Some info on Herwin from the October 1948 "The Wizard":
CHATS FOR CONJURING COGNOSENTI
By WU LING (R. C. RITSON)
With STANLEY COLLINS as Collaborator and Editor.
During one's lifetime there accumulates a mass of various data, some of which is referred to as "Junk" by many persons; but to the true collector it is otherwise, for it is only by these records, so preserved, that we of the present era have been able to formulate some of the true historical records of the past. Often, while glancing through these items in my files, I come across oddments and other items that give a more or less true outline of the career of someone who might be one of the "Greats," while in many cases it might be someone who has, never managed to carve for himself a niche in the hall of fame. Often, these people and their records drift into oblivion.
One item that is of interest to me is that of the late Professor Herwin, and as I was very intimate with him, I would like to give a rough outline of his career.
Professor Herwin, whose real name was William Humpage, was born at Birmingham on October 31st, 1861, and at the age of fourteen he went to reside at Bristol. His contact with a man who had a knowledge of Magic made him very keen, and his first insight into the art was the vanish of a penny in a glass of water. His skill as a mechanic enabled him to make many effects, some of which were original. He gave us the metal thumb-tip with the nail design on same; also the Siberian Handcuff Trick and the Havit Coin Trick, so at any rate he can be well termed an
He helped Carl Stackman, who ran a Hall of Magic in Bristol, and was intimate with many old timers such as Dobler, Verbeck, etc. Later, he made many props for such famous people as the late Harry Houdini, Chung Ling Soo and Penstone, and his knowledge of the art was great.
After buying the original "Devil of a Hat" from the late C.O. Williams of Cardiff, he re-designed and improved all the original tables of Hartz. He presented this act at several small Music Halls and the photographs published here show the act at the start and also the finale. He was also constantly running into the "Spiritualists" for he presented an Anti-Spiritualistic act.
Herwin had a son, Charles, who at one time worked the Halls as "Carlini" with an act of Magic, Shadows and Chapeaugraphy, and he was intimate with and toured in the company of Charles Morritt.
Professor Herwin died at Sheffield, but his body was taken to Bristol for burial, and so ended, the career of one of the early magicians whose contribution to the art of magic was not in vain.
Also, some info on the creation of the thumb-tip from the December 1934 "The Magic Wand":
THE ORIGINAL THUMB-TIP.
A recent visit from Prof. Herwin, of Bristol, recalls the fact that he is the inventor of that useful gadget the thumbtip. Some time prior to 1885, Prof. Herwin, attaching a scrap of silk to the inside of a false finger, devised the wellknown "proof" that a silk is in the hand when the mouchoir has really disappeared. Then he thought of the thumb tip and it was one of the early models, if not the earliest, which was shown to us on its way to the museum of the Magic Circle, where that fake, which has helped to make many a magical reputation, now reposes.