A short history of the Australian Society of Magicians from Australian Variety and Show World, December 14 1917.
Club Room 173 Pitt Street Sydney.
The Australian Society of Magicians had a very humble beginning, for there were only five magicians, Messrs. E Hosking, C O Williams, C H Irving, P C Smith and ‘Rudini’, who met at the studio of Mr Williams in January , 1907, to talk over the matter. The preliminaries arranged at this meeting soon bore fruit, and within a few months a sufficient number were gathered, officers were appointed and rules framed. The first President was the late Ernest Hosking, who was then well known as an exposer of spirit mediums, and the first Secretary was Mr C O Williams, to whom the credit of the idea of forming a society is due. The first year was subjected to many up s and downs, the meetings being held once a month at the Queen’s Hall , but it was when Carter the magician visited Sydney, in November 1907, that the Society got its big push off, and since then has not looked back. This magician showed great interest in the members and they, on his leaving, presented him with a wand. Many newcomers having joined, the Society was much stronger when Maskelyne and Devant showed here in 1908. When Chung Ling Soo arrive din Sydney in 1909 the Society turned out in full force to welcome him, and he reciprocated by doing all he could to help it along. A banquet was arranged and he, together with F Cullpitt put in a happy night showing the member’s tricks, which although not suitable for stage purposes, were extremely interesting to them.
Houdini, in 1910, was responsible for a further influx of members, and following him in 1911, came Nicola and De Villiers; 1912, Jansen and De Biere; 1914 Le Roy, Talma and Bosco; 1915 Herbert Brooks; and finally last year, Horace Goldin. All of these were greatly in sympathy with the Society especially he latter, and with each one, more members were registered. Apart from these visits, 1909 was a great year, inasmuch as it was in this year that the A.S.M’s first concert was held. This took place at Parramatta in November, and caused considerable excitement amongst the members. Although not as successful as it might have been, it did not stop the Society from further launching out and in April 1911, a grand entertainment was held at St James’ Hall which was financially and otherwise a great success. This was followed in 1912 and 1913 by two concerts in the same place equally as fortunate. In December, 1913, the second concert for that year was held in the Repertory Theatre, and was followed by entertainments at this theatre in 1915, and 1916, all adding to the club’s finances. The members found time also to hold reunions which took the form of dinners, and were held in 1911, 1913, 1914 and 1915. Owing to the war, these were discontinued.
1910 marked a further step in the welfare of the Society, as it secured its own Club Room, and is the only prominent Society which has one. Previous to this the meetings, etc., had been held in odd places, but in March of this year a room in Erskine Street was rented which was quickly followed byt eh occupation of the present premises, an dup to date these have been retained. In the room is erected a first class stage, fitted with footlights and head lights, wings, curtains, etc., in fact all that is necessary , with perhaps the exception of trap doors. Here is held every third Wednesday of the month an entertainment to which the public are invited, and it is sufficient to say that invitations to these affairs are greatly sought after, In addition to the stage and usual club fittings, the library is another advantage, being stocked with many valuable books on magic, and is free to members.
In 1910 also the Society brought out its own magic paper which was called, ‘The Magic Mirror’. This paper which was ably edited by Mr C O Williams, gained great praise in England and America as well as in Australia, and contained many useful hints and tricks which have been of great benefit to rising magicians and others. Unfortunately, the difficulty of obtaining advertisements to finance same caused it to cease publication in the end of 1912, but nevertheless it left its marks, as enquiries still come for copies.
As mentioned previously, the late Ernest Hosking was the first President, and held office until within a year of his death, which occurred in June, 1915. Mr J Felix Booth acted for the year 1916, when the rpesent holder Dr CH Irving was elected and his unanimous reelection for the year 1918 speaks volumes of the esteem in which he is held by the members. Mr C O Williams holds the record as Secretary, having acted for eight years, during which time he gave up a great deal of his time to further the Society’s interests. He was followed by Mr H Bredero, who held the position for two years, and on his retirement the present Secretary, Mr P Lennox was appointed. The Council for 1917 is as follows; - President, Dr C H Irving; Vice Presidents, Cecil Keech and Eric Leslie; Secretary , P Lennox; Treasurer, H Gray; Librarian G Littlewood; Room Manager, T Benson; Committee, D White, H Hammond, “Mascar”, P Bishop, and H Bredero.
In conclusion the Society is open to all persons who are in any way interested in magic, whether as performers, students, collectors of magic books etc., and they will be welcomed on calling at the Club Room, preferably between 1 and 2pm, where the Secretary or any other member present will be pleased to furnish information as to subscriptions etc. It may be mentioned that no initiation takes place, prospective members being merely proposed and seconded.