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Frederick Bancroft

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Frederick Bancroft
BornFrederick Bronson
January 22, 1867
Winona, Minnesota
DiedSeptember 26, 1897 (age 30)
Charleston, South Carolina

Frederick Bancroft (1866 - 1897) was a dentist and life insurance agent who tried to become a successful professional magician like his friend Alexander Herrmann.


Moving to Chicago from central New York around 1878, Bancroft performed some magic on the stage as a boy under the name "De Castro, the boy magician", doing only a few small tricks at the old Olympic Theatre on Clark Street in Chicago. . He eventually became a life insurance agent in the St. Paul and Minneapolis area. He was very successful and also made money in the real estate boom. He took an interest in magic again and started performing at church societies, benefits and club entertainments.

He became a friend of Alexander Herrmann and decided he too would become a professional magician. Even though he had the money to purchase new and original tricks, he started with small, antiquated tricks and spent money instead on elaborate stage accessories. His wonderful posters billed him as "prince of magicians". He made his first public appearance as a magician on October 19, 1895, in Orange, New Jersey. He imitated the performance of Herrmann, which did not go over well with the audiences, since he was much younger. Audiences also found that he was inexperienced and that his tricks were not equal to his lavish surroundings.

After the first year, which resulted in a heavy loss, he decided to make a trip to Europe and the East Indies to relax and study. Upon his return, Bancroft secured the former manager of the Herrmann, hoping to book the best theaters of the larger cities. He opened the tour at the Harlem opera house. Unfortunately, just at the beginning of this new tour, he got sick and died of typhoid fever. At the young age of 31, he was never able to realize his success as a professional magician.[1][2][3][4]


  1. Frederick Bancroft, Conjurer His Career By H. J. Burlingame published in Tricks in Magic, Illusions and Mental Phenomena, Vol. III (1898)
  2. Frederick Bancroft, (Conjurer) in Stanyon's Magic in February to June, 1902.
  3. A Note From a Houdini Scrapbook By F. William Kuethe, Jr.
  4. The Journey to find Frederick Bancroft by Gary Hunt, Magicol No. 176, August 2010