Herbert Albini (1859-1913)
Herbert Albini's Real Name
Abraham A. Laski
Albini the Great,
The Incomparable Albini
Place of Birth
Albini possessed the ability of supreme sleight-of-hand skills. He was a specialist at close-up magic and an accomplished stage illusionist of his day.
Herbert adopted the surname "Albini" from an established music hall performer Frederick Baxter Ewing who went under the name Lieutenant Albini.
Ewing purportedly threatened to sue Albini for using his surname and repeatedly wrote to the press to dissociate himself from the magician.
Albini was born Abraham A. Laski in Poland on October 23, 1859.
He adopted his stage name Herbert Albini, and performed professionally in England before taking his act to the USA in 1891.
Albini performed the vaudeville circuits across the nation, including theaters owned by American impresarios Sullivan and Considine.
Most of Albini's early work involved stage manipulation with playing cards, billiard balls and other small objects such as coins.
He then developed an act showcasing his card tricks and incorporating a rude-like character, handling his audience with harsh insults.
Albini continued to pack vaudeville venues, gaining notoriety as a premiere close-up prestidigitator.
In his act, Albini would open a new deck of cards for each effect; after each trick was performed, he threw away the cards by tossing them on the floor. This continuous littering of cards rapidly became his trademark.
He was also noted for the Albini Egg Bag effect which he had made smaller than the original magicians egg bag.
Later in his career, Albini decided to expand his repertoire by adding stage illusions to his act.
In 1911, he billed himself as 'Albini the Great,' and developed an illusion act which filled the second half of the vaudeville bill incorporating death defying illusions, such as the apparent execution of a military prisoner; and grand levitation acts involving his beautiful assistants.
Albini owned one of the largest illusion shows in vaudeville which incorporated the use of twelve assistants.
Two years after launching his illusion show in 1913, while on tour, he died on May 29, at age 53 in his hotel room in Chicago, Illinois.
Harry Blackstone, Sr., purchased several pieces of Albini's props and later performed several of Albini's popular illusions.
Photos/graphics courtesy of: Nielsen Magic, University Libraries of Washington
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