Archive for the ‘poster’ Category

Chris Charlton - photo from the collection of Marco Pusterla - smallmagicollector.wordpress.com

Chris Charlton

If I were to say the name “Chris Charlton,” it would probably not mean much to many people. Today that name is quite common, but none of the “Chris Charlton” you can find on the Internet is the magician I want to talk about. If you had been a British, American, French, German, Australian or New Zealander theatre-goer in the 1920s and 1930s, you may have had the opportunity to witness his magic act.

Christopher Henry Charlton was born in Staffordshire, England, in 1885 (although the date is often wrongly reported as 1887 or 1883), and began to perform magic at the beginning of the century. He was not a “superstar” of magic, somebody who toured the world with his own show, instead he was a vaudeville magician, performing around the world as an act in the variety bills of small and large theatres. A few times, he was the star attraction on the bill. (more…)

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Posters advertising Chung Ling Soo's performance at The Palace (Bristol, UK), circa 1910.

Posters advertising Chung Ling Soo‘s performance at The Palace (Bristol, UK), circa 1910.

Before the times of the internet, radio and television, advertisement was done with the help of what we call “posters,” placards and bills that were posted on walls to inform the passer-by of events or products. Theatre shows, plays and indeed also magic shows were thus advertised. Most of the posters before 1870 were textual or just printed with black ink: it was with the perfection of colour lithography that economical, mass production of colour posters became available. Between posters advertising products or political ideas, those relating to entertainment were a common fixture on city walls and every theatre printed posters weekly to try to entice the paying public to the show.

Magicians, especially travelling ones, had been using posters for generations: many travelled with their own printing blocks and had new posters created in every city where they managed to give one or more performances. With the advent of lithography, magicians started to make good use of the technology to produce colourful images, with which to plaster walls, as it can be seen in the photo above, announcing a week’s performance of (fake) Chinese magician Chung Ling Soo in Bristol, showing 31 different pictorial posters (and two with the week’s “bill” at the theatre). These were only a small part of the posters used by Chung Ling Soo…

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Linga Singh – the Indian Conjurer

Every collector of antique memorabilia has a dream, a single dream common to all those whose passion for a subject has turned into an obsession: the dream is to find a large amount of material that has lied untouched and forgotten for years. It doesn’t matter what the subject of your collection is: cars, photographs, stamps, old masters’ paintings, magic tricks… every collector daydreams about finding a dark attic, a barn, a cellar, filled with unheard-of treasures, dusty but potentially unique.

There are many stories of finds just like that: a couple of years ago, in a barn in the town where I live, was discovered a fleet of luxury cars which hadn’t seen the light of day in twenty years (this is not the hoax of the fleet of cars in Portugal, which, while existing, has not actually been “found”). Magicians are well aware of how the show of Charles Carter re-surfaced after forty years in a barn, or how a large collection of magic posters was recently found in a downtown attic, including a rare Houdini poster.

However, this is for most collectors just a dream. For most collectors, indeed. But sometimes, just some times, dreams may come true…

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Collecting magic memorabilia and ephemera is a strange but pleasant hobby and there are so many ways to approach this pastime. Many collectors specialize in a subject, or a range of collectibles, be them posters, memorabilia of some magician, more or less known, magic tricks made in wood or metal, or made by a selected number of manufacturers; still more seem to accumulate all sort of antique (or not-so-antique) magic paraphernalia they may happen to find…

While I specialize in collecting memorabilia pertaining to Raffaele Chefalo – as I have already written more than once – I also like to add to my modest collection some unusual items, the stuff that you don’t often see. Only recently, I come across an unusual poster, of a forgotten illusionist, somebody whose image I had never seen, showing an illusion of which I was aware, which I remember seeing performed in the 1970’s – 1980’s.

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