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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Periods & styles of Magic » » Famous Victorian Magicians? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Joshua Lozoff
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For a period routine I'm developing, I want to refer to a successful magician who performed during the Victorian era in England. Instead of make one up, it would be great if I could name a real magician who performed then.

So that woul basically mean: English, sometime in the 1800s. Any names?

Thanks,
Joshua Lozoff

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Robin DeWitt
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Just off the top of my head...John Nevil Maskelyne and Alexander Hermann.
I am the fakir, you....
<BR>Robin DeWitt
dennfox
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Dick Newton of the San Francisco Bay Area makes a very good case that Charles Dickens did magic shows for his friends and family. Even his reading lecturn was designed as a modified magican's table. Dick used to perform a magic show dressed as Dickens which utlized effects from the era.
Joshua Lozoff
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Very interesting tidbit. Thanks!

Josh
Joshua Lozoff

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Jeff Dial
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Chung Ling Soo sneaks under the wire of Victorian England. I'd still go with Maskelyne.
"Think our brains must be too highly trained, Majikthise" HHGG
Ms. Merizing
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John Henry Anderson (1814-1874) who billed himself The Wizard of the North was from Scotland & performed worldwide.

For quick information on the man see: http://www.leopardmag.co.uk/.../John-and......he-north & http://www.members.fortunecity.com/gillo......henorth/

or read:

"Great Wizard of the North - John Henry Anderson - by Constance Pole Bayer - This excellent biography of the 19th Century magicain John Henry Anderson, whom Sir Walter Scott playfully called ,"The Wizard of the North" is written by his great-great grand niece using material which has only been available to the family, and tells of his life and travels. As the greatest magician of his day, he travelled the world with his shows, and entertained the crowned heads of Europe, and Russia. During his travels in America, he was forced to cancel all of his engagements in the Southern states, because they did not want any entertainer from the "North". You see, this was during the start of the Civil War! The book has many reproductions of drawings, photographs, playbills, broadsides, and equipment. A fascinating study of magic from 1814-1874. Winner of the Magic Book of the Year award in 1990. 173 pages Hardbound. First edition limited to 1000 copies."
Pleased to continue finding that all the world's a stage.
Jerry
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Richard Potter; Jonathan Harrington; Charles Fillebrown; John Henry Anderson; Robert Heller; Joseph Hartz; Frizzo;Professor Albeto; Victor Andre; Professor Logrenia; Dr. Holden; Her Wingard; Sydney Pridmore; Henri Cazman; Verbeck; Felicien Trewey;Henry Hatton; Cooper Taylor; and Zera Semon.

Need more?

JerryB
Lawrence O
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The greatest times of the Victorian Magic era, covered in fact the very end of the XIX century until the beginning of WWI: it is during this period that David Devant gained a fame comparable to David Copperfield's present one.
During most of the XIXth century, several magicians however created a fame in London and Paris.

Giovanni Bartolomeo Bosco (January 3, 1793 – March 7, 1863) was an Italian magician born in Turin and was one of the most colorful magician during the mid 19th century. He went down in history for his skill with the famous Cups and Balls for which he launched the use of the balls of the size we use now as a replacement for the small muscades. When he was nineteen years old, he was drafted in into Napoleon's Army. On September 7, 1812, Bosco was wounded during the Battle of Borodino by a Cossack lancer. The battle of Borodino was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the French invasion of Russia, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties. The French "Grande Armée" under Emperor Napoleon I attacked the Imperial Russian Army of General Mikhail Kutuzov near the village of Borodino, west of the town of Mozhaysk, and eventually defeated it. The battle itself ended with the disorganized Russian Army out of position and ripe for complete defeat. The state of exhaustion of the French forces, the lack of recognition of the state of the Russian Army and the approaching winter led Napoleon to keep the entirety of "the Guard", which was still available and to refuse using it, losing this singular chance to destroy the Russian army. Napoleon decided to withdraw from Russia. Wounded at Borodino, Bosco pretended to be dead as he noticed someone searching the dead bodies for loot. The looter went through Bosco's things while at the same time Bosco picked the looter's pocket. Bosco was taken prisoner in Siberia and entertained the other prisoners and the guards with his magic.
After the war, he returned home to Turin in 1814, and taking leave of a military life, studied medicine for a short time. He then traveled for eighteen years through Europe and the East, very successfully performing magic. His apparatus was very simple indeed consisting only of tin cups and pasteboard boxes, some of which still exist. He was the first magician who made his experiments with simple apparatus, and declared them to be natural experiments. Bosco died March 6, 1863, in Gruna near Dresden. His son followed in the footsteps of his father, but had the misfortune while performing in Weimar, to shatter his hand by the explosion of a pistol.

Robert Heller also Joseph Heller was born William Henry Palmer (or Bill Palmer if you prefer) was an English magician, mentalist, and musician. After becoming fascinated with magic at age 14, Heller began copying his idol Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. Heller left his scholarship at the Music academy to become a professional magician. Heller's magic career began in New York City in 1858. In an attempt to copy the style of Houdin, Heller wore a dark wig and spoke in a French accent when he performed. His act was such a failure that he moved to Washington, D.C. to become a music teacher. After his marriage, he decided to try his magic act again, but abandoned the accent and image of before and focused on the presentation of his illusions. His tour that spanned from 1869 to 1875 became a success throughout much of the United States, Great Britain, Europe, and Asia. Heller's success prompted fellow magician Harry Kellar to change his name as to avoid the impression that he was copying the greatness of Heller.
Heller retired from magic after his successful tour. He spent the remaining years of his life performing piano in Washington, D.C.

Felicien Trewey was a very gifted French showman from Marseilles born Félicien-François Trevey. He was a magician, mime, comedian, vaudevillian, tightrope walker, balance artist, dancer, musician, chapeaugraphist and shadowgraphist. We owe him the trick where the hands each with a coin are swiftly slapped palm down on a table propelling one of the coins under the opposite palm (a sort of tabled ancestor to the Sylvester Pitch or Jay Sankey's double toss)

Will Goldston, (1878-1948), was a popular English stage magician in the first half of the twentieth century. He was born in the city of Liverpool and became interested in the subject at the age of eleven. As well as being a performer he was involved in the merchandising of "magic tricks" and was employed by the Gamages department store in central London, 1905-1914. During this time he edited the Magician Annual (1907-1912) and, in 1912, Will Goldston's Exclusive Magical Secrets in an edition of one thousand that was republished in 1977 [1] . Later in his life he was noted as the person who cracked the "Zancig Code" used by the Danish illusionists of that name and was employed to 'prove' the authenticity of mediums and similar people.
Will Goldston was the founder and president of the London-based Magicians' Club which he founded in 1911.

The great magician Hermann had a long and lasting fame like Bosco. Compars Hermann, generally known as Carl Hermann, died at 70 years of age, July 8th, 1887, in Carlsbad. He was amongst the most noted of modern conjurers. Without using much mechanical or optical apparatus, he produced many wonderful effects by a sharp observation of the absence of mind of the human auditor, assisted by a hand as firm as steel and capable of the most deft movement. Hermann was the son of a traveling conjurer and was probably born in Poland, January 23, 1816. At an early age he went to Paris where he perfected himself in the French language. In 1848 he began his professional tours and traveled throughout the world reaping both fame and fortune. Hermann reigned supreme for years in Austria and Germany in the domain of higher magic, and there was scarcely a European court where he was not a welcome guest. He took pride in showing his friends the invitations of potentates, written with their own hands, bidding him welcome in the most flattering terms. Everywhere he received costly presents. From the city of New York he received many souvenirs, among them an acknowledgment of his charity performance, a gold medal as large as the top of a silk hat. He was a passionate collector, but did not keep his collections together. He was restless, would sell his collections and again begin the collection of new curios. He lost a fortune several times--once in the panic of 1873; but came again to the top, and died a millionaire. He was noted for his charities, and for his free, honest, and frank life. He was well informed, and liked to talk on different subjects. His sharp eye had also a very good-natured expression.

Harry Kellar (July 11, 1849 – March 10, 1922) was an American magician who presented large stage shows during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kellar was the predecessor of Harry Houdini and the successor of Robert Heller. He was often referred to as the "Dean of American Magicians" and performed extensively on five continents. One of his most memorable stage illusions was the levitation of a girl advertised as the "Levitation of Princess Karnack" (invented by John Nevil Maskelyne). Kellar was a longtime customer of the famous Martinka Magic Company. They built many illusions for him, including the "Blue Room".

Ben Ali Bey
We should not forget to name Ben Ali Bey. His original name was Autzinger, and he was born in Bavaria. For seven years he was an actor in one of the Berlin theatres and as he could hardly support his family on his small salary, he looked around for something else, and seized upon the original idea of Oriental Magic. His invention was first shown in Berlin, in Castan's Panopticum where it received very little notice. Shortly afterwards the attention of Arbre was called to it, who visited the performances several times. He saw a chance of improving it and engaged Ben Ali Bey to go with him. The first part of their performances was parlor magic. In the second part Ben Ali Bey introduced Black Art and in this representation he made his reputation. The success was so great that it was imitated immediately by the entire profession all over the world, but none of them succeeded in producing it any length of time, as they were all very poor imitators of the original. To his honor it must be said that no person has yet been able to introduce Black Art as well as he has done.

Now your best bet is probably Philippe who became famous in London by taking the Chinese Rings out of oblivion and was performing dressed like a classic wizard with conic hat and robe. Unfortunately he had to face the revolution brought to magic by Robert-Houdin whose Paris and then London great success casted a shadow on Philippe's fame. Contrary to Philippe, Robert-Houdin was performing in every day clothing and offering tricks which seemed related to audiences every day life. This conflict could be a source for a show which keeps magic as a central character and offers some very visual opportunities for a complete stage act. After all Ricky Jay's Cups and Balls routine offering historical touches is regularly celebrated as one of the best C&Bs routines.
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
Vick
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It's disapointing you have to come here to ask this ;-(


It's one of the richest times in all of magic, the beginning of a golden age

and some of the most influential performers

Many have been named here already for you but seeing as you posted your question in oct 2009


Herrmann ~ pick one or more
Devant & Maskelyne ~ who gave us "Our Magic"
Robert-Houdin ~ The Father of Modern Magic (oh sorry ~ French)


You've got a great look, maybe a good show but not to know all this ;-( , hopefully it has changed in the past 2 years
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Trey Cromwell
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Vick,

Why the attitude? Is it suddenly not ok for a magician to come to a magicians' forum and ask a question about magic? Not all of us knew everything instantly. We're not all that cool.
Jerry
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Lawerence thank you so much for you post.
Very informative.


Jerry
francisngkl
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Thank you Lawerence,

This is one of the most informative posts I read.

Francis
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scottsheltonmagic
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David Devant & John Nevil Maskelyne
Tim Hughes
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David Devant - nee David Wighton, his books (which are very readable) include Our Magic, The Secrets of My Magic, Woes of a Wizard and My Magic Life. He seems to have been well loved, mainly due to his persona - he described his magic as 'All done with Kindness'.
Dr_J_Ayala
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I have a couple of books describing all of the performers listed above by Lawrence; he beat me to it! Wonderful list too!

Bosco was mentioned in that list and in his day, he had only one contemporary rival and it was an older Frenchman by the name of Conus.

Remember that the original question asked for magicians performing in England during that time period, not necessarily English magicians. I would dare say that 98% of the magicians referenced above performed in England at least once in their lives.
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