eyer would have have become 145 years old this year. He was born on February 4, 1872 as Jean Pierre Decker in Mondercange, a then small village in Luxembourg.
Several years ago, I published his biography pulled together from his correspondance with none other than Harry Houdini, from newspapers and magic magazines as well as geneological sources.
In “America”, Weyer had met and married another Luxembourgish immigrant, Anna Wahl from Rumelange, who had come to New York on her own with 16 years as a housemaid.
Soon, Weyer had decided to drop his strongman act to become a professional magician. He was ready to take over Europe.
We know that Weyer and Anna returned to Mondercange sometime in 1897 and became parents to three children. From the letters, it becomes clear that their live was difficult. Weyer was working in French restaurants as magician and waiter as well as developping a show for his big breakthrough, which he finally had in Paris in 1902. From 1905, he was travelling with his family throughout Europe and the Middle East. In 1921, Weyer died in Cairo.
There was, until now, very little information about his footprint in Luxembourg from 1897 to 1905.
However, a newspaper was added last year to the online newspaper archive (www.eluxemburgensia.lu) , which is provided by the Luxembourg Nationallibrary. The “Obermosel-Zeitung” was published from 1881–1941 and 1945-1948 in Grevenmacher, near the German border. It started as a regional paper but soon became popular all over Luxembourg.
It was with great joy that some references to Weyer could be found.
A first reference from December 14, 1897, which states that Weyer had two well visited evening shows in Kehlen as magician Professor Decker. Significant about this is that his return to Luxembourg in 1897 is confirmed by second source and that he had not yet fully adopted his stage name.
Then an advertisement from April 21 and 28, 1899 for shows in Grevemacher, where J.P. Decker as Alex Weyer was to show the “latest tricks from the American stage” in “one of the biggest magic shows in the world”.
Source: Obermosel-Zeitung, 28 April 1899, www.bnl.lu
The owner of the venue, Jean Sauber was a “cabaretier”, someone who would sell wine for consumption as well as some food. In France, ”cabaretiers” became later indeed owners of cabarets.
Weyer then appeared again as J.P. Decker at a local fair in Moutfort (13 October 1899) and gave a free evening show in Düdelange (21 March 1900), where he was incompetition with Beckerelli, the then “Prestidigitateur Illusionniste Royal”, who had his show on the same night, in the same town but for an entrance free.
Johann Becker alias Beckerelli, a German, came to Luxembourg to work at the annual fair “Schueberfouer” and then stayed on for several years. Although, he became very successful, Weyer did not think much of him. He wrote to Houdini that Beckerelli “works like a swine” (6 January 1902).
Weyer and Beckerelli probably met several times as indicated by advertisments for the annual fair in 1900, in a weekly satirical paper called “De Letzeburger”.
Source: De Letzebuerger, 1900, www.bnl.lu
Prof. Weyer at the theatre of the famous Melich siblings, here with a cast of 10 people. The Melich Theatre, from Germany, was a travelling and “speciality” theatre that in the 1890s could accommodate up to 1.000 people.
Telegram from Weyer to Houdini.
How often did they meet in Liège?
his is the story of Alex Weyer, a magician in the Golden Age of Magic (ca. 1875–1948). He started off with a strongman act and ended up traveling the world with his magic show. He charmed the aristocracy of Europe, walked the stage of the Moulin Rouge in Paris, and entertained Australian troops in Egypt during World War I. He was billed as an American conjuror under the title The Great Alex Weyer, as the Frenchprestidigitateur Weyer Le Mystérieux, and as a Belgian mystifier called Professeur Weyer. He was also a close friend of the most famous escape artist and magician of all time, Harry Houdini. And like Houdini, he had another name.
Alex Weyer’s real name was Jean Pierre Decker. He was born February 4, 1872, in the small town of Mondercange in the southwest of Luxembourg.
The adventures of Alex Weyer were collected from a variety of sources, including contemporary articles from magic magazines found in the Ask Alexander database, the largest online resource of information about the history of magic; online newspapers and genealogical databases; original promotional material, playbills, and other ephemera from several private collections and from a relative of the Weyer family; the National Archives and Nationallibrary in Luxembourg; and most importantly, Weyer’s letters to Harry Houdini, from 1901–1914, which are part of the Houdini collection in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas in Austin.
The Great Alex Weyer
Magician, inventor, friend of Harry Houdini, husband & father
Luxembourg - New York - Cairo
his biography of Weyer has been published in English and has been translated into French and German. It has been researched, written and published by Véronique Faber, a magic history enthusiast from Luxembourg. The English text was edited by Chicago-based David Parr, a magician, actor and editor. Constance Geertz, a writer based in Munich, worked on the German translation. The French version was translated by Leslie Villiaume, a young filmmaker based in Paris. Daniel Schildgen worked on the layout and organised the printing.
Friedländer poster, 1900,
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