Marvellous Magical Mosaics

By Ken Trombly - Wednesday, May 26, 2021


If you could only collect the posters of just one performer, it would be difficult to not give William Ellsworth Robinson serious consideration. A native New Yorker of Scottish heritage, he brilliantly concocted the performing persona of Chung Ling Soo, “the marvelous Chinese conjurer”,and rose to fame aided in part by an array of varied and imaginative posters.

This half sheet poster (circa 20" x 30“) printed by the London printing house Weiners is a spectacular example of full color stone lithography. Per his biographer Jim Steinmeyer ( The Glorious Deception), the oft-repeated story that Robinson‘s variety of beautiful posters is a result of his sponsoring contests among London art students, is probably apocryphal. Whatever the truth is on that point, he clearly left a legacy of many eye-popping images. In this case, such was Soo's fame that he did not even need to be depicted performing magic in order for the poster to arouse interest in his show, as it still does today.

Chung Ling Soo


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