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Fakir of Oolu

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Fakir of Oolu
BornAlfred Silvester
October 17, 1831
Westminster, England
DiedJanuary 13, 1886 (age 54)
Melbourne, Australia

Fakir of Oolu (1831-1886) was Alfred Silvester, most known for presenting the Aerial Suspension illusion as an Indian mystic in turban and full robes, surrounded by a decorative Oriental set.


He also performed as "Hadji Mahommed Salib", but often referred to as more of a lecturer than a magician.

Silvester began as an assistant to John Henry Pepper at the London Polytechnic, a venue for popular science exhibitions. The most popular of these exhibitions had been Pepper's Ghost. After leaving the Polytechnic, Silvester presented an 'improvement' of Pepper's Ghost, which came to the notice of the original pantentees, and he had had to make a public apology in The Times.[1]

Silvester, moved to the United States where he improved the Aerial Suspension illusion, by being able to take away the last pole and worked it up into a complete show. He presented his act under the title of "The Denizen of the Air" and the "Last Link Severed."[2] The act became a sensation at the Egyptian Hall.

Hoffmann credits Silvester with creating the "Floating Wand" (refuted by Henry Hatton[3]) which he used to introduce his Aerial Suspension illusion. Later Magic.

In 1874, Silvester created "The Talking Lion," an illusion based on the Sphinx principle and went to Australia with his show. He eventually died in Melbourne.[4]

His son, Alfred Silvester Jr., who assisted him, also went on to perform as the "Fakir of Oolu" throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well as his grandson (also named Aflred).


  1. Rise of the Indian Rope Trick by Peter Lamont, 2004
  2. My Magic Life by David Devant, 1931
  3. Sphinx Vol. 5, No 6 (August 1906)
  4. History of Conjuring and Magic by Henry Ridgely Evans, 1928
  • The Magic Wand, Vol. 7, No. 3, November 1915, The Fakir of Oolu, page 50
  • M-U-M, Vol. 9, No. 84, March 1920, MAGIC AND MAGICIANS, In Australia and New Zealand, by Robert Kudarz, page 66
  • M-U-M, Vol. 9, No. 85, April 1920, MAGIC AND MAGICIANS, In Australia and New Zealand (continued), by Robert Kudarz, page 72
  • The Annals of Conjuring, by Sydney W. Clarke (1929, reprint 2001), The Fakir of Oolu, page 278
  • Magicana (New Zealand), Vol. 38, No. 224, August-September 1990, Stories of the Past, The Fakir of Oolu, page 9
  • Bio-bibliographisches Lexikon der Zauberkünstler Edition Volker Huber, April 2002, Sylvester, Alfred engl. Zauberkünstler (*17.10.1831 London; †30.01.1886 Australien), page 333