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Fakir of Ava

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Fakir of Ava
BornIsaiah Harris Hughes
December 25, 1810
Essex England
DiedMay 24, 1891 (age 80)
Buffalo, New York
Resting placeForest Lawn Cemetery

Fakir of Ava (December 25, 1810 - May 24, 1891), born Isaiah Harris Hughes in Essex England, move to the United States and performed many standard tricks of the time as a traveling magician.


Hughes moved to America and took the name of a previous employer and became The Fakir of Ava. He would wear dark makeup, exotic clothing, and claim to come from Ava in Burma. He later gave up his costume and performed in formal evening dress.

In 1857, Hughes came up with the idea of a "gift show", a gimmick that was later used by many magicians in the 1800s. In his gift shows, Hughes would, in addition to performing magic, give away door prizes. The gifts were inexpensive trinkets such as second-hand watches or brass jewelry. Nonetheless, the concept excited audiences and was highly profitable because of the large crowds it drew.

Harry Kellar as a boy answered an ad in the paper for an assistant for the Fakir of Ava and got the job.

A playbill from his show lists the following tricks as part of his evening of entertainment:

  • The Enchanted Canopy
  • The Aeriel Bank or Mysterious Treasury in the Air
  • Hindoo Cup Trick
  • The Mephistophole’s Hat
  • The Card Printer
  • The Fairy Star
  • The Great Orange Trick
  • The Chinese Plate Illusion
  • How to Cook an Omelet, and Produce Game and Ring
  • The Bank Note and Enchanted Candle
  • The Flying Watches
  • The Enchanted Fishery
  • The Express Laundry
  • The Wonderful Hat
  • The Witches Pole or the obedient Mysterious Blood Writing on the Arm
  • Vanishing Cage, Balls and Game
  • Laughable Ribbon and Paper Trick
  • The Great African Box and Sack Feat (Mysterious Appearance and Disappearance
  • The Sealed Packet Or Wonders of Supernatural Vision
  • Angel’s Flight through Mid-Air!

He was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.


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