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

1903

Martin Chapender brochure

Martin Chapender brochure

Chapender (1879-1905) was, by all accounts, a very accomplished magician. This brochure directs bookers to the Maskelyne and Cooke’s Entertainment Bureau. J.N. Maskelyne thought sufficiently highly of him to put him in charge of the last Egyptian Hall season, at the time when J.N. was absorbed with the move of Maskelynes to St. George’s Hall. The seven images around the central image on page 3 all have the same background. Item N3292 confirms that the photographer was Richard Brown of 35 Bold Street, Liverpool.

Letter from Henry Bate to Devant concerning Box Trick

Letter from Henry Bate to Devant concerning Box Trick

Bate wrote this letter to Devant on old notepaper from the 1890s when he was known as Harry Bate, MYSTIFICATEUR. It confirms that Bate supplied conjuring apparatus to the wholesale and retail trade as well as providing entertainments and lessons in sleight of hand.

Letter from Henry Bate to Devant concerning Box Trick

Letter from Henry Bate to Devant concerning Box Trick

Henry Bate, Devant’s illusion builder, is writing to Devant in Aberdeen about a box trick. Devant had to return it to Bate because of a problem, which Bate says he has now resolved. A transcript of the first page is: Dear Mr Devant, Box duly arrived, you were quite right, the awful jerking on Rail had simply misplaced a part of the mechanism, nothing was either broken or out of order. I have placed with other papers, in Box, a full explanation of what occurred and the means taken to prevent it in future. I hope you will understand exactly what I mean. I feel certain everything is quite safe now. I want you to examine . . .

Receipted invoice from Henry Bate to Devant, 1903

Receipted invoice from Henry Bate to Devant, 1903

Henry Bate, David Devant’s illusion builder, charged him for work on the Barrel Illusion which Bate had to ship to Glasgow. At the time Devant was performing in Glasgow with the Maskelyne and Cooke Mysteries Provincial Company. Note the wide range of business activities listed by Bate in the top left corner of his letterhead.

Booking form from the Tee-To-Tum Club to Lewis Davenport, 1903

Booking form from the Tee-To-Tum Club to Lewis Davenport, 1903

This booking form offers two spots to Lewis Davenport, at 8.45pm and 10.00pm, on Saturday 30 May 1903. We know that Lewis accepted the booking because we have the poster for the event, N690. It shows that Lewis was indeed billed twice. The first was ‘Lewis Davenport Silent Magician’ and the second was ‘Theosopho Thought Reader’.

Tee-To-Tum Club letter concerning a Lewis Davenport medal, 1903

Tee-To-Tum Club letter concerning a Lewis Davenport medal, 1903

The letter reads: Dear Sir, I have pleasure in sending your medal herewith. I also enclose contract for booking. If you wish can let you have posters (with your name on) similar to attached when printed. Best wishes, A.R. MacKay. The letter gives no clue as to what the medal relates to, but we know from The Encore of 29 January 1903 that Lewis entered an Amateur Variety Competition at the Tee-To-Tum Club on 22 January. We learn that ‘Lewis Davenport, a neat conjuror with a budget of clean tricks, scored a third’ which won him the medal. The letter also mentions a contract. We know from item N2923 that this contract was for a booking on 30 May 1903. We are lucky that the Davenport Collection has a copy of the poster for this booking, item N690.

Ticket for a Grand Concert at the Forest Gate Public Hall, 19 February 1903

Ticket for a Grand Concert at the Forest Gate Public Hall, 19 February 1903

The ticket tells us that it admits the bearer to ‘Arthur J. Hill’s & Louis Davenport’s Grand Concert’. The concert was reported in the Borough of West Ham and South Essex Mail of 21 February 1903: “Mr A.J. Hill and Mr Lewis Davenport arranged a concert at Forest Gate Public Hall on Thursday evening, and collected a good audience. Both organisers of the concert met with a good reception, and the remainder of the programme was of all-round excellence.” Arthur J. Hill was a friend of Lewis Davenport who entertained as The Living Lilliputian as as a ventriloquist. A photograph is included here showing him with his dummy ‘Wally’.

Handbill for the Sebright Music Hall,  Hackney Road, London. 24 August 1903

Handbill for the Sebright Music Hall, Hackney Road, London. 24 August 1903

The bill includes ‘Silent Devonport’. Around this time the name Davenport was sometimes incorrectly spelt. Whether this was Lewis Davenport’s wish, or whether it was printer errors, is not clear. At this time most of Lewis’s performing experience had been gained at Working Mens’ Clubs, as was common at the time. Lewis probably saw his inclusion on this music hall bill as a step in the right direction, despite the Sebright being anything but a classy venue. History does not tell what Lewis thought of The Lady Wrestlers on the bill. The Management’s comment ” A Gold Centre Medal to any woman (or man not over 9st. 6lbs.) who makes the best show against Miss Mathias during the week” is not encouraging.