Alexander Heimburger was an exceptionally successful German illusionist who frequently was billed as "Alexander the Conjurer". He enjoyed a brief but successful career that started in 1838 and included numerous tours of Europe, South America and the United States.
Heimburger was the first magician to be invited to perform for the President of the United States at the White House; that president was James Polk and the year was 1845.
The New York Tribune published an article about Heimburger, complete with a drawing of him in Chinese costume, producing large bowls of water. This was long before Ching Ling Foo made his reputation with the similar Goldfish Bowl trick.
P.T. Barnum approached Heimburger with an offer to appear in his dime museum, but Heimburger turned him down; Barnum was charging only 25 cents to see his entire show, while Heimburger was already charging- and getting- 50 cents admission to his show.
Samuel Morse also approached Heimburger with an offer to buy the secret of his famous Spirit Bell trick (the bell rang all by itself, as if by ghostly hand), believing that the secret had to be a scientific marvel rather than merely a magic trick.
Heimburger was so financially successful that he was able to retire in 1854, at age 35.
Many years later, in 1903 and 1904, a young Harry Houdini spent time with Heimburger in Germany, listening to his stories and memories about his years in magic. Heimburger made such an impression on Houdini that he included the meetings in his book, The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin. Heimburger also gifted Houdini with many rare magic programs.
Credit: This biography originated on MagicTricks.com. Please credit this source if you use this information.