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P.T. Barnum: When magic arrives at the circus


The name ‘Barnum’ might spark visions of the big top, but the famed circus man also had a long history of magic. The Magic Detective website turned its investigative eye toward legendary showman P.T. Barnum, delving into the connections he had with magicians over the decades.

For starters, many of his business associates were magicians. He also attended the 1844 World Exposition in Paris, where Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin showed off his latest automata to everyone from the casual observer to King Louis Philippe. Barnum was especially fascinated by machine that could write and draw based on audience prompts and eventually acquired it for his collection.

If you’re curious to learn more about Barnum, The Magic Detective has several reading recommendations that served as sources for the anecdotes shared.