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A proud heritage, starting in 1922
The International Brotherhood of Magicians had very humble beginnings. It started as a letter-writing exchange between three young men who shared a common interest, a love for the art of magic. M.J.G. McMullen of Canada, and Gordon Avery of Buffalo, New York began writing to each other about magic in 1922. A few months later a third young man joined in the correspondence campaign. His name was Ernest Schieldge.
If those names sound unfamiliar to you it is because they all changed their names and became known in order as Len Vintus, Gene Gordon, and Don Rogers.
That trio became the nucleus of the fledgling I.B.M. Len Vintus took the Presidency and he became I.B.M. Member No. 1; Gene Gordon was Publicity Director with I.B.M. No. 2. Don Rogers became Editor of The Linking Ring, the Brotherhood’s official journal, and he became I.B.M. Member No. 3. Werner Dornfield, better known to magicians as “Dorny,” became involved and was given I.B.M. Membership No. 4, though he claimed to be the first official member since the others were all officers!
Membership grew rapidly. There was a clamoring for the formation of more local groups they called “Rings.” Gene Gordon established the first Ring in Rochester, New York. Additional Rings sprang up as members sought to meet and exchange ideas and interests in magic.
The objectives of the I.B.M. are simple. To organize individuals interested in the practice and promotion of the Art of Magic; to facilitate the exchange of magical ideas; and to promote harmony among those interested in magic.
The first fully elected President was the legendary W.W. Durbin, who won the election during the first I.B.M. Convention that was held in Durbin’s backyard in Kenton, Ohio, in 1926.
During that same Convention the International Brotherhood of Magicians was incorporated and a Constitution and By-Laws were created. Since that time, regular elections are held each year and a business meeting is called to report on the state of the organization.
Now ninety-one years after its birth, the I.B.M. continues to forge ahead in bringing magicians together from around the world in the interest of advancing the ethics of magic, and to oppose exposures, to encourage literature, to promote professionalism in magic, and to promote humane treatment of live animals and birds used in our Art.
Today, there are over 300 I.B.M Rings worldwide, boasting nearly 11,000 members. Those who have served the I.B.M. for twenty-five years are given the “Order of Merlin” award, and there are additional levels of recognition for thirty-five, fifty, and sixty years of continuous membership.
Some of our members have served for sixty and seventy years and continue to remain active. Dr. John Booth held the record as our longest-standing member, having been a member for over eighty-one years!
Through the years, those members whose dedication to magic has led them to the highest office have made contributions of time and talent that are immeasurable. All have felt honored and have continued to serve in various capacities.
The Society of American Magicians, founded on May 10, 1902, in Martinka’s famous magic shop in New York City, New York, is the oldest and most prestigious magical society in the world.
For over a century it has promoted the ideals shared by Kellar, Houdini, Thurston and more than 47,000 others world-wide who have held membership in the society.
Those ideals include the elevation of the Art of Magic, the promotion of harmony among magicians, and the opposition of the unnecessary public exposure of magical effects.
The S.A.M. offers the opportunity to unite and associate with leaders in the World of Magic – not only professionals, but amateurs, manufacturers, magic dealers, book authors and magic collectors.
Through its monthly publications, annual conventions, and with almost 300 Assemblies throughout the world, the S.A.M. provides the necessary forum for the advancement of magic through discussions, lectures, research, performances, and exchange of magic secrets within the magic community.
To promote those endeavors the S.A.M. presents awards and fellowships in recognition of outstanding achievement in the Art of Magic.
If you have a serious interest in the Art of Magic then you, too, can follow in the footsteps of Harry Houdini, Harry Blackstone, Jr., Siegfried & Roy, Lance Burton and David Copperfield by joining the most prestigious magical organization in the world – The Society of American Magicians.
The Society of American Magicians Historical Notes
The Society of American Magicians was established on May 10,1902, in New York City, with a membership of 24.
On February 7, 1903, Ehrich Weiss (a.k.a. Harry Houdini) was elected to membership.
The Fourth Annual Dinner Show held on June 4,1908, included Harry Kellar, Harry Houdini, Howard Thurston, Signor Deadato, Imro Fox, T. Nelson Downs, and others!
In June, 1917, Harry Houdini was elected National President of the S.A.M., a position he held until his untimely death on October 31, 1926.
Over 250 S.A.M. Assemblies have been established world wide.
“M-U-M” is the official publication of the S.A.M. The letters stand for “Magic – Unity – Might.”
The Society of Young Magicians (S.Y.M.) was established in July,1984. Nearly 100 S.Y.M. Assemblies have been established since that time.
The official publication of the S.Y.M. is The “Magic SYMbol.”
In July 2002, the Society celebrated its Centennial Year in New York City.
Also in July of 2002, on the 3rd, the US Postal Services issued a Houdini Commemorative Stamp during the Centennial Celebration