The Davenport Collection
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Lewis Davenport

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.

Booking form from the Tee-To-Tum Club to Lewis Davenport, 1903

Booking form from the Tee-To-Tum Club to Lewis Davenport, 1903

This booking form offers two spots to Lewis Davenport, at 8.45pm and 10.00pm, on Saturday 30 May 1903. We know that Lewis accepted the booking because we have the poster for the event, N690. It shows that Lewis was indeed billed twice. The first was ‘Lewis Davenport Silent Magician’ and the second was ‘Theosopho Thought Reader’.

Tee-To-Tum Club letter concerning a Lewis Davenport medal, 1903

Tee-To-Tum Club letter concerning a Lewis Davenport medal, 1903

The letter reads: Dear Sir, I have pleasure in sending your medal herewith. I also enclose contract for booking. If you wish can let you have posters (with your name on) similar to attached when printed. Best wishes, A.R. MacKay. The letter gives no clue as to what the medal relates to, but we know from The Encore of 29 January 1903 that Lewis entered an Amateur Variety Competition at the Tee-To-Tum Club on 22 January. We learn that ‘Lewis Davenport, a neat conjuror with a budget of clean tricks, scored a third’ which won him the medal. The letter also mentions a contract. We know from item N2923 that this contract was for a booking on 30 May 1903. We are lucky that the Davenport Collection has a copy of the poster for this booking, item N690.

Ticket for a Grand Concert at the Forest Gate Public Hall, 19 February 1903

Ticket for a Grand Concert at the Forest Gate Public Hall, 19 February 1903

The ticket tells us that it admits the bearer to ‘Arthur J. Hill’s & Louis Davenport’s Grand Concert’. The concert was reported in the Borough of West Ham and South Essex Mail of 21 February 1903: “Mr A.J. Hill and Mr Lewis Davenport arranged a concert at Forest Gate Public Hall on Thursday evening, and collected a good audience. Both organisers of the concert met with a good reception, and the remainder of the programme was of all-round excellence.” Arthur J. Hill was a friend of Lewis Davenport who entertained as The Living Lilliputian as as a ventriloquist. A photograph is included here showing him with his dummy ‘Wally’.

Advertising card for a Grand Variety Entertainment at The Mulberry Tree Music Hall, Stepney Green, London. 13 December 1902

Advertising card for a Grand Variety Entertainment at The Mulberry Tree Music Hall, Stepney Green, London. 13 December 1902

The card states that the entertainment is under the direction of Mr. Lewis Davenport. We do not have the programme, but it seems likely that Lewis Davenport was also on the bill. The event was a benefit concert for Samuel Membry. Around the 1902-1903 period it would appear that Davenport was trying his hand at putting on shows. Once he married Julia in 1904 and their act ‘The Davenports’ was formed, we believe that he gave up this initiative.

Handbill for W.F. Frame’s 1908 Vaudeville Scottish north tour

Handbill for W.F. Frame’s 1908 Vaudeville Scottish north tour

W.F. Frame, the Man U Know, was a Scottish comedian who took concert parties on tour in Scotland and northern England. Lewis and Julia worked with him for two seasons: a 13-week Lowland tour in 1907 and a 3-week Highland tour in 1908. Julia and Lewis Davenport contributed two acts to the 1908 tour: The Davenports (Magicians and Illusionists) and Doo and Dare (Comedy Jugglers).

Handbill for the Sebright Music Hall,  Hackney Road, London. 24 August 1903

Handbill for the Sebright Music Hall, Hackney Road, London. 24 August 1903

The bill includes ‘Silent Devonport’. Around this time the name Davenport was sometimes incorrectly spelt. Whether this was Lewis Davenport’s wish, or whether it was printer errors, is not clear. At this time most of Lewis’s performing experience had been gained at Working Mens’ Clubs, as was common at the time. Lewis probably saw his inclusion on this music hall bill as a step in the right direction, despite the Sebright being anything but a classy venue. History does not tell what Lewis thought of The Lady Wrestlers on the bill. The Management’s comment ” A Gold Centre Medal to any woman (or man not over 9st. 6lbs.) who makes the best show against Miss Mathias during the week” is not encouraging.

Programme for the Sixth Grand Séance of The Magic Circle, 10 April 1911

Programme for the Sixth Grand Séance of The Magic Circle, 10 April 1911

The bill included The Davenports. The act consisted of Lewis and Wynne Davenport and Dave Dwyer, who was the brother of Lewis’s first wife Julia. The act went well. According to The Magic Wand, Vol. 1 No. 9: “The next item was the Davenports, and here we had a brilliant example of professional conjuring. Space will not permit to describe the act, but it went with such a swing that the majority of the audiecne forgot that they had a back to their seat, so pressed against the one in front of them. Mention must be made, however, of the humerous assistant, whose antics, whilst catching the goldfish in the glass bowl previously produced, and eating them, with or without condiments, was most comical.” The Magic Circular of June 1911 agreed: “The Davenports then presented their Humerous Magical Act, one of the most appreciated items of the evening, being really good magic and good fooling. As a matter of fact we laughed so at the show, that our notes of what was done by the leading magician of the trio are quite undecipherable.” The illustration included here is by Nathan Dean and was published in The Magic Wand.

Davenport Duo and Wynne notepaper

Davenport Duo and Wynne notepaper

When Lewis Davenport’s first wife Julia died in 1909, Lewis was left with no performing partner. Lewis created a new act billed as Les Davenports. This consisted of Lewis and Julia’s brother Dave who provided the comedy in the act. When Lewis remarried in 1910 his new wife, Wynne, joined the act, so creating the Davenport Duo and Wynne. Years later Wynne would explain that she disliked the notepaper because, although the design was meant to show her sitting on the two red lines, people just thought that she was standing up, but was not very tall. View Details to see how this came about. You will see the photograph of her, while she was sitting down, that was used for the notepaper. This photograph, with her feet off the floor, makes it clear that she is sitting. However, when the background is removed as on the notepaper, she just looks short. Wynne found this annoying because she was in fact tall and elegant, as in the second illustrated photograph.