Monday, March 6, 2017

"Tricky" Ricky Jay

An early throwout card for the wizard
better known as Ricky Jay

Inspired by my recent post about Ricky Jay et al., Tom Ewing took a deep dive into his collection, emerging with this gem from early in the magician's career.   The "Tricky Ricky" scaling card sports the name "Richard Jay Potash", the legal and original name of the master of card scaling who would eventually become world famous under his stage name Ricky Jay.  Based on my knowledge of his career, buttressed by some recent research I conducted on the use of letters and area codes for telephone numbers (more on that in an upcoming series of posts), I would posit that the card dates to the late 1960s.  The image appears to bear some edge tearing -- whether this is simply from age and handling, or evidence of propulsion by the world record-holding Mr. Jay may have to be left to our imagination.   This piece is likely extremely rare and valuable, as similar ephemera (such as early business cards for the performer known as David Copperfield) often attract the interest of collectors.

In a December 1975 article in Abracadabra, magic writer Eric Lewis described Ricky Jay's skill, which he included in a section describing a group of performers he dubbed "The Hippies":

"Magicians, as well as guests, came away from his show dizzy and bewildered, for Ricky does faultless sleights and magic at fantastic non-stop speed, peppered freely with sweeping gestures and machine-gun quips. . . . He has certain other minor accomplishments like being an expert skimmer of cards. The Magic Castle is a tall, three-story building with soaring roofs and spires. Yet one day Ricky stood outside, scaling card after card clear over the building whilst my son, Martin, himself no duffer with cards, vainly tried to emulate him."

While we're adding other pieces, I came across two in my collection that also might be of interest.  The first is another use of the image that appears on the throwing card in the earlier post about Ricky Jay.  This one is a postcard-sized ad card issued in connection with the film  entitled Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay.  This wonderful documentary premiered in 2013 (I was fortunate enough to have been invited to the New York City opening), focused on Mr. Jay's remarkable skills and the mentors who guided him.   These include Dai Vernon, Slydini, Cardini, Charlie Miller and Al Flosso, names you will be seeing in future posts on Propelled Pasteboards.

The film also details the influence that Max Katz, Ricky's grandfather, an accountant and avid amateur magician, had on young "Tricky Ricky," by introducing him to the art and some astonishing practitioners.  In my collection, I have the below photograph of Mr. Katz and his wife at a magic club function, captured by Larry Shean, a conjurer and prolific photographer.  The photo is dated November 1958.

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