74th British Ring IBM Convention
22nd - 26th September 2010, Eastbourne
Update 13, July 2010
Bob Hayden, British Ring PRO
A most popular event in the convention programme is the Jeffery Atkins memorial Lecture. This year the lecture is being delivered by Derek Lever (photo) who is taking for his theme ‘The World of Magic of Jack Hughes’.
To many of today’s younger magicians Jack Hughes is just a name who manufactured magical props. To those in their more senior years Jack was much more than that. Yes he manufactured props to an exceptionally high standard but it was a standard he set himself never allowing any prop to leave his workshop unless he was completely satisfied with its quality. Probably more important Jack was a thorough gentleman always available to give a fledgling magician encouragement and practical advice from his own experience as a performer.
So what was Jack’s background and how did he become such an iconic legend? Initially being apprenticed to a high class Cabinet Maker made him a first class craftsman. His interest in magic didn’t start until the family emigrated from Devon to Canada when he discovered the art and began to carry about his person a pocket trick or two which he would show on every possible occasion. His working life in Canada was short and he returned to marry the Devonshire girl he had left behind.
Settling in Exeter two events occurred that turned his attention to how he might make a career in magic. The first was purchasing a trunk of conjuring apparatus in auction and the second obtaining a copy of Hoffman’s ‘Modern Magic’ and later his ‘More Magic’ and ‘Later Magic’. Inspired by these works he began making his own apparatus incorporating his own improvements and refinements. Now well equipped it was time to start performing as a professional magician. Early in his new career he was fortunate to meet Stanley Dixon who took a liking to the youngster and afforded him the benefit of his experience.
His growing ability as a magician and his skill in constructing apparatus soon became known amongst the magicians of Devon. Soon London was calling Jack where he met Will Goldston and was soon busily engaged in making effects for this world famous dealer. But it was his inventive ability for devising new effects that made his services much sought after. How many of you know that a popular trick of the late 30’s known as the ‘Television Frame’ distributed by Davenports and purchased by magicians throughout the world was the invention of a young man, Jack Hughes.
The war years found Jack serving his country in the armed services but even then magic was not forgotten when in quite spells he found time to conceive effects. Demobilised in 1946 Jack found that several of his exclusive effects had been ‘pirated’ and placed on the magical market. To protect himself from further depredation he decided to mass produce his inventions. So the Unique Magic Company was formed and a factory opened. With the effects being available for all to purchase the entire venture was successful. By arrangement with Percy Abbott the Abbott Magic Co of America was permitted to place these products on the other side of the Atlantic. Jack the inventor continued to progress but Jack the craftsman was not satisfied. The mass produced items did not come up to his pre-war standards. Jealous of his reputation for quality Jack broke away from the Unique Magic Co to open up again in Colindale , North London.
There are very few top flight professional magic acts in the world that have not had the benefit in some way or the other either directly or indirectly of benefiting from the brain of Jack Hughes. None was more so in the period immediately following the cessation of hostilities. Even to day where there is a move by the current generation of magicians towards close-up, many Jack Hughes props are still in use today and can, when in the right hands, provide top class entertainment to the general public.
It was in the early 1980’s when Jack semi retired to Blackpool that he and Derek Lever embarked on a project of recording in print The Magic of Jack Hughes. It soon became clear that with the abundance of material available it would not be possible to publish it all in one volume. In all three volumes have been published by the Tarus Magic Supply and comprehensively covers the material which enabled Jack to earn a living for over 50 years.
In the time allocated for the lecture it will not be possible for Derek to show and demonstrate his entire collection of Jack Hughes magic. It would probably take five hours! Some of the items Derek will be showing may not have been seen by today’s younger magicians. It is a hoped that may be impressed by what they see. They might then realise there is something more to magic than a pack of cards.
Not only will this be a fine stimulating lecture it will also be a fitting tribute to a gentleman who was one of the brightest lights in magic
An event that has been missing from the Convention programme for the past six years has been the Dealers Demonstration. With the trend of magicians over the past decade towards close-up magic, the majority of the Dealers felt that demonstrating their latest close -up miracles would not be clearly seen and appreciated in a large theatre.
There have been requests from several members for the Demonstration to be reintroduced, so the organiser of the Dealers Exhibition Jim Boyd has, when a Dealer has applied for a stand, asked them if they would be willing to participate in a Demonstration. The response he has had has been positive and with the assistance of Bob Hamilton, his video camera and a big screen it is possible that the event will be back and will be to everyone’s satisfaction.
Bob Hayden, British Ring PRO, July 2010. www.britishring.org.uk