Magicians' Clubs are a twentieth century phenomenon. Although there was a club which briefly existed in 1896, the first permanent club was the Society of American Magicians (SAM) founded in 1902, followed in 1905 by the British Magical Society (BMS) in Birmingham and The Magic Circle in London.
The Australian Society of Magicians Inc. the fourth oldest magical society in the world, was founded in Sydney, NSW, on 15th January 1907. Meetings were first held at Queen's Hall, Sydney, and later at Central Chambers, 173 Pitt Street, on the first Tuesday of each month and Harmony nights on the third Wednesday.
On 15th January 1909, the ASM commenced publication of their official magazine, The Magic Mirror, an eight page printed magazine. It was the first magic magazine in the Southern hemisphere. Today the monthly newsletter of the ASM is called Magic Makers. It commenced with the Jan/Feb issue 1946. At that time it consisted of about ten duplicated pages of half-foolscap size and tended to appear on a bi-monthly basis. Since that time the magazine has gone through a variety of formats, and is now published monthly via email. It is still the main method of communication for members. Over the years Magic Makers has recorded much of the magical history of Australia, and a full archive of the magazine resides in the State Library of Victoria
In 1920 the Melbourne, Victoria, branch of the ASM was formed at the proposal of The Great Levante (Les Levante) who happened to be in Melbourne at the time. Later a charter was also granted to an ASM Inc. in Adelaide.
The ASM in Sydney progressed favourably until 1923, when an officer of the club embezzled all the Society's funds! At the same time, the landlord gave notice for the club to quit its premises, so it 'folded its wings' and went into recess. An attempt was made in 1927 to revive the club but with the depression deepening, its members decided that the ASM, as such, go into recess.
From this time on the ASM Melbourne became known as Assembly No.1 and the ASM Adelaide as Assembly No. 2. Subsequently, more ASM Assemblies were formed:
- July 1952 No. 3 in Mt Gambier, South Australia;
- April 1953 No.4 in Brisbane, Queensland;
- January 1954 No. 5 in Port Pirie, South Australia;
- April 1959 No. 6 in Ballarat Victoria;
- November 1960 No. 8 in Hobart, Tasmania;
- May 1962 No. 7 in Launceston, Tasmania.
As communications and transport option improved over time, most of these Assemblies closed, leaving the Melbourne Assembly No 1 as the main Assembly.
On 18th October 1952, the ASM No. 1 Melbourne held the first Magic Convention in Australia. It was a one day affair and the forerunner of many more held since then. The most recent Convention held by the ASM was over a long weekend in 2007, and celebrated the centenary of the club.
The popularity of Magic has ebbed and flowed over time but the ASM has always been at the forefront of the magic scene in Melbourne, adapting to the requirements of the public. In the 1969 Melbourne Moomba Parade, the ASM had float highlighting the 'History of Magic'. At modern day Moomba the ASM provides roving magicians to entertain crowds, and workshops to teach children magic. In the 1950’s ASM members were popular Supper Club performers. Today magical entertainment is edgier, and members present cutting edge shows for the public in fringe and comedy festivals. As long as magic exists as an art form, the ASM will continue to promote it.