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

Harry Leat

Silk production streamer

Silk production streamer

This production streamer is probably from Harry Leat. In his catalogue, see illustration, he advertised Jazz Strips of different widths, sold by the yard.

Harry Leat’s unusual trick ‘Grub’. A butterfly production from toast

Harry Leat’s unusual trick ‘Grub’. A butterfly production from toast

This is a bizarre trick by any standard. It is reasonable to ask why a butterfly should be produced from two slices of toast. I will not begin to explain it, but urge readers to look at Leat’s own three page description which I have included with the illustrations. The advertisement reveals not only the play on words on which the humour depends, but also an insight into Leat’s sense of humour.

Davenport Collection website e-news #21, March 2024

Davenport Collection website e-news #21, March 2024

Click on Details if you would like to download a PDF of this e-news.
E-newsletters like this one are sent out four times a year, highlighting recent additions to the website. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, please contact the curator. The March 2024 issue included:
– A film clip of Gus Davenport performing The Three Shell Game in 1936.
– Zauber Burgen (Magic Castles).
– Devant, Maskelyne and the Crispin Family.
– Magic sets.
– Cecil Lyle’s Chocolate Box Illusion – now on film.
– Demon Series printed silks.
To see all the other e-news, click on Website e-news.

Leat’s Supernatural Silk trick

Leat’s Supernatural Silk trick

You show an illustrated silk that is not faked in any way and then – by pulling it through a borrowed ring – find that the illustration has changed to an entirely different one. The second image here shows how the illustration has changed. This is a clever idea and the illustrated advertisement includes a patter story from Leat. The advertisement is from Leat’s Leaflets No.30, September 1933. In order not to give the secret away in the advertisement, note that Leat has used a very different image for the transformed figure.

Four Leat 18 inch silks

Four Leat 18 inch silks

Each silk holds a message for the audience. The four designs are GOOD EVENING, GOOD NIGHT, MOMENTS OF MAGIC and I.O.U. The silks are in typical Harry Leat style. Also included here is a page from Leat’s Leaflets No. 23, October 1929. It illustrates two of these silks and confirms that they have ‘Charm’ borders, a style much favoured by Leat.

Leat silks for Mickey Mouse’s Wedding

Leat silks for Mickey Mouse’s Wedding

A series of five 18 inch picture silks, all illustrated here. I have not been able to find an advertisement for these in Leat’s Leaflets, so they were possibly produced in the 1940s or 1950s, rather than the 1930s.

Hull Magicians’ Circle silk

Hull Magicians’ Circle silk

The society was founded in December 1933. It is very likely that Harry Leat supplied this silk. There is an advertisement, illustrated here, from one of his 1930s catalogues which advertises Magical Societies’ Badges. This silk is not illustrated, but the style of it is very much in the Harry Leat style.

Silks for the Demon Conjuring Thriller

Silks for the Demon Conjuring Thriller

As 12 silks are produced from a Ghost Tube, each one is shown illustrating an amusing story. The patter story is by Norman Hunter. The advertisement for the trick in the first Demon Telegraph dated Augst 1933 tells us that ‘These special DEMON SILKS are beautifully printed on best quality silk and in four or five colours. Each one is a real work of art.’ All of the silks and Norman Hunter’s patter may be seen in the PDF. Although the illustration in the Demon Telegraph shows a Fireman, and the patter (see the PDF) mentions a Fireman, this set of silks contains a Scotsman rather than a Fireman. More interestingly, the Scotsman silk and the Jelly silks have different borders to the other silks and look very much like Harry Leat silks. It is tempting to think that Davenports ran out of the advertised silks and replaced them with Leat silks.

Matchbox to Candle transformation

Matchbox to Candle transformation

This amazing piece of apparatus can be used to transform a box of matches into a candle. Nothing is added or taken away. The trick is advertised in a Harry Leat catalogue from the 1930s, as illustrated here.

Harry Leat’s ‘Magic in a Name’ Cards – Louis Nikola

Harry Leat’s ‘Magic in a Name’ Cards – Louis Nikola

This item is based on the Jacob’s Ladder novelty. Louis Nikola was a successful professional magician, an expert in shadowgraphy and also a magic book author. His performing career spanned the 1910s to 1930s period. The purpose of this Jacob’s Ladder would have been to introduce Nikola. The ladder first shows LOUIS. It is then allowed to fall open to display NIKOLA. This would have been manufactured by Harry Leat who was a friend of Nikola. Leat advertised these ‘Magic in a Name’ cards in his Leat’s Leaflets, No. 16 in 1928. It was also included in his catalogue, as illustrated here. The Davenport collection contains material from Louis Nikola and this particular example almost certainly came into the collection via Nikola. See also N2927.

Harry Leat’s ‘Magic in a Name’ Cards – Louis Nikola

Harry Leat’s ‘Magic in a Name’ Cards – Louis Nikola

This item is based on the Jacob’s Ladder novelty. Louis Nikola was a successful professional magician, an expert in shadowgraphy and also a magic book author. His performing career spanned the 1910s to 1930s period. The purpose of this Jacob’s Ladder would have been to introduce Nikola. First the block with a Question Mark on it would be shown. The ladder then falls open to display WHO IS THIS. The ladder is then allowed to flip over and it displays LOUIS NIKOLA. This would have been manufactured by Harry Leat who was a friend of Nikola. Leat advertised these ‘Magic in a Name’ cards in his Leat’s Leaflets, No. 16 in 1928. It was also included in his catalogue, as illustrated here. The Davenport collection contains material from Louis Nikola and this particular example almost certainly came into the collection via Nikola. See also N2928.

Harry Leat’s Humpty Dumpty trick

Harry Leat’s Humpty Dumpty trick

This is complete with the five silks. This was a dealer item from Harry Leat aimed at a children’s audience. The effect is that the magician produces from a sheet of paper an illustrated silk handkerchief showing Humpty Dumpty. As the silk is returned to the paper, another one is produced, this time showing Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall. In all, five silks tell the story of the nursery rhyme. At the end of the trick a 3D Humpty Dumpty is produced from the paper and all the silk handkerchiefs have vanished.