J N Maskelyne’s whist-playing automaton, Psycho, has been at the Museum of London for over eighty years. For much of that time he has been in store, but he has been on display in a special exhibition on Sherlock Holmes. The exhibition opened on 17 October 2014 and continued until 12 April 2015. Anne Goulden produced this note to celebrate Psycho’s reappearance in public.
Anyone who has tried to read Devant’s ‘My Magic Life’ knows that it can be frustrating and confusing because of the way it is organised – or not organised! Anne Goulden has produced a useful guided tour that tells you where aspects of Devant’s life can be found. Equally importantly, it tells you what can be ignored if you wish to concentrate only on Devant’s life.
1897 was the 60th year of Queen Victoria’s reign. There were to be Diamond Jubilee Celebrations and Maskelyne saw an opportunity to make a good profit by building a Grand Pavilion with a view of the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the ceremony was to take place. Unfortunately, the speculation did not turn out well. Dr Dawes draws on many sources to tell this story. We meet David Devant and Douglas Beaufort and learn about some rather surprising litigation that resulted from Maskelyne’s initiative.
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.
Many of the Maskelyne items in the Davenport Collection were made for public consumption: programmes, publicity material, printed books, and so on. One of our shelves is occupied by books which were always intended to be private. They are the surviving business records of the Maskelynes at St George’s Hall.
The purpose of this article is to record the scope of these business records and provide examples of their content.
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.
This newly written play by Jarek Adams was about Victorian magician J.N. Maskelyne. The play was reviewed by Anne Goulden in ‘The Magic Circular’, July 2014, page 195.
Based on the information in the book by George Jenness on the Egyptian Hall, it looks as though the date of this programme is sometime on tour in October – mid-December 1886.
There is no date, but the bill implies Easter 1905 for a short time. This was the first magic show at St. George’s Hall after the failure of ‘The Coming Race’.
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’.