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

St. George's Hall (London)

Martin Chapender brochure

Martin Chapender brochure

Chapender (1879-1905) was, by all accounts, a very accomplished magician. This brochure directs bookers to the Maskelyne and Cooke’s Entertainment Bureau. J.N. Maskelyne thought sufficiently highly of him to put him in charge of the last Egyptian Hall season, at the time when J.N. was absorbed with the move of Maskelynes to St. George’s Hall. The seven images around the central image on page 3 all have the same background. Item N3292 confirms that the photographer was Richard Brown of 35 Bold Street, Liverpool.

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 Collection website e-news #10, June 2021

Davenport Collection website e-news #10, June 2021

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 June 2021 issue included:
– a card trick with a canary.
– a box for changing a lily into a rose.
– information on Will Goldston (1877-1948).
– John Salisse and the Maskelynes.
– a levitating light bulb.
– a box of Egyptian Hall ephemera.
– Peter Lane’s talk on magicians’ programmes.

To see all the other e-news, click on Website e-news.

Davenport Collection website e-news #5, March 2020

Davenport Collection website e-news #5, March 2020

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 March 2020 issue included:
– Magic sets.
– Jokes.
– Linga Singh by Nigel Dutt.
– The magic of Lewis Davenport and his first wife Julia.
– Early days of the Maskelyne and Devant partnership at St. George’s Hall.

To see all the other e-news, click on Website e-news.

The Lord Chamberlain’s certificate for the staging of Maskelyne’s sketch ‘Will, the Witch and the Watchman’. 1905

The Lord Chamberlain’s certificate for the staging of Maskelyne’s sketch ‘Will, the Witch and the Watchman’. 1905

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.

Intermittently on the halls

Intermittently on the halls

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.

Magicians’ programmes

Magicians’ programmes

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.

The life and times of George Mozart

The life and times of George Mozart

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 below to enter his world.

Psycho at the Museum of London

Psycho at the Museum of London

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.

Smilestones: Recollections of Herbert J. Collings in his own words: 1898-1946

Smilestones: Recollections of Herbert J. Collings in his own words: 1898-1946

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.