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

The Magic Circle

Letter relating to The Magic Circle Royal Command Performance at Windsor Castle in 1928

Letter relating to The Magic Circle Royal Command Performance at Windsor Castle in 1928

This interesting letter from William Minns to Herbert J. Collings details arrangements for The Magic Circle show that King George V had requested at Windsor Castle on 25 April 1928. As a result of the decisions the Circle made about who should perform in the show, some professional members of The Magic Circle resigned. They believed that the Circle should have included more professionals in the show, rather than amateur magicians, however good the amateurs might be. Lewis Davenport was one of the professionals who resigned.

1906 Magic Circle membership badge for Martin Mayhew (real name Donald Stevenson)

1906 Magic Circle membership badge for Martin Mayhew (real name Donald Stevenson)

Many people may know the name Donald Stevenson because he was an engineer who worked with Chung Ling Soo. He is mentioned in Will Dexter’s book The Riddle of Chung Ling Soo. Fewer people realise that Stevenson used the name Martin Mayhew for his magic. I’m grateful to Michael Colley for pointing this out to me, and supplying background infromation on Stevenson, who was also well known in the emerging world of model aeroplanes.

Novelty mug from The Magic Circle, London

Novelty mug from The Magic Circle, London

The Magic Circle in London moved into their new headquarters at 12 Stephenson Way in 1998. Prior to the move, there was an opportunity to visit the site while alterations to the building were still being made. Attendees were each given a mug, as illustrated. The message on the mug is “Vanished from The Magic Circle Building Site, 12 Stevenson Way”. The printing purposely becomes fainter towards the right. Note that the word Stevenson is misspelt, it should be Stephenson.

The Season’s Greetings from David Devant: a card collection

The Season’s Greetings from David Devant: a card collection

Now in its 2nd Edition, May 2023

This item gathers together greetings cards from David Devant and his family. We are most grateful to have been granted permission to include cards from The Edwin A Dawes Collection, The Magic Circle Archives, London, The Paul Kieve Collection, The Ian Keable Collection and The Peter Lane Collection. Click on View Details to download the file.

Programme for the Sixth Grand Séance of The Magic Circle, 10 April 1911

Programme for the Sixth Grand Séance of The Magic Circle, 10 April 1911

The bill included The Davenports. The act consisted of Lewis and Wynne Davenport and Dave Dwyer, who was the brother of Lewis’s first wife Julia. The act went well. According to The Magic Wand, Vol. 1 No. 9: “The next item was the Davenports, and here we had a brilliant example of professional conjuring. Space will not permit to describe the act, but it went with such a swing that the majority of the audiecne forgot that they had a back to their seat, so pressed against the one in front of them. Mention must be made, however, of the humerous assistant, whose antics, whilst catching the goldfish in the glass bowl previously produced, and eating them, with or without condiments, was most comical.” The Magic Circular of June 1911 agreed: “The Davenports then presented their Humerous Magical Act, one of the most appreciated items of the evening, being really good magic and good fooling. As a matter of fact we laughed so at the show, that our notes of what was done by the leading magician of the trio are quite undecipherable.” The illustration included here is by Nathan Dean and was published in The Magic Wand.

Davenport Collection website e-news #3, July 2019

Davenport Collection website e-news #3, July 2019

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 July 2019 issue included:
– Letters from The Front by Michael Colley.
– Ephemera other than posters and programmes.
– Wynne Davenport’s stage dresses.
– Peter Warlock paintings.
– A Maskelyne designed cash register.
– Novelties.

To see all the other e-news, click on Website e-news.

Gift of a plate from Cliff Townsend

Gift of a plate from Cliff Townsend

British magician Cliff Townsend gave this to John and Anne Davenport in August 1981. On the front of the bone china plate he had stuck the roundel from the cover of The Magic Circular from the June and July, 1959 issue. It shows George Davenport on the right welcoming Dr Harlan Tarbell to the Annual Banquet as the Hon. Editor John Young looks on.

Tommy Cooper Souvenirs

Tommy Cooper Souvenirs

At The Magic Circle Collectors’ Day in 1996 there was a sale of some of Tommy Cooper’s possessions. The proceeds went to The Magic Circle Headquarters Fund and the Grand Order of Water Rats. This pack consists of several items: a walkerprint postcard with Tommy’s caricature, a Tommy Cooper stamp, a card trick, and a ball point pen which has on it a caricature of Tommy and the words STOLEN FROM TOMMY COOPER.

Tommy Cooper Souvenir

Tommy Cooper Souvenir

At The Magic Circle Collectors’ Day in 1996 there was a sale of some of Tommy Cooper’s possessions. The proceeds went to The Magic Circle Headquarters Fund and the Grand Order of Water Rats. This item consisting of metal cups was purchased for the Davenport Collection, even though the routine was not clear.

Will Goldston – the man and the legend

Will Goldston – the man and the legend

This talk covers new insights into the private and business lives of Goldston. It is based on a study of the Goldston archives within the Davenport Collection as well as new research undertaken by Fergus. The story is a fascinating one, brought to life with many illustrations. The talk starts by solving the mystery of where Goldston was born.

An editor’s lot can be a happy one!

An editor’s lot can be a happy one!

Nobody is better placed than Donald to tell the story of Goodliffe the Magician and the magazine Abracadabra which Goodliffe founded in 1946 – the World’s Only Magical Weekly. Donald was involved with Abra from 1965 for over 40 years, many of those as Managing Editor, so you will also learn about Donald’s life in magic. The talk is full of insight and humour and the story is brought to life with over forty illustrations. Where else will you see Goodliffe with His Holiness Pope Paul V1, or Michael Bailey riding a bicycle?

Herr Adalbert Frikell His life and times in England 1862 to 1889

Herr Adalbert Frikell His life and times in England 1862 to 1889

The magical career of Herr Adalbert Frikell, the son of Wiljalba Frikell, saw both high spots and low spots. Paul Freeman charts his life from the time he arrived in England, through to the high point of his royal performances, to the lean years and his ultimate death in poverty. Did he commit suicide or was it death by natural causes? Paul’s illustrated talk answers this question and sheds much light on the rise and fall of this talented magician.