Magic History

Magic Circle Affiliation & Membership of The National Society of Magical Societies

Unsurprisingly, after 110 years, our archives hold many interesting items, many of which have a great historical value to magicians, that may have been long forgotten, if it wasn’t for the foresight of the committee to save them.

Several documents within the collection refer to the forming of an affiliation between various Magic Societies in the U.K. (and around the world) with one of the most famous magic clubs – The Magic Circle.

The affiliation was active between 1921 and 1944, before becoming The National Association of Magical Societies (N.A.M.S).

Five years after the formation of N.A.M.S. The Order of The Magi hosted a weekend-long event in Manchester, for representatives of other Magic Societies consisting of Dinner, Committee Meeting, Shows etc.

In 1949, the National Association of Magical Societies included the following clubs as members:

The Aberdeen Magical Society
The Associated Wizards of The South
The Barnsley Circle of Magicians
The Bristol Society of Magic
The British Magical Society
The Cotswold Magical Society
The Edinburgh Magic Circle
The Exonian Magic Society
The Guild of Magicians
The Hull Magicians Circle
The Home Counties Magical Society
The Ilford Magical Society
The Leeds Magic Circle
The Leeds Magical Society
The Leicester Magic Circle
The Lincolnshire Magic Circle

The London Society of Magicians
The Magic Circle
The Mystic Seven
The Newcastle -on-Tyne Magicians Circle
The Northamptonshire Magicians Club
The North Wales Magic Circle
The Order of The Magi
The Plymouth Magicians Club
The Sheffield Circle of Magicians
The Staffordshire Magical Society
The Society of Irish Magicians
The Southport Magic Circle
The Ulster Society of Magicians
The Wessex Magical Association
The Western Magic Circle
The Wirral Magical Society
The Yorkshire Magical Club

At this time, the President of N.A.M.S. was Evelyn Seymour, The Duke of Somerset, also President of The Magic Circle (1935 – 1954).

In “A Message from the Chairman of the Committee of Management” at the back of the N.A.M.S. Souvenir Programme, Robert Edmanson wrote:

“I gladly accede to the request to provide a short message for the Programme prepared for the visit of The Committee of Management to Manchester on March 12th, 1949.

Can any Magical Society have a more intriguing name than The Order of the Magi ? I have always admired their sturdy independence and the work they have done in the best interests of Magic, and we expect to get from them that touch Magic of straight- from – the – shoulder comment we have a right to straight from Industrial Lancashire.

Perhaps I bad better content myself by expressing the hope that our deliberations will be of value to all our member societies, for I know they are all looking forward keenly to this visit.


ROBERT W. EDMANSON.
(Chairman NA.M.S. Committee of Management)

On 7th June, 1952, Magic Magazine “Abra” reported that The National Association of Magical Societies was to be liquidated, with the remaining funds to be distributed amongst the thirty six member societies.

Further Images from the Souvenir Programme of March 12 – 13th 1949:

The very beginning of The Order of The Magi in Manchester 1909

The Order of The Magi is one of the oldest magical societies in the U.K. and has an extensive archive of historical documents dating back to the establishment of the society in 1909.

Members of The Order of The Magi stood outside The Deansgate Hotel, Manchester
(date circa 1909-1914)

Here is a article published in “Wizard Magazine” about inaugural meeting of The Order of The Magi just 1 month after it’s founding:

A Manchester Magical Society

A month ago Mr. G.W. Panter, M.A. (Member of Inner Magic Circle) conceived the idea of forming a Magical Society for Manchester and district.

With this end in view, he arranged with Mr. Waite, magic dealer, of Peter Street, Manchester, to display a notice asking all those willing to join to give in their names.

As a result of this, on the 11th inst. a most enthusiastic meeting was held at the “Cities Hotel,” Deansgate, Manchester, at which about 30 conjurers attended.

It was decided to form a Magical Society, and Mr. G.W. Panter, M.A. was unanimously elected President, Mr. Waite, Hon. Treasurer and Librarian, and Mr. T.H. Halsall, Junr., Hon Sec. (pro tem.).

Mr. Panter spoke about the objects of a magical society, and referred to the success of the British Magical Society, and the Magic Circle; he also read a very interesting letter which he had received from Mr. Fred Walker (Hon. Sec. of the B.M.S.), wishing the new society every success.

Mr. T.H Halsall, Junr, (Hon. Sec.) also read several letters from conjurers anxious to join., but, owing to engaements, unable to attend the meeting.

Speeches were given by Mr. Fredrick W. Collins, Mr. L.M. Varney, Mr. Waite, Mr. Thomas French, Mr. Wildman, Mr. Ritherdon, Mr. J.W. Riley, and others, who all spoke as to the advisability of working together.

Business being suspended, Mr. A. Buckle obliged with a few card tricks, introducing a very pleasing and novel effect by fanning a quantity of cards and making them grow smaller, and finally disappear, bringing them back again to their original position, electing a round of applause for this clever sleight.

Mr J.W. Riley then being called upon gave a monologue, entitled “Oh Memory” in which the speech and mannerisms of an old man were portrayed to the letter.

Mr. Sugden then gave a recital from “The Merchant of Venice,” the rendering of which proved him to be a talented artist.

Mr. E. Wilburt gave the passing of 12 cards from hand to pocket, which as an example of Digital Dexterity left nothing to be desired.

Mr. T.H. Halsall Junr., then presented the passing of coins from left hand to tumbler held in right hand; he proved himself to be a master of coins, and Mr. Whitehead showed no mean ability with cards in the Four Ace Trick.

A few of those present gave their experiences with children in the course of entertaining, which were very amusing.

A meeting of the Council was arranged for the 13th inst., at which Mr Halsall, on account of business, wished to resign the secretaryship, and Mr. J.W. Riley, being asked to take the position (subject to the sanction of the members) decided to accept.

Anyone interested in magic residing in Manchester district, and wishing to join the society, are kindly requested to send in their names to the Hon. Sec., J.W. Riley, De Mcglio, Eccles, Manchester