Personally Speaking – Aug07 – Part 2

I joined Edwin at the firm’s premises, 64 High Street, Bideford. He was working on his own, with help from his sister, Margaret, who dealt with letters, cutting duplicating stencils and the like.

Edwin Hooper and I were like chalk and cheese. We did, however, have one main thing in common, the love for magic dealing. I had been making and advertising props from my home town, Kilmarnark, Scotland, when I was 13 years of age, so when I left school and Edwin offered me a job, I grabbed it left, right and center.

The firm grew and grew. Soon several full-time staff joined us. The woodworkers were solely making for Supreme and the nearby silk-screen company seemed to be producing more Supreme material than any other. Even in the early days, the company had some nine rooms consisting of an office, a studio/showroom, a packing department, a canteen and rooms shelved out with stock…stock and more stock!

Together, we managed to originate many exclusive ideas. My first was Dressing Doll, which was reproduced time and time again.

The High Building Number 64 went up for sale and we bought it. Both buildings were knocked through as one, thus adding another nine rooms.

More staff were employed, two packers, two secretarial girls, three young men for convention work, etc. The firm even had a daily cleaner.

Winning the top dealers award each year for eight occasions at the British Ring Conventions proved we were doing something right.

It was at one of those conventions that Edwin and I had the idea of publishing a monthly magic magazine, and so, The Magigram was formed. Ken De Courcy, a great friend of the company became our editor and made sure material from all parts of the world appeared within the pages. The Magigram lasted some 27 years. Peter Warlock offered to edit the New Pentagram Magazine, and this became reality. The firm bought out the rights of Roy Baker’s effects, David Hemmingway’s products, Harry Leat’s silk items and the Harry Stanley books and publications, including the Gen Magazine.

The Magigram was first printed on a small offset printing machine, operated by John Willis. Edwin, having purchased the Stanley publications, wanted to produce these and others at an economical price, so, another building, adjoining the main ones, was built. Now there was a complete print house with four larger machines, guillotine, stitching machine and all the necessary equipment. Three further printers were employed on a full-time basis working on the publishing side of the business. The huge range of hardbound books, from The Dai Vernon Book Of Magic to the Encyclopedias Of Dove Magic were all produced within the Supreme Print Shop.

Edwin Hooper could never stand idle. The original space wasn’t quite enough. A very large furniture store at the top of High Street became available and he bought it. The original building, at Number 64 still remained, the new one becoming a massive warehouse for drawing off stocks. Quantities of goods were drawn off and brought down to Number 64, from where the orders were processed.