Bosco, Carl (Portland)

Bosco, Carl (1846-1878) (Portland)
Megler, Alex J. ( -1900) Portland
Bosco & Megler

Carl Bosco had dual careers as a photographer and a magician. In June through September 1869, he advertised his photography business “Bosco & Penelon” (Henry Penelon) in the Los Angeles Daily News. He was also a traveling magician. He gave a performance in Roseburg in October 1870, which was reviewed “Carl Bosco gave one of his eclectic entertainments on each of the evenings Saturday and Monday. For late sensations and incomprehensible illusions, he baffles the science of detection. He is certainly master of the art of the ‘temple of mystery.’ He played to a good house on Saturday, and a better one on Monday evening.” From there he traveled to Salem in November to perform. Next he went to Portland and by December was noted by a directory compiler as being a photographer at 93 Front St. This is probably a typographical error; likely he was working for Joseph Buchtel (q.v.) at 93 First St. If he wasn’t then, he soon did. An Oregon city newspaper noted on June 30, 1871, “A special train went up last Saturday, having on board Carl Bosco, operator for Mr. J. Buchtel, of Portland, taking views of the scenery along the road. We are informed that some of these views are really beautiful. They are taken for the purpose of sending them to the East and Europe.” James Crawford, (q.v.) a fellow employee at Buchtel’s studio, said of himself that he “moved to Portland in the spring of 1870 and went to work for Joe Buchtel … My fellow-worker was Carl Bosco, who later became a famous magician and sleight-of-hand performer. If those old negatives are still in existence you will find that we took pictures of Joe Meek, and most of the well known pioneers of that day.” (It is not true that Bosco took the picture of Joe Meek, he shot a copy negative of another photograph.) Of course Bosco kept up his performing career. A March, 1873, newspaper noted “Carl Bosco, the very clever slight of hand performer, will give entertainments at Oro Fino Theater, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings of this week. Carl is too well known with this public to require any recommendation at our hands.” There is no doubt that his reputation as a magician was well established and deserved. The review of that show, published in the next day’s paper, noted “Every available seat was occupied last evening at the Oro Fino Theater, on the occasion of the entertainment given by the very clever illusionist, Carl Bosco. All the tricks, presented were performed with that skill which mystifies, while it challenges the admiration. Mr. Bosco is certainly one of the most ready and clever necromancers which have yet appeared before the public, and his entertainments are worthy of the patronage of the most intellectual and refined. The following are some of the many wonderful feats he performed: Fairy eggs, and Canary bird, Bewitched candles. Inexhaustible bottle – a treat for all. Flying coin. Mysteries of the aqueous element. The demon hat. Battling with the elements. Arabian doves. Egyptian wand. Arial bell. Shower of gold.” All the while he was a photographer during the day. Apparently he was the operator of Buchtel’s mobile darkroom wagon. In May 1873, an Oregon City newspaper noted “The excursionists were photographed by Carl Bosco as they passed through the locks on the Annie Stewart last Sunday.” In July and August, 1873, The Oregonian noted “Buchtel & Stolte are exhibiting a number of photographic views of Clatsop Beach” and a few weeks later metioned “In J. K. Gill & Co.’s window is a series of fine photographs of Clatsop scenes taken by Bosco.” In December, 1873, a reviewer noted “Oro Fino Hall was filled to overflowing last Saturday evening, on the occasion of an entertainment given by Mr. Carl Bosco, consisting of feats of magic, etc., which were both wonderful and pleasing. A farewell performance will be given this evening, previous to an extended tour through the Eastern States.” It is doubtful he went on the advertised tour of the eastern states because he was known to be photographing in Portland six months later. The Oregonian of June 10, 1874 reported “Bosco, at Buchtel & Stolte’s, has taken several fine photographs of Mrs. Fanny Morgan Phelps, which are to be seen in the show-windows.” The Diary of Judge Matthew P. Deady mentions Judge Deady attending Carl Bosco’s matinee on October 31, 1874.
In late 1874, Bosco began his own photography studio as “Bosco & Megler.” (Alex J. Megler) Both of Portland’s 1875 directories, compiled late 1874, list the studio. Advertising began on February 13, 1875 in the Oregonian “Bosco and Megler Photographers, No. 127 and 129 First Street, Portland, Oregon, This New and Magnificent Establishment Has Superior Facilities, and Produces as Fine Work as any on the Coast. All Work Warranted. Only one Flight of Stairs.” The location was in Monastes’ building at First and Morrison. In March, 1875, they announced they had a “new solar camera.” This was an early enlarger that was mounted on the rooftop and focused the sun’s rays through a condenser lens to make enlargements directly from a negative (rather than making an enlarged copy negtive.) In addition to portraiture, Bosco & Megler also did view work and published stereocards, which are very rare.
Bosco & Megler’s studio lasted less than 8 months. They were not successful in the photography business. The Oregonian of August 18, 1875 noted “Buchtel and Stolte have opened in their large, elegant and convenient rooms in Goodnough’s new building. First and Morrison streets. The rooms were arranged especially for the business and will rank with the best in the country. The firm have recently purchased the business of Bosco and Megler and engaged the services of Mr. Bosco, whose reputation is A No. 1 as photographer.” Actually, what happened is photographer Dennie Hendee (q.v.) took over the building, and perhaps got some of the equipment. Buchtel probably bought what equipment and supplies were leftover. (The author has seen B & M photograph mounts overprinted with Buchtel’s imprint.)
Bosco’s employment with Buchtel was probably very intermittant. Next month, in September, Bosco went on tour as a magician. He was in Seattle in September and Victoria in January, 1876. On October 27, 1876, Bosco was in San Francisco and registered in the city’s Great Register that he was a photographer, born in Germany, was currently a resident of the Lick House, and was 30 years old. In September and October 1877, he was reported as touring mining camps in Montana. He died a year later in New Orleans. His obituary appeared in the October 19, 1878 Seattle Intelligencer and noted “Died- We have heretofore neglected to mention that among the victims of the yellow fever scourge, well known on this coast, who recently been carried away at New Orleans, was Carl Bosco. Mr. Bosco was a photographer by profession, but is better known as a showman in the magic art. He made a tour of the Sound in this line of business in 1871, and made friends and acquaintances.”
Alex J. Megler left Portland after the studio was sold. He moved to Astoia, where he had previously lived since 1865, and by May 1887 was co-owner of the Occident Hotel. In 1879 a newspaper correspondent remarked “Mr. Megler … is one gentleman out of a thousand that understands entertaining guests, and will succeed.” The hotel became famous and Megler was frequently mentioned in society columns as he traveled. He died in San Francisco on August 29, 1900. He was returned to Astoria for burial.

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