At first sight, this is the original photograph that was published in the programme for the Tenth Annual Grand Séance of The Magic Circle held on 29 March 1915 at St. George’s Hall. The photograph from the programme, which includes the names of the gentlemen, is also illustrated here. If you look more closely you will see that the photograph from the programme has an extra person added to the far left and the far right.

The item on page 32 is headlined ‘King of Magic’s Command Show’. It describes a visit to the Putney Home for Incurables by members of The Magic Circle, at the invitation of David Devant. The article reported Devant’s view that ‘Conjuring has certainly not made the advance during the last twenty years that it should have done.’

Herbert J. Collings performed his pseudo-Chinese act under the name Col Ling Soo. He was a successful performer and twice served as President of The Magic Circle, from 1928 – 1931 and from 1954 – 1958. This explains why on his letterhead he has crossed out the word ‘Past’ in front of the words ‘President of the Magic Circle’. 1955 was the Golden Jubilee for The Magic Circle. His letter tells us that he had a particularly busy week over the period of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations. This item from the Chris Woodward Collection is included here with his kind permission. There is much more on this fascinating character in Ref. no. N2345, which contains Herbert J.’s illustrated ‘Smilestones: Recollections of Herbert J. Collings in his own words: 1898-1946’.