Aberdeen Magical Society

Aberdeen Magical Society

The first meetings were held in The Scout H.Q, 25 Belmont Street, Aberdeen. Over the years the Society has moved its H.Q. to The Royal Athenaeum, Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds Hall, Imperial Hotel, Tree Top Hotel, and Sportsman's Club.

The club soon had a club badge designed, other two designs were to follow. Originals can be seen in The Magic Circle in London.

The Society has a long list of well known magicians who they honoured. These include: Cingalee, Fred Culpitt, Dante, Ralph Delvin, Deveen, Jack LeDair, Levante, Billy O’Connor, V.G.Peacock, Ralphono, D.A.B.Sim Jr, George Sylvestre, J.H.Young, Edward Victor and others.

Honorary Presidents:
1928 - Jasper Maskelyne, famous magician and grandson of the equally famous John Nevil Maskelyne. He toured the country with his own show. During the war years he was in the army using his skills as a magician to confuse the enemy. He was the author of two books i.e. Magic - Top Secret and White Magic.

Honorary Vice Presidents:
Edward Victor, born Edward Neuschwander in Britain. He was best known for his manipulative skills and Shadowgraphy. He was known far and wide for his interpretation of Abanazar in pantomime. He wrote many books on sleight of hand which included Magic of the Hands, More magic of the Hands, Further magic of the Hands. He also wrote a number of pamphlets on rope magic and pamphlets in the Willane Methods for Miracles series.

P.T.Selbit, born Percy Tibbles. He was well known for creating and performing Illusions. Some of the best known were Sawing Through a Woman, Crushing a Woman, Through The Eye of a Needle, and Wrestling Cheese. Other effects associated with him included Talking Skull, Three Card Monte and Spirit Painting.As well as these he also toured Britain and America with his magic show and was the author of the following:- Conjuring Patter, The Magic Art of Entertaining, The Magical Entertainer, The Magicians Handbook, and edited in the Wizard Magazine from 1905 - 1910.

Chris Charlton, A British magician who toured the world. His performing career lasted over 50 years. He invented several Illusions, the best known of which was probably The Bathing Machine. He was a well known collector of periodicals. This collection is now held in the Magic Circle in London.

Horace Goldin, born Hyman Goldstein in Poland. His career in magic took him from busking, vaudeville and touring Britain with his magic show. He invented the sawing a Woman in half (inspired by P.T.Selbit’s Sawing through a woman). He also invented Film to Life.

Herbert Collings was an English performer who toured his show all over Britain. He performed under the name of Col Ling Soo. He was best known as a Society and Concert artist. He reminisced about his life in magic in the Gen, Volume five number nine, to Volume six number three.

The club held its first public show in March 1928 in the Central Hall in aid of the Provost’s joint Hospital Fund. The highlight of the Society was their annual Magical Revue which was presented in the Ballroom Music Hall.

The Society was affiliated to The Magic Circle in 1931.

In 1936 the Society organised the first magical conference to be held in Scotland. Delegates from all over Scotland and England attended. The conference started on Saturday afternoon with dinner and competitions in the evening. Sunday’s programme included a bus run to Braemar and Aboyne. When members attending the conference went to pay their hotel bills they received a pleasant surprise as they had already been paid by Aberdeen Magical Society.

The affiliation to the Magic Circle ceased in 1944. It is assumed that all existing affiliated clubs joined the National Association of Magical Societies.

The Society attempted its first club magazine in 1941 and titled it Magic Review. A second attempt was more successful in 1989. It is published every month and entitled Pisces. This is the birth sign of the editor, Ken Pumfrey, who has unearthed some interesting information. The history of the early days of the club were covered by Ian Sutherland. Another very interesting article was by Albert Elrick who traced his connection with the Society, the area, the theatres and local groups from 1915 to the present (1999).

The Society has had only five Presidents. These were W.G.Craigen, C.J.G.Milne, Ian Sutherland, Albert Elrick and Bill Seagraves. The Society joined the Scottish Association of Magical Societies in 1952 and were soon entering the competitions with some success including:-

Cannon Trophy; 1974,1984,1991,1995

Anne Warlock Trophy; Peter Nicol 1969, Peter Laing 1974, Ron Gordon 1990, Bill Duncan 1997

McMillan Shield; Peter Nicol 1964, Ron Winram 1967, Peter Laing & Betty 1968, Garry Seagraves 1991

Max Raskin Cup; Peter Laing 1975, Bill Seagraves 1978, Ken Watt 1980, Ken Watt 1989.

Murray Wand; Peter Nicol 1965, Bill Seagraves 1989, Bill Seagraves 1990, Bill Duncan 1995, Bill Duncan 1997, Bill Seagrave 1999

Craig Quaich: Bill Seagrave 1999

Presidents of SAMS; Peter Laing, Peter Nicol, Ken McNab, Bill Seagraves and Ron Gordon.

The club is still running in 1999.

Pisces Volume 1 No.7 page 4 Albert Elrick
Pisces Volume 4 No.9 page 4 Ian Sutherland
Abracadabra 1993 Volume 95 Issue 2461 Page 423
SAMS Magazine Volume 10 no.3 page 35 and Volume 16 No1 page6
Magic and Magicians T.A.Waters
Gen, Volume five number nine through to Volume six number three.
Ron Gordon