The Davenport Collection
- a growing resource on magic and entertainment history

Films

Official film of the 1936 German Magic Circle convention in Munich

Official film of the 1936 German Magic Circle convention in Munich

The German Magic Circle (Magischer Zirkel Deutschland) held its 1936 international convention in Munich. Lewis, Wynne and Gus Davenport were there. This official film taken by F.A. Brandt includes Gus Davenport performing the 3 Shell Game. Other performers were Ottokar Fischer and, with card magic; Dr Keck, Dr Schitzkowski and Dr Geimer. Brandt’s film has been edited in this version so as to avoid divulging magic secrets. The film provides a snapshot of magical thinking and performance styles in the mid-1930s.

The Davenport family also took some film at the convention, including many shots of the attendees: see N2895.

Film of Edward Victor presenting his version of the Diminishing Cards

Film of Edward Victor presenting his version of the Diminishing Cards

Edward Victor (1887-1964) was well known for his skilful and entertaining magic and hand shadows. Davenports sold his version of the Diminishing Cards, which Victor demonstrates on this film taken by the Davenports. Apart from his handling of the trick, the film shows his warm personality. Victor was also the author of some very popular books on magic technique. The photograph of Victor, also illustrated here, is autographed to Gus Davenport.

Film by Harry Baron of the Davenport’s model railway

Film by Harry Baron of the Davenport’s model railway

Some, but not all, magicians have interests outside magic. Gus Davenport in the 1960s enjoyed building an 00 gauge model railway with his teenage son John. The design concept was to have track circuits at different heights, so maximising the number of trains that could run simultaneously. This approach automatically generated the need for bridges and tunnels, both much loved by Gus and John. John makes a brief appearance, almost certainly correcting a derailment.

This film was shot by friend and magician Harry Baron. Harry managed Gamages magic department and also had his own magic company. He was a well-known figure in magic. See also N1969.

Film of a Davenport Demon levitating a playing card automaton

Film of a Davenport Demon levitating a playing card automaton

This electrically powered automaton shows a Davenport Demon levitating a playing card. When found in a storeroom, the automaton was not in working order. Cambridge magician and engineer Tony Middleton did a great job repairing it and upgrading it to get it back into reliable working order. The original age of the automaton is probably mid-20th century. We do not know if the automaton was ever on display at Davenports shop. See also N869.

Film of Cecil Lyle’s Chocolate Box Illusion

Film of Cecil Lyle’s Chocolate Box Illusion

This is a showy illusion in which a giant chocolate box is shown first empty, then full of giant chocolates. The box is closed again and, when reopened, there is a lady inside. Photographs of the illusion and background details have been on the Davenport Collection website for some time (N826). We can now share an AI enhanced video of a performance at the 1982 Pentacle Club Convention. The performer is John Whitmore, assisted by Chris Kostecki and Teresa Wallman. John and Chris were both members of the Cambridge Pentacle Magic Club.

Film of Gus Davenport with the 3 Shell Game at the 1936 Munich Convention

Film of Gus Davenport with the 3 Shell Game at the 1936 Munich Convention

The 1936 German Magic Circle (Magischer Zirkel Deutschland) convention was the first one in Germany attended by the Davenports: Lewis, Wynne and Gus. Gus had a great time there. The organisers captured aspects of the convention in a silent 16mm film taken by F.A. Brandt. The film includes a clip, shown here, of Gus Davenport performing the 3 Shell Game. Items N2895 and N2937 will tell you more about this convention.

Film of a window tapping electric window figure

Film of a window tapping electric window figure

The figure moves its arms, eyes, eyebrows and mouth. The index finger on the right hand taps the window pane to attract the attention of passers-by. One day a policeman came into Davenports shop requesting that the figure was unplugged because so many people had gathered on the pavement that it was causing an obstruction. For more information visit Item N62.

A brief appearance by Wally Davenport

A brief appearance by Wally Davenport

Wally Davenport was the second eldest of Lewis’s four children. He was seldom seen serving behind the counter at Davenports because he was the key family member for ensuring that mail orders were dispatched promptly. Davenports were known for this prompt service.

This very short clip shows Wally with a Botania, which was a well known trick for producing flowers. The purpose of the film is not clear. It is almost as though the family had a short length of colour film to finish off and, instead of wasting it, they took this film of Wally.

1930s Davenport family film of London in colour

1930s Davenport family film of London in colour

The Davenport family loved London and theatreland. This colour film was probably taken by George (Gilly) or Walter David (Wally) Davenport. It captures celebration decorations in London in the 1930s at a time when Davenports business was at a peak, prior to the problems and shortages associated with WW2.

Film of George Davenport and the Razor Blade Trick

Film of George Davenport and the Razor Blade Trick

George Davenport did not invent this trick, but he was the first person to perform it in England. The plot is well known. The magician separately swallows razor blades and thread, after which he produces them from his mouth strung along the thread. This 1930s film was made by the Ideal Sound Cinemagazine.

1938 Malvern Magic Convention Newsreel

1938 Malvern Magic Convention Newsreel

The International Brotherhood of Magicians British Ring held their 8th Annual Convention at Malvern in 1938. This Gaumont British News film was aimed at the cinema-going public. It features an upside-down strait jacket escape by Les Levante and an underwater escape by his daughter Esmé. It uses a breathless tone to capture the excitement of these and other magical happenings. Gus and George Davenport briefly turn up from time to time, most noticeably at the end having fun with the production of two giant bunches of flowers using a double Botania, no doubt on loan from the Davenport stand at the convention.

Film of Oswald Williams’ Noah’s Ark

Film of Oswald Williams’ Noah’s Ark

The Noah’s Ark shown in this film is the Oswald Williams illusion which the Davenport family purchased in the 1930s. The illusion has rarely been performed since that time. The performance shown here was in the Gala Show at the First Pentacle Club Magic Convention held at Churchill College, Cambridge on 29 June 1980. It was performed by Pentacle Club member John Whitmore. John was a school teacher, which was very useful because the illusion requires a large rehearsal space and he was able to make use of the school hall. The show was compered by Jack Delvin.