Magic in the trenches

One of the many special and named collections held by the Library is the Cuthbert Collection. This is a collection of over 500 books and periodicals on magic and in particular on Scottish magicians and magic in Scotland. Assembled by Jim Cuthbert a member of Paisley Magic Circle and a former president of the Scottish Association of Magic Societies it represents a lifetime of studying and practicing magic. Although a practicing magician Jim Cuthbert’s principle interest is in the history of magic in Scotland and he has published many pamphlets and bibliographies on the subject as well as given talks and lectures.

Jim is still collecting books on magic and occasionally sends us new additions to the collection. Recently we were delighted to be able to add “Tricks for the trenches & wards” published by Jarrold and Sons in 1915 to the Cuthbert Collection. Compiled and illustrated by the mysterious Draklof who writes in his prefatory note to the book.

“The contents of this book have been collected together in the hope that the tricks, etc., herein will provide many a bright moment in a tedious wait or dreary convalescence. A nurse once told me that she found tricks a very welcome form of amusement to convalescent patients, and it was largely with this idea in mind that the following have been collected together”

Draklof was an ananym, a pseudonym made up by spelling a real name backwards, for Charles James Folkard 1878-1963. Folkard was a conjuror who became an illustrator of books for children including editions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the Arabian Nights and in 1932 the highly regarded “The Land of Nursery Rhyme”. In 1915 his cartoon strip “Adventures of Teddy Tail” started to appear in the Daily Mail. The success of this strip about a small mouse with a knot in his tail prompted the Daily Express to introduce Rupert Bear and the Daily Mirror to start Pip, Squeak and Wilfred. So while Draklof was hopefully providing some distraction from the horrors of the war for British troops whether in combat or hospital Teddy Tail would be entertaining their sons and daughters on the home front.