The most amazing tricks for sale at Magic Inc. | Feature | Chicago Reader

The most amazing tricks for sale at Magic Inc. 

Offering cards to coins to expert advice, the venerable store remains Chicago’s one-stop shop for wannabe and veteran magicians.

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  • Ryan Duggan

Magic Inc. has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. Set foot inside the shop and you're quickly greeted by affable clerks who also happen to be highly skilled magicians ready to demonstrate almost any illusion. On a given day, tricksters stop in to socialize and kill time comparing card-shuffling techniques, collectors breeze in on a hunt for rare magic books, and wide-eyed children cross the threshold to experience the wonder of magic—and its attendant accessories—for the first time.

The store claims to be "oldest continuously family-run magic shop in North America." Original owner Laurie Ireland founded the shop downtown as Ireland Magic Company in 1926. After Laurie's death, his wife, Frances, continued to run the business before partnering with her second husband, Jay Marshall. The couple, now both deceased, relocated the store in the early 1960s to Lincoln Square. It remained there until earlier this year when current owner Sandy Marshall, son of Jay and Frances, moved the shop to Ravenswood. The impressiveness of Magic Inc.'s longevity is outmatched only by its deep inventory, estimated to total some 10,000 items. Below are some of the most classic, novel, and interesting products Magic Inc. has to offer, plucked from the shelves by company manager Pedro Nieves-Bosque.


Illustrations by Ryan Duggan

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Svengali Deck
This cost-effective deck of cards can be used to perform upward of 125 card tricks. Rebranded by Wizzo the Wizard—from WGN-TV's Bozo's Circus and The Bozo Show—in 1970 as TV Magic Cards, the Svengali deck has been sold by the millions worldwide for more than 75 years. $11.95

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Clipped Scam
Created by local magician Luis Carreon, this play on the classic three-card monte scheme involving an engaging series of sleights of hand is sure to fool even the most assured spectator into thinking he can locate his card—but wait, it's in the magician's pocket. $14.95

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Created by acclaimed magician Dan Harlan, this trick has a spectator name any card before the magician shuffles the deck flip-book style, resulting in an animated stick-figure magician pulling a card from his top hat and turning it over to reveal—what else?—the spectator's chosen card. $19.95

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Betcha! How To Win Free Drinks For Life
Written by infamous con man Simon Lovell—with a forward by the FBI agent assigned to follow him—this book is perfect for teaching you how to score drinks when you're strapped for cash. The trick? You need to endear yourself to your audience, something Lovell is an expert at. $25

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Red-Hot Prediction
There's nothing more embarrassing for a magician than asking "Is this your card?" only to be told "No." But that momentary mistake becomes part of the trick when two wrongly chosen cards are turned over to reveal the number and suit of the correct card scrawled on the backs of the incorrect cards. $19.95

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The Original Matchbox Penetration
After this product had a two-year absence from the market, Magic Inc. purchased the global manufacturing and distribution rights from Barcelona-based magic shop Selecciones Mágicas to bring this impressive sleight-of-hand trick back so you can transform a matchbox from empty to filled by a brick of gold. $150

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Klaus The Mouse
Don't be fooled by Klaus's slight appearance. As a magician's assistant, the wind-up rodent works with any poker-size deck of cards to locate a spectator's card, separating it from the rest of the deck. $34.95

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Mark Southworth's Double Cross
The magician has the spectator make a fist. He then draws an X on his palm using a special marker, closes his fist, and reopens it to reveal the mark is gone. The spectator opens his hand and finds the X has magically transfered to his palm. $59.95

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The magician begins by asking, "How much do you think I paid for this [jacket/shirt/pair of pants]?" and with this trick's array of gimmickry is able to instantly make any price quoted appear on a sale tag (complete with security feature) attached to said item of clothing. $59.95

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Scotch And Soda
In this classic, best-selling trick, the silver and copper coins provided do most of the work, allowing the magician to appear to switch them in the spectator's closed hand. $29.95   v

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