Flosso-Hornmann Magic Company Sold
America’s oldest magic dealership, The Flosso-Hornmann Magic Co., incorporating Martinka & Co., has been sold by longtime proprietor Jack Flosso to Ted Bogusta of New Jersey. The sale adds another page to the company’s history and adds another name (to use a phrase from one of their catalogs) to, “the cavalcade of owners.” The list includes Antonio and Francis Martinka, Carter the Great, Harry Houdini, Frank Ducrot and Jack’s dad, Al Flosso. Not to mention the roster of other dealer enterprises absorbed during the firm’s 125-plus years in the business of selling Hocus Pocus to generations of wand wielders.
The shop closed its doors at its most recent location of 45 West 34th Street in New York City on September 30, 2000 ending its long presence on Manhattan’s West Side. The telephone number, in use since the store’s halcyon days at the storied 304 West 34th Street address has been retained. The company will continue to do business for the time being via the Internet and mail order. The legendary Martinka “Palace Of Magic” location on 6th Avenue, in whose backroom the Society Of American Magicians was founded in 1902 closed in the early 1920s when Martinka & Co. became consolidated with The Hornmann Magic Co. under the proprietorship of Frank Ducrot (T. Francis Fritz). Al Flosso “The Coney Island Fakir” acquired the business in 1939 from the estate of Ducrot.
“The long established name recognition still generates many calls each day,” explained new owner Ted Bogusta in a recent interview with MagicTimes, “Of course there is the association with Houdini which adds to its mystique and that too causes people to seek us out.”
A businessman in the field of development and design of computer marketing systems for industry, Bogusta has been keen on abracadabra since his childhood in New Jersey. His interest in magic history and collecting was especially piqued by his acquisition at an early age of the collection of an elderly neighbor, Dominic Fiorello. “He had a lot of things from the 1930s.” In time, Ted gravitated toward collectors events such as the MCA Weekends and Yankee Gatherings.
“My purchase of the company came about through my acquaintance with Jackie, whom I’ve known for seven or eight years. His stories of the shop, his dad and the magical personalities of yesteryear were enthralling. Some time ago when I was visiting the store I asked him what was going to happen to the company. What sort of plans he had for it to continue. The transaction grew from that conversation.”
“By October 1988 we had reached an agreement for the transition of the company’s assets and goodwill to be transferred to me. In 1999 Jack and I moved out the mini-museum. The final phase was planned for January 2001. However, due to certain health concerns on Jack’s part we accelerated the conclusion of the transaction to June of this year (2000). We moved the stock and display cases out during September and turned the key in the door for the last time on September 30, 2000.”
“Jack Flosso will continue to advise and consult. He is a fund of knowledge and anecdote concerning the shop and it’s antecedents.”
The transaction called for Bogusta’s acquisition of all merchandise stock and displays including the Mini-Museum and the large cases; other ephemera in the shop; Jack’s personal collection, company records and documents; and all rights and goodwill accrued by the enterprise over the course of it’s long history.
Current plans call for the Martinka & Co. trade-style to be associated with collectibles. The Flosso-Hornmann identity will focus on marketing magic for beginners. Beside the current website and planned e-auctions, consideration is being given to manufacturing some of the old effects that are part of the legacy of the combined concerns and perhaps opening a new retail operation. In any event, the succession of this venerable magical “repository of repositories” is assured as it begins a new chapter. The Martinka & Co., Flosso-Hornmann Magic Shop, begun in the 19th century, passes from the 20th and now continues into the 21st century.
You can visit the 21st century incarnation on the web at: www.martinka.com.
–Richard Steven Cohn
Richard Steven Cohn has written for Genii, Magicol, M.U.M., The Yankee Collector, MAGIC, as well as magic themed articles for Brooklyn Bridge Magazine and Stagebill. He is a magical consultant for television and theater and performs both as a single and with his wife Alexandra.