Potpourri

Potpourri

An eclectic mixture not to be found elsewhere on the site. Look through the list of items below to find those of interest to you. Or click here to access the Potpourri index.

Clive Maskelyne in The Speed Show at Leamington Spa, July 1926

Anne Goulden describes how Clive Maskelyne’s Speed Show touring company was reviewed by the press in Leamington Spa. These were not easy times for Clive.
Click here to download the PDF.


Lewis Davenport – the man

What was Lewis like as a person? John Davenport paints a picture of his grandfather.
Click here to download the PDF.


Maskelyne and Cooke’s 1870 claim to be the Royal Illusionists

Anne Goulden explains why Maskelyne & Cooke felt able to use this billing, despite never having performed before royalty.
Click here to download the PDF.


Oswald Williams at the Leicester Palace in 1914

It is very difficult to find reliable information on the salaries paid to variety acts. In this article Anne Goulden reports on Oswald Williams’ act at the Leicester Palace and compares his salary with the other acts on the bill. These are recorded in a salaries book which belongs to the British Music Hall Society Archive.
Click here to download the PDF.


Psycho at the Museum of London

J N Maskelyne’s whist-playing automaton, Psycho, has been at the Museum of London for over eighty years. For much of that time he has been in store, but he has been on display in a special exhibition on Sherlock Holmes. The exhibition opened on 17 October 2014 and continued until 12 April 2015. Anne Goulden produced this note to celebrate Psycho’s reappearance in public.
Click here to download the PDF.


Summer in Aberystwyth – seaside entertainment in 1922

Anne Goulden has used private letters from Charles Glenrose to Claude Chandler to paint a picture of the 1922 season in Aberystwyth. The letters provide an insight that would never be obtained from contemporary printed material. Despite Glenrose’s hope and optimism, it was a tough season.
Click here to download the PDF.


The Amazing Chang: The magic of Whittington-Wickes

This article is an overview of the Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum’s exhibition The Amazing Chang: The magic of Whittington-Wickes (17 October 2009 – 10 January 2010).
Click here to download the PDF.


The Egyptian Hall lives on underneath Hyde Park Corner

Historians of Victorian entertainment will be familiar with the Egyptian Hall on Piccadilly in London. It served as an entertainment complex until it was demolished in 1905. Less well known is the fact that the Hall has been captured on wall tiles in the Hyde Park Corner pedestrian underpass.
Click here to download the PDF containing John Davenport’s photographs.


The Egyptian House in Penzance

The Egyptian Hall on Piccadilly in London was probably the best-known example in England of a building in the pseudo ancient Egyptian style. Another was built around 1830 in Penzance in Cornwall. It was a mixture of styles, but the Egyptian influence was clear.
Click here to download the PDF with additional information and John Davenport’s photographs.


Variety artistes’ salaries at the Leicester Palace, 1911-24

The British Music Hall Society archive has a salaries book from the Leicester Palace. Anne Goulden lists the salaries of magicians and top acts of the time. She also shows the effect of the First World War on salaries.
Click here to download the PDF.


Smilestones: Recollections of Herbert J. Collings in his own words: 1898-1946

The much loved Herbert J. Collings, also known as Col Ling Soo, became a successful society entertainer and performer for royalty in the first half of the 20th century. He was awarded the Gold Medal of The Magic Circle and twice served as their President. The Magic Circle owns a typescript of Smilestones, his reminiscences covering 1898 to 1946. With the permission of David Hibberd, Archivist of The Magic Circle, his Smilestones are reproduced here. 35 illustrations have been added. Click here to download the PDF.


David Devant and His Wider Family:
who they were and how they lived

Peter Brunning’s painstaking research has uncovered the most complete story yet about Devant and his family. This includes new insights into Devant’s marriage and his daughter Vida, topics which have puzzled many magic historians. Peter’s article is illustrated with seldom seen images from the Davenport Collection.
Click here to download the PDF.


What’s where in Devant’s My Magic Life

Anyone who has tried to read Devant’s My Magic Life knows that it can be frustrating and confusing because of the way it is organised – or not organised! Anne Goulden has produced a useful guided tour that tells you where aspects of Devant’s life can be found. Equally importantly, it tells you what can be ignored if you wish to concentrate only on Devant’s life.

Click here to save a great deal of time!


Peter Waring – magic, comedy and crime

Peter Brunning tells the story of this now seldom remembered magician. Peter Waring, born in 1916, only became a magician after the second world war. His sophisticated modern style was a great success and he soon found himself working at some of the best variety theatres. At the height of his career, his comedy and timing won him his own comedy programme on BBC radio. His meteoric rise was followed by a swift downfall as his past caught up with him, resulting in his suicide in 1949. Click here to download the PDF.


Linga Singh, alias Amar Nath Dutt

Professional magicians often had lives full of incident, perhaps none more so than Linga Singh who was very popular in the 1920s and 30s. Much of what has been written about Linga Singh is incorrect, simply because journalists and historians have repeated the fictitious stories which came from Linga Singh himself. Nigel Dutt has spent many years researching his grandfather Linga Singh. The story that Nigel summarises is full of information and surprises. Read the PDF here to gain insight into one of magic’s more colourful performers.

Nigel plans to add additional sections which cover in more detail topics such as Linga Singh’s magic, his brushes with the law and other aspects of his life. Over the next few months keep an eye on this website’s What’s New page to make sure you are up to date with this new information.


A Magical Childhood Memory of Summer

Over the years the Davenport family have heard many wonderful stories from their customers. Some concern magic tricks and others jokes or novelties. This story from The Magic Demon, a long time Davenports customer, deserves retelling. It wonderfully captures the anticipation of a good joke in the minds of children and the resulting final laughter. The story was first written up on the Canada’s Magic website. Join in the fun and read it here on their website.


Things You May Not Know About Hoffmann
by Brian Lead

Hoffmann (Angelo Lewis) wrote a great deal, and a great deal has been written about him over the years. This short, illustrated article by Brian Lead contains interesting information about Professor Hoffmann, his output of books and how he was regarded by the world of magic. You can find the PDF here.


John Nevil Maskelyne’s
Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee speculation

by Dr Edwin A Dawes

1897 was the 60th year of Queen Victoria’s reign. There were to be Diamond Jubilee Celebrations and Maskelyne saw an opportunity to make a good profit by building a Grand Pavilion with a view of the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the ceremony was to take place. Unfortunately, the speculation did not turn out well. Dr Dawes draws on many sources to tell this story. We meet David Devant and Douglas Beaufort and learn about some rather surprising litigation that resulted from Maskelyne’s initiative. You can find the PDF here.


William Morton Remembers:
A Chapter in the History of Maskelyne and Cooke

by Dr Edwin A Dawes

William Morton spotted Maskelyne and Cooke in their early years when they were touring the provinces and at the same time improving their show. He stayed with them as their manager until well into their long tenure at the Egyptian Hall in London. Drawing on Morton’s autobiography, Dr Dawes is able to throw light on this period, including information on the business relationship between Morton and Maskelyne and Cooke.

William Morton continued to work in the world of entertainment and eventually had several theatres and cinemas in Hull. His story tells us much about the entertainment industry of the time. You can find the PDF here.


Marking My Territory – The Bookplate Story

by Steve Beam

Have you ever thought about having your own bookplate? Steve did, for a long time. Then he decided he would make it happen. He now has 6 bookplates (or 8, depending on how you count). His article tells you about his experience and then what you need to know to avoid false starts. Even if the desire to have your own bookplate has not yet overwhelmed you, you’ll like Steve’s quirky insight into the strange, driven world of collecting. You can find the PDF here.



A Mine of Maskelyne Information

by John Davenport

Many of the Maskelyne items in the Davenport Collection were made for public consumption: programmes, publicity material, printed books, and so on. One of our shelves is occupied by books which were always intended to be private. They are the surviving business records of the Maskelynes at St George’s Hall.
The purpose of this article is to record the scope of these business records and provide examples of their content.
You can find the PDF here.



Gus Davenport – the man and the magician

by John Davenport

Growing up in the Davenport family, Gus was surrounded by magic performances and the manufacture and sale of magic. Fortunately, he embraced it. This short article describes Gus the man and the personality and skills that led him to particular styles of performing.
You can find the PDF here.