Magician’s diaries

February 6, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

We recently (January 2007) purchased at auction ten diaries written by Albert Walker (1836-1902) of Glastonbury, Connecticut. He was a farmer and spoon maker by trade, but also rolled cigars, repaired and cleaned clocks, played the fiddle for dances, and performed magic and ventriloquism. An essay he wrote on ventriloquism and dialog for a Punch and Judy play are written in one volume accompanying the diaries. The diaries date from 1856-1865 and provide just hints of his magic performances. For example, on August 28, 1856, he wrote, “factory boys come up after segars [sic] performed a few tricks.” On January 2 of the same year, he went to Hartford and got his “performing apparatus”. In 1857, he spent two nights in September working on his Punch and Judy images and his dancing image. All three of these puppets/figures plus several more characters are now part of the museum collection, part of the same purchase. Walker’s “performing apparatus” includes the box or trunk he made and painted himself, curtains, magic wands, metal and cardboard cups, an assistant’s costume, card tricks and side tables. This is the most complete collection of magic-related material anyone on staff has ever seen.


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