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March 8 2020

Herman Dufraing
Nikolaas Martens
Luc Poppe
Kobe Van Herwegen

House of Mysteries

Ye Olde Magic Mag, Vol. 6, Issue 3
Escamoteur, Jaargang 16, Editie 2, nr. 71

, 04/2020


Cliffhanger, Peter Plas
Gunther Guinée
Patrick Pickard


Sunday the 8th of March marked the date for the 2020 edition of the Belgian History of Magic Conference. The event was held for a third year in a row with a record number of 90 registrants.

After an introductory speech by co–organizer and MC Kobe Van Herwegen, the first lecture was given by Christ Van Herwegen (B) on the life and career of FISM award winner (1951) Jean Arnolis, better known as Monarque. In the magic museum Christ demonstrated the intricate mechanisms of two of Monarque`s original ventriloquist dummies.

Ruben De Somer (B) talked about his fascination with performers showcased as attractions at the circus and the carnivals by using several of his unique collection pieces.

After a short coffee break Nikolaas Martens (B) lectured on his investigation of ‘the rapping table,’ its rich history and its evolution from a spiritualistic phenomenon in to a magic effect performed by magic`s greatest illusionists. At the end of the lecture, Nikolaas performed a classic rendition of the rapping and floating table, an effect still able to bamboozle the audience.

Steffen Taut (D) closed the morning session with a splendid talk on Bosch`s painting ‘The Juggler.’ By comparative analyses, a profound historical and scientific research, Steffen captured the audience’s imagination. Nothing is what it seems to be!

During coffee breaks and lunch time, the attendees were invited to stroll the rooms of the House of Mysteries in which they could discover the ‘Magical World of Mugo,’ a Ghent based magic collector and graphical artist. An art gallery was erected in the close–up room showcasing his black and white and hand coloured pencil drawings.

The afternoon kicked off with a unique lecture of Ditmar Bollaert (B) on the Lanterna Magica. He illustrated the history of the magical lantern and showed in detail the different techniques employed in these most early days of cinema. We were treated with a unique performance on his authentic apparatus, without a doubt, my personal highlight of the day.

Fl!p Hallema (NL) talked about the Bamberg Dynasty, sharing some great anecdotes with the audience. He gave an overview of the Bamberg Dynasty and ended with Okito, sharing some of Okito’s early effects with the audience.

After a short intermission Arvid Viaene (B) shared his research on Lode De Bevere, a Belgian magician, mentalist and lecturer on the history of magic, who passed away in 2003. He was also the spiritual creator of Lucky Luke, the main character of the comic book written by his brother. Arvid perfomed a divination effect, devised by Lode De Bevere, using 4 wine glasses and a silver coin. A splendid homage to this most original magician.

Last but not least the stage was taken by Nele Wynants (B), postdoctoral researcher at the VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel). She lectured about her research on the life and career of Julie Grandsart–Courtois, magician and daughter of a travelling theatre family of at least 18 children. Her brilliant talk gave us an insight into the life of itinerant magicians, the hardships and the pleasant things but also on the many difficulties Nele had to overcome doing her comprehensive research.

The title of this year’s Guest of Honour was presented to Gunther Guinée (Guinelli), a Belgian professional magician, editor of the Benelux magic magazine De Escamoteur and organizer of lectures. In a Q & A with Kobe Van Herwegen, he talked extensively on his motivation and his attitude on sharing with the magic community, an attitude much appreciated by the attendees.

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