Saturday, July 15, 2006

Who is Madame Bosco?

If you read the editorial I wrote for Magic Magazine, or if you know me, then you know of my ongoing Chicago Magic History project. During my attempts to chronicle the early magic scene, I stumbled across some new magicians. Most never to be famous and, perhaps, these ads are their only marks left on this world. I intend to uncover their legacy as best I can. This is one such story, in the process of discovery.
July 4, 1859. The advertisement is just a tease:

MADAM BOSCO
will
Shortly Appear

Don’t get ahead of the story, you know she must be a magician, or I wouldn’t be talking about her. But, I didn’t know until the second ad from July 7,

GREATEST NOVELTY OF
the Age!
METROPOLITAN HALL
For Three Nights Only
THURSDAY, FRIDAY, AND SATURDAY
July 7, 8, and 9
MADAME BOSCO
The Original World-Renowned and Only MAGICIENNE
begs most respectfully to announce her Grand Palace
Entertainment of astounding
TRANSFORMATIONS AND ILLUSIONS!
As presented by her to the most distinguished and fashionable audiences in many of the principal cities of Europe and America, and before Queen Victoria and the British Court at Balmoral Castle, Scotland on the 21st day of September, 1855. This entertainment has been extensively patronized by distinguished Clergymen of all denominations and universally pronounced by the public press to be unequaled. MADAME BOSCO will make selections from the most recherché of her experiments, many of which are entirely new, and therefore
never witnessed here.
Admission 25 cents; Children 15 cents
Doors open at 71/2. To commence at 8 o’clock

Madame Bosco is unusual for her time. There were few female magicians. This is the first and earliest I’ve come across. The few others I’ve known performed in their husbands’ shows. Madame Bosco headlines her own show and is its only attraction. This is rare, if not unheard of and may place her in an important position in magic history, if we can discover her identity.

Madame only garnered a small notice in the Chicago Press and Tribune:
Madame Bosco, the Magicienne, whose appearance in this city has gratified all lovers of legerdemain, gives the last of her performances in this city to-day--one in the afternoon and the other in the evening.
Go and see her.

We next find Madame Bosco in Milwaukee July 23, 1859. Same Ads and this preview:
MADAME BOSCO gives one of her magical entertainments at Albany Hall on Monday evening. The Chicago Journal speaks of her thus:
Madame Bosco must be sent down as the princess of Necromancers. Her pleasing appearance and manner give a piquancy and zest to the entertainment, which are wanting in masculine performers, while she exceeds the best of them in practice of her art.

She did not have a good show to start out, as a review from July 26, 1859 shows:
A “sell” – The performances of “Madame Bosco,” at Albany Hall last night, did not satisfy public expectation. Indeed, “not to put too fine a point upon it,” the audience seemed to think themselves decidedly “sold” the magicienne did not appear herself, or else forgotten her art.

Well, we all can have a bad night.
Unfortunately, this is all I found on Madame. These are from several online searches. ProQuest: I searched 1830 to 1870, terms: Madame Bosco and Madam Bosco yielded 1 result from the Chicago Press and Tribune. Term: Bosco dug up 159 results, but only 4; from the Tribune were of any use. Term: Magicienne made 7 results appear, 1 already saved and rest for a ship of the same name.
NewspaperArchive.com yielded two results of any use from the Milwaukee Sentinel, odd because the items were the two previous articles, although there were advertisements that should have been part of the results, but were not.

My next search will take me to the library to do a physical search of the Chicago Newspapers like the Journal to find additional information. I will keep you posted and I hope if anyone has material I don’t have you will share.

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