Secrets for sale as magician’s historic tricks go to auction

The collection – including fire-eating and escapology routines – belonged to former Magic Circle member Cyril Bayliffe.
The collection – including fire-eating and escapology routines – belonged to former Magic Circle member Cyril Bayliffe.

Two trunks full of antique magic tricks and books are set to go under the hammer later this month.

Gathered between the 1940s and 1970s, the collection belonged to former Magic Circle member Cyril Bayliffe, who was born in Oldham, Lancashire, in 1928.

Tricks such as The Dagger Chest, fire-eating, escapology, mind-reading illusions and a saw trick are included in the sale at Hansons in London along with two handwritten notebooks detailing 63 tricks.

Some of the magic tricks which Cyril Bayliffe used (Hansons/PA)

The guide price for the entire collection is between £100 and £200.

The magician, whose catchphrase “Inky Pinky Plinky Plonk” delighted audiences for decades, died at the age of 58 in 1987,

Mr Bayliffe’s daughter, who is selling the collection and wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I remember coming home from school one day in the 1970s and dad asking to try a trick on me.

“I said ‘oh dad, I’m eating my tea’ but reluctantly let him. The next thing I knew he’d put a box on my head and was putting knives through it.

“He loved magic for as long as I can remember and got into it in his teens. He qualified as a chartered surveyor and went on to work for the Ministry of Defence but never stopped performing magic – even when rheumatoid arthritis put a stop to his sleight of hand in his late 30s.

One of the magic books which is part of the collection (Hansons/PA)

“He could do hypnotism, too. In the 1960s he hypnotised me to entertain the crew on a ship our family was travelling on when dad’s job took us to Singapore for three years.

“He loved a practical joke and once when visiting a house-proud friend, he placed a wire in his cigarette which allowed the ash to grow ever longer without it dropping off.”

Mr Bayliffe’s wife, Joan, died recently at the age of 93 and their daughter decided the time is right to let her father’s collection go.

“When I opened the trunks, I had no idea what was inside but as I pulled out the tricks the memories came flooding back,” she said.

Hansons London junior valuer Oscar Reid-Mackenzie with one of the tricks up for auction (Hansons/PA)

“There are all sorts, big and small, including one where you can pretend to chop off your thumb.

“I’d like to pass on the magic and the fun my father was renowned for to the next generation of magicians.”

Chris Kirkham, associate director of Hansons London, said: “It’s a fascinating collection that will appeal to magicians and collectors worldwide. I hope to see some magicians joining us on viewing day. Let the auction magic begin.”

The Cyril Bayliffe Magic Collection will be sold on Monday, June 10 at Hansons London Saleroom, Teddington.