Bill Trotter – A Passion For Antiquity

Bill Trotter

Stevens Magic is proud to showcase the collection of our dear friend and advisor – Bill Trotter. You can enjoy the video link presentation of his collection here.





Bill Trotter became the curator for Joe’s collection in 2001; however, his relationship with the Stevens family began over thirty years ago. Bill was first a customer and then began attending the Magic Conclaves in Wichita. These conventions eventually became the Desert Magic Seminars, which he continued to attend. Bill lives in Des Moines, Iowa, and this has become a welcome stopover for Joe on his way to and from his Minnesota cabin every spring and fall. During his time in Des Moines, Joe has had many opportunities to visit Bill’s magic collection. As a result, Joe asked Bill to help him with his own collection. Bill and Joe have had some good times in selecting items from Joe’s “crypt” to be featured on the collectibles page on the Stevens Magic Emporium web site.

Bill’s earliest memory of magic goes back to his kindergarten days when some youth magicians from the local I.B.M. Ring (Ring #167 Justo Hijo of Magic, Inc.) performed at a school carnival. Bill was in the audience and found the show fascinating. However, he didn’t become an actual “performer” until the age of ten when he received an Adam’s magic set as a Christmas gift from his married older brother and sister-in-law. After that, he was hooked!

He became quite the star performer when he presented the borrowed coin in nest of boxes. Family members and friends were amazed when they found their marked coins in the red cloth bag nestled inside several boxes, each bound with rubber bands. Bill continued to accumulate additional magic sets with even more advanced tricks. When Bill discovered that there were books about magic at his local library, he checked out all of them several times. One of which was Milbourne Christopher’s “The Illustrated History of Magic.” This book really sparked Bill’s interest in magic history.

In 1975, a magic shop opened in a nearby mall. Bill couldn’t believe that he would have access to not only more tricks and books, but that he would also be able to meet local magicians, many who have become his best friends. Later, Bill was able to get a job there during his junior and senior years in high school. The shop was owned by John and Darlene Lohner. John had been a performing magician for many years and invited Bill over to his house to see his collection. Bill was now able to examine some of the original effects made by Merv Taylor, Warren Hamilton, Abbott’s, and other magic manufacturers. Seeing John’s collection gave Bill the idea that he, too, wanted to start collecting these “magical treasures.” In fact, his first collectible was a Merv Taylor Tambor purchased from Joe Stevens.

Bill continued to perform shows throughout his school days from elementary school through college. During his college years he studied biology with an emphasis in human anatomy and physiology. This interest was sparked at the age of twelve by his brother and sister-in-law when Bill received a model of the “Visible Man” – a small plastic replica of the human body in which various body parts had to be assembled and painted. Bill eventually received college degrees in both biology and education. He now has been teaching for thirty years; twenty six years as a college professor.

During all of this time, Bill has amassed an extensive collection of magic apparatus, books, and posters. He specializes more so in apparatus. He likes to collect apparatus manufactured by particular individuals or magic companies. His prized pieces include sixteen original Okito effects, an original Thayer/Tarbell Orange Vase, and Dell O’Dell’s own Bird Cage Die Box. Even though he has collected pieces made by Martinka, Roterberg, and a host of others, Bill likes to focus on some of today’s magic builders like Mel Babcock, Michael Baker, and Chance Wolf, to name a few.

“The fun part for me is not only collecting the actual items manufactured by these experts in magic craftsmenship, but the wonderful friendships that I have developed with these people over the years. That’s the true magic!”