kindly as always is the sincere wish of the Old Mystic himself.”
Bob Law’s correspondence and magic trick secrets are part of the collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library. Click here for a finding aid. For more about our collections, search TopScholar and KenCat.