Although poster art is enduring, it used to be the most powerful advertising vehicle there was, especially for performers. Illusionists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries relied heavily on their posters to impart a sense of mystery and suspense in their potential audience. Illusionists like Harry Handcuff Houdini, Howard Thurston, The Great Raymond, Alexander The Man Who Knows and George Supreme Master of Magic would plaster their sinister and foreboding posters all around town to attract audiences for their shows. Whether it was telepathy or mind reading, as practiced by Claude Alexander Conlin, or illusionists like Maurice Francois Raymond Saunders, Grover George and Howard Thurston – the King of Cards – these traveling magic shows were one of the most popular forms of entertainment for our forebears. The collection of magic show posters below are all shared via Amazing Brain’s collection, and are an excellent example of how poster art set a tone for what the audience was to expect at one of these early shows.
All images via Amazing Brian