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

Tony Middleton

Demon on unicycle shop display

Demon on unicycle shop display

This was once on display in Davenport’s retail shop. The demon on the unicycle rides up and down on the wire, as a result of one end of the wire slowly moving up and down driven by an electric motor. It was renovated by engineer and magician Tony Middleton of Cambridge with help from John Davenport in 2014/2015. Tony Middleton is on the right of the photograph and Roy Davenport on the left.

Laughing sailor automaton

Laughing sailor automaton

This automaton in the Davenport Collection was in very poor condition and Tony Middleton repaired it in 2016. The automaton does not, and according to Betty Davenport never did, make a laughing noise. Nevertheless, when switched on, the sailor rocks from side to side as though something very funny has got to him. Davenports used to hire out this sailor to TV and theatre companies. In the photograph Roy Davenport is on the left and Tony Middleton on the right.

Indian Rope Trick coin operated machine

Indian Rope Trick coin operated machine

When a penny is placed in the slot, the rope rises up in the air and a small boy climbs up the rope, before vanishing at the top. It operates on the principle of Pepper’s Ghost. This machine, part of the Davenport Collection, was in extremely poor condition. It was renovated by engineer and magician Tony Middleton of Cambridge, with help from John Davenport and other friends in 2015. The body of the cabinet has a label saying Samson Novelty Co Ltd, London. They were manufacturers of coin operated machines. Tony Middleton is on the right of the photograph and Roy Davenport on the left.

Handkerchief vanishing gun

Handkerchief vanishing gun

A handkerchief hung over the end of the gun instantaneously vanishes. Cambridge magician and engineer Tony Middleton renovated this old item and used it with success in a comedy magic routine he put together. He subsequently gave it to John Davenport in 2015.

Card in balloon stand

Card in balloon stand

An audience member chooses a card which is placed back in the pack. The magician spreads the pack out on the tray, above which is clipped a balloon within the two metal hoops. On the command of the magician the balloon bursts and the chosen card appears in its place. This was a gift from Cambridge magician and friend Tony Middleton in 2015.

Automaton of a nodding magician producing a rabbit from a hat

Automaton of a nodding magician producing a rabbit from a hat

The Davenport Collection contained an electrically operated window figure in poor condition. The figure was of a man which nodded its head and moved its arms up and down. In 2014-2015 Cambridge magician and engineer Tony Middleton converted the figure so that it produced a rabbit out of a hat each time it nodded its head and raised its arms. One of the photographs shows Tony Middleton with the part-finished automaton.

Cutting a woman in half coin-operated machine

Cutting a woman in half coin-operated machine

When a penny is placed in the slot, a young lady appears in the horizontal box on the right of the photograph, at which point the magician slices her through many times with a vicious looking sword. After a while the lady vanishes from the box and appears in the gold cage on the left. The illusion operates on the principle of Pepper’s Ghost. This machine, part of the Davenport Collection, was in extremely poor condition. It was renovated by engineer and magician Tony Middleton of Cambridge, with help from John Davenport and other friends in 2015. It is the belief of the restoration team that the coin-op was a prototype because of various design faults that would have made it unsuitable for commercial use. These faults have now been rectified. Roy Davenport is on the left and Tony Middleton on the right of the photograph.

The Hand by Mick Hanzlik

The Hand by Mick Hanzlik

A card is selected and replaced in the pack which is shuffled and then spread out on a table. This battery powered spooky hand moves in an eerie way and discovers the chosen card. Complete with instructions. This was a gift from Cambridge magician and good friend Tony Middleton in 2015.

Gypsy fortune telling automaton created by Tony Middleton

Gypsy fortune telling automaton created by Tony Middleton

In 2016 a Cambridge magician and family friend, Tony Middleton, took an existing automaton of Snow White, which was part of the Davenport family collection, and converted it to this gypsy with a plasma ball. The original age of the electrically operated figure is not known, but is probably mid to late 20th century. One photograph shows Tony Middleton with the figure.