Dundee Society Of Magicians

Dundee Society Of Magicians

The Dundee Society of Magicians was the first magical club to be formed in Scotland. Thanks for this should be firmly placed in the hands of Mr David Smith who was a shop owner in Dundee and an early member of The Magic Circle in London. David was a member of the Inner Magic Circle.

The club first met on 16th March 1911 in Mathers Hotel, 1 Commercial Street, Dundee. David Smith informed magical devotees about the starting up of the society in the issue of 8th March 1911 of the Magical World. Any requests for information were to be forwarded to him at 186 Hilltown, Dundee.

The club was soon meeting regularly and at one of the early meetings had a photograph taken of all its members. The group photo showed the following: -

D. De Weller, J. Gow, Geo. Souter, C. Nairn.
Will Barrie, James Knight (V.Pres.), David Smith (Pres.), Herr Einwol (Treas.), A.R. Small (Sec.)

The club met once a month when members would provide entertainment, present new inventions and hold discussions on the art of magic.

The society met in the Mathers Hotel and occasionally in Hays Rooms in Wellington Street in the Murray Gate area of Dundee.

The club honoured George McKenzie Munro, the well known magical dealer, magazine publisher and magician by making him their first Honorary President. On one of his many visits to the club he presented the Society with a magicians’ table for competition. This was won by J. C. Scott.

At a Magic Seance organised by the Society, Herr Einwol, performed the egg bag routine, torn and restored paper, and a wine to water effect. It is recorded that in 1913, at the regular Ladies’ night, two of the members performed two effects which are still being performed nearly ninety years later.

These were the borrowed watch, destroyed, restored and found in a glass of milk, and the cards from pocket.

The club must have been quite progressive as young members were encouraged to join. Reference is made on a number of occasions of Masters William Mearns and Gordon McGuire.

The yearly subscription was five shillings, payable at the first meeting in February. Members not having paid their subscription by March were considered to no longer be members of the society.

The club had its own logo. There is no record of the logo being made into a badge but this design is seen on all communications related to club business.

Various magazines published over the years give the following names as members of the Society: David Smith, A.R.Small (Cardou), Herr Einwol, James Knight, James Scott, George Souter, Mr Barrie, Mr William Mearns, Mr Young, Mr Gow, Mr D.De Weller, Mr Cairns, Mr Barrie, Mr Nairn, Prof. Jenkins, Master William Mearns, Master Gordon McGuire, Mr Charles Sime, Mr Galloway and Mr Sutherland.

At a show organised by the Society in 1914 an elderly lady was overheard to say that this show was the first magical show she had seen in Dundee since The Wizard of the North, John Henry Anderson, had visited the city. As Anderson died in 1874 this must have been a break of some thirty odd years. Nevertheless she did enjoy the show.

The Society kept contact with the magical world with reports and articles in The Magic Wand and Magical World. The articles in the Magical World went under the heading of Haggis by S & S (Smith and Small). Many professional magicians visiting the Dundee and Perth area found themselves in the company of members of the Dundee Society.

The Society ended its life in 1936. No reason was given but it could have been the ageing of the members or the war years.

The Magical World
March 1911 page 298 - July 1913 page 76 - Sept 1913 page 252
Oct.1913 page 330
The Magic Wand
Vol 1 No 8 page 126,- No 9 page 145, - No 10 page 157
Vol 2 No 15 page 234, - No.20 page 317, - No.22 page 349.
Vol.3 No.26 page 416. - No 52 page 504, - No 35 page 554
Capital Magic