St. James’s Hall, situated between Regent Street and Piccadilly, was the first central London venue for Maskelyne and Cooke, prior to their move to the Egyptian Hall. People used to reading 19th century newspaper prose will know that it can be, shall we say, over the top. This particular article on pages 145, 146 and 160 would take some beating! Caution must be exercised in believing that the drawings are an accurate representation of the hall.

J.N. (“Jack”) Maskelyne was the eldest of Nevil Maskelyne’s five children. He was not interested in joining the family magic business. He was a railway enthusiast and became well known for his knowledge of locomotives. This print is of the locomotive Claud Hamilton, which Jack lovingly describes on pages 108-109 of his book ‘Locomotives I Have Known’ published by Percival Marshall in 1959. The Davenport Collection also contains a copy of the book signed by J.N. Maskelyne in 1960.

Members of J.N. Maskelyne’s company presented the original of this testimonial, dated 26 May 1898, to JN. This particular copy is rather special because JN gave it to George Cooke for Christmas 1898. His inscription on the reverse is ‘To G.A. Cooke| Accept this copy with my [incomplete word, possibly ‘heartfelt’] reciprocation of the good wishes in the original. | J.N. Maskelyne | Christmas 1898.’