The Whispering Imps

whisperingimps2015For more than a hundred years, these mischievous little pranksters have been the naughty and clever sidekicks to magicians.  Their likenesses were first caught on paper in 1894, when Harry Kellar, known then as “America’s Greatest Magician,” commissioned an advertising poster featuring his personal devilment advisors.  One is peeking over his right shoulder and the other sprite is whispering a new mystical trick into Kellar’s left ear as the renowned magician considers its shrewd words.

When Kellar retired, he bequeathed the illustrious title of “America’s Greatest Magician” to his successor Howard Thurston. Evidently, Kellar also passed along his clever counselors as they next appeared in the same poses on Thurston’s posters. During his “Wonder Show of the Universe,” Thurston explained to the children in his audience that his imps were named Hocus Pocus and Conjurokus – and that Hocus Pocus was a real troublemaker!

Soon, Thurston’s competitors of the day, such as The Great Blackstone and The Great Raymond, began recruiting their own elvish entourage- similarly featuring them on posters of their own.

The imps eventually found themselves sailing across the ocean to Europe.  And perhaps they became a little seasick as they are seen in a verdant hue in this poster from the legendary Professor Benevol.

But no matter what their color, the rascals were always playful. Check out this particularly humorous moment in a poster from the great Raymond which shows the “King of Mystery” lighting his cigar with the heat from the tip of a little imp’s tail!

And so, in-keeping true with the long-held tradition, I am proud to say I have managed to attract a couple of convivial imps myself.   It hasn’t always been easy, but my mischief-makers have been keeping me company as I’ve traveled the world for over a decade. Below, you can see our first happy portrait together back in 2003.


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