From the cover of The Linking Ring, May 1954:
Inside the magazine Lady Francis (Frances R. Francis) is described as “one of the top femme magicians in the country.” Her own article is titled “Afraid of Television?” and offers advice like the following to magicians considering stepping in front of the camera: “The next thing in line of equipment is the camera. This mechanical robot is never to be feared. Get a look at it close up, ask the engineer about the various lenses and how it operates.” On the most important question, Frances offers the following:
If you are in doubt about performing on television just look in the mirror and if you can’t stand watching yourself doing a trick, then have pity on the millions of people who would be watching you!
The professor appears as an illustration for one of the effects in the wonderful “Hank Lee’s Fourth Catalog of Magic” from 1981:
177 pages of tricks for sale with lengthy descriptions like the one above. This catalog is particularly interesting due to the note on the final page entitled “the computer,” which explains that this catalog was the first produced by Hank Lee using one of the fancy new TRS-80 computers:
Hard to believe it’s taken us this long to get around to him. Even from a stylized cover image, he’s probably still recognizable as Harry Houdini:
Houdini describes The Right Way to Do Wrong’s two aims as:
First, to safeguard the public against the practises of the criminal classes by exposing their various tricks… In the second place, I trust this book will afford entertaining, as well as instructive reading…
We’re not sure who the magician depicted here is…
This is a very special edition of the Magician of the Week, because our featured magician’s personal collection is now cataloged online for the first time ever:
John Percival spent nearly eighty years practicing his magic in Providence and building an excellent collection of books on the topic in the process. Now, thanks to volunteer Elise Petrarca, that collection of over 1,200 books plus ephemera and manuscripts is cataloged in its entirety online. You can find the books in the Library’s online catalog* (you’ll find most — and soon all — of them by doing a call number search for “John H. Percival”) and the description of the ephemera collection on our website. (Elise managed all of that work over the course of the last semester.)
And if you’d like to find out more about Percival and get a quick tour of the collection with a selection of images, you can find that online at http://www.provlib.org/exhibitions/percival. If you’d like to see this terrific collection in person, don’t hesitate to visit.
* Alright, there are a few books scarce enough that they’ll take a little longer to catalog. And a small collection of Percival’s letters still needs a finding aid. But they’ll be along soon.
(Editor’s Note: We’re instituting a “fire at will” policy on the blog this week, choosing freely each Wednesday from here on out from either the Magician, Civil Warrior or Historic Book Person of the Week series. This week, magicians…)
Howard Thurston was one of the most well-known magicians of his time. This image is taken from…