Alexander (Claude Alexander Conlin). Alexander. The Man Who Knows. Signed Window Card. Bombay: Av Yaga, 1915. Small window card advertising the mind-reading show of this successful and nefarious mentalist. Signed “C. Alexander” along the right side margin. 20 x 10”. Handsome gilt wooden frame. Printer’s date stamp (Oct. 20, 1915) to right side of image; horizontal crease across first line of text below portrait area, with a few light marginal creases and losses outside printed area. Only known copy in this size and format, with deeper and stronger coloration to the portrait than seen on the three-sheet version. “The Man Who Knows.” “Ask Alexander.” Turning away from the bombastic language favored by most magicians of his day, Alexander wagered that these simple and mysterious taglines would prove as powerful when, in 1915, he ordered a boxcar full of posters to bolster his growing public persona. Accompanied only by a portrait of the magician staring at the viewer, or in a turban forming a question mark, these now-iconic designs promised audiences nothing concrete, but enticed them to find out.
While thousands of Alexander’s one-sheet posters have survived to the present day, and have become so familiar that many collectors refer to them as simply Alexander “red” or “black”, the example above represents something much rarer – a window card-format print of a design that has previously been seen only in three-sheet runs. As important, the presence of a printer’s date stamp and Alexander’s signature in the margin suggests that the print was so special as to have been handled, and perhaps approved of, by the performer himself.