The Art of Shadowgraphy


Though Shadowgraphy has been known from time immemorial, and as ’twere a thing of bye-gone days, Trewey’s practice of the art comes as a novelty, and is highly entertaining alike to the schoolboy and the lean and slippered pantaloon.

Thus the overwrought prefatory note in this small book of hand-shadow exercises by Felicien Trewey. In addition to diagrams showing the creation of the familiar animal shapes there’s a brief life of Monsieur Trewey, “the original Fantaisist Humoristique”, and some details of Trewey’s shadow pantomimes. Since these involve various props I find them a bit of a cheat, rather like origami shapes that require two sheets of paper or even a pair of scissors.


The book opens and closes with ads for Hamley’s toy shop, still the most celebrated shop of its kind in London. If it’s a surprise to see Hamley’s promoting their wares with devils and skulls, the latter seem fitting for the page of sinister “ventriloquial figures”, two of which are shown smoking cigarettes. The walking figure with “pneumatic mouth” is no doubt the one that tries to strangle you while you sleep.





Previously on { feuilleton }

4 thoughts on “The Art of Shadowgraphy”

  1. Pulled my own copy of this off the shelf
    In the sample pages you’ll see an ad for The Manchester Magic Co. on 7 Peter Street–what is there now?
    A collection of short stories based on stage magic, there are ads for Hamley’s fore and aft (the latter hawking Grimaldi and minstrel wigs). The back cover is an ad for Will Goldston’s THE YOUNG CONJUROR–Moore’s BUMPER BOOK OF MAGICK (With truly one of the most beautiful cover designs ever) I only hope will materialize for this generation at some point…

  2. Oh, that’s a surprise. I know Peter Street very well since the main bookshop outlet of Savoy Books (named Bookchain, England’s Glory, etc) used to be situated there. Never saw a magic shop there, however, so unless it was like the elusive one in the HG Wells short story it must have been replaced. Also not sure what side of the road no. 7 would have been. That area is now redeveloped with the entire block of buildings (old railway warehouses with shop units) having been demolished.

    I also know Will Goldston’s name, I think I used to have a book of his. Not sure if it was that one as it vanished years ago. I was a keen amateur conjuror at 12 & 13, even did a performance at a kids’ party once. Glad you like the cover to Alan & Steve’s book. I did that in a rush but it still works. Dunno yet whether it will get used on the final thing since the book has been taking so long to put together.

  3. Ha, thanks.

    Re: the map, the Peter Street warehouses would have served the line that runs into the goods yard. Central Station closed in the late 60s, I think, then was derelict for years until redeveloped into an exhibition hall. It took them longer to redevelop the rest of the area so the shops hung on for another decade. I have a few old maps of the city centre which used to be nightmarishly industrial, so much so that Friedrich Engels came here to study the deprivation of the factory workers.

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