Kellar, Harry

Wonderful AQS from “The Dean of American Magicians” comparing success to a lovely woman!

Price: $325.00 Special Offer - $275.00



Description:
(Heinrich Keller, 1849-1922) “Dean of American Magicians", presented large stage shows during the late 19th-early 20th centuries. Predecessor of Harry Houdini, he performed extensively on 5 continents. One of his most memorable stage illusions was the levitation of a girl advertised as the "Levitation of Princess Karnack", similar to an illusion invented by John Nevil Maskelyne. Hew ran away from his Pennsylvania home at 10 and was befriended by a British-born minister from upstate New York who offered to adopt Kellar. One evening Kellar saw the performance of a traveling magician, "The Fakir of Ava", stage name of Isiaiah H. Hughes. While in Buffalo, Kellar answered an ad placed by Hughes, who was looking for an assistant. Kellar was hired and, at 16 gave his 1st solo performance; a disaster. In 1869, Kellar began working with stage spirtualists "The Davenport Brothers and Fay". In 1873, he and Fay left the Davenports and embarked on a tour through Central and South America. In Mexico, they made $10,000 and in 1875, the tour ended in Rio de Janeiro with an appearance before Emperor Dom Pedro II. On their way to a tour in England, the ship they were sailing on sank and Keller was left with the clothes on his back and a diamond ring he was wearing. Afterwards, he parted ways with Fay. After visiting John Nevil Maskelyne's and George Alfred Cooke's theater, the Egyptian Hall, Keller liked the idea of performing in one spot. He loved the illusions Maskelyne and Cook performed but it was Buatier de Kolta, then playing there, who performed 'The Vanishing Birdcage', a trick Kellar decided he must have and spent his remaining money to buy it from him. He borrowed $500 from the father of J.P. Morgan, and returned to the US where he started a "troupe" based on Masekylne's and Cooke's in England, even naming his theater the Egyptian Hall. In 1878, Kellar returned to England and invested $12,000 into purchasing new equipment, including a version of Maskelyne's whist-playing automaton "Psycho". Kellar started his Egyptian Hall in Dec. 1884 in Philadelphia. Kellar closed the theater on June 24, 1885. Shortly after Kellar left, the theater burned down. He returned to Philadelphia in Oct. 1891 and opened his 2nd Egyptian Hall also on Chestnut Street. On April 30, 1892, Kellar ended a successful 7-month run at his 2nd Egyptian Hall and returned to the road. During the periods Kellar was abroad, he found himself with a rival, Alexander Herrmann, on his return to the United States. Herrmann often criticized Kellar's lack of sleight of hand and claimed he preferred to use mechanical tricks instead. While he lacked sleight of hand, Kellar was very good in using misdirection. Kellar retired in 1908, and allowed Howard Thurston to be his successor. Kellar did his final show at Ford's Theatre in Baltimore and later moved to Los Angeles. On Nov. 11, 1917, Houdini put together a show for the Society of American Magicians to benefit families of those who died in the sinking by a German U-boat of the USS Antilles, considered the 1st WW I US casualties. Houdini got Kellar to come out of retirement to perform one more show on the largest stage at the time, the Hippodrome. After his performance, Kellar started to leave, but Houdini stopped him, saying that "America’s greatest magician should be carried off in triumph after his final public performance." The members of the Society of American Magicians helped Kellar into the seat of a sedan chair, and lifted it up. The 125-piece Hippodrome orchestra played "Auld Lang Syne" while Kellar was slowly taken away. Kellar supposedly developed his "Levitation of Princess Karnac" trick by abruptly walking onto the stage during a show by Maskelyne, seeing what he needed to know, and leaving. Unable to duplicate it, Kellar hired another magician to help build another, but eventually designed a new trick with the help of the Otis Elevator Company. Another version built by Kellar was purchased by Harry Blackstone, Sr., who used the trick for many years. For his "The Nested Boxes", Kellar borrows 6 finger rings from members of audience. He loads them into the barrel of a pistol, aims and fires the pistol at a chest hanging on the side of the stage. The chest is opened and inside is another, smaller chest. Inside that, are 6 boxes nested in each other. As each is opened, they are stacked on top of each other and inside the smallest one are the 5 rings each tied with ribbon to flowers. The 5 are returned to their owners. As the owner of the 6th ring wonders what happened to hers, Kellar pretends not to notice, and continues with his next trick, a variation of Robert-Houdin's "Inexhaustible Bottle". Audience members call out different beverages like wine, whiskey, lemonade, or just water. Each one is poured from the same bottle and the audience acknowledges that they are indeed receiving their requested drinks. Once the bottle is empty, Kellar breaks it open. Inside is a guinea pig with a sash around its neck on which the 6th ring is attached, eventually returned to its owner. A variation of the trick was performed in front of President Theodore Roosevelt and his children, Ethel, Archie, Quentin and Kermit. Ethel was the owner of the 6th ring and after Kellar returned her ring, he asked if she would also like to have the guinea pig. Kellar wrapped the guinea pig in paper and handed it back to Ethel. When it was opened, inside was a bouquet of pink roses. For "The Vanishing Lamp", a lamp is set on top of a glass table. Still lit, Kellar covers the lamp with a thin cloth. He told the audience that each evening, the lamp would be returned to its owner in India at a specific time. As a bell sounded out the current time of day, Kellar loaded a pistol and aimed it towards the lamp. At the last chime, Kellar fired the pistol. The lamp seemed to melt away, with the cloth falling to the stage. AQS on lined 8 ½ x 5 ½ Palace Hotel, San Francisco letterhead, no date but 1890s: “Success is like a lovely/woman/Courted by many men/ But folded in the arms/of him alone/Who free from overzeal/ Calmly persists & steadily perseveres”

Condition: Very good, light mount remnants at top corners, trivial nick at top left edge; lowerright corner weak, carefully reinforced on verso
Type:Autograph Quotation Signed






[View Shopping Cart]
[Home] [Articles] [Biography] [Calendar]
[Catalogue] [Search]



enbainc@cs.com

Edward N. Bomsey Autographs, Inc.
7317 Farr Street
Annandale, VA 22003-2516
(703) 642-2040(phone & fax)




Home
Home

Articles
Articles

Biography
Biography

Calendar
Calendar

Catalogue
Catalogue

Search
Search