The Magic Circle Museum

The Magic Circle

12 Stephenson Way




tel: +44 (0)207 7387 2222







Contact details: Scott Penrose (Executive Curator); Jonathan Allen (Associate Curator)


Date of visit: 17 August 2015


Nature and extent of collection


Artefacts and publicity material relating to the theatrical magic arts, dating from c.1800 to the present day.



All numbers below are estimated


Medals:  Significant holdings of medals relating to the membership of magical societies dating from c.1900.


Paranumismatica: Significant holdings of commemorative tokens in the form of coins relating to individual performers and historical events within the conjuring world.


Significant holdings of theatrical props relating to money-themed performance magic (coins and notes).


Some holdings of commemorative banknotes relating to individual performers and historical events within the conjuring world.


Other: Holdings of theatrical props relating to money-themed performance magic (such as money vanishing devices).

Specific strengths: Medals and commemorative tokens in the form of coins.


Library: The Magic Circle Library is a separate entity with The Magic Circle, although many books relating to magic performed with money are held within the library.































Database used: Microsoft Access. We have future plans to migrate this database to a cloud-based archive.


Proportion of collection on database: 90%


How much detail in database entries? Item description, donor or other source, date of accession, other notes.


Are images incorporated? Around 10% of records include images.


Is the database accessible to the public? No.


Is the database publicly accessible online? No.





Are there permanent numismatic displays? No current displays are dedicated solely to our numismatic holdings, although we are currently exhibiting a display of ‘magic money machines’ within our temporary exhibition display vitrine.


Is numismatic material incorporated into more general displays? Yes, to a limited extent. Numismatic items are generally incorporated when the wider thematic of a vitrine renders such an inclusion relevant.


Is there a facility for temporary exhibitions? Yes, see above.


Have there been numismatic exhibitions in the past? If so, what? In an earlier period of the museum’s life, both the medal and coin collections were on display at various times, although these were not public displays, since the museum was for the use of Magic Circle members only (the medals were held in frames, and the coins displayed in a wooden coin cabinet).

























Access to the collection


Is there a study facility? No.


Is equipment (balances, magnifying glasses, etc.) provided? N/A



Public engagement with numismatic collection


Is there a handling collection? No.


Are numismatic collections used in Education sessions? No.


Do numismatic collections feature in gallery talks, lectures? No.


Are there other engagement activities based around numismatic collections? No.



ID and public enquiries


Does the museum offer a service for identifying objects and other public enquiries? Yes, to a limited degree.



Curatorial knowledge


Is there any numismatic expertise in-house? If so, who, and in what areas? Yes, but with regard only to the magic-based histories/technologies of our holdings.


Is there access to external expertise? If so, who and in what areas? Yes. The Magic Circle Museum can reliably draw upon specific expertise from within the international community of magic collectors, historians and curators. We also have a history of collaboration with various institutions and organisations including the Hayward Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library, the BBC Archives, the New York Historical Society, and now the British Museum.


If there is expertise in-house, is there a willingness/capacity to share that with other museums? Yes.


Magic Circle