The Robert-Houdin Clock

14 January 2022

Prior to becoming France’s most famous magician, Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin (1805-1871) was a clockmaker and he is credited with inventing The Mystery Clock, the finest example of which is right here in the Devant Room. The mystery lies in the movement of the clocks’ hands on its glass face and, in this example, transparent stem. The hands are not attached to any visible mechanism and, constructed in the 1840s, predates micro-electronics.

Robert-Houdin, one of the first magicians to utilise technology in magic, became acceptable to French high society by performing in formal evening dress. He is considered to be the father of modern magic. He wrote many books on the theory and performance of magic, his most famous quote being ‘A magician is not a juggler, he is an actor playing the part of a magician’.

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