Magic Monday ~ The Sphinx, March 1905


I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature.  I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

John N. Hilliard

The February 1905 issue of The Sphinx included a piece about the wizard war between Ching Ling Foo and English magician William Robinson who performed as a Chung Ling Soo. Perennial columnist John Northern Hilliard weighed in on it in the next issue.

We believe that the belligerents have gained publicity enough through an adroit manipulation of the press… We refuse to take it seriously.

Hilliard, an author and critic by trade, was involved in his own scrimmages. In the same March 1905 issue he writes  of Harry Kellar in a refutation of a column printed in July of the previous year:

“Think of the years,” continues Mr. Stewart, “think of year Harry Kellar has spent in originating and perfecting his apparatus.” Perfecting, yes; for Mr. Kellar is a man of sinew and there is the grip of the blacksmith in his horny hands, and every piece of apparatus he uses must need be three times the ordinary strength in order to withstand the terrific clutch of his fingers.

Hilliard would eventually become the advance man for Howard Thurston, who took over Kellar’s show when Kellar retired.


What Am I Reading?

March has been an incredibly slow reading month. I’m in the home stretch on Rebecca and should have the review next week. I *did* finish Magic in Theory. Review of that should be next Monday. My next nonfiction read will be Who is Magic Babe Ning? by magician Ning Cai.

On the Blog

  • Thursday: What Else in March
  • Saturday: A Deal Me In double feature
  • Sunday: ROW80, Round 2 kick-off post

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