The World's Seventh Greatest Magician: The John C. Mannix Magicians Library
In amongst the institutional & organizational archives, maps, genealogy, and local history books one expects to find in a library research center, The Folklife Center holds some surprising collections. One such collection is the John C. Mannix Magicians Library. This extensive collection currently contains 357 books and 117 videos & DVDs about magicians, card tricks, illusions, and one-liners dating from 1934-2006. It takes up nearly eight entire shelves in the climate controlled archives room.
But why do we have such a magic collection? It's all thanks to a local lawyer, John Clark Mannix, Esquire. As well as a prominent attorney with expertise in real property law, Mannix was a veteran, member of the Lake George school board, president of the Lake George Rotary Club, Robert J. Nolan Foundation, Warren County Bar Association, & Warren County Historical Society, director of Fort William Henry Corporation, and an elder at Caldwell Presbyterian Church. He even presided over Lake George High School's Mock Trial club as a judge. Mannix was an exceptional community leader and family man, but he also had a love for magic that began with a magic kit he received at Christmas in 1943.
According to his 2006 obituary, " Jack Mannix, 'the World's 7th Greatest Magician,' stood tall on many stages. His career as an amateur magician began in Lake George in 1947, and continued thereafter. For more than 50 years, he was a performing member of the Savage Club of Ithaca, N.Y., a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and the Society of American Magicians. Jack was also a member of the Magic Circle of London."
"Jack entertained crowds with illusions, jokes and prestidigitation. He enjoyed performing at local Blue and Gold banquets 'for the Cub Scouts and their wives.' Roaring Brook Ranch in Lake George had the privilege of sponsoring his weekly shows, where he flabbergasted tourists and locals alike, for more than 45 summers. As a Savage Club friend said, 'Jack taught me about the fine art of, well … art itself, and how it can be rendered even (perhaps especially) in the humble confines of a college stage with a three-dollar wand.' "
In an December 9, 1970 article in The Post-Star, Mannix "presided over a bewildering sequence of illusions, climaxed by a fearsome guillotine act with Miss Jean Davis as victim" during the Zonta Club's Christmas party.
The John C. Mannix Magicians Library is a non-circulating collection and is available for research purposes. A complete list of titles is available upon request. The Folklife Center is currently open Monday thru Thursday 9:00 AM to Noon, 1:00 to 7 PM, and Friday & Saturday 9:00 AM to Noon, 1:00 to 5:00 PM.
Many thanks to John C. Mannix and his estate for this unique collection.
“John Clark Mannix.” Post-Star, May 2, 2006. https://poststar.com/obituaries/john-clark-mannix/article_0d723871-515a-5945-b3ea-d2c159560ce0.html.
Thompson, Maury. “Friends, Peers Remember Prominent Lawyer John 'Jack' Mannix.” Post-Star, May 3, 2006. https://poststar.com/news/local/friends-peers-remember-prominent-lawyer-john-jack-mannix/article_871e3129-e2ef-5342-bde3-ab889951a923.html.
Tisha Dolton is Librarian/Historian at The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Her areas of interest are suffrage music, suffragists of Warren and Washington Counties, local women and minority populations, and embroidery.
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