Posts Tagged ‘Posters’

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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