Devil Worship: Feverish Posters From When Sinister Stage Magicians Harnessed The Occult

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe in the Devil, that He makes mischief for idle and clever hands? No? You should do. And you will when you see Harry Kellar, the “Dean of American Magicians”,  a smartly dressed, sedate embodiment of a sound character. The Devil told him to cut off his own head as a ritual. He did. And he lived.

Around the joint of the 19th and 20th centuries, stage tricks were a mainstay of theater entertainment. To seduce the crowd there were posters, each fashioned with feverish, hallucinatory images of death, evil, the Beast, phantasmagoria and the darkest magick. The occult was a big lure. The subconscious was pricked.

Howard Thurston could suck the soul from a dead man’s skull.

Charles Joseph Carter could cut a woman in half. She need not be dead at the time.

Kitty R. Baldwin was a “modern witch of Endor” able to summoned the prophet Samuel’s spirit, at the demand of King Saul.

Rudyard Kipling wrote in 1916:

Oh the road to En-dor is the oldest road
And the craziest road of all!
Straight it runs to the Witch’s abode,
As it did in the days of Saul,
And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
For such as go down on the road to En-dor!

Now. Dim the lights. And watch the demons and ghosts at play – if you dare:

vintage magician posters


vintage magician posters

poster 11



1870: A perfomance by Kitty R. Baldwin



vintage magician posters

vintage magician posters

vintage magician posters

poster 7

poster 6



Charles Joseph Carter Kellar: The Witch, the Sailor and the Enchanted Monkey Kar-mi performing the most startling mystery of all India

Alexander - The Crystal Seer Recha Illusionen
Kellar and his perplexing cabinet mysteries Samri S. Baldwin, the white mahatma and a superb company



vintage magician posters

vintage magician posters

poster 1

vintage magician posters



Spotters: Dangerous MindsSo Bad So Good

Would you like to support Flashbak?

Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.