Colonel Stodare

Some thirty-five years ago, prior to the advent of Mask-elyne and Cook, visitors to the Egyptian Hall were astonished by such, at {that time novel, illusions as The Sphinx, The Indian Basket Trick, etc., there presented by Col. Stodare.

Stodare's real name was Alfred English and up to the time he decided to try his luck in London he had met with indifferent success as an itinerant performer. His first appearance at the Egyptian Hall under his assumed name, now almost a household word, was on Easter Monday, April 17, 1865, when he introduced for the first time in this country those celebrated illusions of Hindu magic known as The Instantaneous Growth of Plants (The Mango Tree Trick), and the Indian Basket Feat-, illusions often heard of from Eastern travellers who have "done" India, and long regarded as wonders never to be witnessed save within that land of mystery and superstition.

It was on the occasion of his 200th consecutive representation at the said Hall that Stodare introduced an entirely new and original illusion entitled The colonel

Sphinx which at once attracted crowds and made his undertaking, hitherto of questionable profit, a brilliant success. Apart from the Hall, private engagements of all kinds, and Royal Commands were numerous. On Tuesday evening, Nov. 21, 1865, he had the distinguished honour to appear by Her Majesty's command at Windsor Castle on the occasion of the birth day of H.R.H. the Princess Royal (the late lamented Empress Frederick) ; Her Majesty the Queen graciously honoured Stodare with her presence during the performance. The Spinx and The Indian Basket, and a Ventrilo-quial sketch were performed twice in compliance with a special request for the repetition.

The Sphinx is supposed to have been invented by Thomas Tobin, secretary of the Polytechnic at that time under the direction of John Henry Pepper. Tobin offered the illusion to Pepper who declined it, when it was afterwards purchased by Stodare whose powers as a ventriloquist in apparently causing the dummy head to speak, doubtless, increased ten-fold the value of the original illusion.

The Times for October igth, says :—'' Davus might have solved the ' Anthropoglossus,' but Colonel Stodare presents us with a sphinx that is really worthy of an (Edipus."

Magical Literature is indebted to the Colonel for a couple of very interesting though small works entitled respectively "The Art of Magic" (1865) and "Stodare's Fly Notes" (1867). Copies of which we have in our Library of Magic.

Stodare was not destined to' enjoy for long the good fortune produced him by the Sphinx for stodare. he died in London of consump tion in 1866. The photo accompanying this sketch has been secured at not a little trouble and expense. It is probably the only one in existence, but we feel amply repaid by being able to place permanently on record the main events in the life of such an illustrious Magician as Colonel Stodare.

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