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

Frank Lane

Film of Ellis Stanyon performing silk magic

Film of Ellis Stanyon performing silk magic

This film was taken by the American magician Frank Lane (Frank Caldwell) when he visited Stanyon in London in the late 1930s. Stanyon was a magician and magic dealer, perhaps best known for the magazine Magic which he published from 1900 to 1920, with a break during WWI. Lewis Davenport in his early days as a performer bought items from Stanyon. For example, in the Magic of September 1903 we find: Lewis Davenport writes: – “I was working a return date with Second Sight Act, your method, when the manager said he knew how nearly every Second Sight Show worked, but he said our show fairly staggered him. Result, two more return dates.”

Fun and magic when Frank Lane visits the Davenports

Fun and magic when Frank Lane visits the Davenports

The American magician and family friend, Frank Lane, often visited the Davenports with his wife Francis. This film from the late 1930s was put together by Frank Lane. Frank and the Davenport family had a well-developed sense of humour, which explains some of the zany antics on the film. The footage includes George (Gilly) Davenport floating a match and Gus Davenport performing some coin magic. Frank doesn’t appear much in the clip: he was either shooting the film or, at the very start of the clip, relaxing in a deck chair being served a drink and cigars by Gus Davenport.

The people in the line-up, in order of appearance, are Wyn Davenport, Francis Lane, Gus Davenport, young Betty, George (Gilly) Davenport, young Jean and Eve Davenport.

In 1983 John Davenport had the opportunity to visit Le Grand David spectacular show in Beverly with Frank and Francis. As was their custom, the company made a huge fuss of the Lanes (see illustration), which they certainly deserved.

P.W. Miller’s “Oh John . . . ” with presentation and patter by Frank Lane

P.W. Miller’s “Oh John . . . ” with presentation and patter by Frank Lane

This is a torn and restored paper trick. American magician Frank Lane was never shy about talking up the benefits of his routines. The advertisement pasted onto the front of the envelope is a good example. The third illustration here shows a close-up of it – it’s worth a read. The instructions, but not the advertisement, include the sentence: ‘No need, I suppose, to state this is a trick purely for stags.’ Performers would be wise to heed this advice.

Demon glass commissioned by John and Anne Davenport

Demon glass commissioned by John and Anne Davenport

In 1982 John and Anne had seven glasses engraved with a demon’s head, based on one of the Davenport demon trademarks. They were to give to people who had been particularly helpful with our researches into the story of the Davenport family. We kept one glass and the others went to Harry Carson, Frank Lane, Peter Lane, Billy McComb, Richard Stupple and Peter Warlock. On the bottom of each glass is engraved ‘CJF Gould 82 Cambs’. CJF Gould was a glass engraver who lived in Fen Ditton near Cambridge.

A badge to play a joke on Frank Lane

A badge to play a joke on Frank Lane

The American magician Frank Lane (real name Caldwell) and his wife Frances were very good friends of the Davenport family. For some reason, the family was always rude, in a jokey way, to Frank. This cardboard badge was home made for Gus Davenport to wear when he collected Frank Lane who was visiting the Davenport family in Kent. Frank was amused.

Wooden card design plate – a gift from Frank Lane

Wooden card design plate – a gift from Frank Lane

This was a gift from Frank Lane (magician & family friend) to John Davenport in 1968. John thinks that Frank said that the bowl came from Formosa. This is an example of ‘pipitis’, the condition which leads to the collection of items covered in emblems, such as cards, beloved of many magicians.

Gold ring with black stone & question mark

Gold ring with black stone & question mark

This was a gift from Frank Lane (Frank Caldwell, magician and family friend) to John Davenport, probably in the late 1960s or 1970s. Frank used to wear it and John recalls that Frank told him he used it as a sign for gaining entry at a speak easy. He would show it at a grill in the door. John recalls that Frank said someone else had a similar ring – could it have been Ted Annemann? This recollection is at least partly right because Gabe Fajuri has pointed out a photograph of Annemann wearing a similar ring. This photograph be found on the copyright page of Max Abrams’ book The Life and Times of a Legend published by L & L Publishing.