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Isaac Fawkes

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Isaac Fawkes
Borncirca 1690
DiedMay 25, 1731 (age 40)
Resting placeSt. Martin-in-the-Fields, London

Isaac Fawkes (c.1690-d.1731) was an eighteenth century English conjuror and showman.


He rose to fame in the 1720's and become a popular cultural figure, the name 'Fawkes' becoming synonymous with the skillful conjuror and depictions of him appear in engravings by William Hogarth. Despite his contemporary fame, his first name was forgotten until the record of his burial was rediscovered by Houdini in the records of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, London in 1904.

Fawkes is frequently associated with the annual Bartholomew and Southwark Fairs in London, where his booth was a great attraction. His act consisted of conjuring, contortionism and the exhibition of mechanical devices made by the famous clockmaker Christopher Pinchbeck, with whom he had a longstanding collaboration.

His success had, in part, to do with the recently created Egg Bag, which he used extravagantly. He was also popular for throwing a pack of cards into the air where they were transformed into birds. In Round About Our Coal Fire, Fawkes is described as one of the "Old heroes in Magick".

It is said that when Fawkes died, he left a sum of £10,000. He was suceeded by his son, who continued the collaboration with the Pinchbeck family, though did not enjoy the popular success of his father.


  • Harry Houdini. The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin. The Publishers Printing Co, New York (1908).
  • Edwin Dawes. Isaac Fawkes: Fame and Fable. Anlaby Press, Hull (1979).
  • Ricky Jay. Isaac Fawkes: Surprizing Dexterity of Hand. Jay's Journal of Anomalies; volume 2, number 3 (Fall 1995)
  • Sidney Clarke. The Annals of Conjuring. Serialised in The Magic Wand (1924-8).
  • Bob Read. Southwark Fair News Items, in The Annals of Conjuring by Sidney Clarke (Eds Edwin Dawes & Todd Karr). The Miracle Factory, Seattle (2001) pp 531-5.
  • Todd Karr. Fawkes Notices, in The Annals of Conjuring by Sidney Clarke (Eds Edwin Dawes & Todd Karr). The Miracle Factory, Seattle (2001) pp 537-46.
  • Edwin Dawes. The Engravings of William Hogarth in A Rich Cabinet of Magical Curiosities. Genii; Volume 65, Number 11 (November 2002): p 74-6.
  • Richard H Evans. Isaac Fawkes: Myth & Legend (2009).
  • Round About Our Coal Fire, by anonymous
  • Excerpt from Modern Enchantments:The Cultural Power of Secular Magic, By Simon During