Playbill for The Great Wizard of the North
Adelphi Theatre, London
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This playbill for the Adelphi Theatre features a woodcut by an anonymous artist showing a performance of the 'unlucky umbrella trick' by the Scottish magician, John Henry Anderson. Known as The Great Wizard of the North, Anderson's brilliance as a performer was matched by his flair for publicity and each of his magical tricks is described on the poster in antiquated or pseudo-scientific language, to conjure up a sense of mystery. Stage conjuring became a lucrative theatrical business in the 19th century and Anderson amazed theatregoers with his bullet catching trick. He was one of the first magicians to conjure a rabbit from a hat. Not only does this poster include an eye-catching image of him, it also spells his name in ornamental lettering, composed from individually carved letters.