On this Friday Mr. Max O’Rell, billed as the Eminent Author and Humorist, gave two performances of his fascinating comedy lectures. Max O’Rell was the pen name of Léon Paul Blouet, a French author and journalist. In his day he became well known and his Wikipedia page explains that he was less successful towards the end of his career. He died in 1903. We know from a publicity item in The Magic Circle Archive that during Devant’s Season at the Masonic Hall, during the month of March, each Friday had a lecturer rather than a performance of Devant’s Entertainment.
This advertisement can be folded to show The Box Trick in action. The words explain: ‘The performer enters the box which he completely fills so that no part can collapse inwards. It is then locked, enveloped in a sack, corded and sealed thus preventing any section giving outwards. Yet in a few seconds the gentleman escapes without disturbing a single knot, leaving the box perfectly empty.’ The year is not stated, but we know from other publicity that the year is 1899. The same novelty design was used by Maskelyne and Cooke’s Mysteries when they were performing in Dublin in 1901 (item N2592).
This is a programme from Devant’s cinevariety tour 1898-1899. The programme tells us that Devant was actually performing twice nightly at the Egyptian Hall. See Devant and early cinema for similar items.
We have Ian Keable to thank for pointing out that the show differed from the one advertised in the progamme. Ian discovered from the Oxford Times and Reading Gazette of 25 February that Mr Mel. B. Spurr was ill and Animated Photographs were shown instead.
This item could act as advance publicity, as well as serving as a brief programme. The show was cinevariety, including Animated Photographs and many of Devant’s illusions in Zauberwunder. See Devant and early cinema for similar items.
This was one of the venues for Devant’s touring cinevariety show. See Devant and early cinema for similar items.
These two items were stored together by Maskelynes, with a brass paper fastener attaching them by the top left corner. This explains the holes in the top left corners. The information gives the tour venues and confirms that the show usually spent a week at each venue. The financial summary gives a breakdown of costs for each venue and the average receipts and expenses for the whole tour. The tour usually followed the pre-printed tour dates and venues, but there were exceptions. The images included here show both sides of the Tour List and the single-sided financial summary.
The two parties to this partnership agreement were J.N. and Nevil Maskelyne (the Maskelynes) and David Devant. Devant was the managing partner. The Maskelyne and Cooke Provincial Company carried out annual tours around Great Britain from 1899 to 1905. The Entertainment Bureau operated for many years supplying high class entertainments. There is much of interest in the agreement, including the agreement on profit sharing. Anne Goulden has produced a useful summary of the main points covered by the agreement in an Article on this website which can be found here.
This article is on page 194 of the 22 February issue. It focuses on the sketch ‘The Gnome’s Grot’ and a summary of the life of Miss Cassie Bruce who plays a character in the sketch. The article refers to an illustration on page 195 which is also reproduced here, courtesy of the Peter Lane Collection.
This programme is in the Paul Kieve Collection. We are grateful for his permission in 2019 to display it on this website. The programme lists 14 items which can be found by clicking on View Details.
Devant has signed the mount ‘Yours sincerely David Devant. 99’. The date is presumably 1899. The photograph was taken by the well known photographer Histed of Baker Street, London.