Colon is “Magic Capital of America”
From Historical Society records; a newspaper clipping, June 1946, source unknown: “town of 780 citizens is Famous for Equipment for Amateur and Professional Magicians. Very few people in Michigan know it, but the town of Colon, down near the Indiana border, has become famous all over the world as the “Home of Hocus Pocus” where articles and equipment for magicians are manufactured for sale all over the universe, to amateurs and professional disciples of legerdemain.
This village, 18 miles from a railroad, is the location of the Abbott Magic Novelty Company.
Percy Abbott, an Australian born magician, started it 18 years ago.
Here five busy workshops manufacture almost 1,800 different articles for magicians and sold mostly by mail. Volume of business is over $160,000 annually.
Percy Abbott, who founded the firm, is himself an old-time magician. He has performed before audiences in China, India, England, Egypt and many other countries.
After he had opened a supply shop for magicians in Australia in 1923, he traveled to America for a rest, and, liking to fish, came to Michigan. Here he met a Colon girl and they were married. Abbott decided to remain in Colon and so established his business there.
More than 50 residents of Colon are employed in the Abbott workshops, the other principle industry in the town being the Lamb Knit Goods Company.
At times, Abbott is so rushed to fill orders that Colon families are hired as sub-contractors to assemble bouquets of feather flowers and other handwork items.
Abbott invented many of the tricks he sells. He has a knack for adapting everyday objects to magical purposes. For inspiration he goes to Detroit or Chicago and shops in dime stores. Some of his most successful tricks, from the point of sales, use 10-cent gadgets from Woolworth’s.
Magicians seldom patent their tricks depending more on professional ethics for protection. To steal another man’s stunt would mean speedy ostracism in the magical world. If he particularly likes some effect trick another magicians is using, Abbott my offer to buy the manufacturing rights. Several topflight amateur magicians – one of them the millionaire presided of a locomotive concern – hand over to Abbott the exclusive distribution of their magical innovations in return for nothing more substantial than a line of acknowledgment in the catalogue.
Manufacture of magic calls for woodworking, blacksmith, paint and machine shops, plus a printing department and a sewing and silk-dyeing room. The business is conducted like almost any other factory, with workmen fabrication small parts in metal and wood while deft-fingered girls assemble and package them. Only in the shipping department does the gaudy glamour of magic become apparent. Stacked in tiers to the ceiling are boxes of nickel-plated, dyed, and painted apparatus – the stuff that baffles people from coast to coast and keeps young and old standing hypnotized before “magic stores.”
Abbott himself is a small, bespecled, graying man who wears a perpetually worried look and claims to go without sleep for days at a time.
In the showroom adjoining his factory is a full-sized stage where visiting wizards can try out a trick before buying it and where Abbott himself can keep in magical trim by occasionally sawing a woman in half.”