Flight Of Fancy

By Ken Trombly - Wednesday, May 5, 2021

By any measure, Belgian born Servais Leroy was a masterful showman and a creative genius. His Asrah levitation, an iconic effect, is probably one of the most performed illusions of all time, and even today it continues to deceive audiences all over the world. While most of Leroy’s posters were beautifully executed by the Friedlander Litho Co of Hamburg, Germany - examples of which I will share in postings to come - my favorite Servais Leroy poster is a whimsical one sheet (circa 30 x 40 inches) by Miner Litho of New York.

Although it is undated, this turn of the century poster probably predated, or was printed not long after, the Wright brothers’ historic flight. So, in a sense, Harry Houdini was apparently not the first great magician to experiment with early flight - at least on a wonderful poster - albeit Leroy relied on feathered flying bipeds, rather than a biplane. Speaking of feathered bipeds, according to magic historian and collector, the late David Price, in his wonderful tome, Magic, A Pictorial History of Conjurers in the Theatre (Cornwall Books, 1985) Leroy filled the stage with so many kinds of farm animals that the act was loathed by stage hands.


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