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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.