The Davenport Collection
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Welcome to the 1936 Munich Magic Convention

Welcome to the 1936 Munich Magic Convention

Luckily, the Davenport family is not prone to throwing things away. This allows John Davenport to share something of their attendance at the 19-21 September 1936 Munich Convention. Lewis, Wynne and Gus Davenport travelled to Munich for their first German Magic Circle Convention (Magischer Zirkel Deutschland). It was a good opportunity to meet many continental magic dealers and magicians. John Davenport’s article reproduces letters, photographs and other ephemera from the occasion. In addition to downloading a PDF of the article, you might also wish to view the film taken by the family, which may be found here.

Davenport Duo and Wynne notepaper

Davenport Duo and Wynne notepaper

When Lewis Davenport’s first wife Julia died in 1909, Lewis was left with no performing partner. Lewis created a new act billed as Les Davenports. This consisted of Lewis and Julia’s brother Dave who provided the comedy in the act. When Lewis remarried in 1910 his new wife, Wynne, joined the act, so creating the Davenport Duo and Wynne. Years later Wynne would explain that she disliked the notepaper because, although the design was meant to show her sitting on the two red lines, people just thought that she was standing up, but was not very tall. View Details to see how this came about. You will see the photograph of her, while she was sitting down, that was used for the notepaper. This photograph, with her feet off the floor, makes it clear that she is sitting. However, when the background is removed as on the notepaper, she just looks short. Wynne found this annoying because she was in fact tall and elegant, as in the second illustrated photograph.

Forde and Forde notepaper, 1910s

Forde and Forde notepaper, 1910s

Forde and Forde – Refined Musical Speciality Artistes – was a brother and sister act of Sid and Wynne Ford. Presumably they felt that Ford with an ‘e’ looked more refined than Ford. It was Wynne Ford who married Lewis Davenport in 1910. The photograph included here is of Sid and Wynne around the time of this act. Item N2911 includes additional information on the Ford family.

The musical Ford family

The musical Ford family

After the death of Lewis Davenport’s first wife, Julia, he married again. His new wife Wynne, born in 1891, came from a musical family. Her parents Mr and Mrs Ford had six children. The story goes that Mr Ford went to the music hall one day and saw a novelty music act. He thought that Wynne and her brother Sid could do that, so he built some instruments (he was a skilled woodworker) and they started entertaining. The act became Forde & Forde, Refined Musical Speciality Artistes. In later years Sid performed as Max Prinzen. He also ran Max Ford’s Melody Makers. He can be seen sitting in the middle in the attached photograph of the Melody Makers. Wynne’s sister Ede was also an accomplished accordian player. After marrying Lewis, Wynne maintained her musical skills. For example, The Performer of 2 March 1916 reported on a Magicians’ Club Ladies’ Night entertainment at which Wynne contributed her musical act with a phono fiddle and xylophone.

Four publicity postcards for the Scottish comedian W.F. Frame

Four publicity postcards for the Scottish comedian W.F. Frame

Frame was a contemporary of Harry Lauder. Unlike Lauder, he never became popular in the south of Britain because audiences could not understand his accent. Lewis and Julia Davenport worked with him for two seasons in Scotland: a 13-week Lowland tour in 1907 and a 3-week Highland tour in 1908. Frame’s autobiography is ‘W.F. Frame Tells His Story’.

Lewis Davenport postcard sent to Hardeen on 8 May 1907

Lewis Davenport postcard sent to Hardeen on 8 May 1907

The postcard shows Lewis with painted-in red thimbles on his hands. The message side of the card (also illustrated) is addressed to ‘Mr Hardeen, Palace Music Hall, Walthamstow, London’. The message reads ‘This week Grand Bolton. Dear Sir, If you have a photo P.C. [post card] of yourself to spare I should be pleased to receive one for my album. Sincerely yours, L Davenport’. The rather faint writing below the photograph of Lewis reads ‘From Lewis Davenport. Dealer & maker of magical apparatus. 30, Riles Rd, Plaistow, E. Send stamp for list of tricks & books’.

The Davenports featured on the cover of ‘The Magician’ for December 1906

The Davenports featured on the cover of ‘The Magician’ for December 1906

By 1906 The Davenports were gaining plenty of work in variety theatres. Will Goldston, the editor of The Magician, clearly felt that they justified being featured on the front page. Also illustrated here is a glowing write up of The Davenports from page 3 of the magazine. The act was usually billed as “No Time to Talk” which, given the speed of the act, was fully justified.

Magazine article on the SAM 1947 Chicago magic convention

Magazine article on the SAM 1947 Chicago magic convention

The article is almost certainly from Life International of unknown date in 1947. A similar article was published in Life Magazine. In 2016 Inside Magic offered comments on the article and the photographs: “It could be that Dr. Harlan Tarbell did perform the Balancing an Egg on a Fan While Blindfolded trick as part of his nightclub act. Maybe magicians did do Multiplying Golf Balls in a strip club and drew all eyes from the dancers gyrating on stage to their strained and stretched fingers. But is also just as likely that the convention attendees were doing what magicians do best at convention time – getting good press.”