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The Magic Circle Museum is located at Stephenson Way, London, and is part of the Magic Circle organization.
The museum features magic tricks, and other paraphernalia related to magic and illusion.
History and foundation
The Magic Circle was born out of the desire of creating a club where professional and amateur magicians can gather, share and promote magic.
In 1905, both amateur and professional magicians gathered together at London’s Pinoli’s Restaurant to discuss forming such a club. The meeting was focused on deciding the name of the club, since most wanted it to be named after Martin Chapender, the founding member who prematurely died at the age of twenty-five.
Ultimately, it was agreed that “Magic Circle" would be a more appropriate name, since it also shares the same initials as that of Martin Chapender.
The club’s first president was David Devant, and its first magazine edited in 1906 was entitled, “The Magic Circular”, said to be the longest running magazine in magic history. The club previously had mostly male members until the year 1991, when it admitted women in its ranks.
The Magic Circle is committed to promoting and advancing the art of magic and illusion. It closely guards its secrets which is apparent in its motto "indocilis privata loqui", whose rough translation would be "not apt to disclose secrets". Members are prohibited from disclosing such information to non-members of the society.
Magic Hosts are often on hand to answer questions regarding magic in general or the exhibits. The only question that they would not answer is, "How is it done?"
Items of interest include: set of props used by television magicians David Nixon and Tommy Cooper; Robert Harbin’s original Zig Zag lady illusion; rifles used for the ‘Bullet Catch’ by Maurice Fogel in the 1940s; a set of cups and balls used by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, when he took his Magic Circle exam in 1975; Chung Ling Soo's robes; and a sound recording of Harry Houdini taken from an Edison cylinder.
The Magic Circle Museum plays host to the Houdini Exhibit, which was created by Mick Hanzlik and David Berglas.
Harry Houdini was a renowned magician, escape artist, and stunt performer. His most notable stunts were the Chinese Water Torture Cell, The Suspended Straitjacket Escape, and the Buried Alive Stunt.
In the Chinese Water Torture Cell, Houdini would be lowered upside down in a tank filled with water, with his feet locked in stocks. The display is in a cabinet about 5 feet x 4 feet x 3 feet deep, and contains a half scale working Chinese Water Torture Cell, complete with water, bubbles and a moving Houdini. It also has an original straight jacket, which was used by Tony Curtis in the 1953 "Houdini" movie. It also contains copies of photographs, and a few cuffs and locks, to name a few.
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