27 Posters of Magic Acts, 1879-1929

To celebrate The Magicians’ third season premiere on SyFy tonight, I’ve magically moved up this week’s Found in the LOC: a collection of magic show posters from 1879-1929.

Here you’ll find lavish, mysterious, macabre and beguiling adverts for a bevy of oft-overlooked illusionists, including Frederick Bancroft, a Chicago dentist who moved to New York to become a magicians; Howard Thurston, a 1910 poster for whom is seen above and who would later team up with Harry Kellar, whose decapitation trick is advertised here; and there’s also Newmann the Great, the frontier-born, Minnesota-bred mentalist who helped pioneer the whole darn industry. And, yes, there’s at least one Harry Houdini-related art work (most of the Library of Congress’ images of the famous virtuoso are only available for special order or at the library itself.)

So, without further ado, here, for your entertainment, for your wonderment, for your delicious unique views… 26 posters of old school magic acts!

  1. Van Arx looked quite dapper in 1900:


2. Eugene Laurant, “Man of Many Mysteries,”  and some demonic and shamanic pals, 1913:


3. Frederick Bancroft, “Prince of Magicians,” peddled a whole “Arabian Nights” thing in these 1895 posters:


4. Frederick again, also 1895, this time more French aristocracy-themed?


5. Italian magician Prof. Bollini kept it chic and simple in 1879:


6. A pretty gross “slave of the orient” advert for Frederick Bancroft, 1895:


7. Howard Thurston poster featuring demons, spirits and, ack!, a ghost tambourine, 1915:


8. Thurston poster, 1914. I’d say more, but I’m wondering what he did with that donkey….


9. Thurston liked a red lip, 1920


10. I LOVE this 1892 image, “Magician pulling roses out of top hat surrounded by supernatural beings.” That is all.


11. Similar image, from 1899, entitled, “Magician holding rabbit and conjuring spirit surrounded by demon and owls,” is also quite good:


12. An 1898 Barnum and Bailey advert. Meh.


13. Forrest and Co, 1900:


14. Newmann’s Wonderful Spirit Mysteries, 1911. Note that one of the demons is wearing underwear. Pretty proper for a hell beast…


15. Phillips Climation [What a name!], 1900:


16. Oh, gee. Othering alert…. “Majarah,” 1923:


17. Meanwhile, “Alexander, the One Who Knows,” 1900:


18. One of Kellar’s crowd-pleasers was a self-decapitation trick, advertised here c. 1898:


19. Another Kellar toasting with a demon, or possibly the devil himself, 1899:


20. “Zan Zig Performing with Rabbit and Roses, 1899.” Love it.


21. Zan Zig vignettes, 1899:


22. “Kellar and his Perplexing Cabinet Mysteries,” 1894:


23. “A flying visit by Servais Le Roy,” 1890:


24. An 1909 poster from Houdini’s crusade to prove “spirit talkers” are a sham:


25 and 26. And, finally, two of Newmann The Great, both from 1929:


(For more Found in the LOC, click here.)

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