David Bamberg (Fu Manchu) credited the original course with making him the success he was.
You will get the original correspondence course of 60 lessons. (For an additional lesson, the one post graduate lesson see Tarbell Post-Graduate Service in Magic No. 1). These 60 lessons are not identical to the later published anthologies (book volumes 1-8 of which only 1-5 were actually written by Tarbell himself; the other volumes were added later under the Tarbell Course name mainly for marketing purposes). For the most part, the 60 lessons can be found under different lesson numbers and sometimes different headings in the volumes 1 to 5 of the books. The post graduate lesson was reprinted in book volume 8. There are some parts from the original 60 lessons that you will not find anywhere in the eight book volumes.
The 60 lessons are laid out with a lot of thought. You learn not just the moves and principles, but the history of magic, ethics, how to market yourself and patter to each trick. In one sentence a unique book sitting on the peak of the pile of magic literature.
Reviewed by Grandpa Chet
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!] Date Added: Friday 17 October, 2008
Not only do I agree with previous reviewers, I think this - the original course - would be a better course of study than the hardback books. True, there is more in eight volumes of hardbacks - but they do not have the careful linear learning that the original course had - and still has. That is, everything builds on what precedes it. This course will start you off either teaching you the basics or correcting any bad habits you have. It entirely depends on where you are in your current knowledge and skill. And then it builds - and builds - and builds.
Lest you think this course is only for beginners, let it be noted that the great Fu Manchu (David Bamberg), disappointed by magic and not wanting to imitate his father, was about to quit magic when Dr Tarbell sent him a copy of this very course. David studied the course lesson by lesson, and built up an act from the early lessons. From there, he built up a larger act from the later lessons. Eventually, he received backing to put on a full illusion stage show -- and he built that stage show from lessons in this course. And he never forgot the lessons on showmanship, acting, publicity, advertising (He would later speak of how he took Dr Tarbell's samples and used them almost verbatim!), and audience direction that he learned from this course.
He had one of the most successful acts to date, and his name was synonymous with entertainment in South America.
Thirty-nine bucks? Each lesson is more valuable than almost every single item in the Lybrary.com catalog. But even if one undervalued each lesson at $10.00 apiece, you would get something like $700.00 worth of working material from this course.
Reviewed by Chris Bays
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!] Date Added: Tuesday 08 November, 2005
An excellent buy. Not only searchable but highly portable. I've used this version more than the volumes that came later. For anyone in magic you can't go wrong with Tarbell.
Reviewed by Jeff Suter
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!] Date Added: Tuesday 06 September, 2005
Let’s look at why this product impressed me.
Two words...SEARCH ENGINE
If you already own the books, this feature alone is worth the price of the CD. Looking for silk routines in Tarbell but don’t want to go through every book? SEARCH ENGINE baby! This is awesome. I’m still going through my coin search (I think it came up with 150 pages!)
Now, the other feature that I thought was extremely cool is the Digital Facsimile feature. What’s that? Let’s say your on a page in the HTML format...want to see what that page looked like in the original book? Hit the digital facsimile button. Now you looking at a digital scan of the actual page. Very cool for the folks who don’t own the books. It must have been a daunting task to scan all of those pages and is certainly worthy of an honorable mention.
Overall, the quality is great, the technology is well done and what can I say about the search engine except brilliant! All of that for 37 bucks, and you have quite an impressive combination at a very affordable price.
Reviewed by Steve Vaughn
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!] Date Added: Tuesday 06 September, 2005
Most of you are familiar with The Tarbell Course in Magic and many of you, as I do, have the set of books put out comprised of the material found in the original course plus a couple other volumes put together after the death of Tarbell. For those not hip to Tarbell here is a quick history. Back in the 1920's a publisher wanted Houdini to produce a course in magic that would be mailed to students in increments. As often happens Houdini didn't mind having his name associated with the project but didn't want to do the work himself. The gentlemen behind the project then asked Harland Tarbell, a magician and artist, if he would produce the magic course for them. Harlan did as requested, Houdini was out of the picture, and the course was released as the Tarbell Course. The methods of advertizing and how the course was ran is very interesting in itself. The benefit of the Tarbell Course was the student would receive their work for the week and progress through the courses. The quality of the art and instructions as well as the routines themselves were very high and this is evidenced today by many request for information being followed with "It's in Tarbell". If you were to really get down to business and want to learn magic the Tarbell Course is, and I doubt anyone with knowledge will disagree, a must for the collection of any serious magician. I collected mine a number of years ago, 8 volumes at over $30.00 a volume. I've read the complete set a couple times and cannot count how often I've turned to them for information.
Tarbell wrote his course over a period of years and he had contribution from everyone from Houdini to Dai Vernon. Charlie Miller, Blackstone, Keller, Silent Mora, and more all represented in the original course. In the later volumes written by Harry Loryne (and NOT in the ebook version as you'll note later, which is no biggie) even has a routine by a young Davino, later to become David Copperfield. The course covers the obvious such as sleight of hand, cards, coins, rope, egg magic, chemical magic, silks, escapes, mentalism, and also has a good number of illusions that are often the foundation of those you see on stage today. You will find some of the material dated, some out and out unperformable (routine wise) with todays sensativities. That is not a bad thing because if you have some creativity, and you should, you can take and should take the routines and make them fit your performance style and character. The course also includes some excellent essays on magic history and presentation, some of the best I've read.
I think I've made it clear that I think Tarbell is a fantastic resource for the magician and I prize my set. Now let us look at the eBook version.
This is my first experience with eBooks, brought to you by www.lybrary.com, you may have heard of them, they preserve magic one book at a time you know. That is a good thing because they are giving new life to books that deserve to be read and used and in a format that is perfect for magic. I say perfect because these books, for the most part, are segmented and rather than reading line a novel you go to a certain item and review it and look at the illustrations. The Tarbell Course on eBook is based on the original correspondence course and not the books. The books are laid out a bit differently but the eBook is just as you would have received it back in 1932 when you were a magi in training. You get to look at the original text, meaning the bad font and all that, or the cleaner modern font version. All with Tarbells excellent illustrations.
I've never done the eBook thing before but after 10 minutes of hacking around the computer I got the ebook up and running. The course can be accessed in order (as mailed back in da day) or by title as broken down into catagory. I had no problem cruising around and looking at old gems. This is so nice to work with I think I'll be looking at the e version quite a bit. This version has all the original material including the essays. You will not be dissappointed. The cost for the entire Tarbel Course (excluding the later two volumes, which was really more like 1.3 volumes) on ebook is just a tad bit more than one of the 8 hard copies would cost you. That means it is one heck of a cost efficient way to have access to some great magic. I give the e version (as well as the hard version) a thumbs up. The benefits of the e version are ease of use and cost. Recommended at www.lybrary.com and I think that is the only place to find it.
Reviewed by Monk Chuck
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!] Date Added: Tuesday 30 August, 2005
The greatness of this disk is threefold...
1. Conservation of bookshelf space
2. The searching ability
3. Access to effects that have been overlooked for years making them fresh today!