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Gustavus Katterfelto

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Gustavus Katterfelto
BornGustav or Wilhelm Heinrich Katerfeld
circa 1743
DiedNovember 15, 1799 (age 55)
Bedale, in Yorkshire, England

Gustavus Katterfelto, or Katerfelto, (ca.1743-1799) was a conjurer, quacksalver, and natural philosopher. His origin and his real name are in the dark. He used the name Christian William Anthony Katterfelto; his real name was possibly Gustav or Wilhelm Heinrich Katerfeld. Katterfelto claimed to be the son of a Prussian colonel of Hussars (of the famous Death Head Hussars). He was possibly born 1743.


Katterfelto arrived at Hull in September 1776 and traveled around Britain until his death in 1799. He performed in London from 1780-84. The widespread flu epidemic of 1782 made him famous as a quack, when he used a solar microscope to show images of microbes he believed were its cause. These "insects" provided him with the catchphrase "Wonders! Wonders! Wonders!" which often headed his advertisements.

He also lectured and entertained using magnetism, electricity, and many other aspects of science. He claimed to have launched the first hot air balloon fifteen years before the Montgolfier brothers, and claimed to be the greatest natural philosopher since Isaac Newton.

Katterfelto was an accomplished conjurer, and hinted that his powers had a demonic origin.

He usually prefixed his name with the title "Dr." or "Col.," and his fame was so great that he was eventually brought to the attention of George III of England, who asked to see this wonder-worker at a command performance.[1]

He was inducted into the Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame and Magic Museum.


  1. Conjuring by James Randi (1992)
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  • M-U-M, Vol. 8, No. 69, December 1918, Katterfelto, by Harry Houdini, page 1
  • The Sphinx, Vol. 22, No. 8, October 1923, Katterfelto: or the Conjurer With The Black Cat, By Henry R. Evans, page 229
  • The Annals of Conjuring, by Sydney W. Clarke (1929, reprint 2001), 6. Continental Conjurers, Gustavus Katterfelto, page 163
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 13, No. 12, February 1934, XII. Cats and Conjurers, by Henry R. Evans - Gustavus Katterfelto, page 829, (Reprint from The Sphinx, Vol. 22, No. 8, October 1923, page 299)
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 25, No. 4, June 1945, INCONSEQUENTIALITIES by Stanley Collins, England - KATTERFELTO, page 32
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 68, No. 757, December 1974, A Rich Cabinet of Magical Curiosities, by Edwin A. Dawes - 25. Wonders, Wonders, Wonders – Katterfelto, Graham & Denton, page 231
  • The New Tops, Vol. 24, No. 12, December 1984, MEN OF MAGIC, by Robert Olson, Gustavus Katterfelto, page 35
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 83, No. 894, April 1989, A Rich Cabinet of Magical Curiosities, by Edwin A. Dawes - 152. Wait Until the Sun Shines Gustavus, Light on in Auld Reekie, page 56
  • Geschichte der Zauberkunst, No. 34 (2000), Katterfelto, page 52
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 95, No. 1020, July 2001, A Rich Cabinet of Magical Curiosities, by Edwin A. Dawes - 273. Gustave Katterfelto in The Role of Aspirant Royal Physician, page 236
  • Bio-bibliographisches Lexikon der Zauberkünstler Edition Volker Huber, April 2002, Katterfelto, Gustav eig. Gustav Katterfeld, dt.-engl. Zauberkünstler; Quacksalber (*1730; †25.11.1799), page 179
  • Lives of the Conjurers Volume One (2014), by Professor Solomon - Katterfelto, page 27