Sunday, July 30, 2006

Who is Hambujer?

No not Hamburgler or Hamburger or Humbugger, as my spell check suggests.

Bart Whaley’s Who’s Who in magic lists one magician by the name, Hambujer.
(Denmark [sic]: 1848-1924) Pro sleight-of-hand. Played Dublin (1859) & Boston (1860)

Of course, if we do the math, born in 1848, played Dublin in 1859; he would have been age eleven and twelve in Boston. This is not unheard of, but unusual. What makes things more unusual is a second (?) Hambujer in New York, Chicago, and Detroit. Not that is unusual that a magician would use another’s name or is it the same person and the birth date was recorded wrong. Here is the knot.

(The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and an unnamed Milwaukee paper are referenced and partially quoted.)

April 1862, New York—Mons. Hambujer and a Madam Hambujer play a benefit at the end of their run. (Married at thirteen?)

July 1862, Chicago—Hambujer, the wonderful East Indian Magician, commences a series of his entertainments this Monday evening at Bryan Hall. The Detroit Advertiser says of him: “This celebrated magician, who is generally admitted to have no superior, opened last evening in Fireman’s Hall. The audience was large, and the dexterous operator received rounds of applause. Hambujer’s illusions defy all detection, while they are performed with such rapidity that the audience is kept in a continual furore of excitement. We have never seen his superior as a “prestidigitatuer,” and very few, if any, equals has he on this continent. His exhibition of Indian magnetism is decidedly interesting, and the influence, which he exercises upon the subjects, is truly marvelous. Mr. Hambujer has exhibited in all the principal cities of the Union, and carries with him the unanimous approval of the press and people as a talented wizard.”

July 14, 1862—Hambujer, who has been engaged during the past week in performing his wonderful sleight of hand tricks at Bryan Hall, is now arranging for the performance of two feats which have never before been performed in this country, and which appear almost incredible, smacking more of Arabian Nights supernaturalism than latter day realities. Hitherto, Hambujer’s feats have been those often witnessed here, excepting that, they are done in this instance without the usual appurtenances of the magician’s repertoire. These new feats are restoring the dead to life and suspending a boy in the air by a single hair of his head from a floating ball.

The first feat is well known in India. It consists of placing a boy in a basket, thrusting a sword through the basket and drawing out again covered with blood. The boy’s body is examined by physicians and then returned to the basket. A pistol is discharged into the basket; the boy vanishes, and re-appears alive and well.

The ball feat consists in suspending a boy by a single hair to a rubber ball filled with a chemical mixture by which he floats gracefully in the air at the Professor’s bidding.

It is reported a day later that Hambujer learned these tricks while serving in the military in India, of which we can assume that he was a European performing “Indian” mysteries. The Tribune also reported that his two big draws previously described did not live up to expectations.

The next city Hambujer visited was Milwaukee, WI, but after that, any other current searches have not picked up his trail.

Is he a past master or a pretender with great promo?
If you know any more about him, please write.


Richard Grayson said...

Ephraim Hambujer was my great grandfather. See URL for complete bio.

Mike said...

Ephraim Hamburg, or Hambujer is my 6th great grandfather.

Birth : 1 Oct 1826 PRUSSIA
Death : 31 May 1913 Chicago,Cook,Illinois
Gender: Male


HAMBURG, Estella

chgomagic said...

Great picture mike.

When Doctor Grayson finishes the translation of Hambujer's scrapbook I hope to do a full presentation of this life.

There are a couple of Magic History conventions that would be interested to know.

Mike said...

Actually I wrote that incorrectly. I had been doing research on a 6th great grandfather of mine on the other side of the family.

Ephraim Hambujer was actually my great great grandfather.

I had no idea there was a scrapbook in existence! That is very exciting news.

I would be extremely grateful if you could let me know when you do your presentation.

Thank you!


PS - That picture was taken two summers ago in Dodge City Kansas near the Boothill Cemetery.

Daniel R. Grayson said...

Mike, Ephraim Hambujer was my great great grandfather, and I have his testimonial book. What is your name and how are you descended from him? (Your web page gives no hint about how to send you email!)

Michael D. Henry said...

Hello Daniel,

My name is Michael Dale Henry and my email is hotelsinger @

Ephraim's daughter Hattie married Adolph Henry in 1898. In fact, my wife Dee Dee wears the original ring which Adolph had melted down from a $20 gold piece and inscribed their names and date.

One of their sons was Benjamin Henry, my grandfather. My father is Dale Henry, son of Ben and Phyllis Henry.

How are you descended from Ephraim?

Would it be possible to have a copy of the testimonial book? I would, of course, pay for any copy expenses.

Thank you for posting!