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

Gus Davenport

Davenport Collection website e-news #22, June 2024

Davenport Collection website e-news #22, June 2024

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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 2024 issue included:
– Lifetime Achievement Award.
– Film of Edward Victor performing his Diminishing Cards.
– Film of the 1936 German Magic Circle Convention, Munich.
– Harry Leat’s bizarre GRUB trick.
– Harry Leat’s ‘Magic in a Name’ Cards – Louis Nikola.
– Leat’s Supernatural Silk trick.
– Claude Chandler’s unfinish autobiography.
– Leat’s Matchbox to Candle transformation.

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

Official film of the 1936 German Magic Circle convention in Munich

Official film of the 1936 German Magic Circle convention in Munich

The German Magic Circle (Magischer Zirkel Deutschland) held its 1936 international convention in Munich. Lewis, Wynne and Gus Davenport were there. This official film taken by F.A. Brandt includes Gus Davenport performing the 3 Shell Game. Other performers were Ottokar Fischer and, with card magic; Dr Keck, Dr Schitzkowski and Dr Geimer. Brandt’s film has been edited in this version so as to avoid divulging magic secrets. The film provides a snapshot of magical thinking and performance styles in the mid-1930s.

The Davenport family also took some film at the convention, including many shots of the attendees: see N2895.

Film of Edward Victor presenting his version of the Diminishing Cards

Film of Edward Victor presenting his version of the Diminishing Cards

Edward Victor (1887-1964) was well known for his skilful and entertaining magic and hand shadows. Davenports sold his version of the Diminishing Cards, which Victor demonstrates on this film taken by the Davenports. Apart from his handling of the trick, the film shows his warm personality. Victor was also the author of some very popular books on magic technique. The photograph of Victor, also illustrated here, is autographed to Gus Davenport.

Film by Harry Baron of the Davenport’s model railway

Film by Harry Baron of the Davenport’s model railway

Some, but not all, magicians have interests outside magic. Gus Davenport in the 1960s enjoyed building an 00 gauge model railway with his teenage son John. The design concept was to have track circuits at different heights, so maximising the number of trains that could run simultaneously. This approach automatically generated the need for bridges and tunnels, both much loved by Gus and John. John makes a brief appearance, almost certainly correcting a derailment.

This film was shot by friend and magician Harry Baron. Harry managed Gamages magic department and also had his own magic company. He was a well-known figure in magic. See also N1969.

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.

Robin’s Miracle Series Magic Set – Double decker

Robin’s Miracle Series Magic Set – Double decker

Robin’s Miracle Series was put out by Barrie Robin in the 1950s. He purchased many items from Gus Davenport who was running Goldstons in the 1950s, following Will Goldston’s death in 1948. Davenports bought his business and operated it as the wholesale part of Davenports business. The contents of this double-decker magic set are similar to others sold by Gus Davenport, usually under the name Maskelyne’s Mysteries. The red paper on this box was typically used for the Robin’s boxes. Later these boxes were sold by Robins, a partnership between Gus Davenport and Maureen Robin.

Film of Gus Davenport with the 3 Shell Game at the 1936 Munich Convention

Film of Gus Davenport with the 3 Shell Game at the 1936 Munich Convention

The 1936 German Magic Circle (Magischer Zirkel Deutschland) convention was the first one in Germany attended by the Davenports: Lewis, Wynne and Gus. Gus had a great time there. The organisers captured aspects of the convention in a silent 16mm film taken by F.A. Brandt. The film includes a clip, shown here, of Gus Davenport performing the 3 Shell Game. Items N2895 and N2937 will tell you more about this convention.

Davenport Collection website e-news #19, September 2023

Davenport Collection website e-news #19, September 2023

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 2023 issue included:
– Newsreel of the 1938 British Ring Convention.
– Radio dice box.
– The Great Modern Psuedourgos Dr Lynn.
– Is it just a puzzle or an entertaining trick?
– The Oswald Williams Noah’s Ark Illusion – now also on film.
– And have you seen . . . Eddie Dawes in his own words.
To see all the other e-news, click on Website e-news.

Coin Stack, including a Gus Davenport routine

Coin Stack, including a Gus Davenport routine

This coin stack is from The Kaymar Magic Co. in Billericay, England. It was a gift from Harry Baron, the owner, to John Davenport in 1986. Six tenpenny pieces are placed in a stack on the back of a spectator’s hand, and then covered with the tray from a matchbox. The cover is lifted, the tenpenny pieces have vanished, and in their place is a stack of pound coins. Complete with instructions which give a routine by Harry Baron. The instructions also include a routine by Gus Davenport who was a very good friend of Harry. Harry explains that Gus made quite a cameo out of this trick in the earlier days when people were familiar with collar studs that men had in their collars. Gus would patter about Lord Derby, a famous racehorse owner of the time, who was also an inveterate one for making wagers. The story is that he was induced to wager his valuable Stud of horses on a certain race. The stake of cash was put up (represented by the stack of coins). However the culmination of the proceedings was that the gambler lost his money and Lord Derby still had his “STUD” . . . at which point the matchbox is lifted to show that the coins have vanished leaving a STUD in their place.

1938 Malvern Magic Convention Newsreel

1938 Malvern Magic Convention Newsreel

The International Brotherhood of Magicians British Ring held their 8th Annual Convention at Malvern in 1938. This Gaumont British News film was aimed at the cinema-going public. It features an upside-down strait jacket escape by Les Levante and an underwater escape by his daughter Esmé. It uses a breathless tone to capture the excitement of these and other magical happenings. Gus and George Davenport briefly turn up from time to time, most noticeably at the end having fun with the production of two giant bunches of flowers using a double Botania, no doubt on loan from the Davenport stand at the convention.

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.

Sock gag for use with the vanishing wand trick

Sock gag for use with the vanishing wand trick

The vanishing wand trick was very popular in the early to mid 20th century. The magician takes a solid magic wand and rolls it up in a piece of paper. The paper is then crumpled up, proving that the wand has vanished. The wand can then be produced from a place of the magician’s choosing. One approach used by (male) magicians was to pull up a trouser leg to reveal the wand tucked into his sock. In this comedy version the magician wears this colourful sock, which gets a laugh because such socks are not worn with a dinner jacket. A second laugh can be obtained by not wearing a sock at all on the other foot. This allows the magician to say: “Do you like my sock – unfortunately I’ve only got one of them” – as he shows the lack of any sock on his other foot. This was a gag used by Gus Davenport who always got a good response to it.