The signature trick of Lewis Davenport was his colour changing waistcoats. At the end of a trick the audience would notice that his waistcoat had changed colour. At the same moment his wife and assistant, Wynne, would walk on wearing a matching dress. This is one of the stage dresses that was made for her.

The signature trick of Lewis Davenport was his colour changing waistcoats. At the end of a trick the audience would notice that his waistcoat had changed colour. At the same moment his wife and assistant, Wynne, would walk on wearing a matching dress. This is one of the stage dresses that was made for her.

Lewis Davenport was well known for his skilful thimble manipulations. Prior to the effect, Wynne Davenport, his wife and assistant in his stage act, would display the WATCH THE THIMBLE banner. In view of the size of the theatres in which Lewis worked, the audience probably appreciated this advice. The lettering is made from diamante on a black velvet background and would have sparkled in the stage lighting. This particular banner was probably made in the late 1930s for a proposed visit to the USA which never took place. The black and white photograph shows an earlier version of a banner which appeared as the cover of ‘S.A. Pictorial Stage and Cinema’ when Lewis and Wynne Davenport were touring South Africa in 1926.

This prop was used by Lewis Davenport in his stage act in the 1920s. The following description is from the ‘Magic Wand’ of June-September 1923: ‘A box of cigars is brought forward and the performer selects a smoke. He then gives the box to his lady assistant, who holds it suspended by ribbons. A large lamp is exhibited and from this the performer lights his cigar. He puffs the smoke at the cigar box, wherein he has just placed a dove. The box falls apart, the dove has gone, but reappears within the lamp.’ No doubt the details changed over the years, but the cigar box was always used for the dove vanish and the dove always appeared in the lamp. The stage setting shows Lewis on the left and the lady holding the cigar box is his wife Wynne. In the 1930s Lewis had a new lamp made, probably for an intended visit to the USA which, in the event, never happened. This lamp can be seen under Ref. no. N830.

Lewis Davenport featured this in his 1920s and 1930s stage act. He used his own original method for the Sunshade Trick and the Davenport family have always vigorously pursued magicians who have copied this method. In the Davenport Collection we have a sunshade that was probably made in the late 1930s. This particular one may never have been used by Lewis, but was certainly used by his son Gus Davenport. The effect as described at the Wood Green Empire in 1928 was as follows: a lady enters holding the open sunshade over her shoulder and carrying a handbag in her other hand. The sunshade is closed and wrapped in a sheet of brown paper. Six silks of different colours are taken from the handbag and they transform into the cover of the sunshade. The sunshade handle is drawn out from the paper and found to carry a silk on each rib – the cover has gone. The sunshade with the silks on it is then returned to the paper roll. The cover of the sunshade is placed in a hat, from which the silks are then produced, the hat being shown empty. The sunshade is pulled out of the paper, restored with its proper cover on. The audience is baited to believe that there is another sunshade in the paper, but the paper is torn up proving it to be empty. The first photograph shows Gus and Wyn Davenport performing the trick with a square sunshade cover. The other two photographs show Lewis and Wynne Davenport. In later years the silks were replaced by various items that might be found in a lady’s handbag, giving the added opportunity for some humour.