August 14, 1735
Philadelphus Philadelphia (1735-1795), born Jacob Meyer in the United States, was a celebrated conjurer who traveled very extensively through Europe, exhibiting his tricks in all the leading cities.
Philadelphia came from a Jewish family in Philadelphia. When he converted to the Christian church he adopted the name of his native city. At an early age he showed an inclination for mathematics and physics. Meyer's patron in England was Prince Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn, for whom he performed astrology, magic, and alchemy.
He became known as Meyer Philadelphia and Philadelphus Philadelphia.
Philadelphia obtained great success on his numerous tours, and even with people of high standing he made much of a reputation. He made a great deal of money and enjoyed his trips practicing magic. He traveled throughout Europe, performed before the Empress Catharine, and won the favor of the Sultan Mustapha Third at Constantinople. Later on he had great success in Vienna and Berlin. He had difficulty with Friedrich the Great, who was alarmed after Meyer read his mind and subsequently banished the magician from Prussia.
In 1758, he toured England, although presenting himself as being a scientist, rather then a magician.
In 1774 he published 'Little Treatise on Strange and Suitable Feats', possibly the first magic book by an American-born magician.
In 1777, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg opposed the apparent misrepresentation of science by Philadelphia. Lichtenberg considered him to be a magician, not a physicist, and created a satirical poster that was intended to prevent Philadelphia from performing his exhibition in Göttingen. The placard, called "Lichtenberg's Avertissement", described extravagant and miraculous tricks that were to be performed. As a result, Philadelphia left the city without a performance.
Little Treatise on Strange and Suitable Feats (1774)
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