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.
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 Magic Circle owns the original script for JN Maskelyne’s famous magical play Will, the Witch and the Watch. This is the play that brought Maskelyne’s Box Trick to the attention of the public. Anne traces the history of the play and paints a vivid picture of the story and how the magic fits into the plot.
Anne Goulden explains why Maskelyne & Cooke felt able to use this billing, despite never having performed before royalty.
William Morton spotted Maskelyne and Cooke in their early years when they were touring the provinces and at the same time improving their show. He stayed with them as their manager until well into their long tenure at the Egyptian Hall in London. Drawing on Morton’s autobiography, Dr Dawes is able to throw light on this period, including information on the business relationship between Morton and Maskelyne and Cooke.
William Morton continued to work in the world of entertainment and eventually had several theatres and cinemas in Hull. His story tells us much about the entertainment industry.
The poster gives details of the Maskelyne & Cooke show. The date is not known but, based on Monday 29 July, the year can only be be 1869, 1872 or 1878. However, 1869 was before Maskelyne and Cooke called themselves The Royal Illusionists (see Ref. no. N2353). Also, had it been 1878 the poster would definitely have mentioned the shows at the Egyptian Hall starting in 1873. So the year must be 1872.
The show was given at Sandringham House by the distinguished favour of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. As might be imagined, Maskelyne and Cooke gained excellent publicity from this show. Over the years they made good use of the title ‘Royal Illusionists and Antispiritualists’.
The poster has no date or venue. However the poster refers to a show on 20 January 1870, so the poster date must be later. Also, there is no mention of the Egyptian Hall, so we can be sure the date must be before May 1873.
The item features Psycho and Zoe at the Egyptian Hall. The date 1877 has been written in pencil on the reverse. This is consistent with the show details. Compare this advertisement with item reference number N1484.
This is from The Penny Illustrated Paper, 14 August 1886, pages 109-110. Apart from the splendid illustration, the accompanying article comments on entertainments at the Crystal Palace, St. James’s Hall (Moore and Burgess Minstrels), Prince’s Hall (Charles Du Val the protean artist and his ‘Lilliputian aristocratic company’) and the Egyptian Hall (Charles Bertram with the Vanishing Lady, and Maskelyne and Cooke).