Frederick Barlow, 'The Great Barlow'; An Extensive Professional Collection of Vintage Magic, Humour & Entertainment

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Origin: English
Period: Early / Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Frederick Barlow Esq. (Born 1903)
Date: The Contents; c.1920-80
The Case:
Width: 24 inches
Height: 7 inches
Depth: 18 inches


The suitcase, containing various magic tricks, including a guillotine, with other boxed tricks to include The Ernest Sewell Cabinet of conjuring tricks and various humorous books, typed notes on magic acts, song sheets, script notes and other fascinating ephemera.

To list the entire contents of this superb portfolio is not feasible but highlights include;  2x (large & small) Sewell’s Cabinet of Conjuring Tricks (contents loose), 2x Original Compositions by F. Barlow, Piano Conductions, Gag Files 1, 2 & 3, Guillotine, Skull Prop, Patients Robe, Beheading Basket, Prop Newspaper “Magician Beheads Teacher”, 2x coloured silk hankies and velvet trick mat. The twenty three books include titles such as; The Space Between the Bars, Speeches & Toasts, The Laughter Lovers, Anything for a Laugh, Flip Lines, Jokes, Jokes, Jokes, D’you Know This One?, Comedy Caravan, Tag Lines, Patter Parade, Smart Talk for Magicians and many more.

The condition of the items varies from fair to good but nothing is in disrepair, the boxes have weakened at the sides and the books all have general wear. Some of the tricks included are incomplete but the quantity is large and varied, proving difficult to assess accurately.

Magician Frederick Barlow was born in 1903 and performed his tricks, including ventriloquism, in front of a young Royal Family in the 1950`s. He began his career as a magician at the age of 14 (see pictured), performing as the Young Society Conjurer and he retired at the age of 80. His conjuring appears to have been a secondary occupation as he claimed to have worked in over forty other jobs. He was, never the less, very active, and for a year worked with Robert Harbin (Ned Collins) as the double act Fred and Ned.

This cased compendium of entertainment is a thoroughly enjoyable forage into the world of vintage magic and entertainment in the early and middle of the twentieth century and proves an intriguing, and personal, insight into the way Frederick Barlow worked. To coin a well-known phrase from the stage, items such as this do not appear ‘just like that’….Blink, and you may well miss it.

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