When I wrote the authorized biography of Gene Roddenberry I organized a timeline as my principle device for organizing his history. This allowed me to put the events in his life in perspective and discover correspondences that would not have ordinarily been visible otherwise. It gave me a better idea of his life in context.
Of course, history does not happen in linear time, it happens “all at once,” with people’s lives often influenced by, and intersecting with, others. A timeline is a convenient way to infer or discover some of these influences. This timeline is not meant to be definitive and doubtless others may build on this work later. All of the facts have been taken from recognized works on their subjects and are presumed accurate. The primary problem in any history of magic and magicians is the propensity of the subjects to shamelessly inflate their vitae. Thus we have Kellar performing for Queen Victoria who is probably not in residence at the time he says he performs for her; Robert-Houdin inventing magic teachers to add romance to his early magic education (who would want to admit they’d learned the rudiments of their craft from a podiatrist?) and so on. We have listed what we believe to be the most accurate information. History is an art and sometimes the artist’s tools are not as good as we would want. Corrections are always welcome.
I have organized the listing as follows: those listings for which I have only the year and not a specific month or day put at the beginning of each year’s division with the more specific dates – month and then month and day - listed in descending order.
This is meant to be more an “aerial view” of magic history and is necessarily extremely selective. As Milbourne Christopher notes in The Illustrated History of Magic, between the 1890s and the 1930s more than four thousand magicians played on vaudeville stages. It would be impossible to list them all. For details I suggest you pick up any of the books listed in the bibliography which will give far more specificity than possible in a project like this. The compiler assumes reader familiarity with magic history and the names of the major players, hence brevity of details.
While the Internet provides a great many sources because of the impermanent nature of websites I have taken as little as possible from that resource.
Although I will mention books from time to time, this compilation is not meant to be a anything like a bibliography. Others have compiled bibliographies of conjuring books and to them I direct you for detailed information.
Many of the individuals noted in this timeline will appear to be doing things at what appears to be an amazingly early age from our perspective of the early 21st Century. It should be noted that the idea of “adolescence” is relatively modern, roughly paralleling the development of the upper and especially the middle class and the ability of more families to send their children to secondary education, thus extending childhood into “adolescence.” There is also the urbanization of our culture where children were not needed to help bring in the harvest over the summer and the enlightened view that child labor is not something to be socially countenanced. Thus a ten-year-old Harry Kellar running away from home and getting work in 1859 was not unusual for his time any more than were girls of 13 and 14 getting married and having children.
It should also be noted that for much of the time covered in this project there was very little public entertainment compared with today. There was no television, radio, or films. Mostly, if you wanted entertainment you made it yourself. So when an entertainer came to town as Kellar and Thurston and many, many others did, it was an event. Like many of today’s more popular films, the show would be attended more than once. Ozzie Malini, Max Malini’s son once told me that when his father showed up in some foreign land, every European for miles around would make their way to the hotel where Malini was staying just for the novelty of seeing a new face. That Malini could entertain with his wonderful stories and magic was a great bonus they were happy to pay for.
Anything framed by brackets [ ] are the observations of the compiler.
I begin the Timeline with the birth of the individual most responsible for the modernization of Magic: Robert-Houdin and end it, not at the exact end of the 20th Century, but at a place I feel is most appropriate.
Garden Grove, California
A Timeline of Magic and Magicians
For the 19th and 20th Centuries
Jean Eugène Robert born in Blois, France. At the appropriate age he will be sent to a college in Orléans and then he will enter the family trade: watch making.
Johann N. Hofzinser born Vienna.
Isaiah Harris Hughes born Essex, England. He would take the stage name of an employer, William Marshall, and become “The Fakir of Ava,”
William Bullock opens a museum designed on an Egyptian motif to house
his collection of “16,000 natural wonders.”
It is located on Piccadilly near Bond Street, London.
Bullock calls it “Egyptian Hall”
John Henry Anderson born near Aberdeen, Scotland.
Carl (Compars) Herrmann born Hanover, Germany, first of sixteen children.
His father, Samuel, is a magician whom Carl will assist when he is older.
William Bullock’s venture fails, his collection of natural wonders is sold,
and Egyptian Hall is taken over by a series of showmen.
William Henry Palmer born Faversham, Kent, England.
He will take the name Robert Heller for his magic career.
By this year Johann Hofzinser has become a proficient and inventive magician with a deck of cards. Historians will acknowledge him as “perhaps the most original deviser of card tricks the world has ever seen.”
Prior to this time Jean Eugène Robert has taken conjuring lessons from a Blois podiatrist and magician named Maous. Robert amuses his friends, his interest being piqued when he is accidentally given a copy of a book on “scientific amusements.” On this day he marries the seventeen-year-old Josephe Cecile Eglantine Houdin, daughter of a prominent Parisian clockmaker for whom he works. With a talent for the trade his father-in-law helps him open his own studio. He adds the Houdin family name to his own, becoming Robert-Houdin, the name we have come to know him by and will be so referenced for the remainder of this work. Robert-Houdin was already fascinated with magic and sees every show that comes to Paris but he makes his living by designing and constructing mystery clocks and singing birds that are sold to wealthy collectors but he will continue his quiet affair of the heart with magic.
John Henry Anderson, age 17, traveling with touring shows and has
already seen the magic of Signor Blitz.
Antonio Martinka born Prague, Bohemia. Will associate with the Kratky-Baschik Theatre, later would build Cremation illusion for Alexander Herrmann
Joseph Stoddart born this year. He will take the name Colonel Stodare by 1860 and have a short performing career, dying at age 34.
Lacaze builds Le Théâtre Mariques near the Champ-Elysées where
he will perform until 1850.
Signor Antonio Blitz, wife, children and servants sail from
Liverpool, England to America
Blitz opens at the Masonic Hall, Broadway, New York City.
Later moves to Niblo’s Gardens, NYC.
After 42 days in Manhattan Blitz moves to the Artist’s Gallery, Boston.
December though January
Blitz works cities in Massachusetts.
With money scarce in Marblehead, Massachusetts, Blitz accepts fish in exchange for tickets, filling the hall for two nights. Blitz sold all the fish the next day before he left town, making a tidy if somewhat smelly profit.
Joseph Michael Hartz born Liverpool, Ingland.
John Henry Anderson receives £10 from Lord Panmure for a performance at Brechin Castle (south of Aberdeen, Scotland) as well as a ringing endorsement that Anderson quickly puts on his handbills. Anderson, who billed himself as “The Caledonian Conjuror” will purchase better equipment and engage in highly successful advertising. Thirty performances at the Assembly Rooms in Aberdeen attract 28,000 spectators. In Dundee 24 performances brings 21,000. He will be equally popular in Ireland as well, appearing 24 nights in Belfast and Cork theatres and 200 evenings in Dublin’s Rotunda Rooms.
At the annual fair in Glasgow, John Henry Anderson moves from the Monteith Rooms (after 40 nights’ of performing) to the “Palace of Enchantment” a building he had rented. One hundred performances during the first season will bring 100,000 paid admissions.
In his second season at the Glasgow Fair John Henry Anderson adds twenty shows. In four months he announces that 170,000 people had been in his audience.
Admission is sixpence. Anderson will successfully tour Sunderland, Stockton, Preston, Huddersfield, Bradfor, and Sheffield.
Ira Erastus Davenport born Buffalo, New York
John Nevil Maskelyne born in Cheltenhamn, England.
John Henry Anderson, “The Great Wizard of the North,” opens at the New Stand Theatre, London. One of his favorite tricks is to produce a rabbit from a hat. He is one of the early magicians who popularize this trick.
William Henry Harrison Davenport born Buffalo, New York
Francis Martinka born Prague, Bohemia. Will become the business manager of the Kratky-Baschik Theatre of Vienna. Will go to South Africa with Louis Haselmayer, the Austrian magician.
Robert-Houdin’s wife dies. Only three of their eight children have survived childhood.
Robert-Houdin wins a silver medal at the Universal Exposition, Paris for his construction of an automated man. King Louis asked the figure a question and was answered correctly when the mechanical man wrote out the answer. P.T. Barnum purchased the automaton for 7,000 francs and puts it on display in London. Barnum also reported purchasing Sosia, a drawing figure. He would later write that Robert-Houdin introduced him to other inventors of automata which he purchased freely.
Adrian Plate born Utrecht, Holland. Officer in Dutch Army, writer on magic.
Robert-Houdin marries Françoise Marguerite Olympe Braconnier. She manages the household while Robert-Houdin begins the construction of conjuring equipment for the theatre of magic he wants to open.
Over the proceeding months Robert-Houdin has converted a small room on the first floor at no 164 Lalerie de Valois in the Palais-Royal into a small but elegant theatre
of magic that seats between 180 and 200.
On this day a dress rehearsal was given to a group of friends.
“Les Soirees Fantastiques de Robert-Houdin”opens in Paris with a program
of “Automata, Sleight of Hand, and Magic.” The performance is not a success but the performer’s quality is recognized and business builds. The beginning of his professional career will mark approximately twenty years of study and preparation for this moment. Robert-Houdin permanently changed the face of public conjuring by eliminating the old cumbersome stage decorations, employing instead the setting of a modern drawing room.
The pace of his show was also different. His show was approximately two hours long with a dozen items that played eight to ten minutes each.
That he was admired and respected by his brother conjurors is not in question any more than is the demonstration of their avarice in copying most if not all of his program, as many will from this date forward thanks in no small part to one of Robert-Houdin’s assistants who will sell the Master’s secrets to his competitors. For this duplicity the man will receive two years’ in prison in 1850.
Joseph Bautier born Lyons, France. Will become famous as Bautier de Kolta.
Robert-Houdin adds a Second Sight performance with his twelve-year-old son Emile as the medium. Paris finds this a sensation and everyone wants to see this amazing boy.
Robert-Houdin is summoned to the Palace of St. Cloud to entertain the
King of France and his court.
This same month Robert-Houdin closes his theatre and makes an
unsuccessful visit to Brussels.
Robert-Houdin opens for his second Parisian season having added the disappearance of his son from a small table after being covered with a large cone.
William Peppercorn born London. Will become known as
“D’Alvini The Jap of Japs.”
Robert-Houdin opens his third Parisian season with several new tricks, notably The Ethereal Suspension where he suspended his six-year-old son Eugene on the end of a pole due to the effects of the newly discovered substance ether.
April - May
Illustrated London News critic takes notice of Carl Herrmann’s performance at either the Adelphi Theatre or the Haymarket. Herrmann had worked his way up in the ensuing years from school shows to private performances. While praised for his “originality” he was actually presenting many of the illusions created by Robert-Houdin.
When Herrmann’s run at the Haymarket ends,
Robert-Houdin opens at the St. James’ Theatre on May 2nd having found that the revolution in France was not conductive to a full theatre. He will perform in St. James three evening a week during the summer months.
Robert-Houdin commanded to perform before the Queen at a charity occasion with the leading operatic artists of the day. He will later be invited to entertain the Queen at Buckingham palace where he borrows one of the Queen’s gloves, changes it into a bouquet of flowers and then transforms the flowers into a garland that spells “Victoria.”
Robert-Houdin again competes directly with Carl Herrmann. The former still at the St. James’ and the latter at the Princess Theatre. For Herrmann a tour of Great Britain would follow and then a tour of Germany, Austria, Italy, and Portugal.
Robert-Houdin’s run ends at the St. James.
Robert-Houdin begins a provincial tour at the Theatre Royal, Manchester. He also will play Liverpool, Birmingham, Worchester, Cheltenham, Briston, and Exeter.
Robert-Houdin is back at the St. James’s Theatre for the holidays..
Robert-Houdin again on tour in the English provinces, this time the eastern counties. In Hertford he has three spectators but performs as though he has a full house – the mark of a true professional
June —— September
Robert-Houdin performing in Ireland and Scotland.
Heinrich Keller born in a cottage at 129 West 12 Street, Erie, Pennsylvania.
Changes first name to “Harry” and last name to “Kellar” to avoid confusion with Robert Heller and becomes the dominant American magician.
John Henry Anderson gives a Royal Command Performance at Balmoral Castle on the occasion of Prince Albert’s thirtieth birthday. There is no evidence that Anderson complained about doing “kiddie party magic.”
Robert-Houdin returns to Paris.
Robert-Houdin will turn over the performances in Paris to Hamilton, his assistant when he goes on tour through France.
Twenty-on-year-old Robert Heller hires the Strand Theatre, London, and presents a duplicate show of Robert-Houdin’s who had recently left London. Apparatus, titles of tricks, even the name of the show and the printing of the advertising bills in English and French are duplicated. Heller has the temerity to claim that everything
performed is his own invention.
The show is a failure with historians gently describing the season in London as “short.” He will work Kent (where he was born) and a short stint in Liverpool and then off to better pickings in America where Robert-Houdin had not been seen.
The Peoples Press of Salem, North Carolina reports on the wealth of various show people including P.T. Barnum and Jenny Lind. The article is unclear if these individuals are making the listed amounts per year or as an aggregate of the proceeding years. Among those listed are: Blitz, the Magician, $50,000; Wyman, the Prince of Magicians and Necromancers, $35,000, Herr Alexander, the juggler and artist, $25,999; Mons. Adrian, the French magician, $20,000.
Louis Kreiger born Germany. Known as “Pop” Kreiger he would become a master with children and pre-eminent with the cups and balls. Kreiger will perform well into his 80s.
Robert-Houdin turns over management of his Palais-Royal theatre to Hamilton who is now his brother-in-law. He will tour Germany, working Berlin and other large cities.
Carl Herrmann performs for Czar Nicholas I in the palace at St. Petersburg. The blindfolded “medium” in the second sight routine is his
eight-year-old brother, Alexander.
Robert-Houdin back at the St. James’s Theatre, London.
Robert Heller appears at the Chinese Assembly Room, New York. No success even though Americans have not seen his “wonders.” He becomes a pianist and music teacher in Washington, D.C.
Hofzinser open the Salon Hofzinser in Vienna. On three nights a week
he presents “An Hour of Deception.”
Charles Bassett born Woolwich, England. Bassett would become famous as Charles Bertram who revolutionized magic in England, making
it an acceptable entertainment for the upper classes.
Robert-Houdin again performs for Queen Victoria.
Drama critic and life-long amateur magician E.L. Blanchard dispels the notion that Robert-Houdin is merely a mechanic displaying his creations by writing in his diary, “delighted with him, the very best necromancer for ‘passing’ I ever saw.” Other critics publicly say much the same.
Robert-Houdin gives a series of performances at Sadler’s Wells Theatre then will leave for another tour of the English provinces. At the completion of this tour he will retire to his home in Blois to research optics, mechanics, and electricity.
The original automaton chess player that fooled Napoleon, Catherine the Great, is destroyed by fire during the burning of the Chinese Museum, Philadelphia.
Hamilton (Pierre Chocat) now having managed the Robert-Houdin theatre moves it to a more convenient location at no. 8 Boulevard des Italiens, near the Opera House.
Hartz first performs in Myddelton Hall, Islington, London with a program
largely copied from Robert-Houdin.
Antonio Molini born.
While he became a chemist he loved magic, studying with Enrico Langone, Italian who worked under the name, “Frizzo.” Molini would perform a silent Oriental act. Molini would influence Paul Rosini as a child.
During this year Robert-Houdin will be asked by the French government to counter the marabouts influence in Algeria. With his scientifically-based apparatus Robert-Houdin convinces the Bedouin of France’s superiority and calms the tribes.
On his return to France he will give a few farewell performances in Marseilles then retire for good.
Frederick Eugene Powell born.
Julius Jensen (possibly Jörgensen) born Copenhagen, Denmark. His wife, Agnes, will be born in Randers, Jutland (no date). They would become famous as the Zanzigs.
Nineteen-year-old clockmaker’s apprentice John Nevil Maskelyne constructs his first piece of magic apparatus: a small chest with a secret panel.
Hartz and family moved to London where he becomes friends with Henri Herrmann, a magician performing at Cremorne Gardens and around London. He learns from his friend and decides his apparatus should be made from glass.
Ten-year old Harry Keller’s apprenticeship to a druggist ends when he combines various chemicals and creates an explosion. Rather than explain to his German father he hops a freight train for Ohio where he works at odd jobs before traveling on to New York.
Sees a performance by the “Fakir of Ava” (Isaiah Harris Hughes) and decides to become a magician.
Hartz works the Adelaide Gallery with “Crystal Magic,” the novelty being his apparatus is made of glass, but the main tricks are still those of Robert-Houdin. During this year there will also be a three-month engagement at the Crystal Palace, a short season at the Hanover Square Rooms and a long tour of the Provinces.
For the next six years Hartz would keep working his “Transparent Illusions.” Hartz worked in a straightforward style which one critic characterized as “an entire absence of claptrap.”
Amateur magician Charles Dickens explains a simple magic technique in Household Words no 472.
Louis Morganstern born San Francisco. Will become famous as Carl Hertz.
Early in this decade Robert Heller works to little success.
Hamilton, at Robert-Houdin’s Theatre, produces a new illusion wherein a child is raised from the ground by a single hair of their head.
Hamilton, at Robert-Houdin’s Theatre, produces two new effect: the Globes of Fire and the Oracle of Fate.
After successfully touring Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina Carl Herrmann is presented with a diamond and sapphire studded gold wand, engraved with his portrait in Havana. Carl will travel to New Orleans where he will appear at the St. Charles Theatre. His run in New Orleans is cut short by the start of the U.S. Civil War. Herrmann takes the train north.
After a huge publicity build up with fantastic stories of his exploits and abilities 3,000 people are turned away from the doors of the Academy of Music in New York City to see Carl Herrmann. He would play to full houses for five weeks with a $35,000 gross.
After drawing huge crowds in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Newark, Boston, and Chicago Herrmann is invited to the White House where he entertains
Abraham Lincoln and high officials.
Imro Fox born Bromberg, Germany. Will immigrate to the United States in 1874 where he will work as a chef in several New York hotels. See 1880 entry. I have listed Fox here instead of 1852 as Clarke and Christopher have because Ellis Island records indicate Fox enterting the United State three times, 1893, 1907, and 1909 and all three times he lists his age as consistent with birth in 1862. It may be that he fudged ten years.
Carl Herrmann returns to England for a successful appearance at the
Princess Theatre in London. He will undertake another British tour.
Robert Heller, this time under the direction of Edward Hingston, a theatrical manager who had taken John Henry Anderson and others to success, opens Heller’s Salle Diabolique on Broadway, New York City. Hingston’s direction proves successful and Heller’s show will run for a year.
Hamilton (Pierre Chicot) longtime manager and performer of Robert-Houdin’s Theatre retires. (Approximate). Emile Houdin is persuaded to take on the management in the interests of the family [they were probably still receiving income from its operation]. He will manage in association with other men, Brunnet; de Linsky, and Warner.
The Davenport Brothers sail for England with their “spirit communication” act
Sometime this year, probably over the summer, a 16-year-old Harry Keller will leave the employ of the Fakir of Ava and perform solo in Dunkirk, Michigan. He will travel on to Westfield and other small towns before returning to
Isaiah Hughes’ employ, the venture a failure.
Robert Heller tours the United States with his evening show.
Amateur magician John Nevil Maskelyne attends an afternoon séance at the Cheltenham Town Hall given by the Davenport Brothers and accidentally discovers their secret manipulations of the ropes that bind them. His explanation is
derided by local clergy who believe the Davenports are real.
Irritated that his explanation of the Davenport Brothers’ “spirit manifestations” had not been accepted, John Nevil Maskelyne persuades his friend George Alfred Cooke into working with him. The two men built a duplicate cabinet and spent three months rehearsing the Davenport’s rope slipping technique. On this day they gave their first performance at Jessop’s Gardens duplicating the Davenport’s performance trick by trick. This was the beginning of a professional relationship that will last for the rest of their lives.
Emperor Napoleon III invites the Davenport Brothers to his St. Cloud palace where he is as amazed as the rest of Europe. The King of Saxony and the Czar of Russia are also equally baffled a bit later.
Colonel Stodare (Alfred Inglis) introduces The Sphinx illusion during his three-hundredth performance at The Egyptian Hall, London. Hartz would claim that he and been performing the Flower Growing and the Indian Basket tricks out in the provinces a year before.
While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, Robert-Houdin may have disagreed as an imposter uses his name in Boston. Robert-Houdin never
appeared in the United States.
Hartz comes to America where he and his brother Augustus open a magic store in New York City. They develop a reputation for quality apparatus. Indeed, one Hartz invention, the mirror glass, remains a staple in most magicians’ storehouse of gimmicks. Note: some histories have this listed as Hartz coming to the U.S. and touring for three years before he opens his shop.
There would also be a Hartz magic shop in Boston, run by brother George (who would also set up a rival business in New York City called Hartz and Levy. Hartz will also have a branch in Chicago for a short time.
Hartz performing in New York City for the first time.
Hartz would remain in America for fifteen years, developing and refining his repertoire and performing skills. Slowly, every piece of visible apparatus is removed so that Hartz gives the impression of working with pure, unaided skill. Everything he performs is either of his own creation or a highly refined elaboration of a standard effect raised by him to its highest degree of perfection.
Hartz develops two signature tricks, The Devil of a Hat and the Inexhaustible Handkerchief. The “hat trick” will become so popular that bookers will almost require a magician to include it in his program. An entire description of Hartz’s method of working this trick can be found in Hoffman’s Later Magic.
Harry Kellar tries the solo route again, appearing with humorist John C. Whiston at the St. James Hall, Buffalo, New York. The show is a success but further shows in small Michigan towns failed to the point that Kellar had to pave streets in Detroit to raise enough money to continue. He would work as an assistant to John Henry Anderson, Jr, eldest son of “The Great Wizard of the North.”
Money in hand, Kellar is defrauded by a promoter named Bailey who leaves town with the show’s receipts before creditors (and Kellar) are paid.
Kellar bounces back in Waukegan, Illinois at the aptly named Phoenix Hall. Prosperity will only last a few weeks, but Kellar will limp on for many more months.
August Roterberg born.
Thomas Nelson Downs born Montour, Iowa.
He is the smaller of a set of twins, about two pounds he will later claim,
and the doctor does not expect him to live. He will become “The Kind of Koins.”
The Great Exhibition opens in Paris. Robert Heller performs during the Exhibition but it is not clear if he works the entire run of the Exhibition through November 3rd. Possibly because his next recorded performance is not until January of the following year in London.
The Davenport Brothers return to the United States after four years abroad, hailed as “valid communicators with the dead.” Then as now, denunciations by magicians have little or no impact on public belief in their genuineness.
Joseph Rinn born New York City. Would become close friend and confidant of Houdini and exposer of fraudulent spirit mediums.
Robert Heller opens at the Polygraphic Hall. The show will successfully play for one hundred nights. He will be joined by a woman known as Haidee Heller and together they will develop the “Second Sight” act to new heights.
David Wighton born Holloway, England. Will become famous as David Devant
Robert Heller closes his London show
Carl Herrmann introduces his younger brother, Alexander, as his successor to New York audiences. Alexander sails for England while Carl tours America. Thoroughly familiar with his brother’s secrets he will perform a thousand consecutive nights at Egyptian Hall, London, and will tour principal British cities before returning to the US.
Maskelyne and Cooke tour the English provinces under the
management of William Morton who also secures an engagement
at the Crystal Palace for them.
A private showing for the Prince of Wales also happens this year.
The Hellers, Robert and Haidee, embark on a world tour that will last until 1873.
Walter Truman Best will be born this year.
He will achieve fame in Lyceum and Chautauqua as “Maro”
Failing to make a success as a single performer with his own show during the previous two years, Harry Kellar joins the Davenport Brothers & Fay in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He is promoted to advance agent and later to business manager. He believes in their “abilities” until a friend ties him up and he discovers how easy it is to slip a hand free. The Davenports will never learn of Kellar’s discovery, but Bill Fay does, walking in on Kellar practicing. He will wink and leave the room, never mentioning his discovery to their mutual employers.
Howard Franklin Thurston born Columbus, Ohio.
Carl Herrmann takes a farewell tour of the United States and retires to his mansion in Vienna, purchased shortly after his 1863 tour of England. In the intervening time he gave conjuring lessons to his close friend Baron de Rothchild who guides his investments. He is good friends with local amateur magician Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser, who has a salon of magic in his home three nights a week.
Robert-Houdin dies at his home, the Priory, in the hamlet of St. Gervais near his birthplace, Blois. To his disappointment neither of his sons who had assisted him exhibited any interest in continuing the new family trade. Emile followed earlier family tradition and became a watchmaker while Eugene had joined the Army and was killed in the Franco-German war the year before his father’s death.
Frederick Eugene Powell, age 16, sees John Wyman
perform and falls in love with magic.
On this day is signed a contract between London attorney A.J. Lewis of No. 12 Crescent Place, Mornington Crescent and George Routledge and Sons London publishers, for the creation and publication of a book. The writer will be paid the consideration of £100 for the work. It will comprise 400 printed pages and may be serialized in Routledge’s Young Gentleman’s Magazine. Mr. Lewis will receive the sum of £25 when one-quarter of the book is delivered and the remainder of £75 on or before the 20 th of January, 1873.
The contract also requires Mr. Lewis to supply without additional charge the rough sketches and ideas of the diagrams that will be used to illustrate the book.
Mr. Lewis agrees that should the work not reach 380 pages he will have deducted from his sum of £100 a proportionate amount.
Mr. Lewis also agrees to furnish a legal assignment of the copyright at his cost if he should be requested. Routledge & Sons agree to supply the author with twelve copies of the work.
A no de plume will be agreed upon by both parties and the author’s real name
will not be published.
The pen name agreed to will is “Professor Hoffman” and the book will be Modern Magic.
Sigmund Neuberger born Munich, Germany. He will become The Great Lafayette.
Francis Martinka and his brother Antonio immigrate to the United States.
Max Katz Breit born in Poland. Will become world-famous as Max Malini.
The Hellers, Robert and Haidee tour the British Isles.
Maskelyne plays five weeks at the Crystal palace.
Maskelyne opens at St. James’s Great Hall, Piccadilly, managed by William Morton. The program will contain the magical playlet, “Will, The Witch, and The Watchman.”
While playing at St. James’ Hall Maskelyne signs a three-month lease
for the New Drawing Room in Egyptian Hall, London.
Around this time (described years later by Maskelyne as “soon after I opened in London) he meets the Charlier, a card expert, whom he pays five guineas for a set of specially marked cards. Little is known of Charlier except that he was itinerant, had good manners, was perpetually in poverty, had facility with several languages (up to ten, reportedly), and had artistic ability both as a designer of logos and “sketches.” His appeal to magicians is his apparently unparalleled ability with a deck of cards. His name will live on in the sleight known as the “Charlier Pass,” cutting the deck with one hand. Charlier will also teach Angelo Lewis and Charles Bertram, the latter exhibiting extraordinary ability to perform the Charlier Cut 80 times a minute.
Maskelyne plays a week at Croydon and then a week at the Agricultural Hall, Islington.
Maskelyne and Cooke open at Egyptian Hall in the New Drawing Room or Small Hall with a three-month lease.
Dr. H.S. Lynn (Hugh Simmons) who had the other Egyptian Hall
theatre unethically claims invention of Maskelyne and Cooke’s Box Mystery. He will also complain that Maskelyne & Cooke are presenting dramatic performances in buildings not specially licensed for same.
Maskelyne & Cooke survive all this and eventually moved to the Large Hall on the first floor when Lynn’s tenancy ends. They will occupy that space for the next 31 years while becoming a British Institution.
This year Maskelyne would also meet John Algernon Clarke, a farmer who had an idea and explained it to Maskelyne. Clarke has some rough ideas but it took the two men working together for two years to bring Clarke’s idea to fruition. See entry: January 13th 1875.
Nathan Leipziger born in Stockholm, Sweden.
Will become famous as Nate Leipzig (or Liepsig).
When he learns that the Davenports consider
him a “servant.” Kellar leaves taking the secret of
the Davenport’s rope tie with him.
The team of Kellar and Fay tour Canada with the Davenport séance and Kellar’s magic.
Kellar and Fay work their way south and in December open at the Teatro Albisu in Havana, Cuba. An interpreter tries to overcharges Keller and is fired. Kellar learns his patter in Spanish in five days, “good enough to make people understand and bad enough to amuse them,” as he later described this episode.
Francis Martinka and his brother Antonio open a magic shop on Broadway, near Duane Street, New York City. The shop will be moved to 493 Sixth Avenue. Years later the shop will become the location of the pre-Society of American Magicians “Saturday Night Club.” The make up of that club as described by Elmer Ransom: “The front door was locked and you didn’t get in unless you were one of the “Elect.” Dues were $2 a year. On a table would be a bottle or two of home-made wine (believe me they know how to make), some rare cheese and crackers. Seated around the table would be Herrmann, Kellar, Dr. Ellison, Dr. Golden Mortimer, Francis Werner, Frank Ducrot, Bill Hilliar, Jim Stevenson, Imro Fox, and John Sargent. Later regular attendees would be Tommy Down, DeKolta, Charlie Roltare, Paul Valadon, Ziska, Horace Goldin, J. Warren Keane, Fred Powell, Nate Leipzig, Allan Shaw, and Billy Robinson.”
Kellar and Fay move on to Mexico, appearing in Veracruz, Orizaba, Puebla,
and Pachuca on their way to Mexico City.
The Financial Panic of this year wipes out Carl Herrmann who is forced to sell his mansion and antiques. He saves his equipment and at age fifty-seven goes on the road again. During the next 13 years he would amass $150,000 and buy a new mansion in Vienna.
Angelo Lewis (Professor Hoffmann) will first learn of and meet Charlier this year. He will become a student of the mysterious card expert.
Fay and Keller have amassed $10,000 in gold – an enormous amount of money for the time. Kellar packs the gold into two cans of black asphalt, a smelly, sticky concoction used for paving roads. The treasure made it safely over the bandit-infested mountains between Guadalajara and Colima with a nervous few hours near the end of the trip when the donkey carrying the hidden treasure wanders off.
Felix Bley born Tremessen, Germany. Will work as a professional magician but becomes well known as the highly regarded manager of several notable magicians.
Charles Joseph Carter born New Castle, Pennsylvania. Finds fame as Carter the Great.
Kellar arrested on stage of Teatro Principal, Lima, Peru when he speaks directly to the audience without the permission of the theatre official sitting in his special box. For this “offense” the box office receipts are confiscated and a $100 fine levied against Kellar. From this experience Kellar learns the meaning of the words la mordida, or “little bite,” meaning that in all future shows he bribes the theatre official so this problem never occurs again.
Al Baker born Poughkeepsie, New York.
Theo Bamberg born into the family of Royal Dutch Magicians.
Will become famous as “Okito.”
Maskelyne and Company perform at Sandringham for the Prince and Princes of Wales.[They would later be King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.]
Maskelyne debuts Psycho his (and Clarke’s) whist-playing, calculating, conjuring, and occasionally smoking “automaton.” Psycho wasn’t a pure automaton even though the figure was isolated atop a clear glass pedestal. The effect was that Psycho was self-contained and the mechanism could be examined by members of the audience who satisfied themselves that there wasn’t anyone hiding inside and that there weren’t any threads or wires connected to the figure. Nevertheless, Psycho was controlled from offstage and would usually win his game of whist.
J.N. Maskelyne debuts his automaton “Psycho” at Egyptian Hall, London. Sitting atop a clear glass pedestal Psycho could play whist, spell words, and occasionally have a smoke. Psycho will give two shows a day for seven years ——more than four thousand performances and be cartooned in Punch
before his mechanism needs renovation and is retired.
Maskelyne will not revive him until 1910.
Fay and Kellar leave Valparaiso through the Strait of Magellan, up the east coast of South America. In Montevideo Kellar would face a challenge from a rival magician, “Professor Jam” who challenges Kellar to escape from ropes that he will tie. The loser to pay $2,000 to a local charity Kellar escapes in seconds..
In Buenos Aires Jam again challenges Keller who would have none of it this time. He tell the audience of the previous challenge and how Jam had not paid his agreed upon purse to charity, that the man with Jam had just asked for a handout from Kellar, which he had given freely. The crowd throws Jam and his associate out of the theatre.
In Rio tickets would sell for triple their printed value with Emperor Dom Pedro II attending three times. Bookings in Bahia and Pernambuco will follow with a return to Rio.
Johann N. Hofzinser dies. He revolutionized card magic and his influence will be felt well into the next century. Thirty-three years in the future his friend Ottokar Fischer will write an article for The Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine (March, 1908) where he would provide a list of tricks he said Hofzinser either invented or significantly improved. Many of the tricks were “associated” with other magicians. Unfortunately, as most of the principles will be dead at the time of the article’s publication, little will be resolved.
Adelaide Scarcez, 22-year-old dancer, marries Alexander Herrmann in civil ceremony performed by the Mayor of New York.
Dr. Lynn rents his theatre to Dr. de Bautier who will become famous as Bautier de Kolta.
Bill Fay and Harry Keller leave Rio de Janeiro on the
Royal Mail steamer Boyne for England
The steamer Boyne strikes a rock in the Bay of Biscay. Two crewmen are killed but Kellar and Fay survive with the clothes on their backs. Kellar’s entire show, uncut Brazilian diamonds, gold and silver coins worth over $20,000 are lost.
A French warship takes them to Brest. The only asset Kellar has is the diamond ring he is wearing and money deposited at Duncan, Sherman and Co., his bankers in New York.
August 16th and days subsequent (approximate)
Kellar writes to his father from the Craven Hotel, London with more bad news having learned that his New York bankers, Duncan, Sherman and Co., had failed.
He sells his diamond ring for $1,000.
Bill Fay leaves London to rejoin the Davenport Brothers.
Ever the optimist, Kellar visits Maskelyne & Cooke’s Egyptian Hall, sees de Kolta’s invention “The Flying Cage” and persuades de Kolta to sell it to him. De Kolta parts with a spare cage for the unbelievable sum of $750.
Kellar realizes that his last bank draft of $3,500, sent by ship from Brazil, may not have been deposited in the failed bank. He presents his case to J.P. Morgan’s father Junius Spencer Morgan, who advances him $500 to go to New York.
Kellar convinces the assignee of the bank that the undeposited funds are his. Kellar trades the secret of de Kolta’s cage to a New York magic mechanic for replacement props.
Kellar returns to London and repays Morgan’s loan, forms a new company and sails for the West Indies. He bills his show as ‘The Royal Illusionists,” a title Maskelyne and Cooke are using at Egyptian Hall, apparently without a problem from J.N. Maskelyne.
And that brings up an historical problem I’ve not seen addressed. J.N. Maskelyne was often described by friends and associates as a man who loved litigation. Indeed, he sued one performer who quickly escaped the court’s jurisdiction by leaving the country. Maskelyne pursued the case and won a £10,000 award, uncollectible, of course, since the defendant never returned to England.
In his performing career Kellar would present Psycho, Will, The Witch and the Watchman, the Maskelyne Levitation, Maskelyne’s three other automatons, as well as using the title “Royal Illusionists,” yet there is no record in any history of magic that I’ve read of Maskelyne suing Kellar for anything! One historian did suggest that on one tour of England Kellar would not play in London because he did not want to “face Maskelyne,” but that makes no sense as Maskelyne was perfectly capable of suing Kellar anywhere in the country.
To me the evidence suggests that Maskelyne and Kellar, both intelligent businessmen, saw in each other if not friendship then a mutually-beneficial business relationship. Buying de Kolta’s cage for an astronomical amount indicates that Kellar wasn’t afraid of buying the things he wanted and paying top dollar…and it would be cheaper in the long run to simply buy the rights and all the measurements necessary as opposed to spending who knows how much time in the research and development that would be needed to duplicate the illusions.
Eugene Laurant born Denver, Colorado.
Kellar opens at the Gymnasium Theatre on St. Thomas.
K.V. Clement born Copenhagen, Denmark. Will takes the stage name Clement del Lion and become master of billiard ball manipulation.
Alexander Herrmann applies for United States citizenship but continues to tour abroad.
Hartz sells his magic shop and will return to the stage this year.
Twenty-year-old Frederick Eugene Powell gives first public performance. Later this year he will collaborate with Thomas Yost, leading manufacturer of magic apparatus, and Robert Nichel, distinguished performer, in a performance at the
Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.
Modern Magic by Professor Hoffmann (Angelo J. Lewis) is published in London by Routledge & Sons. Up to this point magic was secret, apparatus was expensive, and books on the subject few and far between. The book had been serialized in Every Boy’s Magazine and now published in one volume. The good professor not only taught the same elements Robert-Houdin had, but had expanded his scope to expose the secrets of professionals as well as many standard pieces of apparatus. Magicians were aghast because publication of this book meant any child with the requisite shillings could be privy to secrets formerly costing many pounds. Some magicians are upset to the point that they “want Hoffmann hung” but cooler heads prevail, knowing that this will push creativity ahead and the craft will benefit in the long run.
After having performed as far south as Chile, Harry Kellar returns to New York.
After a rest Kellar frames up another show and under the direction of Al Hayman breaks it in with shows through California, Nevada, and Utah.
Keller working at the Victoria Theatre, Sydney, Australia. Receives much attention with The Flying Cage, to the point that he is accused of killing a bird with each performance. With much fanfare and publicity Kellar proves to the satisfaction of the SPCA that the same bird was used in each show without any harm coming to the bird. The show is still billed as “The Royal Illusionists.”
Kellar playing theatres in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and small cities in Australia.
The Hellers, Robert and Haidee, perform in New York City.
Samuel Heilbut, a wealthy English merchant who is an amateur conjuror meets and takes lessons from Charlier in London. He will later write that he believed Charlier to be a Russian and an illegitimate son of the Russian Czar Nicholas.
This year eighteen-year-old Louis Morganstern changes from an amateur to a professional magician becoming Carl Hertz. He will tour the mining camps of California
for about a year.
The Hellers are again in England, planning a tour of the Continent.
The had been performing in Edinburgh and Glasgow for eighteen months.
Maskelyne’s “automaton” Psycho get a “sister: Zoe, a drawing figure who does celebrity portraits selected by the audience who whisper their choices into Maskelyne’s ear as he stands on a plate of glass to isolate him from any electrical connection.
Kellar writes to his father from Batavia, Dutch East Indies. Keller has learned to speak Dutch and gives a command performance for the Sultan of Soerakarta. He would go on to perform at the Lyceum Theatre in Shanghai.
Frederick Eugene Powell graduates from the Pennsylvania Military College. He will go into business but will abandon a business career for one of magic. His first full evening program will be at Wood’s Museum, Philadelphia. This would result in performances at the Permanent exhibition established by the School Board as an aftermath of the Centennial Exhibition, followed by a tour of the South.
In his translation from French to English of Robert-Houdin’s The Secrets of Conjuring and Magic Professor Hoffmann comments on Charlier: “Probably the most skillful living card-conjuror is a foreign professor named Charlier. M. Charlier does not appear in public and is consequently little known outside conjuring circles.”
Hoffmann then notes that he had studied with Charlier and that Charlier claimed to have had many pupils including Robert-Houdin himself.
Carl Hertz will will tour the Sandwich Islands, Australia, and the United States for the next six years.
Kellar performs at the Theatre Royal, Calcutta and the Grant Road Theatre, Bombay. He sees little of Indian conjuring that impresses him.
He subsequently visits Baghdad, Bassorah, and Aden with his show working the Palace of the Sultan of Zanzibar.
Charles Mattmueller born Cleveland, Ohio. With too many “Charles” in her class, a teacher will rename him “Karl,” a name he will use for the rest of his life. He will later change his last name to “Germain,” misspelled for a time as “Germaine.”
Kellar working the Athenaeum Theatre, Capetown, South Africa, confronted by a spiritualist named Kehoe who challenges him to a rope tie. Kellar accepts and the publicity brings double theater capacity. Kehoe ties Kellar with eleven feet of his own rope. Keller escapes in slightly over a minute. The crowd goes wild. Despite heavy rain the crowds show up for Kellar’s special Saturday matinee.
Kellar, then twenty-nine, sails for London. There he writes his father that he’s spent $12,000 in new equipment. He’s planning on one more world tour and then establishing a theatre of magic similar to Maskelyne and Cooke’s in either London or New York.
The Hellers return to America.
Kellar attends the Grand Exhibition in Paris, takes a ride in a balloon.
Keller works the Philharmonic Hall, Southport, England then sails for Havana.
Robert Heller gives his last performance at the Concert Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Robert Heller dies of pneumonia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, age 48. While his will requires his apparatus be destroyed, he relents on his death bed and allows it to be sold the Hartz, a New York magic dealer to be sold the benefit of his assistant.
With six weeks of poor attendance in Havana Kellar cancels his
South American bookings and returns to New York.
Kellar open four-week run at Boston’s Horticultural Hall, presenting Maskelyne’s card playing automaton, Psycho. Newspaper criticize his name as being created to take advantage of similarity to Robert Heller who has just died. Kellar responds with the truth, that he had changed his name from “Keller” to “Kellar” to avoid being confused with his friend, Heller. Keller’s protestations will be for naught, and receipts drop.
Kellar will call business in Boston “fair,” but Philadelphia will be “miserable,” Washington “very bad.” Richmond, Virginia will average eight dollars a night.
Frederick Eugene Powell plays New York City, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C.
Charlier frequenting The Olde Round Table tavern in St. Martin’s Court, London. Host James W. Curran introduces Charlier to George Allbeury, English amateur magician (date approximate). Like others before and since, his description matches others, i.e. Charlier is marvelous with a deck of cards, seems permanently poor, and speaks nearly all European languages plus Turkish. The relationship will end around the time Allbeury loses his position with Rimmel the Perfumer, September, 1884.
Unable to shake off the public irritation over the charge that he had changed his name to capitalize on the late Robert Heller’s popularity, Kellar cancels are remaining bookings in the U.S., borrows money from a old friend, Colonel Willard Tisdell,
and sails for Brazil. Before sailing Kellar writes to his supplier of posters in London, ordering $150 worth to be sent to his first stop in Brazil. They won’t arrive and Kellar will make enough to pay for passage to Rio where quadruple the number of posters ordered will be waiting.
Emperor Dom Pedro II, by now a firm fan of magic, will attend four shows. With success in Rio at the Imperial Theatre Kellar will go on to Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
Kellar’s return to Brazil with scheduled performances in Rio Grande and Pelotas is less successful because of heavy rains. Kellar embarks on the S.S. Potose for Liverpool late in the month but he leaves South America with plenty of profit.
One historian claims Kellar admires Maskelyne’s automaton sketch so much that he purchases plans “from another source” and arranges for duplicate to be made while he books a British tour. This ignores the fact that J.N. Maskelyne was aggressively litigious and is more than willing to settle his problems in court. There is no record that he ever sued Kellar, even with Kellar working extensively in England, presumably available should Maskelyne wish to sue. Having previously used the title “Royal Illusionists” and having his own version of Psycho. Kellar would also present Maskelyne’s levitation and Will, the Witch, and the Watchman, apparently without problem from J.N.
Amateur magician Imro Fox working as chef in Hotel Lawrence, Washington, D.C. Hotel. The magician for a touring company goes on a drinking binge after opening night. Touring company manager staying at Hotel Lawrence explains problem to hotel manager who introduces him to his chef. With a rented suit and broken English he worked a week and “made good.” He became a highly paid draw after that with an act he called “Watch the Professor,” a title previously used by Melville. This is the story out of The Sphinx.
Sidney Clarke will say Fox spent time with a circus and variety entertainment, giving his first magical performance in the National Theater in 1879.
Approximately this year Marion Harry Spielmann meets Charlier, later remembers his as “over 70, probably nearer to 80.” From Charlier Spielmann receives lessons in card conjuring.
D’Alvini performing at a private entertainment for Alexander II, Czar of Russia at his St. Petersburg palace. In the middle of his show a bomb is detonated in the palace – one of the 53 attempts on the Czar’s life. The magician and his troupe will be kept under police control for four days before being allowed to leave.
Revolutionaries succeed in killing the Czar the following year.
Kellar has added Haidee Heller (formerly with Robert Heller) and Warren Wright, her new partner, to present their Second Sight act on his show in Edinburgh. On this particular night Kellar is summoned to Balmoral in Scotland to entertain Queen Victoria. This was his claim, anyway, repeated by other historians. Unfortunately, the Court Circular in The Times reports that she was at Windsor at this time.
Kellar’s tour would play four weeks in Liverpool as well as
time in Brighton and Southport.
Frederick Eugene Powell is called to the Intermediate Chair in Mathematics at Pennsylvania Military College, a post will hold for three years.
Christian Andrew George Naeseth born Kenyon, Minnesota. As his father is the publisher of the local newspaper the family receives railroad passes which permit travel to larger nearby cities.
As a boy he will witness performances by John Randall Brown [the famous contact mind reader], Herbert L. Flint [pioneer stage hypnotist], the Great McEwen [stage hypnotist], Alexander Herrmann, and many others.
Naeseth will achieve fame throughout the rural United States and will be known to several generations as C.A. George Newmann, The Great Hypnotist and Mind Reader.
William Mozart Nicol born Burlington, Iowa. Son and grandson of magicians - his grandfather had been McNichol the Magician in Scotland and his father had altered the name to Nicoli for his career, both men being successful at their craft.
William would also alter the family name and find fame as “Nicola.”
Hartz returns to England to give his new performance of pure sleight-of-hand which he called Le Sorcier Américain. He would continue to perform this program in London, the provinces, the Continent for the remainder of his life.
New Year’s Day
Keller arrives in Cape Town, South Africa as part of his world tour having reversed direction from his first. By this point he has already played Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt, Spain, Portugal, and Madeira. From this point forward he will perform in eight more South African cities then take the long overland trail to the diamond center, Kimberly. The trip is by wagon, very slowly pulled by bulls and takes around a month.
Kimberly is a crude town with houses built from iron sheets and streets filled with trash, but Kellar plays sold out houses for six weeks.
He will end his tour on the African continent with a booking on the island of Mauritius.
After eight months in South Africa Kellar crosses the Indian Ocean for Bombay. He has successful appearances in Allahabad, Cawnpore, and Lucknow. The problem in Delhi comes from the Chief of Police who demands, orders Kellar to remove his colorful posters stuck to walls all over the city. Knowing that without advertising he won’t have any audience Kellar packs his show, cancels his booking and sends the chief a note telling him that if he wants the posters off the walls he can tear them off himself.
Fifteen-year-old Tommy Downs can palm 20 half dollars and produce
them one at a time at the tips of his fingers. This year he will see his first professional magician, Edward Reno, then about six years older.
This year, after more than 4,000 performances, Maskelyne will put Psycho into retirement.
Charles Bertram (James Bassett) will have a severe financial setback and lose his tavern (Bassett’s Hotel at the corner of Garrick Street and New Street, London). This January he is preparing to launch a career as a full-time professional magician.
Kellar playing to success in Calcutta. He will travel to Batavia, Dutch East Indies where he will be taken to bed for several weeks by a strong fever.
Charles Bertram hires Neumeyer Hall, London and performs his Séance Magique announced as for the benefit of M. Charlier. Charlier himself, in his only known stage performance, works between Parts I and II. Modern approximations guess that Charlie may have benefited as much as £50 before expenses are deducted, handsome sum for the day, representing many months, if not a year’s labor for many.
George Allbeury receives a letter from Charlier quoted years later by Allbeury to illustrate Charlier’s odd use of English – the correct spelling of long words and the misspelling of shorter words.
Marion Harry Spielman receives a letter from Charlier looking for a sale of “transparent cards.” Charlier indicates that the only other such pack is in the possession of “his Grace at Hamilton Palace.” [This would be William the 12th Duke of Hamilton, Scotland.] I have mak all ready one pack of transparent cds of 32 cards – waiting
with the outmost respect of yours answer.”
Like any accomplished salesman, Charlier cleverly added a sense of urgency to the offer saying “Before my departure for suthampton.
I my never return to London, and never see Sir Spielman.”
Recovered from his fever Kellar begins a tour of Australia and New Zealand this day at St. George’s Hall, Melbourne. The show will have a six-week run here. During this time the thirty-four year old Kellar meets nineteen-year-old Eva Medley who comes backstage for an autograph. They enter into correspondence. Kellar writes frequently and will choose Melbourne for a vacation early in 1883.
The correspondence will continue as Kellar performs in
China, Japan, Siberia, Bangkok.
Alvin Harry Jansen born Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1923 he takes the name Dante.
In 1931 Clement de Lion will write that his real name was “Jensen” not “Jansen.”
Fourteen-year-old Joseph Rinn attends a performance by Stuart Cumberland in Chickering Hall, New York City. The performance is attended by a number of prominent men. Cumberland performs a number of mystifying mediumistic phenomena and then explains how he accomplishes most of his program.
Brazil’s most ardent magic fan, Emperor Dom Pedro II, attends 19 performances
by Alexander Herrmann in Rio de Janeiro.
Emile Houdin, having managed his father’s theatre since Hamilton’s retirement about 1864, dies. His widow continues the family management, assisted on the stage by Dicksonn and Raynaly, skilled magicians.
While touring Russia Carl Herrmann slips on a Kiev theatre runway and breaks a bone in his foot. Refusing Russian doctors he allows a splint on the foot and returns to Vienna for treatment. He will heal but will beleft with a permanent limp.
Carl Hertz arrives in England and for the next forty years will be a
standard performer in the United Kingdom and the Continent.
American audiences see Harry Kellar for the first time in
five years at the New Park Theatre, New York.
Kellar leases the Old Masonic Hall in Philadelphia.
Kellar opens at the Masonic Temple, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia,
christening it “The Egyptian Hall, A Temple of Amusement Devoted Exclusively to Refined Entertainment.” Matinees – Tues, Thurs, and Sat: 25 cents. Evenings at 8:00 Balcony, 25 cents; Parquet, 50 cents; Orchestra, 75 cents.
King Alfonso XII of Spain invites Alexander Herrmann to the palace.
Johan Rosen born Lodz, Poland. At age 15 he will change his name to “John Rose” and shortly afterwards will use the stage name “Carl Rosine” later modifying it again to “Carl Rosini.” He will use the latter throughout his long career. The U.S. Social Security Death Index lists his dob as January 15th.
Harry Kellar presented an engraved watch on the occasion of his 100th performance at Egyptian Hall, Philadelphia. The watch was a Juergesen Repeater, made to strike the hours, quarters and minutes and cost, at the time, an amazing $550!
Kellar will continue his run at his Egyptian Hall with 267 performances in all. Friends such as Edwin Booth, the actor, and Mark Twain, author and humorist, will visit the show.
Charles Bertram appears at the smaller St. James’s Hall, London. Item no. 9 being La Cage Volante [de Kolta’s Vanishing Cage]. Bertram will remain here for four months.
Heavyweight boxing champion John L. Sullivan is interviewed in the Philadelphia Times after tying Kellar for the spirit cabinet. Kellar knocks him out of the cabinet and Sullivan observes that “…if Kellar isn’t the strongest little man I ever saw.”
Henri Bouton born in Chicago. Name often misspelled as Boughton. As a child sees Kellar perform at the McVicker’s Theater. Will have great professional success
as Harry Blackstone.
Charles Bertram joins Maskelyne and Cooke’s entertainment at the Egyptian Hall.
At the Comedy Theatre in New York, for this year’s season, Kellar has 179 consecutive shows then goes on tour in the Midwest where he breaks attendance records in Cincinnati and Chicago.
Brothers Francis and Antonio Martinka found a magic shop in New York City. It will become the center of magic life, amateur and professional, in the United States.
Marion Harry Spielmann, English amateur magician, receives a short note from Charlier this Monday who advises him that he will “come on Thursday in the evening before 8, o’klock (sic), for the last time. And will show you som (sic) interesting Cards variation.”
Sometime between June and September
Charlier leaves London during this period, possibly going to Boulogne.
Bautier de Kolta introduces “The Vanishing Lady” in Paris
At Egyptian Hall Charles Bertram presents deKolta’s marvelous illusion The Vanishing Lady. While England’s home of mystery would have been the perfect place for de Kolta himself to have presented his creation, and indeed he had planned on doing exactly that, the trick’s success in Paris caused him to stay in that city. Maskelyne sent Bertram to Paris to be instructed on the proper presentation, but that not withstanding;
Bertram added a few touches of his own.
De Kolta presented the mystery by first laying down a sheet of newspaper to obviate any trap doors. He then placed a thin chair over the paper. His wife came out and sat on the chair. She was duly covered by a large cloth or silk. After tucking it in in the appropriate places, the cloth is suddenly whipped away and the woman has vanished.
Bertram adds the frosting to the cake by vanishing the large silk simultaneous to the revelation of the young woman’s disappearance. All that is left was an empty chair on a newspaper-covered stage. The illusion will cause a sensation.
Carl Hertz will shortly present a pirated version at the Cambridge Music Hall and another pirate version will be exhibited by a French magician named Wilder at the Pavilion.
In a few months, near the end of the year, Leavitt will try the illusion in New York [probably the first in America] at the London Theatre in The Bowery but his assistant will be too fat to access the stage trap.
[You would think they would have figured that out in rehearsal.]
Four years of correspondence culminate in the marriage of Harry Kellar and Eva Medley at the Congregational Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Kellar’s principal competition in the theatre is Alexander Herrmann, and competition is fierce. Kellar hires William E. Robinson to present his Black Art act. Robinson will create several illusions that Kellar will present. Herrmann will respond with new illusions, eventually hiring Robinson away from Kellar.
George F. Reuschling born Baltimore, Maryland. Will become famous as Rush Ling Toy “China’s Great Illusionist,” and The Great LaFollette.
Chris Charlton born Hanley, England
Ill, Carl Herrmann goes to Carlsbad for a “liver cure.”
Carl Herrmann dies at age seventy-one of lung inflammation in Carlsbad.
He will be buried in Vienna.
Bautier de Kolta introduces Modern Black Art at Egyptian Hall, London.
M.B. Leavitt signs Kellar for a tour of California and Mexico but Herrmann hears of the deal and pushes Leavitt into booking him ahead of Kellar.
Kellar responds by going to Mexico City well ahead of his announced date and offering half of his profits to share the stage with an opera company at the Teatro Nacionale. Herrmann stays in the smaller Mexican cities until Kellar moves on to another city. Herrmann then moves into Mexico City and claims he had forced Keller to return to the United States, even though Kellar is playing in San Luis Potosi.
Keller reacts by going to the two cities left on Herrmann’s tour and renting the best theaters available, leaving Herrmann trapped in Mexico City
with dwindling audiences.
Herrmann is forced to offer sixty percent of his gross to a Puebla theatre company to use their stage on alternate nights. His Mexican tour ends costing him money.
Kellar and Herrmann eventually became friends, if only to stop the needless mutual financial loss that both suffer by unnecessary competition.
The Houdin family sells the Theatre Robert-Houdin to Georges Méliès.
Charles Bertram leaves Egyptian Hall after two years and presents Black Art at the Alhambra Theatre, London and then at the Anglo-French Exhibition and other venues. Black Art had been introduced at Maskelyne and Cooke’s by de Kolta.
Houdini and Joe Rinn meet at the Pastime
Athletic Club of New York City and become friends.
This year Tommy Downs will see Kellar who inspires him to be a professional magician.
Backstage, Downs shows Kellar his coin work [Downs is 22.] and is criticized by Steen, a mind reader working with the Kellar show. Kellar tells Downs to ignore what Steen says, encourages him to practice and says “you’ll be a headliner.”
England’s first home-grown typewriter is developed and manufactured by J.N. Maskelyne, produced by the Maskelyne British Typewrier & Manufacturing Co Ltd of London. It will have features not incorporated in typewriter designs until 1941 by IBM. Not exactly magic, but indicative of the inventiveness of Mr. Maskelyne.
Charles Bertram tours the English provinces in
company with Eugene Sandow, the strong man.
Imro Fox will make his first London appearance, this year, at the Trocadero.
Herbert Albini, (Abraham Laski) Polish magician comes to the United States from England after appropriating stage name of Lieutenant Albini (Frederick Baxter Ewing).
Master Chas. Carter, America’s Youngest Prestidigitator top of bill in Texas opera house variety show. He is seventeen years old.
Hsaiah Harris Hughes, the “Fakir of Ava” and Kellar’s teacher and early employer, dies.
D’Alvini (William Peppercorn) dies in Chicago. He was a cousin to the famous clown, Governelli. While playing in Japan he changed from the costume of a Western magician to that of an Asian. D’Alvini gave performances for Queen Victoria Napoleon III, the Mikado of Japan, the Sultan of Turkey, Emperor William of German, and Alexander II of Russia. As a juggler he had been a featured performer with Alexander
Herrmann for several seasons.
Fourteen-year-old Charlie Mattmueller (later Karl Germain) is given Professor Hoffmann’s Modern Magic for his birthday. From this day forward his goal will be to become a professional magician.
Leslie George Cole (Levante) born Sydney, Australia.
Dunninger born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York.
Approximately this year, in Ayr, Scotland, fifteen-year-old John Ramsay will see the tail end of a performance by an itinerant street magician. He sees “some amazing card tricks, followed by the ball box.” [Probably the Morrison pill box]. In 1911 Ramsay will open his just received copy of The Magic Wand and see a sketch of the unknown performer he had seen 18 years earlier. The sketch is of Charlier.
Karl Mattmueller Comedy Conjuror
performs his first paid show at age 15 at Scranton Grade School. He will go on to perform at local Cleveland functions for $3 to $5 a performance.
Helmut Ewald Schreiber born Stuttgart, Germany.
Later takes the name Kalanag.
David Devant, under a three-month contract with J.N. Maskelyne, appears for
the first time at Egyptian Hall.
Karl Mattmueller’s English teacher takes an interest in his ambitions of wizardhood and advised him to eliminate his thick German accent inherited from his parents and focus on the proper use of English.
He would write in his diary insights unusual in a sixteen-year-old but
as true today as they were over a hundred years ago:
Develop prestige, poise and a personality people like.
Personality means being polite, thoughtful and correct.
Aim for simplicity of program.
Do tricks in quick succession, waste no time between.
Do not look at hands, but at audience.
Use everything as showy as possible.
About this time or earlier Karl had become friends with Raymond Saunders, a local fellow a bit older than Karl whose father was a professional photographer in Cleveland. Raymond’s father will later take Karl’s photograph materializing a spirit for his first elaborate lyceum brochure.
Raymond Saunders would later change his name to Maurice Raymond and tour the world as “The Great Raymond.”
At about this time Karl leaves high school to augment the family income, a not uncommon practice of the day. He will work in a house painter and wallpaper hanger, shoe salesman, and drugstore clerk. From the latter position he would be fired for playing with the store’s chemicals. He will continue to refine his presentation of magic through local shows.
Only ten months after his first appearance at Egyptian Hall,
David Devant becomes a permanent member of the Maskelyne company.
Charles Carter and Wife Corinne performing
The Escape from Sing Sing in Frank Hall’s Casino, Chicago.
Thirteen-year-old Johan Rosen (later Carl Rosini) sees a performance of Professor Baker, Taila Theatre, Lodz, Poland. The magic bug bites.
Al Baker begins professional career.
Tommy Downs, after buying is first magic outfit from W.D. Leroy of Boston, turns pro. He will perform a full evening show of magic, mind reading (a la Stuart Cumberland) and hypnotism. He will play county seat towns. He also purchased what was advertised as “The Handcuff Act” from B.B.. Keys, Boston, which consisted of a few gimmicks and 53 keys.
Francis Martinka founds Mahatma, the first magazine devoted exclusively to “natural magic.” Three of its editors would be: George H. Little, Walter G. Peterkin (Hal Merton), and T. Francis Fritz (Frank Ducrot), all magicians.
Lawrence born to Corinne Carter and Charles Carter.
Corinne says escape act too strenuous so Carter stores apparatus.
Carter opens with The Phantom Bride at Kohl
and Middleton’s Clark Street Museum, Chicago.
Karl Mattmueller working as “Alexander” in second-rate vaudeville.
This year he will add the “Flags of All Nations” to his show as a finale, something he will use for most of his professional career.
This year he will see the performances of several top magicians working Cleveland, notably Alexander Herrmann (who will die on December 16th ), Harry Kellar (at $1.50 a seat), and Maro, the top lyceum magician of his day….and this year Karl will get his big break in Lyceum with Rev. Hershey who signs him to local work. Germain will be introduced to Hershey by Dr. James Hedley, a top Lyceum orator who befriends him. The recommendation merely opens the door. The quality of Karl’s work seals the deal. It is at this point “Alexander” gets dropped and “Germain” becomes permanent, taken from the Marquis de St. Germain, the 18th Century alchemist and man of mystery.
Early in the year J.N. Maskelyne will attend a showing of the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe at the Royal Polytechnic Institute Hall, dismissing it as a passing fad. Devant will see a demonstration and recognize the potential.
David Devant buys a Theatrograph film projector from R.W. Paul’s for the astronomical price of £500 (a week’s rent for the Lumières projector) and presents animated pictures at Egyptian Hall. Maskelyne pays him an additional £5 a week. The “animated pictures” will become a huge draw, Devant will become Paul’s representative and sell projectors to other showmen and will buy two more himself, sending them out onto the provinces with a show augmented by live variety performers. Devant is progressive and prescient. Within forty years motion pictures will destroy live variety entertainment in England and America.
Alexander Herrmann announces that he will perform the bullet catch for the New York Herald’s “Free Ice Fund.” Herrmann’s insurance company suspends his life insurance for this performance.
June 2nd to July 29th
Karl Germain on tour for the Coit Lyceum Bureau.
The New York World asks Herrmann to do the bullet catch again, this time on the stage of the Olympia Theatre for its charity, a “sick babies fund.” He is successful this day for a seventh performance of the dangerous feat.
Charles Bertram arrives in New York City on the S.S. New York for work in the United States. Immigration files indicate he brings four bags with him.
Len Oliver Gunn born Starkville, Mississippi. Known all over the world as Len Gunn, hard working professional magician well into his 80s. A great character.
Alexander Herrmann has a late dinner at the Genesee Valley Hunt Club in New York after his last show at the local Lyceum. He performs impromptu magic for those present that included the local newspaper’s theatre critic, John Northern Hilliard.
Herrmann’s final trick was his favorite, The Egyptian Pocket.
He casually mentions that his nephew, Leon, will be his successor.
Early the next morning Herrmann would suffer a fatal heart
attack and die at the age of 52. The newspapers ran obituaries and
stories about Herrmann for several days.
This year seventeen-year old C.A. George Newmann will sell his magic and escapes and focus his energy on mentalism and hypnotism. By this year he had already been a “boy wonder” performer during his early to middle teens. His early influences being “Harry Heller – The Man of Mystery” (in reality Bruno Warnecke who combined Harry Keller’s first name and Robert Heller’s last name in the hopes of drawing
customers confused by the name.
A few years earlier, while visiting aunts in St. Paul, he watched a week of performances by Alexander Herrmann whom he visited backstage. It was after seeing Herrmann that he adopted the stage name, “Newmann.” It was under this name as “Newmann the Boy Wonder” that he worked his first professional show in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota, thirty-one miles due east of his home.
T. Nelson Downs starts his vaudeville career in New York City at Keith’s Union Square Theatre. He is paid $125 a week. He will visit Otto Maurer’s magic shop at 321 Bowery. Maurer suggests some apparatus and Downs brags that he doesn’t need it, is doing only coin tricks over at the Union Square and is being paid $125 a week. Maurer calls him a liar and chases him out of his shop.
Leon Herrmann gives a press preview of his show at Hoyt’s Theatre in New York City. The show was billed as “The Hermann The Great Company” starring Adelaide, featuring Leon.
Fifteen-year-old Johan Rosen (later Carl Rosini) sees Nathan Swartz, a German circus magician who hires him as an assistant. In spite of his parents’ disapproval he will stay with Swartz for about a year.
About this year Howard Thurston and Gus Rapp become friends. Thurston has been playing small towns in the South, mostly to black audiences. Thurston gives Rapp the back and front palm that he says he “learned from a Cuban” and Rapp tells him about tricks he was using in his show.
Between 1 June and 1 November
Ching Ling Foo, Court Conjurer to the Empress of China, appears at the Trans-Mississippi exhibition, Omaha, Nebraska.
Having assisted his father, Nicoli, on many shows, William Nicol gives his first solo performance at age 16 in a sideshow at the Trans-Mississippi
Exposition, Omaha, Nebraska.
This is the debut of Nicola.
Theatrical impresario M.B. Leavitt combines the acts of three magicians from three different countries to form “The Triple Alliance.” The first presentation was a combination of Belgian Servais Le Roy, German Imro Fox,
and American Frederick Eugene Powell. The show opens this month in Milwaukee.
Papa Dunninger takes his 7-year-old son Joseph to see Kellar at the Academy of Music, Brooklyn.
At some point during this year sixteen-year-old Johan Rosen (later Carl Rosini) tries to make a go of a solo magic career in London with material he has learned from his employer, Schwartz, a circus magician. Johan cannot speak English and agents find his material out of date. He becomes an apprentice to a barber and meets Horace Goldin and Lewis Davenport who become lifelong friends.
Lafayette and Houdini play on the same bill at the Opera House, Nashville, Tennessee. Houdini gives Lafayette Beauty, a dog who would become his favorite pet.
The Zancigs debut their mental act at the San Souci Park near Chicago.
January 1st through March 31st
Karl Germain on lyceum tour, one show a night in a different city, six nights a week, through Ohio, Indiana, northern Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York. [No Sunday work.] $125 a week plus rail transportation, performer pays own room and board.
Accompanying him on piano and in the Telepathy portion of the show is his sister, Ida.
T. Nelson Downs opens at the Palace Theatre, London as the “King of Coins.” Downs had spent the days before his opening walking all over London and as a consequence his feet were swollen and sore. This resulted in Downs moving slowly and deliberately on stage. The stage manager compliments him on his dignified presentation. Downs decides to ‘keep it in.” Downs had been brought over on a short contract but was such a hit he was held over. [One source says the extension was two years, while Downs will later write describing it as 26 consecutive weeks. There may have been confusion with Downs getting other work around the country, confabulating into all that time at the Palace.]
He writes and encourages his friend Howard Thurston to come to London,
which he will do. See November, 1900.
Karl Germain on tour with the Coit Novely Company. Same sort of schedule as previously mentioned – six shows a week in six different towns – through Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. He often has to perform a matinee that is different from his evening show.
David Devant convinces Maskelyne of the profitability of a provincial tour presenting Egyptian Hall illusions. The Devant-produced show opens this night at the Town Hall, Eartbourne. The tour will be a success from the beginning and when Devant heads the bill after a year the box office doubles.
Talma, Servais Le Roy’s wife, opens at the
Oxford Music Hall, London, as “The Queen of Coins.”
Richard Valentine Pitchford born Mumbles, Wales. He would work under a variety of stage names – Valentine, Professor Thomas, and Val Raymond –but will find fame and professional success as Cardini.
Leon and Adelaide Herrmann part company after three seasons from a “clash of temperaments.” Leon did nothing to ingratiate his aunt’s goodwill when he took out his own show billing himself as “Herrmann the Great.” Adelaide will go on her own, with her own act to great accomplishment. She will appear at the Folies-Bergere, Paris, the Hippodrome, London, The Wintergarten, Berlin as well as a tour of Cuba. Her preference was working in the United States.
At age 19, having worked his way across the country to Baltimore, Nicola is hired as a cattle-handler on a ship heading for France. Nicola is determined to perform at the International Exposition in Paris. Fortunately, a neighbor from Monmouth is Loie Fuller, at that time the most famous dancer in the world, who introduces him to the producer of a show at the Theatre Egyptian where he is hired to perform in pantomime for 26 weeks.
Karl Germain on tour with the “Germaine Caveny Co” managed by the Central Lyceum Bureau of Rocherster, NY, Cleveland, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois. Karl will do his magic, Ida will play piano and participate in the telepathy portion and J. Franklyn Caveny will do his popular chalk talks and comedic crayon sketches. While they worked well together, this will be the last tour that Germain will need an additional act with him. During this tour a young Nate Leipzig will introduce himself to Karl and they will become lifelong friends.
The Early 1900s (approximate)
C.A. George Newmann perfects his presentation of mentalism and hypnosis in small towns then moves to vaudeville where he will play Publix, Cort, and Western Orpheum circuits. He is well received but Newmann is not happy with big cities. He permanently moves to working smaller cities and rural towns.
At first he has an advance man, but once established he simply writes ahead several weeks and books his route himself. He will successfully present a hypnosis/mentalism show for decades in rural America. While Newmann presented quality entertainment he would disdain the big city for a route of endless rural hamlets. There are, I think, three principle reasons for this: 1) Newmann had a strong independent streak and working this way meant he could be his own boss and keep most of the money brought in; 2) he was a “big deal” when he came to those many rural hamlets, a cracker-barrel philosopher whose opinion on various subjects would be sought out by the rural folk where in the big cities he’d just be another act; 3) he was an unabashed Anti-Semite and working vaudeville would require him to associate and work with the people he despised. Rural America was in step with Newmann’s prejudices and he would find ready acceptance for his beliefs wherever he stopped.
The Great Lafayette appearing at the London Hippodrome with magic
and quick-change act.
Thurston begins four-week appearance at the Palace Theater, London.
Lafayette introduces “The Lion’s Bride” illusion to the United States.
The Sphinx first sees the light of day when William J. Hilliar comments to his friend Ed.M.Vernello about his dream of presenting “a magnificent monthly messenger of magical tidings.” Ed’s response was, “Fine, we can bring it to life here.” This happens in the basement of 282 Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Things are difficult in publishing the magazine but one day an autographed photo of Harry Kellar arrives which spurrs them on. Unfortunately, financial practicalities demand a new owner and the magazine goes to Dr. A.M. Wilson of Kansas City, Kansas who will publish and edit the magazine for over two and one-half decades.
January to May
Karl Germain booked for 105 shows.
Fire destroys the Theatre Robert-Houdin. It will be rebuilt.
A rebuilt Theatre Robert-Houdin is re-opened. Performers Jacobs, Duperre, Carmelli, and Legris appear.
1901 -- 1902
Thurston working Europe – Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Folies Marigny (Paris). Rebuilds show in London, rents Princess Theater for rehearsal and is signed by Paul Keith for the United States. This brings into question Hilliar’s story that he substituted for Thurston in Chicago in 1902 since it appears that Thurston was not in the country at the time Hilliar claims.
Oscar Hammerstein sees the Zancigs at a private party and puts them in his show at the Paradise Roof Gardens, New York City. This engagement will last eleven weeks.
This exposure will result in great popularity and the “Two Minds but With A Single Thought” will find themselves in demand for private engagements.
George Cooke, the Cooke of Maskelyne and Cooke,become upset when the Crown Estate Commissioners inform him that Egyptian hall will be torn down to build he new office building. He retires at age seventy-six.
In the “Little Back Shop” of Martinka’s Magic Shop the Society of American Magicians is founded. Two medical doctors are at the core: Dr. W. Golden Mortimer and Dr. Saram R. Ellison.
The barber’s apprentice and budding magician Johan Rosen is given an opportunity to work third-rate theaters. He legally changes his name to “John Rose” but works under the name Rosine, later Rosini.
After a few months of low-end bookings a friend recommends him as a fill-in for the Alhambra Theatre. At this booking he works with Japanese magician Tenichi Shokyokusai (Shokyoku Hattori) who trades his Thumb Tie for Carl’s billiard ball trick. Rosini would get the better of the deal because the Thumb Tie was unknown in the West and he made it a signature trick.
During this engagement Rosini will meet Peggy Barclay, a dancer, and marry her.
Paul Vucic born Trieste, Italy. He would become known as Paul Rosini. His father was an amateur magician. Also exposed to magic by performace by Austrian magician Antonio Molini who lived in Tieste.
Approximately this year Nate Leipzig begins his professional career.
Around this time, due to their growing popularity, the Zancigs move to New York City.
Charles Carter publishes Magic and Magicians.
Thurston performing at Keith’s Theater, Boston.
Thurston reaches Keith’s Theater, New York, works on the road for a year.
Performing almost to the end, Joseph Hartz dies in his home in London.
While his fellow magicians had stood in awe at Hartz’s skill, specialization and craft, the public was less enthralled in that, as contemporaries observed, Hartz lacked personality thus his tricks often left his audiences cold. The observation that “With the public it’s not so much what you do as how you do it” can be applied to Hartz as well as many other magicians.
Leon Herrmann, age 36, arrives on the steamship La Touraine, accompanied by Maria Herrmann, age 32.
Kellar and his wife, Eva, vacationing in England, see Paul Valadon, a German magician, at Egyptian Hall. Kellar books him for the fall tour. He would tour with Kellar for three seasons.
Thurston, after a year on the road, appears during summer season at
Willow Grove Amusement Park near Philadelphia.
About this year Clement de Lion, the Billiard Ball King and the Zanzigs work the Orpheum Circuit with their respective acts.
Maskelyne’s “partner” George Cooke dies in England. Actually, Cooke was Maskelyne’s longtime friend and associate, but he was not a partner. The billing was, among other reasons, a courtesy title to a long and loyal friend.
Frederick C. Haenchen, Jr. born Joliet, Illinois. Will work Lyceum and Chautauqua with fill evening show, starting in 1923, will become noted as manufacturer of magic.
The owners of Egyptian Hall inform Maskelyne that the building is to be torn down to build a modern offices and shops. Maskelyne purchases St. George’s Hall, Langham Place, tears it down and builds a new theatre constructed especially for magical entertainment. Magic historian Sidney W. Clarke will observe twenty years hence, “The transfer of the Maskelyne entertainment from the Egyptian Hall to St. George’s Hall may be taken as the commencement of the present-day era in the history of conjuring.”
Martin Chapender (Harold Martin Jones) rents out
Egyptian Hall after Maskelyne moves out, just before the nearly ninety-three-year old building is torn down and does a short season during Christmas to good business.
(See Feb 9th listing ahead.)
Charles Carter begins first world tour.
Maskelyne’s New Home of Mystery opens at St. James Hall, Langham Place, London with The Coming Race based on the Bulwer-Lytton novel. Filled with special effects never before attempted on stage it is at variance with what the public has come to expect at a Maskelyne performance.
Martin Chapender, adept at pure sleight-of-hand dies at age 26.
After eight weeks presenting The Coming Race where the public stays away in droves Maskelyne tosses in the towel and asks David Devant to return from Edinburgh. Devant agrees to appear. Maskelyne closes the play and rents St. George’s Hall for concerts while Devant will completes previously contracted work.
Alexander Loring Campbell born Sapulpa, Oklahoma.
David Devant becomes partners with J.N. Maskelyne and opens
at St. George’s Hall to sell-out crowds.
Thurston sails for Australia.
June through December
Karl Germain begins preparing for his European work, the result of lengthy correspondence. A recommendation from the Martinkas will land
him a coveted audition with Maskelyne.
Thurston appears at Palace Theater, Sydney, Australia. Tours Australia for ten months.
Harry Jansen working Kennybrook Park, Pittsburgh, meets Edna Herr, musician, who becomes principal assistant and wife. They will have five children
David Devant named managing partner of St. George’s Hall with show
billing changed to Maskelyne and Devant’s Mysteries.
Devant presents his latest magical sketch, The Mascot Moth wherein he vanishes a woman in full view of the audience without a puff of smoke or covering of any kind.
Devant revives the Enchanted Hive while Maskelyne goes for a short tour of the provinces.
Under the auspices of La Chambre Syndicale de la Prestidigitation French magicians– with a few other nationalities present including David Devant representing the English – gather to celebrate the centenary of Robert-Houdin in the re-built theatre that bears his name.
Thurston leaves Australia after ten month tour for Manila and Hong Kong. Good business in China but one performance only in Kobe, Japan because of war with Russia. Thurston sails on for Saigon, then Java, Singapore, Rangoon, finally India.
Lafayette expands The Lion’s Bride into a two-act play, The Medicine Man.
Karl Germain working a few weeks at a time mostly through Ohio. In April or early May he will play a benefit at S.F. Keith’s theatre, Cleveland, for the victims of San Francisco’s earthquake and fire [April 18th.]
Karl Germain leaves on the R.M.S. Lucania for England. He will arrive on the 16th having spent most of his time seasick.
Karl Germain opens at the Regent Theatre, Salford, England. By the end of the week he will be signed for the next five weeks to play week engagements each in Dublin, Belfast, Manchester, Bristol, and then London.
Thomas Lowry born Marietta, Ohio. Will become known as Tommy Windsor.
Karl Germain arrives in London, to open at the New Bedford Palace Theatre. He will play the remainder of the year working music halls in the United Kingdom.
Earlier in the year Archdeacon Thomas Colley, a believing spiritualist, offered a £1,000 challenge (an enormous amount of money in 1906) to Maskelyne if he could duplicate any of the manifestations of the medium “Dr.” Monck that the Archdeacon had seen 29 years earlier. Maskelyne reminded Colley that Monck had been exposed by a magician and sentenced for fraud, but it did no good. Colley persisted in the papers and
Maskelyne took up the challenge.
On this date Maskelyne performs his answer to Colley’s challenge, The £1,000 Mystery —— The Side Issue wherein a cloud of “ectoplasm” issues from the magician’s side, assumes an upright position, walks forwards, and speaks. The audience is overwhelmed at the presentation and gives Maskelyne a fifteen minute ovation.
The Archdeacon, who did not attend the performance and will rely on descriptions by friends, will refuse to pay saying that Maskelyne has failed to duplicate the medium’s manifestation since in Maskelyne’s presentation the “ectoplasm” had not returned to the performer’s body and in Monck’s presentation it had. Further, Maskelyne had an actor playing the part of Colley. The Archdeacon will claim what Maskelyne did was not duplication since “I was not on stage with my arm around Mr. Maskelyne and therefore my conditions have not been fulfilled…”A technicality that was a deal-breaker even though the newspapers were of the opinion that Maskelyne had won. Before Maskelyne could remedy the situation with a more detailed presentation the Archdeacon will wisely withdraw his offer.
Maskelyne will sue for the money and Colley will counter-sue for libel. The jurors will attend the show and conclude that Maskelyne only produced half the described phenomena. Maskelyne will be found guilty of libel and ordered to pay damages of £75 plus costs. Winning or losing was secondary to the continuous publicity the legal action will generate, keeping Maskelyne’s name before the public and the theatre filled for many months.
The illusion would be expanded into a magical playlet, “Specters of the Sanctum.”
At Maskelyne & Devant’s P.T. Selbit (Percy Thomas Tibbles) performs
under the name Joad Heteb while David Devant produces
and stars in a fairy play, “The Magician’s Heart.”
Harry Jansen open magic company with Charles Halton in Chicago and
confines his vaudeville engagements to the Midwest.
Charles Bertram (James Bassett) dies in England.
The Zancigs are one of the most successful acts in the business, bringing in $1,500 a week. They are booked all over the world.
Maskelyne and Devant form a company to work Australia and New Zealand.
It is headed by Owen Clark, a professional since 1891.
Karl Germain auditions for J.N. Maskelyne A theatrical strike follows
so Germain works a week in Dublin.
Theodore John Squires born Waverly, New York. Two years later his mother would remarry Stanley Anneman. Ted would eventually take his step-father’s name
and add an extra “n” becoming Annemann.
Karl Germain opens at Maskelyne’s with an hour-long program. He will share the stage with P.T. Selbit in his Egyptian guise of Joad Heteb while Devant is on a professional visit to Vienna. Germain would score strongly with British audiences and Maskelyne will keep him on the bill for nine months. He will also work the occasional private entertainment.
William J. Hilliar is doing good business touring Mexico.
Harry and Mildred Rouclere finish a five-month season covering twelve thousand miles.
Imro Fox is working the Hippodrome, Cleveland.
Lyceum magician Maro (Walter Truman Best) dies and is buried in St. Charles, Illinois.
The Western Vaudeville Association passes a rule that they would play no magic act unless there were two or more people in the act, which must consist of at least one big illusion. They were also discouraging handcuff acts.
Madame Herrmann and Leon Herrmann leave for Europe on the S.S. La Provence for a tour of France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, and Italy.
Kellar and Thurston play the West End Theatre, New York City
Okito plays the Savoy, Hamilton, Ontario with is show, the Chinese House of Mystery.
Silent Mora with the Graham Stock Company
Mildred and Rouclere finish an eight month tour.
The Society of American Magicians is incorporated.
Floyd Thayer offers a side table with a top, drapes, and servants for $4 or 3 for $10.
Frederick Eugene Powell opens in Duluth, Minnesota after a long illness. His tour
will continue along the Pacific Coast.
Karl Germain participates in the second Grand Séance of the Magic Circle, London, held in St. George’s Hall. Other performers include: Owen Clark, Percy French, Leslie Lambert, earnest Noakes, John Warren, Louis Nikola, and Nate Leipzig.
During his time in England Germain will invent
“The Gong,” “The Ring,” and “The Block.”
During his run Maskelyne will propose that he head and manage a touring company to work Australia and New Zealand. Germain, fearful of the awful seasickness, will find a way to gracefully decline.
William George Rakauskas born North Auburn, Mass. Will go on to fame as Will Rock.
Thurston arrives in New York slightly more than two years after he left San Francisco on his world tour. He has been corresponding with Kellar about the senior magician’s possible retirement. In New York he watches the Kellar/Valadon show and has dinner with the Kellars afterwards. They hit it off and for whatever reasons, Valadon’s alleged drinking, Thurston’s superior personality, or a business deal the two men struck, Thurston will be Kellar’s successor.
Madame Adelaide Herrmann playing Kansas City, Kansas.
Yost & Company publish their first ad in the Magical paper after 40 years in the business.
Eva and Harry Kellar vacationing in Atlantic City.
The Zancigs complete thirty-five weeks at the Alhambra Theatre, London
Okito finishes a twelve-week tour on the West Coast.
Emile Bamberg arrives in New York after finishing a successful tour through Italy and France.
Allan Shaw in Ceylon.
Clement de Lion working Keith’s, Cleveland, Ohio.
Onaip creates a sensation at the Hippodrome, New York City when he plays a piano and levitates – piano and player – then turns upside down all while continuing to play. The piano and player will begin rotating, turning once per second, and then float back to the stage. While the illusionist takes his bows assistants push the piano off stage.
“Onaip” is “piano” spelled backwards.
Harry Keller visits with Karl Germain in London.
Kellar announces that the coming season would be his last and
that he will introduce Howard Thurston as his successor.
The book, The Art of Magic by T. Nelson Downs is announced.
It has been written by John Northern Hilliard.
Eugene Laurant finishes a solid year of bookings.
Brush, in one Chautauqua engagement pulls $750 from those
who do not have season tickets.
Harry Kellar made the first honorary member of the Society of American Magicians.
Houdini announces a tour of Europe he expects to last three to four years.
Announcement made of E.M.Vernello’s death. Vernello had been a magician with many circuses and at the time of his death was running a large magic store. He and William J. Hilliar founded The Sphinx magazine.
Paul Valadon works Detroit with a new act.
Adelaide Herrmann is booked for the season with Claw & Erianger.
Albini is working Cleveland, Ohio and makes it a point to denounce Anna Eva Fay, Slade, and others who purport to contact the spirits.
Paul Valadon is working the Keith-Proctor-Orpheum-Poli-Percy Williams circuit.
Joseffy is touring with a new illusion that is in description
very much like de Kolta’s Expanding Die.
Silent Mora is the leading feature of the Graham show.
The Kellar and Thurston Show opens in Yonkers, New York.
Welsh Miller, Coin Manipulator, moves from Newport News, Virginia
to New York City.
The Zanzigs booked at $1,500 per week.
Karl Germain retained at St. George’s Hall by Maskelyne for an indefinite period.
Carter the Great opens at the Palace Theatre in Sydney, Australia
to packed houses for four weeks.
David Devant produces “The Magical Master” which includes his own presentation of the Indian Rope Trick.
Karl Germain performs his last show in England at the Royal Hospital School in Greenwich. He will travel for a short time in Germany then return to England for the trip home.
Twenty-eight year old Karl Germain arrives in New York City from England onboard the Mauretania, marking the end of his European adventures.
Sixteen-year old Joseph Dunninger performs sleight-of-hand act on Lenax Club show.
New performers working this year at Maskelyne and Devant’s include:
Leslie Lambert (sleight of hand)
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Marriott – The Technopathists” (they will later work as The Zomahs with a silent telepathy act.
Wallace Galvin – American card, coin, and thimble manipulator.
Harry Houston – as a Chinese magician
Louis Nikola – popular private entertainer.
Karl Germain busies himself preparing for new tours with Coit-Alber, Redpath, and Radcliffe lyceum bureaus. He will hear from Allie Maro, Ed Maro’s widow. Title to her husband’s magic equipment had been cleared and she wanted assistance in disposing of it.
Carter the Great appears at the Zorilla Theatre, Manila to full houses.
Harry Kellar plays extra week in Ford’s Theater, Baltimore when no theater is available in New York City. Takes final bow this Saturday night. He puts his arm around Thurston and bids him well. Kellar will be appointed Dean of the Society of American Magicians.
Karl Germain meets Alli Maro in “Maronook” in northern Michigan to assist in the disposal of the late Maro’s equipment. Here he will aquire “Dr. Faust’s Padlock” that he had previously tried to purchase from Charles Bertram’s estate.
Thurston spends the summer reworking the Kellar show, becomes engaged to Beatrice Foster, principal assistant whom he will marry in two years.
The Kellars are in New York City for the annual banquet of the Society of American Magicians where Kellar is given a gold medal with diamonds spelling out “SAM.” Kellar is the first “Dean of Magicians” in the United States. He is carried off the stage by his friends to the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”
The Kellars retire to Los Angeles were they live at 495 South Ardmore.
Maskelyne & Devant’s revises “The Philosopher’s Stone.”
Karl Germain and Company play Chautauqua through Ohio.
Karl Germain and Company open their transcontinental lyceum tour that will run through May of the next year. The schedule would be standard lyceum: a show every day except Sunday and will cover thirty states.
Maskelyne stages “The Witches of Macbeth” where the famous witches’ scene is realistically performed.
David Devant presents a number of new creations and imported tricks.
Theo Bamberg “Okito” opens a magic shop at 1193 Broadway, New York City.
It will be open a year only.
Germain, The Wizard performs at the Bedford Y.M.C.A. in Brooklyn, New York. Harry Kellar is in audience and writes in his program, “Best first part magic I ever saw.”
David Devant exhibits Dyno a hand in a glass case that plays dominoes with members of the audience. Dr. Wilmar (W.S. Marriott, an exposer of spiritualistic frauds) presents Spirit Paintings. The paintings will be made into a portion of the playlet “The Engaging Medium.” Converted gambler John Phillip Quinn does his cardsharping lecture.
Carter the Great returns to Chicago after traveling the equivalent of three times around the world. Plays theaters booked by Edgar Healy, Kellar’s former business manager. Carter hires Fritz Bucha, a mechanic who worked as Kellar’s stage manager.
Karl Germain gives a “farewell performance” in Martinka’s Bijou Theatre, New York City with a two-hour show. The elite of the magic world are in the audience: Harry and Eva Kellar, Thurston and his wife, Madame Herrmann, Imro Fox, Harry Rouclere, Charles Carter, Dr. Elliott, and many others. After the show Germain will be approached by Hatton and Plate who request the contribution of an original trick for a book they were writing [Magician’s Tricks, How They Are Done published 1910.] The writers will repay Germain’s generosity by gratuitously explaining his coffee trick and partially exposing his beloved “Growth of Flowers.”
The following week Germain will have lunch with both
Howard Thurston and Harry Kellar.
Leon Herrmann, Alexander’s nephew and “successor” dies in Paris during a holiday visit at age forty-two. He had been working vaudeville with a program trimmed from his full evening show. Buried at the Pantin Cemetery.
Maskelyne & Devant’s present Gus Fowler the 20-year-old former librarian of the British Magical Society, Birmingham. Fowler reasoned that others had specialized in coins, card, and billiard balls but no one had performed with watches, so he became the “King of Watches and Clocks.” He will have 650 performances at the Maskelyne & Devant’s and will then tour Europe, the British Isles, Australia, and the United States.
Maskelyne & Devant’s present a skit o Theosophy “The Balisham Buddhists.” Owen Clark and Houston are again on stage and Devant brings out “The North Pole” where a man suddenly turns into a polar bear.
Carter the Great opens in Honolulu, Hawaii featuring the Kellar Levitation. Neither Kellar nor Thurston knew that Bucha, hired by Carter, had secretly duplicated the levitation mechanism. Years later Carter would hire Cyril Yettmah to obtain his Iasia
illusion, then featured by Thurston.
Carter the Great on his second tour of Australia, drawing larger crowds than he had on his first visit. After Australia Carter tours New Zealand and then sails for England.
E.T. Sachs, sports journalist, amateur magician, and author of Sach’s Seight of Hand dies.
Carl Rosini has been successful since his break at the Alhambra in 1902, touring throughout Great Britain, German, Paris, Belgium, and Holland. This year he will travel to South America for a year’s tour.
Eva Keller dies in Los Angeles. One of Kellar’s nieces and her husband move in to take care of the aging magician.
Theo Bamberg, “Okito” closes his New York City magic shop and goes on the road with Howard Thurston presenting his shadowgraph act. He will tour with Thurston intermittently for four years.
Eighteen-year-old “Mysterious Dunninger” is on bill at Masonic Temple, Brooklyn, New York while he works days at John Wanamaker’s Department Store.
After thirty years of retirement Maskelyne will reintroduce Psycho
and produce a new sketch, “The Scarab.”
January – Late
Karl Germain’s sister Ida dies. He decides to give up magic and become a lawyer.
His ambitions to become a lawyer notwithstanding, Karl Germain arranges a tour with theatrical entrepreneur Charles Wagner who books and manages the enterprise for twenty-five percent of the gross. The tour will open this day in Onaway, Michigan. The usual one- and two-night stand procedure will be observed. Accompanying Germain as an assistant will be Paul Fleming, later a professional magician, educator, and publisher of quality magic books.
The tour draws few patrons as Germain will discover when the tour hit Brandon, Manitoba, Canada that there had been no advance advertising!
Carter the Great opens at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, England.
With sufficient advertising, the Germain tour of Canada works multiple days in Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Calgary. The Canadian adventure ends this day. When Germain arrives home (some days hence) he will find an offer from the Slayton Lyceum Bureau offering $150 a night for a tour through the South, leaving almost immediately. The short notice has come from the sudden death of Eugene Laurant’s wife, the magician who had been booked for the tour originally. The tour will open at Rock Hill, South Carolina and last two months. At $150 a night, six nights a week for two months, Germain will gross $7,200 or approximately $135,000+ (perhaps far more if one factors in income tax) in equivalent 2002 dollars.
David Price born St. Louis, Missouri.
Will become one of the great collectors of magic.
Carter the Great at the Rotunda Theatre, Dublin, Ireland to capacity crowds. This latter booking was done without an agent and Carter found he made four times what he would have had he remained on a guaranteed salary.
Carl Rosini leaves England for bookings in America where he performs with Sir Harry Lauder, Scotland’s beloved comedian and singer. Placed in the prime supporting spot, just before the star, Rosini is seen and critically acclaimed. He will stay in the United States and play three years of vaudeville.
Heinrich Kellar legally changes his name to Harry Kellar.
Harry Jansen on tour of Australia and Orient.
Albini the Great touring with a “$15,000 production and twelve assistants.
Maskelyne & Devant’s is turned from a partnership into a small private company. Appearing there this year in addition to David Devant are:
Owen Clark, Louis Nikola and Canadian Allan Shaw, coin manipulator.
J.N. Maskelyne is practically retired and Devant starts accepting more work in large variety houses in the provinces. Though he retains control of St. George’s hall he will be only an occasional performer. Day-to-day management is handleby by Nevill and E. Maskelyne (J.N.’s sons) and Sidney Oldridge. The magic portion of the program is handled by Louis Nikola, Fred Culpitt, and Charles Morritt, amongst others.
At Maskelyne & Devant’s J. N. Maskelyne presents a modified form of his old exposure of the Davenport Brothers’ cabinet manifestations. This is his response to public comments by Sir Hiram Maxim saying that magicians’ explanations are not sufficient.
The Great Lafayette dies in a theatre fire that begins this Tuesday evening in Edinburgh, Scotland as the show is ending. Lafayette and most of his company escape but Lafayette returns, some accounts have him returning to save his animals and another suggest it may be to rescue a midget he’d locked in a closet in his dressing room. Regardless, he does not survive, but remains a master illusionist for several days after his death as his double is wrongly identified and taken to the crematorium in Glagow. By Friday the correct body is discovered and identified by a ring.
Leaves and estate estimated at $200,000.
Elburn Madren Calvert born Trenton, Indiana.
Will become famous as John Calvert.
O. Wayne Meyer, born Harvard, Nebraska. Will become known to readers of The Jinx and other publications as Orville Meyer.
After a year in Great Britain Carter the Great moves to Europe opening
in Liege with a replica of Lafayette’s Lion’s Bride.
David Devant presents the illusion Window of the Haunted House that attracts the public for months.
The Vucics move to Chicago, Illinois from Trieste, Italy. Paul Vucic (Rosini) discovers August Roterberg’s magic shop in the Palmer House Hotel, downtown Chicago.
Antonio Molini dies.
Carter draws five thousands spectators to the Coliseu dos Recreios in Lisbon, Portugal to see the Lion’s Bride.
After a few months playing vaudeville houses in California Carter the Great opens at the Crown Theatre, Chicago.
The First Royal Command Variety Performance held at the Palace Theatre. Along with great stars of the day Harry Lauder and Anna Pavlova was David Devant who performed the Eggs from a Hat assisted by his daughter,
Vida and J.N. Maskelyne’s son, Jasper.
Albini dies in Chicago hotel at age 53.
David Devant performs privately for England’s King George V and Queen Mary.
Carter the Great performing a thirty-minute vaudeville turn at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York, with standing-room-only audiences.
Del Adelphia performs the Vanishing Birdcage at the SAM banquet strongly influencing a young Fred Keating who would make the trick one of his signatures.
Carl Rosini leaves for another South American tour along with La Follette (George Reuschling) who will do his quick-change act. They end up in Cuba playing theaters until World War I breaks out. LaFollette stays in South America and Rosini returns to the United States.
Harry Jansen arrives in San Francisco on New Year’s Day from tour
of Australia and Orient
Dunninger closes 57 weeks at the Eden Musee Wax Museum, New York.
Citing nervous exhaustion due to management responsibilities David Devant withdraws from Maskelyne and Devant’s Mysteries. Maskelyne, with the assistance of his sons, assumed entire control at St. George’s Hall. Mr. Maskelyne is 75 years old.
Agnes Zancig becomes ill.
David Devant touring principal variety theaters of England
at far more money than he earned with Maskelyne.
Paul Rosini’s family moves to New York City.
Agnes, half of the Zancig act and Julius’s wife of thirty years dies.
At age 76 J.N. Maskelyne again performing
Will, the Witch, and the Watchman
and plate spinning.
David Devant performing at Ambassador Theatre, London.
End of the Year
By the end of 1916 Carter the Great, having worked the principal cities of the eastern US has enough money to retire. He is forty-three years old.
Within the first few months of this year Charles Carter – Carter the Great – buys Martinka and Co., the oldest magic shop and supplier in the United States, telling friends he will open branch shops around the country.
In the year after his wife dies Julius Zancig begins doing the act with his “son,” actually Paul Vucic (Rosini). This will not last for unknown reasons, but possibly because Zancig is able to replace the fifteen-year-old Paul with David Bamberg, Theo’s son. David is thirteen and probably works for free, Zancig trading the Bamberg family a place to live in the upper stories of a building he rents at 109 West 87th St. for David’s services. The act will work Luna Park on Coney Island and society parties. Mrs. Bamberg disapproves of the arrangement but Theo Bamberg would occasionally join the act with the bill reading, “The Zancigs – A Marvelously Perplexing, Mystifying trio.”
Later this same year Zancig will remarry and his new wife Ada will take the place of the young Bamberg. David Bamberg will go on to become famous as Fu Manchu.
Paul Vucic will become an assistant to illusionist Carl Rosini.
Francis Martinka retires from the magic business.
J.N. Maskelyne misses twice during his plate spinning routine.
It will be his last stage appearance.
J.N. Maskelyne does not come to the stage from his apartment above the theater.
After battling pneumonia and pleurisy for 16 days
J.N. Maskelyne dies at age 77 years, 6 months.
Dunninger playing three shows a night at Bond’s restaurant, Hartford, Connecticut – sleight of hand & straitjacket escape, publicized his appearance by doing a blindfold automobile drive to find a hidden object.
Adelaide Herrmann, 64, appears as Cleopatra with her Palace of Illusions at Luna Park, Coney Island, New York.
Frederick Eugene Powell visits Harry Kellar at Kellar’s home,
460 S. Ardmore, Los Angeles.
Houdini persuades Kellar to come to New York to star in a gigantic benefit sponsored by the Society of American Magicians to benefit American casualties of the war. Kellar was carried off the stage by Houdini and other members of the S.A.M. while others brought on baskets of red and yellow roses. The orchestra played Auld Lang Syne and the six thousand members of the audience rose and sang along.
After offering his “$25,000 show” for sale and not finding a buyer,
Carter the Great sails to Havana, Cuba for a month’s engagement.
Harry Houdini at the Hippodrome, New York City
Dunninger does another blindfolded drive in the Bronx, New York, for the New York Liberty Bond Committee. Finds he gets more press with his mentalism that with magic, begins to study mentalism seriously.
William E. Robinson in his stage persona of Chung Ling Soo is accidentally shot through the chest while performing item no. 38 in his program: The Living Target at the Wood Green Empire Theatre, London. He will die tomorrow.
His show will be taken out by his widow with the assistance of different magicians at different times – Ching Wu (Alfred Banks, Royal Raceford, and Amasis Li Sing Foo (Arthur Hortop). None will be particularly successful.
Carter the Great leases the Belmont Theatre on Broadway, NYC. Only Billboard gives him a good review. After two weeks he closes the show.
Carter the Great offers Martinkas for sale.
William J. Hilliar encounters a short, stocky man attired in immaculate evening closes, but dangling from his right trousers leg is a tattered and much worn garter. “Called the fashion plate’s attention to it. He thanked me and offered his card. It was Malini. He was giving a show in the ballroom next night at $3 a customer. Hall was crowded. As a drawing room or banquet magician with cards Malini has never been excelled.”
Another Malini adventure from Hilliar: “Uncanny in his mastery of showmanship. Rotary staged luncheon at Palace Hotel in honor of Mary Miles Minter – then the reigning movie queen. Malini had promised to be among those present. Lunch started and no Malini. Messages were sent to his hotel with no answer. Just as the feed was over, with a fanfare of waiters dropping dishes, in came Malini. Started hurriedly for the head table, received tremendous ovation. Miss Minter was entirely forgotten. Malini did his stuff and the audience went away talking of nothing but him.”
Adelaide Herrmann’s billing for the Keith vaudeville circuit is “Noah’s Ark-where Do They Come From?” a large production of animals.
Adrian Plate, writer on magic, dies in New York City. Semi-professional magician, worked lodges, clubs, schools, also an expert on feats of memorization.
Houdini, Alf Wilton, and John Collins buy Martinkas from Carter. Sometime after the sale Carter forms the “Carter Film Corporation in San Francisco.
Theo Bamberg – Okito – leaves for South America with illusionist Carl Rosini. No evidence that Paul Vucic goes with him.
Thurston plays four weeks on Broadway at Globe Theater, New York City.
Carter the Great brings in “big crowd” according to Variety at the San Francisco Hippodrome.
During a four-week appearance at the Midland Theatre in Manchester, Devant finds he has paralysis agitans, a nervous disorder, which ends his career as a performer.
Angelo Lewis, known the world over as “Professor Hoffmann, author of many books on magic and innumerable articles on same, dies at age 80.
Between 1870 and 1890 he had taken lessons with Robert Hellis and the legendary Charlier. He performed for friends and the benefit of charitable groups.
William Hilliar has dinner with Dr. Samri S. Baldwin, The White Mahatma. Hilliar will later state that Baldwin developed the modern mind-reading act as we know it today as he was the first to use prepared pads and answer questions in detail. As Hilliar recalled, “Baldwin circled the globe several times, made fortunes which evaporated, eked out a precarious existence telling fortunes during his last years with his daughter “Shadow,” his constant companion. Once the guest of kings and emperors he fades out of life’s picture – almost penniless – in a tiny flat in ‘Frisco.”
Carter the Great sales for Australian and New Zealand again.
Carl Rosini returns to the United States and plays vaudeville.
Paul Vucic (Rosini) living with his family and working for a butcher delivering groceries in Gary, Indiana, his love affair with magic still strong.
He would rent the local theatre and have his professional debut as Paul Vucic.
Werner “Dorny” Dornfield working Chicago with the Elsie Janis Show.
William Robinson (Chung Ling Soo) equipment will be auctioned today.
Carter the Great opens at the Criterion Theatre, Natal, South Africa
Chicago illusionist Grover George and William “Doc” Nixon form the “Mysteries Production Company.”
The International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) founded in 1922 by
Len Vintus, Gene Gordon and Don Rogers. It will grow to become the largest magical organization in the world.
Harry Kellar dies in Los Angeles from pneumonia or possibly influenza (authorities vary). Cremated at the Rosedale Crematory. The pallbearers are divided equally between the Elks and Masons, the three latter also being members of the Los Angeles Society of Magicians, of which Kellar was Honorary President.
One of the best introductory books on magic, Lessons in Conjuring
by David Devant, is published.
Late in the Year
Carter the Great’s tour of Japan not doing well, tour cancelled after a nine-week stretch of bad business. Carter sued by Japanese firm for their $28,000 loss. Court refused to hear their complaint but Carter and his assistant’s personal items as well as show equipment were seized by the company. Carter and his assistants had to stage a raid to get their possessions back. There was a fight between Carter and his people and the employees of the suing company. Carter and company were driven off.
Five weeks later Carter recovered his property and filed a $22,500 lawsuit against the White City Company and its employees which was heard by a Tokyo District Court. In a most unusual set of circumstances Carter won all three levels of appeal in the Japanese Courts and eventually collected….seven years later. He became one of the few foreigners to prevail in a Japanese case brought against a Japanese company and Japanese citizens.
Approximately this year, Paul Vucic, now calling himself Paul Rosini, works with George and Nixon’s Mysteries Production Company.
Thurston has more business than he can handle so he creates additional show units,
gives Harry Jansen the name “Dante” and sends him out playing
one and two-day stands in the smaller cities Thurston can’t afford to work.
Sometime during this year –approximated by other historians - Paul Vucic will change his name to Paul Rosini. It is not known if this was done as a sort of ‘homage’ to his former employer or if it was done to capitalize on Rosini’s well-known name.
LaFollette working the Main Street follies at the Central Theatre, New York City.
Having seen a demonstration of the Zancigs “powers” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writes, “I have tested Prof. and Mrs. Zancig today and am quite assured that their remarkable performances, as I saw it, was due to psychic causes (thought transference) and not to trickery.”
Carter the Great plays the Curran Theatre in San Francisco on his return from Japan.
Dante’s show debuts in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
The Mysteries Production Company disbands. Grover George goes on tour in South America. Doc Nixon pursues a career in Detroit radio.
Paul Rosini, in employment arranged by Joe Berg, goes out with Mysterious Smith and his wife, “Madam Olga” in their traveling show. From Smith Rosini probably learned the secret of his straitjacket and coffin escape, something he would feature for a short while later in his career.
After several West Coast bookings, Carter the Great left for ‘Australia again.
Loring Campbell begins professional career working full evening Lyceum and Chautauqua shows.
Annemann’s first published trick appears in The Sphinx. Annemann is 17-years-old.
Francis Martinka dies in New York City.
Thurston working Belasco Theater, Washington, DC, invited to perform for President Calvin Coolidge’s family and friends.
Joe Berg (Josef Bregman) with partners Sam Berland and Harry Faber
open a shop at 321 South Clark Street, Chicago, next to the Princess Theatre.
They call their shop the Princess Magic Shop.
After completing his time with Mysterious Smith Paul Rosini goes out with Spencer-The Mind Reader, performing his own act.
Having had two surgeries and a wife who has become a spiritualist, Zancig announces his retirement, although he continues to give daily readings.
Paul Rosini and wife Anna (whom he had married sometime in the early 1920s) move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to further Paul’s career as a solo entertainer. With bookings scarce he was forced to take a job with Martin Sunshine, Mindreader. Things will become more pressing for Rosini with the birth of his first son sometime this year.
Harry Houdini at the National Theatre, New York City
Baby, Carter the Great’s aging lion becomes too sick to work so
“Beauty and the Beast is dropped from the show.
The first convention of the International Brotherhood of Magicians happens in Kenton, Ohio, with 150 magicians attending. It becomes a yearly event.
Fire at the Progressive Transfer Warehouses in Manhattan kills over fifty of Adelaide Herrmann’s trained animals and destroys most of the equipment she had inherited from her husband, Alexander.
Newspapers reporting the disastrous fire to Madame Herrmann’s equipment and animals in September had predicted the end of her career but she proved them wrong. At age seventy-three she was on tour again with “Magic, Grace, and Music.”
Carter the Great opens in Brisbane, Australia at His Majesty’s Theatre.
Levante leaves Australia for first world tour.
Travels to England, by way of Philippines, Malaya,
Borneo, India, Russia, China, and Japan.
The Spider, a play by magician Fulton Oursler and Lowell Brentano opens at Chanin’s 46th Street Theatre. It will run 319 performances.
After four years playing small towns and short weeks Dante convinces
Thurston to send him abroad. Dante opens this day in San Juan, Puerto Rico
with the number-two Thurston show.
Dante charters a two-masted schooner with an incompetent captain who doesn’t have a compass. Rescued by the liner San Juan and taken to Venezuela, Dante will go on to perform in Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. He will have one hundred and twenty performances at the Casino Theatre, Buenos Aires.
While working in New Zealand Carter reads that the Australian Federal taxation Department in Sydney has a warrant out against him for tax evasion. Carter will later learn that his name had been appropriated by a Australian impersonator.
Adelaide Herrmann appears at Keith’s Orpheum, Brooklyn with a turn that includes major illusions. Age and failing health will soon demand she retire.
August Roterberg dies.
Around this time Zancig offers employment to Paul Rosini and his wife. They move into a brownstone that also contains Zancig’s studio in Philadelphia.
Charles Carter is in South Africa for third time. He continues his travels and in the
ensuing two years will work Jerusalem, German and other European countries.
Anna Rosini gives birth to second son. Paul Rosini continues to work with Zancig both in Philadelphia and over the summer at Zancig’s “Temple of Mystery” in Asbury Park, New Jersey. There Paul and Anna do a Question and Answer routine as well as private readings.
Having sailed from South America Dante opens at the Music Hall, Moscow. Works Leningrad as well. Subsequently plays Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Naples, and Nice.
The Chose Hours with Dunninger appears on the radio. It will not last long but will be the first of four radio series for the Master Mentalist.
Carl Rosini leaves again for South America, but not to present a magic show. He is showing Eddie Dorling’s film “Blaze of Glory” instead.
Frakson working the week of February 18th at Garden Theater, Baltimore, Maryland,
is the guest of honor at a dinner thrown by the Society of Osiris, on Friday evening the 22nd after his second show.
Harry Blackstone is booked for a tour of the Loews circuit.
Cardini is on the Pantages circuit.
Holden reports Julius Zancig, sick at studio at 52nd Street, NYC
Die Magie, German magic magazine being edited by
Helmut Schreiber (later known as Kalanag)
Harry Sears, who 20 years before was one of the best vaudeville magicians now owns a gold mine, is prospering and out of magic as a performer.
Leo Rullman sells souvenirs of the Dean Powell Testimonial show,
autographed by Powell for $3.00
Reacting to complaints from the S.A.M. about the film Noisy Neighbors, Radio-Keith-Orpheum Circuit agrees not to screen any films with magic exposed.
Dr. Samuel C. Hooker consents to a new showing of
his rising cards and talking bear.
Annemann reported as playing dates around New York City in an Indian costume with mind reading and spirit effects.
Carl Rosini working Loews American Theatre, NYC.
Al Baker busy with magic and giving after dinner speeches.
Daisy Hartwell and Shah Babar are two new mental acts around N.Y.
Rolf Hansen, a magician new to England, produces five candles all lighted
from his hip pocket.
Actors Equity announces that Linden Heverly,
known professionally as “The Great Heverly has died from influenza.
Julius Zancig still ill moves to Venice, California.
Paul Rosini and his wife carry on the business.
The Magic Shop of Philadelphia, 709 Chestnut St is run by Walter B. Gibson.
Dave Vernon leaves for a tour of the South. (Information does not specify if Vernon was cutting silhouettes or performing magic.)
Julius Zancig dies in a Santa Monica, California hospital.
The Rosinis continue performing the Zancig’s old telepathy act, calling themselves the legitimate successors to the Zancigs, even using their old title, “Two Minds
with but a Single Thought.”
George LaFollette working all summer at Luna Park, Coney Island.
George LaFollette to open on the Pantages Circuit.
Carter the Great arrives in San Francisco ending his world tour. Announces that he will never play Moscow again because the authorities hit him with a 40 percent tax on his receipts.
September 22nd – 27th
Harry Blackstone plays the Corn Palace at Mitchell, South Dakota and grosses $34,680.50 for the week. (Almost $375,000 in 2002 dollars.)
The New Zealand Society of Magicians holds their country’s first convention in Auckland. The convention is two days long and well-attended.
The Spider, a film based on the Broadway play of the same name by Fulton Oursler and Lowell Brentano, starring Edmund Lowe is released.
Chandu the Magician, a serial/play aimed at juveniles begins on
local radio station KHJ in Los Angeles.
Twenty-year-old John Calvert working variety theatres in Southern states with six assistants in an act of illusions, sleight-of-hand, and pseudo-hypnosis.
Ade Duval, “The Master of the Silks” is a featured act with a Loews unit. When he works the Capitol Theatre, NYC, he is held over several weeks.
Thayer is selling “The Blue Phantom” for $18.50
Dante reported crashing box office records at the Dal Verme Theatre, Milan, Italy.
While eating in a Boston restaurant Jack Gwynne has two suitcases of clothes stolen from his car. Gwynne is playing New England time for Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO).
A newspaper in Napier, New Zealand reports that Franklin John Smith, AKA “Pit Pot Smith” was sentenced to a month in jail for representing himself as Carter the Great.
McDonald Birch marries his assistant Mabel Sperry in Bella Acuna, Mexico.
Ade Duvall working RKO Albee for a week in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Parent Assembly of the Society of American Magicians presents “A Carnival of Magic” at the Heckscher Theatre, NYC.
The Masters of Ceremonies are Al Baker and Nate Leipzig who present the following acts: Jan Hagoort, The Holland Mystic; Holden and Graham, Versatile Originalities; Louis Zingone, Society’s Entertainer; Al Baker; Cardini, The Suave Deceiver; an MGM News Reel of “Magicians the World Over;” Kuma, the Oriental Magician;
Jarrow, the Humorous Trickster; and
Hardeen with his entire company closes the show with his complete act
The show turns a profit of $1,079
The February meeting of the SAM Parent Assembly has a proclamation introduced by John Mulholland and unanimously approved: “That amateurs do not interfere with professional in engagements and whenever amateurs are requested to perform for charity, they shall charge a nominal fee to be given to the Society.”
There is no mention of how this will be enforced.
Week of the 6th
Chris Charlton, English conjuror, appears at the Orpheum, Omaha, Nebraska while at the same time...
Harry Blackstone appears at the World Theatre, a Publix show house.
Local magicians throw a dinner for both men at the Paxton Hotel.
The Great Nicola opens in Chicago at the Studebaker Theatre after returning from a tour of Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, the Hawaiian Islands, South Africa, and India.
Dr. A. M. Wilson, publisher and editor of The Sphinx is never one to pull a punch. He writes, “As soon as a man perfects an act there are many people who go to dealers asking for the identical apparatus used in the star’s act. These individuals are idea sucking leeches. It is unfortunate for them that the requisite skill cannot be included d with the purchase of the apparatus. Letters have come asking that the dealers be condemned for making copies of novel tricks of stage performers. That cannot be done for in the first place these men are dealers and not censors in charge of regulating performances. Therefore, magicians at large must realize that stealing a man’s act is no less stealing because some mechanism pertaining to it can be bought. Magic has been tremendously helped by amateur but often they are the worst offenders, although most of them mitigate the offense in their own minds by saying they don’t show the tricks professionally. This perhaps is even worse, for they do gratis another man’s show for which he would have been paid. An act stealer should be catalogued with a pickpocket.”
After 10 years of performing Jean de Jen quits the stage, advertising his 2-hour show for sale. He offers his musical telepathy act to the trade for $200.
Blue Ribbon Books republishes Harold Kellock’s biography of Houdini. Price: $1
Leo Rullman – Conjuring Books has a sale: any five titles for $3; any ten titles for $5.
Sometime in the previous months Howard Thurston fends off an attacker with a tear gas pen. The company reports that they are selling steady since Thurston’s story
runs in 800 newspapers.
Loring Campbell playing around Minneapolis, Minnesota
Al Baker plays three engagements in Harford, Ct.
Annemann plays four days at the Allyn Publix Theatre, Hartford, CT.
Jack Gwynne and Co play two days in Middletown, CT.
Thurston Show opens in Milwaukee. Nicola still in Chicago.
Hardeen on the radio, WBZ (Boston) and WBZA (Springfield),
talks for eight minutes or so about Houdini.
Despite a raging Chicago blizzard the matinee at the Studebaker Theatre is nearly packed with people eager to see The Great Nicola’s two-hour show.
The Boston Sunday Post has an article about Houdini by a Sophie Roberts who claims to have been Houdini’s nurse. She says he accomplished the Needle trick with a magnet disguised as a tooth. She says he was a wonderful man and gives several anecdotes.
Assembly # 3 of the Society of American Magicians arranges a testimonial benefit for Dean of Magic Frederick Eugene Powell on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Held at the Chicago Club Woman’s Theatre, a raging storm failed to stop high attendance that included Eugene Laurant, Nicola, The Great Caesar. A show followed accompanied by Jimmy Henschell’s Sate-Lake orchestra. Dorny was the MC. One of the highlights of the show is Rita Delgardi who performed the
Vanishing Birdcage in a sleeveless costume.
Hardeen, Brother of Houdini, and Koran the Mystic, billed as “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow,” working Shubert’s Lyric Theatre, Boston.
Koran on the radio daily with his mentalism.
Week of March 14th
Fred Keating featured on the bill of the Palace Theatre, New York. Keating had just completed his engagement in the review, “Better Times,” which played Springfield, MA, Providence, RI, and Philadelphia, PA.
Late March/Early April
George LaFollette working 90 minute show of magic, illusions, and quick-change with Rajah Raboid (Maurice Kitchen) doing forty minutes of mind reading in New York theater at Forty-Second Street and Broadway.
Jack Gwynne in NYC and Ade Duvall in town with a Loew Unit show.
Blackstone cancels work to get the Magic Circle Magazine out.
Annemann’s book, “The Book Without a Name” is published, the first in the Rotogravure process. Cloth bound, $3
Ade Duvall and his “Rhapsody in Silk” playing a Baltimore vaudeville theater.
Thurston Show in Washington, D.C.
Kuma and Co. working Glens Falls, NY and on to RKO houses in New England.
Rita Delgardo working RKO Orpheum in Omaha, Nebraska.
Cardini writes to John Mulholland that Floyd Thayer once told him that he could always tell where he [Cardini] was in the country by the orders he gets for the Harlequin Cigarette Holder and the Colored Billiard Balls.
Magicians in San Francisco
The Great Raymond plays Loew’s Warfield; Harry and Frances Usher are on the Fox Circuit; Alberto the Gay Deceiver at the Oakland Orpheum, Carter the Great is about to open a new show.
The Great LaFollette and Raja Raboid open at the
Maryland Theatre, Baltimore, Maryland.
Thurston’s brother Harry opens “Thurston’s Mysteries of India” in Harvey, Illinois.
May 29th & 30th
Society of American Magicians convention attendee sees Paul Rosini perform for the first time at a magicians’ convention.
Thayer selling his “Supreme Vanishing Cage and Canary” for $15.
Dr. William Endlich reports that at the Philadelphia Assembly No 4 of the SAM there had been a discussion of the theft of tricks. Case in point: Frank Hall who presented to this SAM group, at his home in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania about 18 months earlier, his own creation: The Floating Light Bulb. Hall had marketed several to a few professionals and suddenly finds a well-known dealer [probably Burling Hull who then ran prominent ads for “Dunninger’s Miracle Floating Light”], selling the trick as his.
Chris Charlton working Loew’s Theatre, Columbus, Ohio
Ade Duval and his “Rhapsody in Silk” opens at the Kenmore Theatre
with 40 weeks signed with RKO.
Chris Charlton completes his 40-week transcontinental tour for RKO
in Buffalo, New York.
June 26th, 27th, 28th
The first annual convention of the IBM is held in Cheltenham, England.
John Ramsay of Ayr performed impromptu and is described as
the “British Nelson Downs.”
The Great Raymond working Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a 35-minute
turn with eight girl assistants.
Henry Huber, billed as “The Great Huber” is headlining Lowe bills and is booked for the entire circuit. Huber was a close friend of Harry Kellar and Ching Ling Foo and was with Clyde Powers for many years.
After returning from an RKO tour in New England, card expert Louis Zingone is hired as Entertainment Director of the Atlantic Beach Club, Long Island
for the summer season.
Prof. Kreiger playing the summer season at numerous Berkshire hotels.
Australian Magicians’ Club of Melbourne welcome Long Tack Sam to their city. He is working at the Tivoli Theatre.
The Scottish Conjurers’ Association meeting in Glasgow honors Roberta (Roberta Byron) a professional magicienne who is presented with a silver tipped ebony wand,.
George La Follett opens for the summer on the Garden Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The Chicago Assembly of the SAM throws a dinner for Alex Hellstrom. He is given a “medal of esteem” from the group. Edgar Bergen is part of the entertainment.
Chris Charlton arrives in England and begins working: Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Brighton, and London. In Brighton he will appear before the Queen of Romania.
Fred Keating open his new season at the Capitol Theatre, New York City. Keating’s contract is for 40 weeks with RKO.
Thayer is advertising the “Trick of the Month Club – membership $5 for the year. It will shortly publish the Center Tear, one of the most valuable and closely guarded secrets of mentalists.
Al Baker and Martin Sunshine announce the opening of their Broadway Magic Shop at 1472 Broadway, New York City.
Red Star News Company begins advertising a series of articles in Detective Fiction Weekly, “Spook Crooks” by Julien J. Proskauer, exposing the phony medium racket.
Max Malini plays the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec, Canada. Tickets are $2 and the auditorium was filled to capacity with 800 people. He would go on to Montreal and then Ottawa, working large hotels in each city.
Nicola plays a week at the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre and later at the RKO Eight-sixth Street Theatre.
Luis Zingone makes a showboat cruise to Halifax for the William Morris Agency. It is his second such booking and at an increase fee.
Arthur Lloyd “The Human Card Index” is technical advisor for “Free For All,” a new musical comedy in which there is an amateur magician character. With the show debuting in Boston Lloyd and his wife depart for a South American cruise.
Arnold DeBiere working the Holborn Empire Theatre, England.
Chris Charlton working the Palladium, London.
The Week ending August 13th
The Great Raymond working the Fox-Poli Theatre , Springfield, Mass. Receptions for him are held by local magicians, the Shriners, and the Elks. Raymond gives a show at the local Shriner’s Hospital. His tour will go on to Hartford, Brooklyn, New York City, and then South, ending in New Orleans.
Thurston appearing under the auspices of the Publix organization. For the first time in 20 years he is part of another show, supplying 45 minutes of magic before a feature motion picture.
The Great Raymond working Hartford, Connecticut.
Annemann begins advertising The Test of the Tiber, later considered his best creation. Price: $1.
Oswald Williams appearing at Maskelyne’s, London.
Fred Keating announces that his Vanishing Birdcage which he has made a specialty of for many years is of his own design as is the pull he uses. Neither have been put on the market.
Henry Huber continues to headline at the New York Hippodrome
and other RKO houses….September 12th he opens in Schenectady, NY.
The Great Raymond working the Academy Theatre, New York City with a “unit show,” consisting of several acts and a feature.
Nicola & Co also working New York City.
Jack Gwynne begins wearing a white tuxedo.
Rita Delgardi (various spellings) working around New York City.
Cardini off to the Middle West until Christmas and says he has bookings for England, Germany, and France but RKO has him book so he is trying to
postpone Europe until January.
There are three successful adult magic clubs in Baltimore with plenty of visiting professionals working theaters, to the extent that the guards at the stage doors know the local guys on sight.
By this time Tampa, The English Court Magician, who had taken out one of the Thurston units, is working as a radio sound effects man.
The Hays organization of motion picture producers cooperates with the Committee on Ethics and Standards of the National Council of the Society of American Magicians allowing films with magic to be inspected by to make certain there is no exposure.
The SAM expands its stance against phony psychics, mind readers and the like, takes on Astrology enlisting the aid of the Smithsonian Institute and Dr. John Stewart, Dean of the Astronomical Department of Princeton University who states, “The fallaciousness of Astrology ceased to be debatable three hundred years ago.”
Howard Thurston, who claims to be a believer in astrology, says he will not take sides on the issue although his “belief” may be heavily tempered by the fact that he sells astrology and “dream books” by the bushel, contributing a minimum of $10,000
a year to his bottom line.
Fred Keating believes in astrology and says catching crooks is not part of a magician’s job.
Loring Campbell begins his tour this day and will play Lyceum as well as independent dates in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. He will give more than 300 shows on this tour.
The Great Raymond (Maurice Raymond) entertained by the Worchester, Massachusetts Assembly of the SAM as he appears at the Palace Theatre in that city.
Eva Fay, mind reader, buried in White Plains, New York. She was 53 and died from injuries received in an automobile accident.
Newmann the Mentalist reports that Thurston is doing smash business during this week at the Publix Theatre in Minnesota by breaking box office records with “thousands turned away for lack of seating.”
There was an old band leader sitting next to a magician in Providence, RI who told the following story: “At a show at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City, Thurston called the orchestra leader over and told him to ‘play a little waltz music’ saying that he would ‘try’ to follow him. The show went over and so did the music. The old band leader then told of the many, many cases where some ham came up for the first time and tried to act like a professional by giving the most intricate and complicated instructions, insisting that the leader follow them perfectly. No so for Thurston, though. Always considerate of others, and always helping the other fellow…probably why he’s at the top now.”
Francis (Frank) Hall again talks at a meeting of the Philadelphia Assembly of the SAM about his invention of The Floating Light Bulb and observes how many advertisements there are and how many dealers are claiming his trick.
S.S. Henry, under the management of Felix Bley returns to New York City after a tour of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Chautauqua dates will be filled before he opens in Cincinnati.
The Great Raymond concludes a long tour for Fanchon and Marco.
Ade Duval is still out for RKO.
In the Third Little Show playing in New York City staring Beatrice Lilly and Ernest Truex, Carl Randall gets noticed when he performs of small magic while he does a difficult tap dance routine.
S.S. Henry opens at the Taft Theatre, Cincinnati.
Carl Rosini returns to the United States and learns of his former assistant’s duplicity in appropriating his name, working magic successfully as “Paul Rosini.” The “original” Rosini consults his attorney and learns that legal action would have to be taken in all states, individually. Time consuming and expensive Carl settles for the state of New York and stops Rosini from using his name in that state.
In New York City A.G. Steen, once a vaudeville magician, theatre owner, inventor of magical illusions, opens the Steen Manufacturing Co ready, as the report reads, to fabricate anything from “a Pill Box to a Vanishing Elephant.”
David Price tells the story about a college professor who was so bothered by Blackstone’s bear illusion when he was playing Nashville that he offered ten hours of college to any student who brought him the correct explanation. Supposedly some kid hid backstage to get the working.
This week Chefalo is at the Victoria Palace, London. Chevalo is one of the very few magicians to work with a cast of little people,
Eugene Laurant is playing school and club dates in the south and Midwestern territory.
He has an advance booker and a seven-day advance man working for him. Lee S. Snyder of Huntington, West Virginia built the illusions for Laurant.
Chandu the Magician begins broadcasting over WOR in the East.
Will Rock reported as presenting his act in California in ten theatres under the management of Roy Ellis and the Hollywood Amusement Co. He has already played a weeks as an added attraction with Murphy’s Comedians (under canvas) and was the headliner during a week at the Avon Theatre, Wilmington, California.
McDonald Birch show is SRO show at the Knoxville High School Auditorium, Knoxville, Tennessee. The auditorium seats 1,100.
Week of the 4th finds Paul Rosini featured at the Carman Theatre, Philadelphia.
“Trick for Trick” a mystery melodrama with James Rennie (then married to Dorothy Gish) and Granville Bates opens at the Sam H. Harris Theatre, New York City. It centers around a battle between two magicians – The Great LaTour who says he can explain all supernatural phenomenon with natural laws and his former assistant Azrah who is now his chief rival. A number of magic effects are worked through the play.
The lead writer is Vivian Cosby who has had input on the magic from Silent Mora, Arthur Lloyd, Martin Sunshine and others.
It will play sixty-nine performances.
At the Berkshire School for Boys in Sheffield, Massachusetts we find Dr. Harlan Tarbell performing his full show.
Adelaide Herrmann, widow of Alexander, “Queen of Magic” in her own right, dies at age seventy-nine in the Community Hospital, New York City. With her own performing career spanning fifty years she performed longer than her husband Alexander, or her brother-in-law, Carl.
After touring Europe Dante returns to tour Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.
Judson Cole works Keith’s Palace, Youngstown, PA.
Louis Zingone working the Lowe Circuit. He is noted for his witty patter as well as his great ability with cards. He is also recognized as one of the entertainers to the Four Hundred in New York.
Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly a stunt man of the era whose major claim to fame is sitting on a specially prepared flag pole for days or weeks is currently sitting atop a flagpole above the roof of a Manhattan’s hotel. To pass the time he always has a pack of cards so he can practice card sleights.
Dai Vernon writes to John Mulholland and tells him that “Charles Miller of El Paso, Texas, is the best sleight-on-hand man he has met in years.” Further, Vernon says, “that of all the sleight-of-hand workers that have developed within recent years, thee is not one who competes with Mr. Miller.”
Blackstone working Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Nicola working Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Cardini at the Orpheum, Omaha, Nebraska
Ade Duval at the Publix, Omaha, Nebraska
Dr. Harlan Tarbell has been on a Western tour under the management of James B. Pond. Tarbell worked the Women’s City Club, Berkeley, California – a capacity crowd of 500 completely sold out in advance – The Community Playhouse, San Francisco, and several other venues. His program runs almost two hours.
McDonald Birch finishes a tour through Louisiana and Arkansas playing high school auditoriums and elsewhere.
Will Rock has been performing in Southern California and lectured at the University of California by invitation.
Week of March 7th
Jack Gwynne and Company at Fay’s Theatre.
Last Week of March
Cardini opens a new tour for Loew at the State Theatre, New York City after having just closed an extended tour for RKO.
The Great Nicola finishes a tour for Publix and sails on the Brittanic for England.
Week of April 27th
Fred Keating at the Orpheum, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Chris Charlton plays Philadelphia.
Greystoke continues to work the South successfully.
Blackstone working Toronto (approximate).
Sid Lorraine on Canadian radio with weekly broadcast.
Pablo working the Denver Theatre, Denver (approximate).
Fred Keating at the Orpheum, Denver.
Cardini working the Capitol Theatre, New York City.
Loring Campbell closes his spring tour in Douglas, Kansas.
Week of May 5th
Fred Keating at the Orpheum Theatre, Denver, Colorado
Week of May 13th
Fred Keating at the Orpheum Theatre Omaha, Nebraska
Loring Campbell opens on a Chautauqua tour for the Interstate Bureau. He will feature small illusions as well as rag pictures and ventriloquism.
Week of May 20th
Fred Keating at the Orpheum Theatre, Kansas City, Kansas
Henry Huber announces that he has signed with RKO for a tour.
It will begin in and around New York City and then the South.
The New Hotel Plymouth advertises that magicians visiting New York City “follow in line with the big magicians like Chris Charlton, Fred Keating, Blackstone and Judson Cole” and stay in the heart of New York’s theatre district. Singles are offered at $2.50 to $3.50 a day, doubles are $4 to $5. Each room is advertised with a bath and a radio.
Week of June 3rd
Fred Keating at the Orpheum Theatre, New Orleans, Louisiana
Week of June 11th
Fred Keating at the Paramount Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia
Harry Thurston again takes show on the road, this time with Australian Percy Abbott as his coworker. Show plays until Labor Day
Loring Campbell booked for the summer in Chautauqua, opens in Bay City, Michigan.
Carter the Great – billed as “The Last of the Great Magicians” – headlines
at the RKO Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco and the Pangages in Oakland.
Cardini set to open in George White Scandals.
Eugene Laurant booked Greeley, Colorado.
Chandu the Magician begins national broadcasting on the Mutual Broadcasting Network. It will be on the air until 1935.
Howard Thurston becomes radio star, sponsored by Swift and Co. and broadcast
Harry Thurston show opens at the Capitol Theater, Bowling Green, Kentucky, plays until March when it closes in St Augustine, Florida..
Carter the Great created his “Temple of Mystery” for the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago – a world’s fair. Carter built a theatre that sat several hundred and featured himself as the major attraction. When he wasn’t feeling well, his son Larry stepped in.
Unfortunately, by July Carter, like the other purveyors of live entertainment on the midway, had figured out that the crowds at the Exposition weren’t interested in spending additional money to see their attractions. Carter sold his building to a food chain for conversion to a restaurant.
Nearly sixty, Carter announces his eighth world tour.
Thurston performs at the traditional White House lawn egg rolling party
for President Roosevelt.
Harry Blackstone, Jr. born in Three Rivers, Michigan (Some reports have given Colon as the city). In six months he will have be on stage for the first time when his father will magically produce him.
Ted Annemann publishes the first issue of The Jinx.
Carter on tour has worked Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China and Japan. Now in Hong Kong his health begins to deteriorate, but he stays the course and continues with his world tour. His son, Larry, handles most of the large illusions with Carter doing the mentalism portion of the show.
After a two year hiatus Harry Thurston again takes show out
for eight weeks and then calls it quits for good.
Paul Rosini simultaneously working the Earle and Adelphia
Theatres, Philadelphia. Also works the Club Latimer.
Paul Rosini opens at the Café Marguery of the
Hotel Marguery, Philadelphia for nine weeks.
Howard Thurston has stroke in Charleston,
West Virginia after fourth show at Kearse Theater.
Thurston can walk with a cane, tells reporters that he and Mrs. Thurston are going to Biloxi, Mississippi for a month to rest in the sun, then on to Miami. The equipment is in storage because theater managers don’t want to book the show without its star.
Late November/Early December
Paul Rosini working at the Continental Room of Chicago’s Hotel Stevens.
Appearance extended several weeks.
Blackstone to open in Dayton, Ohio. Tour set for eight weeks
through February 10th in El Paso, Texas.
Carter the Great appears in Calcutta.
Paul Rosini opens at the Schroeder Hotel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
From here he will work the Park Plaza Hotel, St Louis.
Carter the Great has a heart attack in Bombay.
He makes his son perform as usual that night.
Charles Carter dies in Bombay at the age of sixty-one.
His son returns with the show and puts it in storage.
Thurston has cerebral hemorrhage while resting in Miami Beach, Florida
Paul Rosini opens at the Café Marguery for an indefinite run…cut short by a booking at the Adelphia Hotel, Philadelphia. Booking scheduled until June, twelve weeks, but extended an addition two.
Thurston dies of pneumonia in Miami Beach, Florida.
Paul Rosini opens at the Urban Room of the William Penn Hotel, Pittsburg, for a two-week run. It will be extended three months.
Dante fulfills half of his ambition to play London and Broadway by opening at the Alhambra Theater, London. The show plays for 150 weeks in the British Isles and goes on to Belgium and other parts of Europe.
Paul Rosini opens at the Empire Room of the Palmer House Hotel, Chicago. This run will last 21 weeks. His billing would read: “The World’s Greatest Magician.”
John Calvert returns to the Mainland from a tour of the Hawaiian Islands. He tops the bills at theatres that combine film and stage shows.
In his show, “Mysteries of 1937” Rajah Raboid features Johnny Eck (Eckhart) and his twin brother Robert in a sensational version of Sawing. Eck was born without the lower portion of his body. His twin brother was full-bodied.
In his presentation Raboid would request the assistance of someone from the audience and the twenty-one year old Robert would “volunteer” from the audience. After some by-play with hypnosis he would be placed in the apparatus then changed out for his brother and a midget disguised as the lower half of his body. Raboid would “saw him in half,” pulling the top part out, placing it on a plank and displaying his work to the audience who would smile, wave and “walk” around on his hands. The lower half will jump off the plank and run around. A pair of assistants grab Johnny and put him on top of the midget, spinning them around and slightly offstage where Robert would instantly take their place, apparently “restored.” The act is played for laughs but will always receive and ovation The show opens this day in Keith’s Theatre, Portland, Oregon, and will play six months on the Keith Circuit. .
Mid to Late February
Paul Rosini ends his record-breaking run at the Palmer House, Chicago
and joins a road show working the west.
Paul Rosini works Minneapolis, Minnesota. After this engagement he would return to Chicago for a long run at the Hi-Hat Club.
Paul Rosini working in and around Chicago
Paul Rosini opens at the Walton Roof, Philadelphia, following Fred Keating.
Bill Frazee writes that after seeing one of Rosini’s contracts he is satisfied to say that Rosini is the highest paid magician at the present time.” This, of course, applied to night club performers, not men framing their own shows like Nicola and Blackstone.
Rosini also worked tables between his shows with tips ranging from $5 to $20 (in 1930s currency) and ten percent of this income as well as from any private engagements, would be paid to his agents.
Paul Rosini opens at the Vogue Room of the Hollenden Hotel,
Cleveland, Ohio for twelve weeks.
Paul Rosini returns to the Walton Room in Philadelphia for a few weeks
before working Galveston, Texas.
Paul Rosini goes to New York and simultaneously works the Hotel New Yorker and the Glass Hat of the Belmont Plaza Hotel. He will end the year at the Belmont Plaza, the only act held over. The Sphinx puts Rosini on its cover.
For the first time a Paul Rosini creation is published in a magic magazine.
The Sphinx carries it in this month’s issue.
Paul Rosini is listed as one of America’s “Ten Card Stars” in John Northern Hilliard’s monumental, 1,030-page book, Greater Magic.
Paul Rosini wins The Sphinx magazine’s award for the best published trick of 1938, Professional Class.
Paul Rosini ends his run at the Belmont Plaza Hotel and while he is supposed to work in Detroit, he is held over at the Hotel New Yorker for fourteen weeks, ending there in March.
After an unbelievable run in New York City, working two hotels simultaneously for months, Paul Rosini leaves and works the rest of the year through the Midwest.
After working two-months at the Scala Theater, Berlin Dante hears a rumor that Hitler is invading Poland. In six hours he packs his show and leaves the country before the border is closed. Entire company makes it safely to Sweden.
Dante’s ship arrives in the United States, 5 days late
Nate Leipzig dies.
Paul Rosini working the Rainbow Room, New York City.
Paul Rosini working the Club Royale, Detroit, Michigan.
Dante opens his show on Broadway at the Morosco Theater fulfilling the other half of his ambition to play both London and Broadway. The show will play 54 performances and close October 20, 1940.
Paul Rosini works Tom Gerun’s famous San Francisco night club, the Bal Tabarin. From here he would work hotels in Memphis, Tennessee, and New Orleans. When finished in the South Rosini would go back to the Walton Hotel.
Super Magician Comics starring Harry Blackstone is published, billed as "the only living comic book character." The comic will run for 56 issues.
David Devant dies at age seventy-three at the Royal Hospital for Incurables, England. Devant had spent his retirement writing books, creating new magic and illusions, and coaching the magicians who visited him. Birthday shows had been staged yearly at the hospital by those who admired and respected him.
A Haunting We Will Go, a six-reel Laurel and Hardy feature
featuring Dante the Magician is released.
Ted Annemann, facing depression, personal debt and
a second failed marriage, takes his own life.
During a performance in the Lincoln Theater, Decatur, Illinois, Blackstone learns of backstage fire. Leads audience out of theater to “see huge illusion on street.” Doubtless saves many lives by “making audience disappear.”
Dunninger appears on network radio.
John Calvert working the Hippodrome Theatre, Baltimore, Maryland
with several girls and large illusions.
This year Paul Rosini would again perform in San Francisco for several months, working the Bal Tabarin nightclub. While there he writes the introduction of Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue’s book, The Invisible Pass.
The first issue, Vol 1 No 1 of Blackstone, Master Magician Comics
is published by Vital Publishing.
Blackstone Master Magician Comics #3 is published.
The Professional Magician’s League is formed by twenty leading professional magicians. Original members are: Bert Allerton, Bill Baird, McDonald Birch. Loring Campbell, Werner “Dorny” Dornfield, Ade Duvall, José Frakson, Jack Gwynne, Paul LePaul, Magini, Clayton Mardoni, Silent More, John Mulholland, Bill Neff, John Platt, Paul Rosini, Clarence Slyter, Paul Stadelman, Russell Swann, and Al Wheatley, a stellar cast of high quality professionals by any definition. This was a “society” created by and for professionals to address their needs. Unfortunately, reality intruded its ugly head and with members busy with their own careers and the nature of the group not permitting semi-professionals or amateur membership so there would be someone to run the organization, it soon disbanded.
Mid to End of Year
Paul Rosini working throughout the Midwest including the Bismark Hotel, Chicago and the Schroeder Hotel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Carl Rosini retires from a career that spanned over fifty years.
Marvel Comics publishes Blackstone the Magician oddly numbered #2.
Apparently, there is no #1.
Chandu the Magician returns to radio with 15-minute episodes. It will continue for 154 episodes until January 28, 1949.
Marvel renames Blackstone The Magician comics Blackstone The Detective
Paul Rosini finishes a four-week appearance at the Schroeder Hotel and will play two weeks in upstate Wisconsin before returning home.
Marvel cancels Blackstone the Detective comics with issue #4
After years of heavy drinking Paul Rosini dies in the
New Lawrence Hotel, Chicago, Illinois at age 45
from cirrhosis of the liver. Rosini is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery,
River Grove, Illinois.
Asked for his reaction Carl Rosini responds,
“Now he is gone and I am still here.”
Blackstone the Magician on the radio as a 15-minute program. It may have started earlier, but this is the earliest date I have located. It was probably set for one cycle of 39 episodes. The program will run through at least through August of 1949 and return briefly in 1953. Ed Jerome plays Blackstone.
Currently you can buy 39 shows on CD ROM.
Chandu the Magician ends its 154 15-minute episode run.
Chandu the Magician returns with a series of 30-minute episodes, self-contained stories instead of a continuing story-arc serials, on the Mutual Don Lee Network
Chandu the Magician moves to the ABC Radio Network.
Chandu the Magician finally meets his end, slain by an ABC radio network executive. He will live again, 50 years in the future, as MP3 computer files,
available on CD-ROMs and the Internet.
Harry Blackstone Jr. performs his first show, impromptu magic, in Korea for fellow GIs.
C.A. George Newmann visits friends in Minneapolis runs into Carl Jones who sees that Newmann is in a state of shock and sweating profusely. Jones puts Newmann in a hospital immediately. The diagnosis comes back cancer of the gall bladder. Surgery discloses that the cancer has spread to the liver, a death sentence at the time.
C.A. George Newmann dies at the age of 72.
Now You See It opens at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway, New York City,
produced, directed and starring Milbourne Christopher.
It will close April 24th after 8 performances. His chief assistant Bob Fischer later said that the last shows were filled with complimentary tickets given to servicemen.
Dante dies at his ranch in Northridge, California.
Karl Germain dies in Cleveland, Ohio, at age 81 and is
buried in the Riverside Cemetery.
Harry Blackstone, Sr. dies in Hollywood at age 80.
Carl Rosini dies in retirement in Clearwater Beach, Florida having outlived the man who stole his name by 21 years.
Some time during this decade Harry Blackstone, Jr. designs a series of four magic trick premiums for Jiffy Pop
The Magic Show starring Doug Henning opens at the Cort Theatre on Broadway after a preview show on May 16th. Original cast members include David Ogden Stiers as the villain who will go on to critical acclaim in M*A*S*H.
The Magic Show will close on December 31, 1978 after 1,920 performances.
There will be several road show versions.
One of the producers is Ivan Reitman who will go on to
great success as a film producer. The reader will note that The Magic Show does not have the record as the longest running magic show because it is a musical, not a straight magic show.
Blackstone, The Magnificent Musical Magic Show starring Harry Blackstone, Jr. opens at the Majestic Theatre, Broadway, New York City after 8 previews beginning May 13th. It will close August 17, 1980 after 104 performances making it the longest running ‘straight’ magic show on Broadway.
Doug Henning & His World of Magic opens at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway, New York City. It will close January 27, 1985 after 60 performances.
Lamb Chop on Broadway starring magician and ventriloquist Sherry Lewis opens at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. It will close after eight performances.
Harry Blackstone, Jr. dies in Loma Linda, California at age 63