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John Petrie

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John Petrie
BornJohn Albert Petrie,
August 23, 1870
New Haven, Connecticut
DiedFebruary 2, 1954 (age 83)

John Albert Petrie (August 23, 1870 - February 2, 1954), born in New Haven, Connecticut, was a magic manufacturer, dealer, and inventor of electrical flashlights.[1]


In the 1900 Petrie invented such devices as the first self-starter for automobiles and the first safety lock to prevent car doors from springing open.

Petrie first opened the Swastika Magic Company in 1899, followed by the Mysto Magic Company with A. C. Gilbert in 1909.

Then in 1919, he started Petrie-Lewis Manufacturing Company (known as P&L) with Thomas C. Lewis.[2] They produced some of the today's most highly collectible magic equipment.

Petrie filmed some 16mm movies, including studies of Frederick Eugene Powell (who lived with the Petries during his last years and copies of the film are now part of the S.A.M. Film Library).

Awards and Honors


  1. A modern history of New Haven and eastern New Haven County, Volume 2, Everett Gleason Hill, S. J. Clarke (1918)
  2. Genii 1954 March, page 257
  3. Linking Ring Mar 1949