A proud heritage, starting in 1922
By Jack White
Past International President
The International Brotherhood of Magicians had very humble beginnings. It started as a letter-writing exchange between three young men who shared a common interest, a love for the art of magic. M.J.G. McMullen of Canada, and Gordon Avery of Buffalo, New York began writing to each other about magic in 1922. A few months later a third young man joined in the correspondence campaign. His name was Ernest Schieldge.
If those names sound unfamiliar to you it is because they all changed their names and became known in order as Len Vintus, Gene Gordon, and Don Rogers. That trio became the nucleus of the fledgling I.B.M. Len Vintus took the Presidency and he became I.B.M. Member No. 1; Gene Gordon was Publicity Director with I.B.M. No. 2. Don Rogers became Editor of The Linking Ring, the Brotherhood’s official journal, and he became I.B.M. Member No. 3. Werner Dornfield, better known to magicians as “Dorny,” became involved and was given I.B.M. Membership No. 4, though he claimed to be the first official member since the others were all officers!
Membership grew rapidly. There was a clamoring for the formation of more local groups they called “Rings.” Gene Gordon established the first Ring in Rochester, New York. Additional Rings sprang up as members sought to meet and exchange ideas and interests in magic.
The objectives of the I.B.M. are simple. To organize individuals interested in the practice and promotion of the Art of Magic; to facilitate the exchange of magical ideas; and to promote harmony among those interested in magic. The first fully elected President was the legendary W.W. Durbin, who won the election during the first I.B.M. Convention that was held in Durbin’s backyard in Kenton, Ohio, in 1926.
During that same Convention the International Brotherhood of Magicians was incorporated and a Constitution and By-Laws were created. Since that time, regular elections are held each year and a business meeting is called to report on the state of the organization.
Now ninety-one years after its birth, the I.B.M. continues to forge ahead in bringing magicians together from around the world in the interest of advancing the ethics of magic, and to oppose exposures, to encourage literature, to promote professionalism in magic, and to promote humane treatment of live animals and birds used in our Art.
Today, there are over 300 I.B.M Rings worldwide, boasting nearly 11,000 members. Those who have served the I.B.M. for twenty-five years are given the “Order of Merlin” award, and there are additional levels of recognition for thirty-five, fifty, and sixty years of continuous membership. Some of our members have served for sixty and seventy years and continue to remain active. Dr. John Booth held the record as our longest-standing member, having been a member for over eighty-one years! Through the years, those members whose dedication to magic has led them to the highest office have made contributions of time and talent that are immeasurable. All have felt honored and have continued to serve in various capacities.
As we move forward, the I.B.M. is embracing new technology, but the object and goals remain the same. It is still the grandest magic organization in the world!