This past summer, I ran into this original Willard ad for sale outside a Bay Head, NJ antiques store.
Not much to go on, but I had a hunch it was local advertising for a travelling magician at the turn of the century known as “Willard the Wizard“.
Unfortunately, I expect this advertising it has been ruined by Hurricane Sandy. I doubt the building itself even still standing.
Upon returning home from vacation (without purchasing), I turned to David Charvet’s 2008 Willard book to compare to that itinerant magician’s advertising. Compare to this window card on p. 238.
It’s not quite the same. There are not many other examples in that book, or in Bergeron’s 1978 Willard book, for that matter.
So I dug up David Charvet’s e-mail address and showed him the sign. He quickly clarified the matter:
It’s Willard Warnkessel, who worked around the NE states as “Willard the Magician.” No relation to Harry Willard “The Wizard.”
So, here then are two books having absolutely nothing to do with this Willard sign (that likely no longer exists):
- Charvet, David with Frances Willard, Madeline Willard and Eugene Willard. Willard. A Life Under Canvas. Mike Caveney’s Magic Words: Pasadena. 2008. 370 pp. Cover | Full Title
- Bergeron, Bev. Willard the Wizard. Lake Cane Publications: np. 1978. 156 pp. Cover | Full Title