Secrets for sale as magician’s tricks gathered over more than 30 years go to auction

Posted on 30/05/2019 in Press Coverage

Inky Pinky Plinky Plonk was the catchphrase of a ‘larger-than-life’ magician whose lifetime’s collection of tricks is set to create auction magic.

Two trunks worth of tricks and magic books, gathered from the 1940s-1970s, are set to go under the hammer at Hansons London Saleroom, Normansfield Theatre, Teddington, on June 10.

Tricks such as The Dagger Chest, fire-eating, escapology, mind-reading illusions and a saw trick are included in the sale along with two handwritten notebooks detailing 63 tricks. The guide price for the entire collection is £100-£200.

It belonged to former Magic Circle member Cyril Bayliffe who was born in Oldham, Lancashire, in 1928, and died at the age of 58 in 1987 in Wiltshire.

The tricks include one object recalled with some misgivings by the London vendor. Cyril’s daughter, who is selling the collection and wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I remember coming home from school one day in the 1970s and dad asking to try a trick on me. I said ‘oh dad, I’m eating my tea’ but reluctantly let him. The next thing I knew he’d put a box on my head and was putting knives through it.

“He loved magic for as long as I can remember and got into it in his teens. He qualified as a chartered surveyor and went on to work for the Ministry of Defence but never stopped performing magic – even when rheumatoid arthritis put a stop to his sleight of hand in his late 30s.

“He could do hypnotism, too. In the 1960s he hypnotised me to entertain the crew on a ship our family was travelling on when dad’s job took us to Singapore for three years.

“He performed at shows and charity events and sometimes took me along. His catchphrase was Inky Pinky Plinky Plonk, which I didn’t think was very cool when I was younger. He wasn’t a children’s magician, he performed for all ages, but he did love children.

“He was a great man with a great sense of humour and a bit of a pioneer. In the mid-60s my parents drove us from Singapore all through Malaysia, then on to Malaya and Thailand in a Mini they'd shipped from England. There was no air con then either.

“He loved a practical joke and once when visiting a house-proud friend, he placed a wire in his cigarette which allowed the ash to grow ever longer without it dropping off.”

Mr Bayliffe’s wife, Joan, died recently at the age of 93 and, as the vendor is downsizing, she has decided the time is right to let her father’s collection go.

She said: “When I opened the trunks, I had no idea what was inside but as I pulled out the tricks the memories came flooding back. There are all sorts, big and small, including one where you can pretend to chop off your thumb.

“I’d like to pass on the magic and the fun my father was renowned for to the next generation of magicians.”

Chris Kirkham, associate director of Hansons London, said: “It’s a fascinating collection that will appeal to magicians and collectors worldwide. I hope to see some magicians joining us on viewing day. Let the auction magic begin.”

The Cyril Bayliffe Magic Collection will be sold on Monday, June 10 at Hansons London Saleroom, Normansfield Theatre, 2A Langdon Park, Teddington, TW11 9PS. Viewing available at the auction venue on Sunday, June 9, 12-4pm, and from 8.30am on the day of the auction. Bids can be placed online when the catalogue goes live at To find out more, email [email protected].