Thomas Nelson Downs

From MagicPedia, the free online encyclopedia for magicians by magicians.
(Redirected from T Nelson Downs)
Jump to: navigation, search
Thomas Nelson Downs
BornThomas Nelson Downs
March 16, 1867
Marshalltown, Iowa
DiedSeptember 11, 1938 (age 71)
Marshalltown, Iowa
Resting placeMarshalltown's Riverside Cemetary

T. Nelson Downs (1867-1938) was one of the most famous manipulative magicians renowned for his coin tricks was also known as "The King of Koins".

Biography

Born in Marshalltown, Iowa, he was the youngest of six children in the family of Thomas and Cordelia Downs. His family moved to Iowa from the New York state. Downs' father, the Marshall county superintendent, died when his son was not even a year old.

Downs never took any training in magic; all his tricks were self-taught. By the age of 12, he became an expert in card and coin manipulation. He further mastered his skills by the age of 17, when he took a job as a railway telegrapher and had plenty of time to practice with coins.

In September 1895, Downs decided to quit his telegraphy job and launch a career in magic. At first, he toured Iowa with his partner, Sam Spiegel, a mandolinist. By 1897, Downs concentrated only on the coin tricks—a rare specialization at that time, and established himself in vaudeville, which was a popular avenue for magicians.

The success of Downs career allowed him to get booked into Tony Pastor's New York theater, and to London's Palace Theater soon after that.

At the peak of his career, Downs traveled frequently, and performed at royal courts. While performing his tricks, he could palm up to 60 coins at a time. One of his most famous tricks was "The Miser's Dream", in which he seemed to pull countless coins out of the thin air.

In 1912, at the young age of 42, Downs decided to retire in Iowa. After moving back to Marshalltown, he rarely left the area. Not quite comfortable with idle retirement, Downs kept busy by opening a vaudeville house on Main Street, a few blocks from his own home at 7 S. 3rd Ave. He also sold a line of magic equipment. Many visitors, other magicians, streamed to his home to share gossip and the latest tricks as well as to brush elbows with the famous sleight of hand artist. The most famous of these visitors included Chung Ling Soo (William Robinson), Mrs. Harry Houdini, and Dai Vernon.

Downs was married twice. He had a son in his first marriage with Nellie Stone, who died in childbirth in 1895. He subsequently married Harriett Rocky on June 3, 1905.

He retired around 1928. In 1935 he was honored with a testimonial dinner.

Downs died on September 11, 1938 in Marshalltown, Iowa. He had suffered a stroke, which paralyzed his left side. He was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Marshalltown. His gravestone reads "King of Koins".

The Historical Society of Marshall County features a display about Downs in its museum.

Books

Downs wrote several books on magic before and after his retirement.

References

Wikipedia-logo.png This page incorporated content from Thomas Nelson Downs,

a page hosted on Wikipedia. Please consult the history of the original page to see a list of its authors. Therefor, this article is also available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

  • "T. Nelson Downs", New York Times, September 12, 1938
  • Obit The Linking Ring, Vol. 18, no. 7, September 1938. The "King of Koins" Passes On By T. J. Crawford.
Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
Interaction
Support our sponsor
Share
Print/export
Toolbox