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 Balda Art Service 1916-1978

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Kerry Kistler

Posts : 149
Join date : 2010-01-12

PostSubject: Balda Art Service 1916-1978   Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:02 pm

This tribute to John Balda was originally published in the Christian Conjurer Magazine, July 1980.

You may also view the publications written by Mr. Balda at http://goldenchalkclassics.blogspot.com/#balda

by Gary Means

"When I began doing chalk programs in 1956, one of the only sources for materials was Balda Art Service in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. John Balda, a cartoonist and Commercial Artist supplied chalk, originated, designed and produced many books on trick drawings. He created 'Rag Pictures' [and] stocked many books and materials for Magicians. When I heard of his death during the 1979 Winona F.C.M. Convention, I felt I had lost a friend, even though we had never met. Since I know many of our members have purchased materials from Balda, I felt this tribute would be in order.

John Balda, born in 1895, was the eternal optimist. He always thought and hoped he would live to be 100, and enjoy life to the utmost until his passing November 12, 1978 at age 83. John took a correspondence course in cartooning as a teenager and developed his art skills on the job while working for the Oshkosh Engraving Company. He was an exceptional Commercial Artist and Cartoonist, but a very humble and unassuming man - never one to brag about his talent.

He did not perform professionally at any time. The mail order art supply business began in 1916, and was conducted from two rooms in his house. He did all his own printing of trick drawing books on a platen letter press and an offset press in the basement, and handled his own correspondence with some 9,000 customers in the United States and Foreign Countries. The greater percentage of his clientele were magicians and evangelists. One man from Homosossa, Florida, upon hearing of John's passing, sent a letter to Joan Beck, John's daughter, stating that he had purchased materials from Balda in 1916 and believes he is one of his first customers.

During World War II, John developed a book of Patriotic Chalk Stunts (Trick Drawings) that are classics. His genius in creating Evolution and Trick Turn-Over-Cartoons has not been equaled. The business has been dissolved now and the presses are silent, but if you have copies of Balda's Trick Drawing Books or are still using his beautiful Rag Picture Creations - his talent lives on. This writer was fortunate to obtain one of the last of his Rag Pictures and I will treasure it always as a work of art by a very talented man - John Balda - 1895-1978.

My thanks to Joan Beck for providing biographical material for this month's article.

NOTE: I have received permission to reproduce John Balda's Trick Drawings in this publication. Many of them are just fun sketches which can be performed with speed and ease for a snappy effect. Remember if drawing isn't one of your talents, these can still be done by pre-drawing them in pencil lightly on 24x36 newsprint, then using crayons to sketch over pencil lines before the audience. They will be amazed at your talent. - GARY MEANS"

www.ChalkIllustrated.com | www.GoldenChalkClassics.blogspot.com | www.ChalkedAndAmazed.com

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