Posts Tagged ‘David Devant’

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David Devant producing a rabbit in 1896

The early years of animated pictures were years of invention: a primitive technology was played with – “hacked” if we want to use a modern term – to become more reliable, safer, cheaper, of better quality. The presentation of moving pictures was a great novelty for public entertainment and it will eventually, in slightly more than 20 years from its inception, kill those live performances that had provided light entertainment for all social classes since the mid of the 19th century.

With the invention of motion picture cameras in the 1890s, films, under one minute length, started to be shown by itinerant performers, or used as acts in a variety (vaudeville) programme, in between live performances. The novelty of cinema attracted conjurers to it, from Georges Méliès, the major technical innovator of special effects in the early history of cinema, to various travelling performers who rented or built their own projecting machines to show films, to David Devant, the premier British illusionist of the time and the subject of this article. (more…)

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The Locked Books of Secrets

Magic books with so many secrets that have to be kept locked

When author J. K. Rowling described, in the third volume of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a most vicious and magical book, the Monster Book of Monsters, she was maybe thinking about magical books that, in years gone by, were deemed to contain such secrets that needed to be kept away from privy eyes, books for which methods were devised to keep them closed, locked away to the non-initiated.

While the idea of a “locked book” of secrets may seem something from a fairy tale, in the history of conjuring we have some books that have actually been published with a padlock and a key to keep them closed, in order that the casual observer could not learn the mystical secrets in the volume. These books were produced in the country of Harry Potter: England.

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