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

David Devant

Devant, Maskelyne and the Crispin Family

Devant, Maskelyne and the Crispin Family

In the Davenport Collection there are photographs of members of the Crispin family. These have been brought together in a brief article that explains how the family contributed to the Devant and Maskelyne shows. Perhaps the most widely known member of the family is Adela Crispin, who is credited as the levitated lady in a photograph in My Magic Life of Devant performing the Sylph Illusion. But was she? It turns out not everyone agrees. This too is discussed in the PDF.

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.

Davenport Collection website e-news #16, December 2022

Davenport Collection website e-news #16, December 2022

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 December 2022 issue included:
– Update on the Davenport Film Collection, including the 1936 Munich convention and Cardini.
– Update on the Davenport Collection Instagram site.
– The Demon Cannon Detector.
– The “Red Hot” Ball.
– The Season’s Greetings from David Devant: a card collection.
– David Devant and the early days of cinema.
– Lewis Davenport’s early performing days.
– The Demon Rod and Beads

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

Programme for David Devant’s Entertainment at the Pier Pavilion, Exmouth. 1898

Programme for David Devant’s Entertainment at the Pier Pavilion, Exmouth. 1898

The programme is for David Devant’s Entertainment ‘direct from Maskelyne and Cooke’s Egyptian Hall, London’. The bill consists of Animated Photographs and Mr. Maurice Victor. It’s interesting to note that on the week of this performance, starting Monday 29 August 1898, Devant had another group performing in Ramsgate. The programme for the Ramsgate performances is N1928. We know that Devant had four cine projectors to make use of, including the one permanently at the Egyptian Hall. The details may be found in item N2979, although no doubt the names of the people involved would have changed over time. See Devant and early cinema for similar items.

Publicity item for David Devant’s Animated Photos. 1897

Publicity item for David Devant’s Animated Photos. 1897

Page 1 mentions the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which was in June 1897, so the likely date is 1897 or 1898. Pages 2 and 3 are most interesting because they state that Devant has four ‘Cinematographes’: No. 1 is used twice daily at the Egyptian Hall, No. 2 is on tour, No. 3 and No. 4 are for Public or Private Engagements. The names of the operators and others involved in these performances are also given. All the pages are illustrated here. See Devant and early cinema for similar items.

Publicity item for Mr. David Devant’s Animated Photographs and Séance Fantastique. 1896

Publicity item for Mr. David Devant’s Animated Photographs and Séance Fantastique. 1896

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.