This early publicity piece for animated photographs allows us to realise just how novel the entertainment was at the time. It is necessary to make the point that the animated photographs are “reproduced on a canvas screen, with all the actual movements of real life”. We are also told “The apparatus used is the most perfect, complete and portable yet constructed, and is the invention of Mr. R.W. Paul”. See Devant and early cinema for similar items.
The transcript of this letter is:
May 9 1896
I have considered the question of purchasing your collection of Playing Cards and have decided not to do so. I may however hear of someone who would like such a collection, and if I do I will put the matter before him.
Yours very truly
H. Evanion Esqr.
It would appear that this letter was once in the Jimmy Findlay Collection. Jim Hagy mentions in his book on Evanion that: ‘Findlay possessed in his collection a letter from Maskelyne to Evanion dated May 9, 1896 declining to purchase the latter’s playing card collection’. (Early English Conjuring Collectors: James Savren and Henry Evanion by James Hagy, Second Edition published in 2020 by Reginald Scot Books, Glenview, USA, page 72.) Jim’s excellent book is the place to go to for information on Evanion.
The layout of this programme is unusual. It lists sixty-six performers or acts, which is far too many to be the programme for the evening. This is more likely to be a list of performers who have entertained at one or more of the previous concerts. The programme also includes illustrations for around twenty acts, so perhaps the evening’s entertainment was made up by some or all of these. The names include Mr. Frederic Russell, Mr. James Stuart, Mr. David Devant and Mr. Sidney Gandy and Miss Inglefield. The list of acts to be found in the details for this item is based on all those acts illustrated in the programme.
23rd consecutive year, 1895-1896. According to the book on the Egyptian Hall by George Jenness, it was announced on 19 March 1896 that a series of Animated Photographs had just been added to the programme. The earliest date for this programme is therefore March 1896. This is consistent with the handwritten date of 30 April 1896 on page 1. The handwritten note in full is “April 30th 1896 H Ev. visited”. This is very likely the writing of Henry Evans Evanion. There are similar examples in The Evanion Collection held at The British Library in London, for example the item with the reference Evan.67 which is a Maskelyne and Cooke programme hand dated “Novr. 7th 1889 H Ev”. The printing on the Egyptian Hall programme illustrated here appears identical to that on programme Ref. no. N2064, although the colour of the paper is different.
23rd consecutive year, 1895-1896. According to the book on the Egyptian Hall by George Jenness, it was announced on 19 March 1896 that a series of Animated Photographs had just been added to the programme. The earliest date for this programme is therefore March 1896. This is consistent with the handwritten date of Saturday afternoon 28 March 1896 on page 1. The printing on this programme appears identical to that on programme Ref. no. N2065, although the colour of the paper is different.
This article from the ‘Era’ of 11 January 1896 reports on the show nearly 25 years after Maskelyne first appeared at the Hall. It is a positive review, welcoming the return of the sketch ‘Will, the Witch, and the Watchman’. David Devant, Mr. R.A. Roberts and Mr. Cramer on the orchestraphone also receive good reviews.