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Signor Barnello

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Signor Barnello
BornEdward A. Barnwell
September 08, 1857
Decatur, Illinois
DiedApril 30, 1910 (age 52)

Signor Barnello (September 8, 1857 - April 30th, 1910), born Edward A. Barnwell in Decatur Illinois, was known as "The Human Volcano".


Barnello started performing at a very early age. By the age of twelve or thirteen, he made his first appearance before a large audience. Next he joined Professor Morley, a ventriloquist and Punch and Judy performer, playing small towns throughout Illinois.

After playing various theaters for several years, he found himself in the British possessions. He later traveled on foot through British Columbia where he met local Indians performing. On returning to the United States he made his first appearance in San Francisco on February 10, 1879, as a fire fiend. He went on to perform throughout the United States.

He was apparently known by Houdini who amusingly reported in his "Conjurers'_Monthly_Magazine" that "Barnello, the old time fire king, used to complain that his soup was too hot".

Barnello authored two books and edited a magazine, The Magician through at least two issues. [1][2]


  • The Red Demons or Mysteries of Fire (1890)
  • Barnello's Voodoo Incantations How to Eat Fire (1890)


  1. American Magician, May 1912
  2. Magic Cauldron, No. 11, March, 1964