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

Cecil Lyle

Davenport Collection website e-news #21, March 2024

Davenport Collection website e-news #21, March 2024

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 March 2024 issue included:
– A film clip of Gus Davenport performing The Three Shell Game in 1936.
– Zauber Burgen (Magic Castles).
– Devant, Maskelyne and the Crispin Family.
– Magic sets.
– Cecil Lyle’s Chocolate Box Illusion – now on film.
– Demon Series printed silks.
To see all the other e-news, click on Website e-news.

Film of Cecil Lyle’s Chocolate Box Illusion

Film of Cecil Lyle’s Chocolate Box Illusion

This is a showy illusion in which a giant chocolate box is shown first empty, then full of giant chocolates. The box is closed again and, when reopened, there is a lady inside. Photographs of the illusion and background details have been on the Davenport Collection website for some time (N826). We can now share an AI enhanced video of a performance at the 1982 Pentacle Club Convention. The performer is John Whitmore, assisted by Chris Kostecki and Teresa Wallman. John and Chris were both members of the Cambridge Pentacle Magic Club.

Davenport Collection website e-news #7, September 2020

Davenport Collection website e-news #7, September 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 September 2020 issue included:
– Cecil Lyle’s Chocolate Box Illusion.
– The Egyptian Hall, 19th century lithographs.
– Novelties and toys – old and new.
– David Devant, Walter R. Booth and early cinema.
– A talk about John Ramsay by Dr E.A. Dawes.

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

Noms de Theatre – stage names for magicians

Noms de Theatre – stage names for magicians

We are grateful to Paul Freeman who has given us permission to include this PDF version of his talk, which he has given in England and Austria between 2008 and 2011. Paul relates the interesting and often surprising ways in which magicians have ended up with a well-known stage name.

Wyn Davenport’s autograph albums

Wyn Davenport’s autograph albums

Anne Goulden gave this talk at the IBM British Ring Convention, Bournemouth on 25 September 2014.
While Wyn toured with her parents in the 1920s, she collected autographs from many magicians and variety acts. Anne Goulden brings these characters to life in a well illustrated talk.

Cecil Lyle’s Chocolate Box Illusion

Cecil Lyle’s Chocolate Box Illusion

The collection has two Chocolate Box Illusions, both from Lyle. Lewis Davenport purchased one for use in his own stage show in the 1930s. The second one, a cream coloured box used by Lyle in his later years, was purchased by the Davenports from Cecil’s wife Lucille LaFarge, following his death. This is the box illustrated here. The effect is as follows. The box on a very thin platform is revolved to show all round it. The ribbon around the box is removed and the front doors opened to show that the box is quite empty inside. The box is then closed and when reopened it is seen to be full of giant-sized chocolates. The box is again closed and opened to reveal no chocolates but instead a lady inside the box.

Still photographs from the Davenport family cine films

Still photographs from the Davenport family cine films

The collection contains cine film taken by the family, much of it from the 1930s. The film has been transferred to tape, and more recently converted to an electronic form, in order to preserve the images. During this process some of the more interesting frames have been printed out as photographs. The magician on the top sheet of photographs shown here is Gus Davenport performing in Berlin in 1937. The face of Ottokar Fischer can be seen in one of the photographs lower down in the pile.

Vanishing gramophone

Vanishing gramophone

The magician starts a record on the wind up gramophone resting on the top of this table. A cloth is thrown over the gramophone which is carried forward and it vanishes into the air. This is a dealer item, believed to be manufactured by Bartl in Germany. Cecil Lyle invented the effect of the vanishing gramophone and featured it in his act for many years. This example is not a copy of Cecil Lyle’s gramophone.