He might not be a household name like say David Copperfield or Criss Angel, but in his day Harry Kellar was one of the more popular magicians of his era.
Aside from baffling audiences with smoke and mirrors and a well timed sleight of hand, magicians had to promote and market themselves heavily in order to bring the crowds in. Once you reach a certain level, where your show was so utterly compelling that everyone was talking about you, then you could ease up and let your name sell the tickets for you – until that turning point, it was all about the marketing.
One particular element that always captured the attention of the general public was the occult. Kellar was well-aware of the power of suggestion and ensured all of his promotional posters featured himself commanding or conjuring up devils and wicked imps. Buy a ticket to one of his shows and you too could have an audience with demonic and supernatural.
So successful were the designs of the posters in promoting his show that when he retired his successor Howard Thurston continued to use the same elements. A different magician, but with the same talents and unique gifts to communicate with the underworld. The posters themselves date back the early 1900′s – Kellar retired in 1908, presumably to kick back, have a drink with Lucifer and count all his money.
Others magicians tried to copy his imagery, including is “Miss Baldwin” who also has those mischievous red devils littering her tour poster. If you find these posters as interesting as we do, we recommend you get yourself a copy of Magic. 1400s-1950s. It contains around 850 rarely seen vintage posters, photographs, handbills, and engravings whilst wonderfully tracing the history of magic from the early 1400s through to the 1950s.
After seeing these posters, would you also want to see a Harry Kellar show?