In Great Britain it was necessary for dramatic plays to obtain approval from The Lord Chamberlain’s Office before they could be staged. This document dated 29 August 1905 grants permission for ‘Will, the Witch and the Watchman’, a dramatic sketch in one act, to be presented at St. George’s Hall, London. No changes to the submitted script were requested. J.N. Maskelyne had not long moved from the Egyptian Hall to St. George’s Hall. It may be that changes had been made to the script, so that it required new approval, or perhaps the change of venue from the Egyptian Hall made reapproval necessary.

On 9 February 2012 Anne Goulden gave this talk at the British Music Hall study group in London. It follows Lewis Davenport’s performing career from around 1900 to around 1930 and explains how he juggled his time between his magic business, music hall work, and other performances. On the way it provides an overview of the different types of variety entertainment during the period.

Peter’s talk traces the development of magicians’ programmes from the 19th century into the 20th century. He illustrates this with a wide range of Maskelyne programmes, as well as those of numerous other performers, from Signor Blitz to Carmo – around 50 programmes in all. On the way Peter highlights intriguing facts that can be discovered about the performers by careful study of the programmes.

George Mozart (1864-1947) was a musician and burlesque comedian. He wasn’t one of the top music hall stars, but he had a long, successful career as an entertainer. In the 1920s he worked for the Maskelynes at St George’s Hall. His road to success is a fascinating story which tells us much about life as an entertainer in late 19th and early 20th century Britain. Click here to enter his world.

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.

The much loved Herbert J. Collings, also known as Col Ling Soo, became a successful society entertainer and performer for royalty in the first half of the 20th century. He was awarded the Gold Medal of The Magic Circle and twice served as their President. The Magic Circle owns a typescript of Smilestones, his reminiscences covering 1898 to 1946. With the permission of David Hibberd, Archivist of The Magic Circle, his Smilestones are reproduced here. 35 illustrations have been added.

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.