The Albo Shelf – Deana Murray

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

The New Ultimate Thayer Books are set to be in the States by Thursday 6/17/2010

Reserve your Book – NOW! – CLICK HERE

Long before he became “Doc” (to his many friends, fans and patients), Robert J. Albo got a Mysto Magic box for his 9th birthday. At age 14, he spent an “evening of magic” at San Francisco’s GOLDEN GATE MAGIC with Tom Dethlefson and Marvin Burger of BUMA Magic, where he first saw a demonstration of an OKITO apparatus. From that moment on, he would buy magic – over time. Most pieces were put aside for him on what became known as the “ALBO SHELF.” Doc says, “This was fortunate because buying on time developed trust between friends and old magic wasn’t selling.” He was the buyer in a down market, but he was also saving these pieces. He didn’t suspect then that his life would hold so many passions: his wife Marjorie (and their family), his love of magic, the desire to become a doctor for athletes, or a Disney animator, if only briefly. He was real sure about his first purchase though; an OKITO ‘Flip Over Box’ for $15, which he never used in shows – but became the cornerstone for his future thoughts, collections and writings.

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Eventually, throughout time, he acquired approximately 4000 pieces of “rare, rare, old things.” When Doc wanted to share his finds and treasures – he decided to write a book, which became Vol. I of his “Classic Magic Series.” Naturally, he wanted to start with the first piece in his own collection: Oriental Magic and the Theo Bamberg family history. He met and collaborated with Eric Lewis (who knew Okito in Europe) and David Okito (Fu Manchu) from 1970 to 1973 to share their stories and collections. Nothing like this had ever been done before. They produced books with color pictures, divided into 54 categories like dice, mirrors… Their mission was to find, purchase and photograph magic to illustrate and discuss craftsmanship and inventive ideas. This passion – cost – they lost money on the books because of the high cost of printing and cumulative expenses. Originally priced for sale at $200 “to keep out the amateurs and curiosity seekers,” they now bring between $750 and $1000.

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Doc Albo’s Classic Magic Series Volumes I – IX is in epic proportion to his research, collection and understanding of magic. The art and the props that entertained audiences and sustained the income and prestige of its makers and performers. His newest book, just out, called “Ultimate Thayer” is co-authored with the help of Philip Schwartz (Click HERE for more details about this book). Today the shelves of many a good magic store and magician’s library are dedicated to those books written by Doc. Additionally there are a few books and magazines written about him including the N.Y. Times and Sports Illustrated who said, “he can mend, or as a magician, pull a leg with equal ease.”

Pete Biro says that he first met Doc while working for the San Francisco Seals Hockey Team. “He was sewing up players and I was the team photographer. It was a month later that we discovered our mutual connection to magic.” Doc has since been the “Chief Medical Officer” for both the Golden State Warriors and the Oakland Raiders.

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Doc has managed to work, and stay in magic for nearly 60 years. And he’s been married 56 of those years to Marjorie. – According to Doc, “Our three children are typical of the 2nd generation to a magician. Robert “Wendell” Albo is named after his grandfather, Dr. Wendell Stanley (a Nobel Prize recipient for isolating a virus). Robert went on to Harvard and other endeavors. Daughter, Deborah participated in magic, but not seriously. The youngest son, Douglas, would do card tricks … for girls.”

At some point, Doc had to consider who should or would become the next caretaker of his collection? Doc discussed this with his family. When the Great BUMA told him, in jest, “No one should have that much magic,” he had to think. He began talks with the Smithsonian about the greatest and biggest collection ever assembled. They would not promise him a permanent display, so he “had to change his mind.” Then, ten years ago, somewhat befitting of the deals he made to acquire it {over time}; he sold his collection to David Copperfield. A showcase at his Las Vegas Museum is presumed to be in the future.

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Doc and Majorie have a talent for giving – anonymously mostly. But this must be said, they ‘doubled’ the cash prize for the top three contestants this year for the Teenage Competition at the World Magic Seminar. This matched the funds donated by the North American Chapter of the Siegfried and Roy Fan Club. And this meant the world to those kids.

“Doc’s gift is the advancement of knowledge from diverse sources bequeathed for whomever has a need for such information. Displayed in acts of kindness and skill, his giving connects one life to the next. He is a confidant to the collector’s world and sees great purpose in our art form. I have been fortunate to know many great men over the years, but none of them embody the term “Renaissance Man” as I believe Dr. Albo does. Not only has he excelled in both the sciences and the arts but also in that of devotion to his fellow man.”

For his efforts, he has become TIMELESS – OVER TIME. And like any book, DVD, item or story on the Albo Shelf, (the library fine for wanting to keep him around so long) his praise is overdue!

In asking around about Doc, there doesn’t seem to be anyone he’s met that didn’t remember him, and genuinely like him. But perhaps, Joe Stevens has put it best.

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“There is no one in the world of magic like Doc Albo! He is the magic lover, collector, performer, writer and humanitarian extraordinaire! Not only has he amassed one of the world’s largest magic collections, he has shared his love of magic with magic world in the form of his fantastic sets of books and DVD’s. He is always ready to help friends with advice.

Throughout his life, his insatiable desire to seek and acquire magic’s finest antique pieces have driven him to achieve the respect he deserves. In doing so, he has preserved the history of magic via his publications for the fraternity. I am proud to be his friend and confidant – all of the years we have known each other. None of his accomplishments could have possibly been successful without the help of his lovely wife and companion, Mrs. Marge Albo.

Doc – you’re always fun to be with and I enjoy sharing stories about the antiquities of the magic world. As the Great BUMA always told Doc, (In jest) ‘NO one should have that much magic!’ Thanks for all you do for Martha & I and for magic world – YOU are the BEST!”Joe Stevens

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“I have been fortunate to know many great men over the years, but none of them embody the term “Renaissance Man” as I believe Dr Albo does.”Not only has he excelled in both the sciences and the arts but also in that of devotion to his fellow man.

Rudyard Kiplings poem ‘IF’ embodies all that is Dr Albo as exemplified by such lines ‘If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch; for Dr Albo has indeed walked with kings and does indeed exercise the common touch.’

I have personally witnessed on numerous occasions Dr Albo response to an inquiry as to the origin and effect of one of his collected props, his response never varied in that he would pick up the prop and perform its effect whereupon he would then explain the history of its manufacture and how it came to be in his collection, all the time answering in the minutest of detail further questions inspired by his enthusiastic performance and shared history.

The world of magic has produced some outstanding men over the centuries, it has been my personal honor to have been able to share our world of magic with one of them, and that outstanding man is Dr. Robert Albo.Mark Burger – (or Buma Jr., as he is known to his friends).

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