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Jasper Maskelyne's first acting performance - as Robin Hood!

As a teenager, Jasper wanted to become a farmer. A life on stage as a magician, following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father was not on the cards. The event which altered Jasper’s direction in life, was an amateur production of Babes in the Wood in Christmas 1922. It was being put on by the Roydon Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society, in Roydon village on the edge of the Epping Forest. Following the aptitude for mechanical matters of his granther and father, Jasp

The Shepherd's Bush Empire

Jasper Maskelyne toured London and provincial variety theatres almost constantly from the mid-1930s through to 1950. The only significant breaks he took were for military service during World War Two, the occasional holiday and, in the post-war period, Easter, summer and Christmas residences at a London theatre with his own show. While bookers avoided getting acts back to the same venue too often, acts would likely visit the same theatres every year or so. One theatre Jasper

'Ball in Glass'

This image is an original version of magic dealer Jack Hughes' 'Ball in Glass' or 'Pentra-Spheres' trick. Designed in 1937, it was later also called 'Hole in One.' A modern version, still available today, is known as the '19th Hole.' Jasper Maskelyne received one of the first of these tricks to be made, as the note by Jack Hughes shows. The Great Levante and Arthur Dowler, another magician, also got one of the initial batch. Effect: Six different coloured balls are placed on

Stories of Magic

Almost a decade before Jasper Maskelyne published White Magic (1936) and over two decades before Magic-Top Secret (1949), he wrote the article below. This version appeared in The Times of India Illustrated Weekly on 8 July 1928, but it was syndicated to other newspapers. It is an example of numerous stories written by Jasper over the years, all designed to keep the Maskelyne family name in the public eye. And it worked: the Maskelyne magicians were known throughout the Britis

The London Palladium

A playbill for an early summer variety show at the London Palladium featuring magician Jasper Maskelyne. Jasper headlined this 1931 production, which was his first appearance at the iconic Palladium. #magician #warmagician #jaspermaskelyne

It's a farming life for me!

Before becoming a magician, Jasper Maskelyne tried his hand at farming. Aged 18, he attended the Bradley Court Agricultural College in the Forest of Dean, England. After graduating, he worked on farms in Gloucestershire and Essex. #magicians #jaspermaskelyne #warmagician

A new challenge

Jasper Maskelyne emigrated to Kenya after World War Two and was the first managing director of Kenya's National Theatre in Nairobi. The 450-seat venue opened on 6 November 1952 and still exists today. #warmagician #magicians #jaspermaskelyne

RMS Samaria: sailing off to war

Just after New Year’s Day 1941, Jasper took a train from London to Liverpool Docks. There, along with several thousand others, he boarded a troopship bound for North Africa. He sailed to war on the R.M.S. Samaria, a transatlantic ocean liner built for the Cunard Line, until it was requisitioned by the Royal Navy. Pre-war it carried around two thousand passengers in comfort. On this sailing, four or five thousand men were crammed in. Alongside the Samaria were other troop and

Interrogation!

General Johann von Ravenstein’s 21st Panzer Division was engaged in counterattacks against the Allies during Operation Crusader in World War Two. While travelling to visit a neighbouring division, his staff car was ambushed by soldiers of the 2nd New Zealand Division. He was taken prisoner and sent to the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC) in Cairo. Jasper Maskelyne was working for the CSDIC at the time, as part of his military service in North Africa. He

The Transit of Venus

One of Jasper Maskelyne's regular tricks was 'The Transit of Venus.' Invented by magician David Lymer, it was marketed by magic dealer Lewis Davenports Ltd. Jasper used it for two decades from the late 1920s to the post-war period. Coincidentally the transit of the planet Venus was first scientifically observed by English astronomer Nevil Maskelyne (no direct relation) in the 1760s. The Venus in Maskelyne’s trick references the Greek sculpture, the Venus de Milo, rather than

How to escape and evade...

In late 1942, while serving with the British Army in North Africa, Lieutenant (later Major) Jasper Maskelyne joined the regional branch of MI9. This was a secret military intelligence department set-up to help service personnel evade capture and, if captured, to escape. MI9’s formal aims were to aid escapers by providing them with tools and training to escape; to train potential evaders to evade; to encourage secret routes along which either could travel; and to glean such in

"Can you afFORD this car?"

A trick performed by magician Jasper Maskelyne (probably invented by Oswald Williams). While Williams held a tray, Maskelyne said: “If the King of Siam bought a motor car, what sort of motor car would the King of Siam buy, if he bought a motor car?” Williams replied: “It would depend on what he could afFORD.” At that moment Williams turns the tray over so that the audience see the words A FORD. While the audience laughs at this play on words, the flat tray instantaneously tra

John Nevil Maskelyne's final resting place

John Nevil Maskelyne (1839-1917) is buried, with his wife and mother, in the family plot in Brompton Cemetery in London. John Nevil started the Maskelyne dynasty of magicians and was Jasper Maskelyne's paternal grandfather. #jaspermaskelyne #warmagician #magician

"Revue Order" - a wartime show

Jasper Maskelyne starred in a musical show at the Royal Opera House in Cairo during World War Two. Presented by the Cairo Amateur Dramatic Society and Musical Society, it was called 'Revue Order' and played from 26 December 1941 to 3 January 1942. Profits from ticket sales went to British War Charities. #jaspermaskelyne #warmagician #magician

Jasper swallows razor blades!

In April 1937, Jasper Maskelyne featured in a Pathetone news film, performing his version of the classic Swallowing Razor Blades trick. It is one of the few film recordings of Jasper Maskelyne that still exists. #magicians #jaspermaskelyne #warmagician #pathe

Jasper teaches Dracula how to escape

British actor and former RAF officer, Christopher Lee (famous for playing Dracula and other movie villains), tells how Jasper Maskelyne taught him about escape aids during World War Two. Clip taken from 'In the Mind of David Berglas' (series 1) (1986) (Channel 4). #jaspermaskelyne #warmagician #magician #dberglas

Sands of the Desert

Jasper Maskelyne performing 'The Sands of the Desert trick'. Originated in the early 19th Century, it sees the magician stir different colours of dry sand into a bowl of water, before reaching in and bring out fistfuls of dry sand, in their original colours. Jasper performed this at the Royal Variety show in 1932. Also known as ‘Sands of the Ganges’ or the 'Hindu Sands'. #jaspermaskelyne #magician #warmagician

Man about town

In the late 1930s, Jasper Maskelyne was recruited to promote clothing company Harry Hall Ltd. Dressed in their suits, he appeared in newspaper and magazine adverts and on posters around the London Underground. Established in 1891, Harry Hall is still in business. #magician #jaspermaskelyne #warmagician #harryhallriding

New Theatre, Crewe

A pre-war poster advertising 'Jasper Maskelyne, The Royal Command Magician and Company, in A Melange of Magic'. #jaspermaskelyne #warmagician #magicians

My first house

Jasper Maskelyne was born at 88 Trinity Road, Wandsworth in London, England (a few minutes walk from Tooting Bec tube station). #jaspermaskelyne #warmagician #magicians

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