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

1889

Greetings card reproduction of Pepper at the Polytechnic

Greetings card reproduction of Pepper at the Polytechnic

This is a reproduction of a Polytechnic handbill for Pepper’s Ghost Christmas Show in 1889. The inside of the card contains the message: With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year from the National Fairground Archive. The Archive purchased the original handbill in 2006.

19 June 1889 letter from J.N. Maskelyne to H. Evanion

19 June 1889 letter from J.N. Maskelyne to H. Evanion

The transcript of this letter is:
June 19. 1889
Dear Sir
I shall be glad to inspect your collection a little later on. Just now I am exceedingly busy with machines for the Paris Exhibition.
I have much matter concerning androids.
Yours very truly
J.N. Maskelyne
H. Evanion Esq.

Maskelyne’s letter is to Henry Evanion, a major collector of paper ephemera, including much relating to magicians. For information on Evanion see Early English Conjuring Collectors: James Savren and Henry Evanion by James Hagy, Second Edition published in 2020 by Reginald Scot Books, Glenview, USA.

Some of the 1890-1891 Egyptian Hall programmes for the Maskelyne and Cooke shows include an advertisement for Maskelyne’s Mechanical Cashier & Book-Keeper on the back page. The example illustrated here is from Ref. no. N2012. According to the advertisement it ‘Beat all competitors at the Paris Exhibition, receiving the highest award given for cash registering apparatus’. The illustration includes the words ‘Silver Medal, Paris 1889’. It is likely that Maskelyne’s letter to Evanion refers to the work needed to prepare these machines for the Exhibition.

The curator of this website is currently trying to confirm that Maskelyne really did win the Silver Medal. This is necessary because J.N. Maskelyne’s claims cannot always be taken at face value. A search by the National Library of France confirmed that M. Maskelyne of Manchester did submit a cash register (details here) but was unable to find information relating to the medals awarded.

Maskelyne and Cooke, Egyptian Hall, London

Maskelyne and Cooke, Egyptian Hall, London

The advertisement on page 4 includes financial figures for year ending 25 March 1889. According to Jenness, on 5 August 1889 the Hall reopened with Ganthony and Morritt, who are both on this bill. Later, from 21 October 1889, Holden was at the Hall for about a month. Since Holden is not on this bill, the programme date is probably between 5 August 1889 and 21 October 1889.

Maskelyne and Cooke, Egyptian Hall, London. 1889

Maskelyne and Cooke, Egyptian Hall, London. 1889

The advertisement on page 4 includes financial figures for year ending 25 March 1889. On 21 October 1889, Holden was at the Hall for about a month, according to Jenness. The date 7 Nov 1889 has been written on page 2 of the programme. The letters ‘H Ev’ are also written on page 2, probably written by Henry Evanion. This date is very probably correct.
J.N. Maskelyne did not appear to be on this bill.