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

Anne Goulden

My Reminiscences

My Reminiscences

All those interested in J.N. Maskelyne’s life and his views on the world will find much of interest in his reminiscences. They were published in the January 1910 issue of the popular Strand Magazine. The article has been reproduced here with comments by Anne Goulden at the end.

Example of a topological paradox

Example of a topological paradox

Unless you enjoy a good topological paradox, this may not be for you. It involves turning a torus shaped surface inside out. You have to puzzle out how two rings drawn on the surface appear to link and unlink as the torus is turned inside out – a topological impossibility. This is hard to visualise so, in the 1970s, Anne Goulden made a model out of fabric (illustrated) which helps explain why, in practice, there is no paradox. The paradox has been explained in print, for example in Martin Gardner’s book Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions.

David Devant’s first big illusion: Vice Versa

David Devant’s first big illusion: Vice Versa

Many entertainers have financial difficulties in their early careers. David Devant wrote about his early struggles in My Magic Life.

In December 1892 he put on a show at Balham Hall. The show made a loss, but it turned out to be an important step in securing a place for him in Maskelyne & Cooke’s theatre at the Egyptian Hall. He used the show to showcase his new stage illusion, Vice Versa. The illusion caught the eye of the Crystal Palace management, and before long Devant had secured a booking at the Egyptian Hall. However, Vice Versa was too large for the Egyptian Hall stage. J.N. Maskelyne asked Devant to come up with something more suitable. The result was The Artist’s Dream, based on the same principle as Vice Versa.

Anne draws on previously unpublished material which allows the fascinating details of the story to be told.

Davenport Collection website e-news #10, June 2021

Davenport Collection website e-news #10, June 2021

Click on Details if you would like to download a PDF of this e-news.
E-newsletters like this one are sent out four times a year, highlighting recent additions to the website. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, please contact the curator.

The June 2021 issue included:
– a card trick with a canary.
– a box for changing a lily into a rose.
– information on Will Goldston (1877-1948).
– John Salisse and the Maskelynes.
– a levitating light bulb.
– a box of Egyptian Hall ephemera.
– Peter Lane’s talk on magicians’ programmes.

To see all the other e-news, click on Website e-news.

Davenport Collection website e-news #6, June 2020

Davenport Collection website e-news #6, June 2020

Click on Details if you would like to download a PDF of this e-news.
E-newsletters like this one are sent out four times a year, highlighting recent additions to the website. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, please contact the curator.

The June 2020 issue included:
Roberta Byron – The Youngest Magician in the World presented by Brian Lead.
– Okito glasses.
– Menetekel – The Writing Ball – introduced by William Berol.
– Printed paper coil showing the magician Carlton’s head.
– Cyraldo’s Tube, Silks and Liquids.
– The Chinese magician automaton created by Tony Middleton.

To see all the other e-news, click on Website e-news.

Maskelyne and Cooke Provincial Company and Entertainment Bureau: 1899 Partnership Agreement – summary of main points

Maskelyne and Cooke Provincial Company and Entertainment Bureau: 1899 Partnership Agreement – summary of main points

To our knowledge the contents of this partnership agreement have remained confidential until now. The parties to the agreement were J.N. and Nevil Maskelyne (the Maskelynes) and David Devant. Devant was managing partner. The Maskelyne and Cooke Provincial Company made annual tours of Great Britain from 1899 to 1905. The Entertainment Bureau supplied high class entertainments for many years. There is much of interest in the partnership agreement and Anne’s article is a useful summary.

Intermittently on the halls

Intermittently on the halls

On 9 February 2012 Anne Goulden gave this talk at the British Music Hall study group in London. It follows Lewis Davenport’s performing career from around 1900 to around 1930 and explains how he juggled his time between his magic business, music hall work, and other performances. On the way it provides an overview of the different types of variety entertainment during the period.

Maskelyne & Cooke: the early years

Maskelyne & Cooke: the early years

Anne has unearthed new information on the eight year journey that took Maskelyne and Cooke from Cheltenham to the Egyptian Hall in London. On the way she explains how Maskelyne and Cooke could call themselves Royal Illusionists, despite not having performed before royalty.

Gems from the John Salisse Archive

Gems from the John Salisse Archive

John Salisse’s archive was the result of over 40 years of collecting and research. His interests were the Maskelyne family and their theatres. In this talk Anne dips into the archive, which is now part of The Davenport Collection. Anne focuses on the early days of the Egyptian Hall, where JN Maskelyne’s entertainments first made him a household name in Victorian Britain.

The life and times of George Mozart

The life and times of George Mozart

George Mozart (1864-1947) was a musician and burlesque comedian. He wasn’t one of the top music hall stars, but he had a long, successful career as an entertainer. In the 1920s he worked for the Maskelynes at St George’s Hall. His road to success is a fascinating story which tells us much about life as an entertainer in late 19th and early 20th century Britain. Click below to enter his world.

The Davenports: lightning magicians & illusionists

The Davenports: lightning magicians & illusionists

Lewis Davenport and his first wife, Julia, had some success with this act in 1904-09. It was a fast-paced act and, unusually for the first decade of the 20th century, both Lewis and Julia performed the magic. Anne’s talk follows their progress and focuses on the tricks that made up the act. Click below to read how the act developed and what was in it.

Lewis Davenport’s travels in Europe

Lewis Davenport’s travels in Europe

In the 1920s and 1930s most of Lewis Davenport’s bookings were at theatres in Great Britain. However, he did tour South Africa in 1926 and South America in 1927, as well as accepting bookings in Germany and Belgium. In this talk Anne follows Lewis around Europe, pointing out the differences between UK and continental variety, as well as introducing some of the speciality acts with whom Lewis worked.

Click below to join Lewis on his travels.