Chung Ling Soo (William Ellsworth Robinson). Important Letter from Chung Ling Soo to F.E. Powell. Dated Sept. 7, 1903. Primarily describing the working of a Vanishing Lamp, Robinson not only provides his frank opinion of the version Powell is considering buying from Willmann of Hamburg (“rotten”), he goes on to describe a method of his own (“I think you will say it is a corker. … “I get rid of the lamp same as Kellar… I make connection a la Vanishing Birdcage… After lamp has vanished it immediately appears on a little shelf on a stand…), and diagramming the props required. The letter also describes the working of the Wonder Bowl production effect, a standard effect of the era (“Valadon at Egyptian Hall is doing it…”), and apparatus for producing inflated balloons from an apparently empty opera hat (“Peck and Snyder used to have all these sort of fittings…”), a then-novel effect. Fourteen illustrations in Soo’s hand compliment the detailed, technical, explanatory text. Filling two 4to and one 8vo sheet. Signed “Your friend always, Rob.” Minor chips and wear. Rare. A revealing and fascinating missive from a man who, before becoming one of the highest paid and most successful magicians of his generation, was a back-stage assistant to both Herrmann and Kellar. Robinson was in a unique position to advise his friend Powell on the working of various tricks in that he had either devised, built, written about, or performed most of the great stage illusions of the generation. While in Kellar’s employ, Robinson undoubtedly became familiar with the Vanishing Lamp as Kellar purchased the prop from Willmann and regularly featured it in his program. Letters revealing the inner workings of Chung Ling Soo’s tricks are genuine rarities.