I promised to write a bit more about Joe Stuthard. Well here you are: I first came across him when I was 14 years old at the Schoolboys and Girls exhibition in Olympia (or was it Earls Court) exhibition centre. Here is the tale as recounted in my memoir, “The Lives of a Showman”
I continued wandering through the exhibition, turned a corner and lo and behold, there was a magician! There was a big sign saying, “JOE STUTHARD-THE CANADIAN FUNATIC.” He had a clock sign with movable hands and another sign saying, “next demonstration at……” He had a very large crowd around him and he was in the middle of a demonstration. And what a demonstration it was! He was absolutely superb. I was stunned watching him and I remember thinking, “I want to be as good as that!” He did the magic mouse trick and it was absolutely unbelievable. It scurried across his hands, and in and out of a glass. I could have sworn it was alive. Then he demonstrated the Svengali deck. It was the greatest performance of card tricks I have ever seen. I have seen many magicians perform card tricks since, including the greatest names in magic, but I have never seen anything to equal what I saw as a fourteen year old kid, standing in a crowd at an exhibition watching a pitchman performing with a trick deck. For two hours I was enthralled.
When there was a lull in the crowd, I plucked up the courage to speak to this (to my mind) master magician. I certainly wasn’t going to go up to him, announce that I too was a magician, and offer to show him a trick like I did to the poor Thomas De La Rue man. Still, I desperately wanted the great Joe Stuthard to know that I was a conjurer. I was too shy to tell him directly so I tried to be subtle. “Do you sell fanning powder?” I asked. This is a special powder that magicians use to make a deck of cards slippery and easier to manipulate. Of course, I knew full well that he didn’t sell the stuff but I wanted him to know that I was a fellow magician. He smiled and said, “No, we only sell the mouse and the cards.” I said, “OK” and walked away having made my point.
I never did buy anything that day, but I knew I had seen a great magician.