Joseph W. Kay was born Joseph Spitalnick on the 25th of December, 1889. An American Jew, during the 1930s, he was a part-time jazz musician and a part-time publisher. He later became a full-time occult publisher and the operator of an occult supply company. In time, his son, Ed Kay, took over the publishing business and relocated it to Texas, where it continued.
As the founder of the company, Joe Kay told his son Ed -- who in turn told Carolyn Morrow Long, the author of "Spiritual Merchants" (University of Tennessee Press, 2001) -- that the author of several books published by Kay's Dorene Publishing Company of New York City, was actually a man named Young -- his first name forgotten by Ed Kay, who would have been a child when his father and Young did business together.
Meanwhile, in 1940, Joe Kay's brother, Max Spitalnick, known in the jazz music business as Joe Martin, took his bother's success as a cue to also leave the jazz music world and found an occult supply house in new York City. Although Joe Martin's Joe Martin's outfit, Ineeda Incense company continued to exist well into the 1960s, it was neither as long-lived nor as successful as Joe Kay's Dorene Publishing and Fulton Religious Supply.
In an article on companies with funny names, printed in the The Morning Herald from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, September 2, 1958 (on Page 9) the address for the Ineeda Incense Co. is given as 22 E. 17th St. New York
For more about the Ineeda Incense Co. in 1962, including its sales of aerosol sprays, see the article by Ronald Sullivan, "Putting a hex on Voodoo," archived at Southern Spirits page: Southern Spirits: "Putting a hex on Voodoo," Ronald Sullivan, The Emporia [KS] Gazette, Friday, November 16, 1962
Joe Kay died in April 1967 and his son Ed split the business in half.
He sold the New York based Fulton Religious Supply company to his father Joe's long-time associate Moe (Morris) Trugman (June 15, 1920 - March 1, 1995) and his wife Mitzi Trugman. The Trugmans ran Fulton Religious Supply until Moe's death and Mitzi's retirement to Florida in the 1990s.
After the split, Ed Kay, with his wife Mary, took Dorene Publishing to Arlington, Texas, and founded a spiritual supply company there called Mysteria Products, fronted by the fictitious persona of Shana Maidela -- which Kay told Carolyn Long was selected as the company's house-name because it was Yiddish for "Pretty Lady," Kay's pet name for Mary. Upon Ed's and Mary's retirement, management of Mysteria and Dorene passed to their daughter and granddaughter.
The above is the story as Ed Kay told it -- and he probably believed it to be true when he related it to Carolyn Long -- but there are some major inconsistencies and impossibilities in the tale, and they revolve around the mysterious Mr. Young -- the man who owed a debt to Joseph kay.
According to Ed Kay, as part of the agreement between Young and his father, Young allowed Joe Kay to copyright a "manuscript" and to hold the reprint rights. Mr. Kay then copyrighted Young's writings in his own name and published them under the imprint of Dorene Publishing Company.
Among these works, according to the Kay family, were
Copyright searches will indeed turn up renewal claims by Joseph W. Kay in which Kay stated that he was the author of all books attributed to both Henri Gamache and Lewis de Claremont.
Ed Kay's story may, however, be a bit skewed by Kay family memories. My own research, conducted over a period of 30 years, soes not support it, and in fact reaches very different conclusions.
The famed black stage magician Black Herman was born Benjamin Rucker. Ed Kay told Carolyn Long that he believed that his father Joe Kay had met Benjamin Rucker in 1938 and at that time acquired the rights to publish the Black Herman autobiography, titled "Secrets of Magic, Mystery, and Legerdemain."
However, this is impossible, for Black Herman (Benjamin Rucker) died in 1934 when he collapsed on stage during his magic act. So Joe Kay could not have met him in 1938, after he had founded Dorene Publishing -- and indeed, the book itself contains an introduction by Black Herman dated 1925, which indicates that it had been in print long before Dorene existed. From internal evidence, it is obvious that "Secrets of Magic, Mystery, and Legerdemain" was intended for sale at Black Herman's stage shows and was in no way intended to be a posthumous tribute.
It is claimed by at least one his biographers that Benjamin Rucker (Black Herman) was functionally illiterate and could neither read nor write well enough to have authored the book which bears his name.
There is internal evidence in the Black Herman book pointing to the fact that it was ghost authored by the mysterious "Mr. Young," and that it was originally created for distribution at Black Herman's stage shows -- hence the title page statement "Black Herman Comes Through Once Every Seven Years!" -- that being how often he returned to each city as he toured the nation. This book was originally published before Black Herman's death in 1934, for sale at his stage shows. An earlier edition of this book is titled "Black Herman's Easy Pocket Tricks: All New Tricks. Remember Black Herman, the World's Famous Magician, Master of Legerdemain and Great King of Mysteries Comes Through Once Every Seven Years." The "7th edition," published circa 1890, is on file as "Black Herman’s Easy Pocket Tricks, 7th ed." in the Della Lewis Jones Papers at Northern Kentucky University. (This was long before the Spitalnicks were printing books.)
There are two versions of the "14th edition." The earliest was published by "Martin Publishing Co." -- which would probably be Joe Martin -- born Max Spitalnick, the brother of Joe Kay (Joseph W. Spitalnick), publisher of the Dorene line of books. The copyright notice for the 14th "deluxe" edition is given as [Rucker (Herman)] Black Herman's Easy Pocket Tricks Which You Can Do. 14th (deluxe) ed. Nov. 1, 1934; AA 165441; Joseph W. Kay, New York -- so at that point Joe Kay, not his brother Joe Martin, was the publisher.
Mr. Young left textual evidence that he was the author of the Black Herman autobiography attributed to Black Herman / Benjamin Rucker.
In 1938 or later this book was picked up and revised for publication by Joe Kay's Dorene Publishing. It was Empire and later Dorene (both owned by Joe Kay) that brought out the ubiquitous "15th edition" and its subsequent degraded and chopped-up derivatives.
The Lewis de Claremont / Louis de Clermont books also were not originally published by Kay's Dorene Publishing Company. Rather, they were published by a manufacturer whose main business seems to have been producing and distributing hoodoo occult supplies for root doctors, including herbs and roots, lucky charms, amulets, and talismans, a lengthy list of essential oils and anointing or dressing oils, and Young's Chinese Wash.
The name of this concern was the Oracle Products Company, also known as The Oracle Craftsmen. The earliest book titles from the OPC were copyrighted in 1935 and 1936, before Dorene Publishing appeared on the scene in 1937.
All of the Oracle books carried advertisements for OPC products in the back pages -- with label art hand-drawn in pen and ink by the same artist -- signed Charles M. Quinlan -- who illustrated the books. All of them also displayed the OPC logo on the back cover. At least one of the OPC books was not typeset in its first edition: "Legends of Incense, Herb and Oil Magic" by Lewis de Claremont was originally printed from pages of reduced typewriter type.
The Oracle Products Company logo was comprised of the monogram
O P Cwith a hand holding a lighted candle emerging from a banner that read "Antiqvvs Literae Esoteric." The candle flame was surrounded by rays that filled the letter "O" in the monogram -- and above this there was a winged Egyptian scarab.
The OPC logo imprint appeared on the back covers of the early editions of several books published by Dorene, and inside those books, the copyrights read as follows:
Copyright [e.g.] 1936Among the earliest books published by Oracle and later picked up by Dorene were "The Ancient's Book of Magic" by Lewis de Claremont, The Ancient Book of Formulas by Lewis de Claremont, "Legends of Incense, Herb and Oil Magic" by Lewis de Claremont (now fully typeset, but with its final chapter lopped off due to space constraints), and Black Herman's "Secrets of Magic, Mystery, and Legerdemain" -- in a 1938 "revised" edition that appeared about four years after Benjamin Rucker's death.
by ORACLE PUBLISHING CO.
Copyright assigned 1940 to Dorene Pub. Co, Inc.
In 1938, as "Lewis de Clairemont," this author wrote a book on lottery numbers called "How to Get Your Winning Number: The Magic Power of Numbers."
The publisher of this book was Empire Press Books Company, one of the publishing houses owned by Joe Kay. Because this book deals with fortune-telling through numbers, it may have been the original "manuscript" that Joseph Kay "sold door-to-door" to psychics and palm readers in New York.
Whoever was concealed behind the pseudonyms Lewis de Claremont and Louis de Clermont, he also had a third pseudonym -- Godfrey Spencer. Under this name The de Claremont book was reprinted as "The Secrets of Numbers Revealed," but although the cover and title page credit Godfrey Spencer as the author, what seems to be strange typographic error finds the book internally signed on the last page by "Lewis de Claremont"! This was corrected in subsequent editions by wiping the name of Lewis de Claremont off the printing plates.
There is very strong circumstantial evidence in the "Black Herman" book that Mr. Young was the actual author -- for although he was completely unknown, "Young" is mentioned by name in the text as a famous occult author alongside Arthur Edward Waite and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, whose books are recommended by Black Herman. Not too surprisingly, Black Herman also advises his readers to use Young's Chinese Wash for spiritual cleansing -- the first mention of this OPC product in print outside of an OPC catalogue page.
This evidence would seem to indicate that Mr. Young, a spiritual supply manufacturer, ghost writer, occult book publisher, and the owner-founder of Oracle Products Co., was the author of "Secrets of Magic, Mystery, and Legerdemain" as well as the Louis de Clermont and Lewis de Claremont books and that he assigned not a "manuscript," but the publication rights to all of his books to Joe Kay's Dorene Publishing to settle a debt.
In other words, Young, not Kay, was Lewis de Claremont, Louis de Clermont, and Lewis de Clairemont. As the proprietor of Oracle Products, Young may also have been the otherwise unnamed "manufacturer" whom Ed Kay recalls as actually making the products his father and uncle sold through their Fulton Religious Supply and Ineeda Incense companies.
In the 1940s, another author entered the ranks of Kay's Dorene Publishing stable. This was Henri Gamache, whom Joseph Kay also later claimed as one of his official pseudonyms when renewing his copyrights. There is no way to dispute Kay's authorship of them -- except that Ed Kay told Carolyn Long that the Gamache books may also have been written by the mysterious Mr. Young and, a few years later, he told me that Henri Gamache may have been a third person, "a young Jewish woman who did the research and wrote the books." He was only a child at the time these events occurred, so his memory is, of course, that of a family member, not the company owner or publisher.
Despite Joe Kay's claim to ownership of all of the hoodoo books written by these authors, a close reading of the texts will bring up some doubts that the author who wrote the Gamache books of the 1940s is the same as the 1930s author Young / Herman / de Claremont / de Clermont / de Clairemont / Spencer.
De Claremont approached the material from an occult and self-help perspective, and his or her writing was often preachy. The Gamache writing style is more lively and the overall subject matter is different, for Young covered a combination of rehashed 19th century occultism and New Thought uplift material, while Gamache wrote redactions from early 20th century books on world wide folk magic and then-contemporary newspaper accounts of folk lore, spiced with original material of a highly practical nature.
De Claremont plagiarized without attribution, but Gamache wrote as a folk magic researcher or amateur scholar, always using material that can be traced to holdings in he New York Public Library, always adding bibliographies to his or her books in good scholarly form.
The original publisher of the 1945 Gamache book titled "The Master Key to Occult Secrets" was Doorway Publications. It was later reprinted by Sheldon Publications in Highland Falls, New York, leading one to suspect that someone with the surname Sheldon was involved. This book was printed in the form of duplicated typewriter type, just as was done with "Legends of Incense, Herb and Oil Magic" by Lewis de Claremont, before the Spitalnick / Kay family purchased the rights to "Mr. Young's" books.
"The Master Key to Occult Secrets" is a good source book for urban hoodoo work of the 1940s -- like all the books by "Gamache" -- and, as is common with this author, it blends anthropological, occult, and metaphysical research from many cultures and presents the combination in a conjure context. It went through several editions from several publishers from the 1940s through the 1990s, and portions of it were cited in the recent book Hoodoo Bible Magic: Sacred Secrets of Spiritual Sorcery" by Miss Michaele Maurer and Professor Charles Porterfield.
What kept this particular book from becoming as common as "Gamache's" other books was its deliberately spectacular HIGH PRICE. It retailed for $25.00 in the 1940s, at a time when most books sold for under $5.00. Not only that, it was mimeographed (later offset printed by facsimile) and came in a weird, un-rackable size -- 11" x 14" -- held together with brads or string (depending on the publisher). This crude attempt at making it appear to be "old" or "rare" or "special" was supposed to justify the exorbitant cost. As a marketing ploy, it succeeded -- the "Gamache" name helped sell this supposedly "secret" or "limited edition" book, and although fewer copies were sold, due to the high price, the publisher(s) made a LOT of profit on each copy.
Many of the illustrations in the Gamache books are "pick-ups" -- copies from older books, run without credit -- including images picked up from earlier OPC catalogue pages. However, the Gamache books also contain original illustrations as well, made by a surer hand than those in the De Claremont / de Clermont books.
Anne Fleitman was a Jewish book publisher, born in New York. She was active in the publishing business c. 1940 - 1955. Her publishing companies (Doorway Publications and Sheldon Publications) were listed at various times both in Highland Falls, NY; Astoria, Long Island, NY; and in Manhattan, NY. (No street addresses appeared in the books.) She or a man named Henry Marsh used the pseudonym Henri Gamache; she published the occult books by Marsh / Gamache, and she also claimed to be "Henry Marsh" (Henri Gamache).
I am pretty sure that this is the Anne Fleitman born in New York in 1906 who died in 1990, and who is buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens, New York -- and NOT the Anne Fleitman born in 1883 in Russia who was enumerated in the 1940 census at 1115 Ave Y, New York.
And here is where the revised memories of Ed Kay begin to come into focus -- Anne Fleitman is the "young Jewish woman" who published the works of Henri Gamache (Henry Marsh) before they were acquired by Joe Kay.
The following copyright entries -- all of which predate the acquisition of the Henri Gamache corpus by Joe Kay's Dorene Publishing -- tell the story.
Gamache, Henri,* New York. Door-
way to your success © May 11,
1940; AA 338366 23738
Full text of "Catalog of Copyright Entries 1943
Pamphlets, Leaflets, Etc. New Series Vol 40 Pt 1 For the Year 1943" -- Page 978
Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [B]
Group 2. Pamphlets, Etc. New Series
Gamache, Henri,* Astoria, L.I., N.Y. The master
key to occult secrets. © Mar. 28, 1945; AA
Index listing of same on page 807.
ANNE FLEITMAN -- MYSTERY OF THE LONG LOST -
1948 Catalog of Copyright Entries pg. 427
1948 FLEITMAN, Anne, Mystery of the long
lost 8th, 9th and 10th books of Moses. AA87907.
SEE Marsh, Henry.
HENRI GAMACHE, PSEUD. OF HENRY MARSH -
1948 Catalog of Copyright Entries pg. 434
HENRY MARSH - MYSTERY OF THE LONG LOST -
1948 Catalog of Copyright Entries pg. 514
ANNE FLEITMAN (SOLE OWNER)
Mystery of the long lost 8th, 9th
and 10th books of Moses. By Henri
Gamache (pseud.) 103 p., illus.
© Sheldon Publications (Anne
Fleitman, sole owner); 17May48
1948 Catalog of Copyright Entries pg. 610
SHELDON Publications. Mystery of the
long lost 8th, 9th and 10th books
of Moses AA87907.
SEE Marsh, Henry.
Anne Fleitman, the person who published and seems to have written the Henry Marsh / Henri Gamache books may be this person:
Anne Fleitman Birth: Jan 4 1906 Death: Oct 25 1990 Last residence: New York, New York 10011, USA SSN issuing state: New York SSDI documented here: https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10002/us-social-security-death-index-ssdi?itemId=12736804&action=showRecord and the grave is here: Birth: unknown Death: Oct. 24, 1990 Burial: Mount Hebron Cemetery Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA Created by: T.V.F.T.H. Record added: Oct 04, 2011 Find A Grave Memorial# 77597651
In 1959, the business address of Anne Fleitman and Sally Edwoods was listed as 6 West 28th Street, NYC. At the time, they were seeking to lease land in the Adirondacks to a carnival or circus.
10 acres owned by Sally Edwoods, in the Adirondacks, and her address at 6 West 28th Street, NYC. from Billboard Feb 23, 1959
Their office was in a building which was at that time primarily leased out (above the store front) to artists, entertainers, and agents in the entertainment business. The history of the building is given here:
6 West 28th Street is now the home of Hip Hop Clothing and "Western Perfumes, Inc." phone: 212-213-2497 Perfume Western. A privately held company in New York, NY. Categorized under Wholesale Perfume. Our records show it was established in 2002 and incorporated in New York. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of less than $500,000 and employs a staff of approximately 1 to 4. Mohammad Shahjaham, Owner
Anne Fleitman and her friend Sally Edwoods owned a valued painting by Philip Evergood (Blashki) that was published in the Whitney Museum Evergood retrospective in 1967. The painting had a Jewish theme (common with Evergood); it was "Solomon at the Court of Sheba" painted c. 1929.
Full text of "Philip Evergood" Retrospective book at the Whitney - Internet Archive
"Legends of Incense, Herb, and Oil Magic by Louis de Claremont (Mr. Young) is currently in print in a revised and restored edition. The other de Claremont books have all gone out of print, but Young's Chinese Wash is still manufactured to this day, albeit no longer under Young's name.
The Gamache / Marsh / Fleitman book Protection Against Evil (Terrors of the Evil Eye Exposed) and most of the other Gamache books are out of print, but The Master Book of Candle Burning continues to be a best-selling title, well into the 21st century, albeit no longer published by Dorene.
I would like to add something here about my personal indebted respect to Anne Fleitman. My own publishing company is based on the principle that sharing folk magic keeps folks magic alive. This is how i came to be a publisher of folk magic spell-books:
Back in the 1940s, there was a book publishing company run by Anne Fleitman called "Doorway Publications." The company's symbol was a doorframe in a swirl-shape, and the door was part-way open, inviting the reader to enter.
The idea expressed by that open door were clear: folk magic is not a secret initiatic system requiring priests and priestesses to administer and govern its practices. Folk magic, like folk music, is a shared and openly transmitted way of working.
Anne Fleitman's folk magic books were, to me, the equivalent of folk music publications like "Sing Out!" magazine, where you could learn a song's history, get a glimpse into its regional and temporal variations, and acquire a full set of verses and chords if you wanted to add it to your repertoire. Folk music information passed, for a nominal printing and distribution fee, though the open doorway, and no one called themselves a lord or lady, a houngan or a mambo, a tata or a yaya, a padrino or a madrino, and forced you to take up and play a song you hated or forbade you from singing a song you loved. You were free to practice and to get as good as your gifts would take you and reach as high as your skills would enable.
The folk magic books Anne wrote -- under a male pseudonym, because such was the tenor of the times that a female writer and publisher would have been untenable -- were primarily about hoodoo, as she had studied and learned it among her African-American friends. After a few years, Anne had a son, Sheldon, and she changed the name of her publishing company to Sheldon Publishing in his honour, and she continued to write and to keep her books in print until her death.
Those "Doorway" books have influenced 75 and more years of hoodoo and rootwork practitioners. As a young woman in the 1960s, i found Anne Fleitman's books in every conjure, herb, candle, and incense shop in America, from Oakland, California to New Orleans, Louisiana. I didn't know her name -- i did not even know she was a woman until after the year 2000 -- but her books, and the open door symbol, were my greatest early invitation to folk magic. The world knows her better as "Henri Gamache," the author of "The Master Book of Candle-Burning," and i am very glad to have been the one who researched her history and first brought her true name to the public.
As Anne Fleitman faded from the scene in the 1980s (she died in 1990), a second woman began to publish books on folk magic. Her name was Dorothy Spencer, and, times having changed, she took the female pen-name "Anna Riva," a combination of her mother's and her daughter's first names. I enjoyed her books as well. She passed away in 2005.
My first book on hoodoo was published in 2002. I think i can say, without self-aggrandizement, that i have taken up the torch long carried by Anne Fleitman and Dorothy Spencer. The times being what they are, and my publishing history being what it was prior to the founding of Lucky Mojo, i use both my own true gender and my own true name in my work. And like them, i believe that folk magic, like folk song, is kept vital and strong through open access.
Since 2002, it has been my privilege to work with many of folk magic's most talented and dedicated writers. It is a pleasure to edit their books and publish them with my own dear team of colleagues -- Nagasiva Yronwode, Grey Townsend, and Deacon Millett.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that:
Further text and illustrations demonstrating the inter-relationship between cosmetics companies and the manufacturers of hoodoo and conjure spiritual supplies during the pre-World-War-Two era can be found on these "Hoodoo in Theory and Practice" pages by cat yronwode:
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