* the magic designer

Posted on March 26th, 2006 by maitreya. Filed under Paper Crafts.


Ww went to visit my sister-in-law and her family this weekend for my niece’s first birthday. While we were there, we did a little antique/junk store shopping, and I picked up this dohickey called the magic designer. It’s like a 1950s spirograph, but more complicated, with like 4 or 5 degrees of freedom. Crazy. Anyway, it’s pretty fun, and me and Mark and my other niece and my nephew quickly used up all the spare blank papers that were left in the box.

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28 Responses to “the magic designer”

  1. lisa Says:

    wow that is so cool…. wish i had one!

  2. caylie Says:

    it’s really cool! i want one!

  3. cimba Says:

    love this.
    I still own a simple spirograph I had as a child; it was one of my favourite toys.

  4. Karen Says:

    OMG! I totally forgot about these. They used to be my all time favourite thing when I was little. Thank you for reminding me!

    Have to go looking for one now….

  5. Stella Says:

    I was researching an item that I am listing today on Ebay…Magic Designer, formerly called Hoot Nanny. I have the original metal game, with the original directions, box and pencil! If anyone is interested, please check it out on Ebay, and thank you for the info listed here in your comments, it halped me out as well.

  6. sarah n. Says:

    this is way too cool!!

  7. Jen Says:

    If anyone is interested, I am listing a “The magic designer ” on e-bay, I will start it low so if anyone is interested please check it out.

  8. vonda Says:

    just found a The Magic Designer at a garage sale. Does anyone know what year this first came out? I remember them from when i was a young girl.The one I have has the warranty which says that this toy was started in 1929,and that some dealers may not have them to purchase because “toys are just for christmas”. Also says that this toy has been in constant production,excepting for the war years(world war two).Please let me know any info.

  9. Andy Katz Says:

    For anyone who reads this – I have the Magic Designer (1966 I got it) and I wrote a computer program (for MS Windows) which emulates and improves on this instrument (toy). Please contact me at Akatz712@gmail.com and I will be happy to send it to you.

    Andy Katz

  10. Andy Katz Says:

    I have a Browser version of my Magic Designer emulation on my website for those of you who do not have MS Windows. I recommend Firefox!

  11. Shirley Johnson Says:

    I have the Magic Designer and many disks. I am 72 years old and was showing it to my grandaughter who is 11 years old. She loves it. I would like to find a source for the disks if anyone knows where to buy them. I have the box and everything that came with it. I think I received it back in the late 40’s or 50’s. I have no idea how old it is. I would like to buy my grandaughter many disks if I can find a source for them. The 3 notches on the disks would be hard to cutout to do it yourself. Thank you.

  12. Dennis Says:

    If you need more discs, just scan them and print all the copies you need. It’s easy to cut them out. Just follow the lines.

  13. Dennis Says:

    If you need more disks, just scan them and print all the copies you need. It’s easy to cut them out. Just follow the lines.

  14. Dennis Says:

    If you need more disks, just scan them and print all the copies you need. It’s easy to cut them out. Just follow the lines.

  15. Linda Says:

    I still have my ‘Magic Designer’ also and absolutely loved it as a child and my daughter still uses it for some fun design work. Please let me know if anyone knows of where to get another one…Ebay did not show one….Thank YOU!

  16. Kayren Says:

    I found one of these in my Mother’s garage and remember having great fun as a child with it. My 8 year old granddaughter has loved it and we have used all the paper discs that were available. Surely, we can find the discs at an art store. If anyone knows where to find them please let me know.
    Thanks!

  17. Chris Says:

    eBay does have these from time to time, they were the inspiration for the Spirograph.

  18. Andy Katz Says:

    This website offers a computer emulation of this magic designer. There is a version you can download and install on a windows computer, and a browser version which works from the website.

    Andy Katz

  19. Anne Says:

    Where can you buy the paper discs?

  20. Juanita Says:

    I have one of these Magic Designers, but I can’t find it in my house. I know I didn’t give it away, but I feel like using it again. It’s so fun & makes an endless variety of designs. I’ll have to tear up my house in order to find it.

  21. vision Says:

    I wanted to say your blog is kinda awesome, bye,

  22. Cherie Says:

    I have a early 1960’s Magic designer NEVER OPENED & in the box. The box is in good condition. Does anyone know about the value? Thank you! Please email me @ Empirern@netzero.net

  23. Katharine Says:

    I still have this toy from childhood – and I still use it. I believe my family bought it in the 1940’s, before I was born – my older sister and brother played with it, too.

  24. Stephen Lepp Says:

    I just received my Hootenanny/Magic Designer, but only have a few paper discs. I can trace the outline of the discs with a compass, locate the notches off the turntable,cut out the discs with a scissors, and use a paper punch to make the notches….kind of a production!

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to obtain original discs.

    Just a note: This spiral tracer is a simple version of the machine that is used to make the tracery on our paper currency. Back in the early 60s, Scientific American had an interesting article on the machine that the Treasury used to engrave the patterns on our currency.

    Steve Lepp

  25. J.c. Says:

    Does anyone know how to draw a spiral with it?

  26. Marion Rosenbaum Says:

    My husband just bought a Magic Designer on ebay but would like to find some discs. Has anyone scanned them? Would like a file if possible. Sounds easy but I haven’t done it yet. Many thanks.

  27. Stephen Lepp Says:

    Dear Marion Rosenbaum,

    I am unable to scan the Hootenanny/Magic Designer disc, but here are the measurements:

    4 13/16 inch diameter, with three equally spaced 1/8 inch radius, semicircular notches punched on the outside. If you send me your mailing address, I would be happy to send one.

    I bought a 100 of these a few years ago for a few dollars.

    The Hootenanny is now called “The Magic Designer”; and the manufacturer is Northern Signal Company Inc., located in Saukville, Wisc.

    You could make a template to guide an Exacto Knife to cut these out, and a paper punch to make the notches.

    A very sophisticated version of this is used by the Treasury Dept. to engrave the scrollery on the printing plates for our currency.

    Scientific American had an article on this machine back in the early to mid sixties; I’ve asked our local Librarian to try to find it. If he succeeds, I’ll send it to you.

    Best Wishes,

    Steve Lepp

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