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

Masonic Hall (Birmingham)

Publicity item for Mr. David Devant’s Season at the Masonic Hall, Birmingham, which on 3 March 1899 presented Mr. Max O’Rell with comedy lectures

Publicity item for Mr. David Devant’s Season at the Masonic Hall, Birmingham, which on 3 March 1899 presented Mr. Max O’Rell with comedy lectures

On this Friday Mr. Max O’Rell, billed as the Eminent Author and Humorist, gave two performances of his fascinating comedy lectures. Max O’Rell was the pen name of Léon Paul Blouet, a French author and journalist. In his day he became well known and his Wikipedia page explains that he was less successful towards the end of his career. He died in 1903. We know from a publicity item in The Magic Circle Archive that during Devant’s Season at the Masonic Hall, during the month of March, each Friday had a lecturer rather than a performance of Devant’s Entertainment.

Novelty give away advertisement for Devant’s Entertainment at the Masonic Hall, Birmingham. Commencing 27 February 1899

Novelty give away advertisement for Devant’s Entertainment at the Masonic Hall, Birmingham. Commencing 27 February 1899

This advertisement can be folded to show The Box Trick in action. The words explain: ‘The performer enters the box which he completely fills so that no part can collapse inwards. It is then locked, enveloped in a sack, corded and sealed thus preventing any section giving outwards. Yet in a few seconds the gentleman escapes without disturbing a single knot, leaving the box perfectly empty.’ The year is not stated, but we know from other publicity that the year is 1899. The same novelty design was used by Maskelyne and Cooke’s Mysteries when they were performing in Dublin in 1901 (item N2592).