ebooks and download videos
Home / Magic & Conjuring / Biographies & History

A Modern Mystery Merchant
by Carl Hertz

PDF | by download [4.25 MByte]  
A Modern Mystery Merchant by Carl Hertz

The trials, tricks and travels of Carl Hertz the famous American illusionist.

A highly readable and informative autobiography that takes Carl Hertz around the globe. Hertz was born as Leib Morgenstein in San Francisco, the son of Russian and Polish immigrants. He started with showbusiness in Northern California at a young age and had initially little success. Nevertheless, Carl Hertz went on to create a distinguished international career as a stage illusionist and debunker of fraudulent mediums and other scammers.

My boyhood - Fascination which conjuring has for me - I am discharged from a dry goods firm for performing conjuring tricks in business hours - I appear at an amateur performance and am a dismal failure - My sad experiences with touring companies - Notwithstanding the opposition of my parents, I decide to make conjuring my profession - I travel from San Francisco to Kansas City in search of an engagement - And arrive with twenty-five cents in my pocket, to find the theatre closed for three weeks - A friend in need - My interview with the manager of the Theatre Comique - I obtain an engagement on the reopening of the theatre - Kindness of my new friend, Hano, to me - My first performance - Its success leads to my securing a number of other engagements - Hano throws up his post as manager of a dry goods store and joins the profession - My meeting with him in New York twenty-five years later.

A serious illness - A strange coincidence - Unpleasant experiences at Philadelphia - My apparatus is destroyed in a fire - Kindness of a brother professional, who helps me out of my predicament - Another accident - Singular adventure at Montgomery City, Missouri, where I am arrested and imprisoned in mistake for another man - Ludicrous mishap while performing at Louisville.

I accept an engagement with a travelling circus - Serious accident to the circus trains on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad - Although only very slightly injured, I decide to try to obtain compensation from the railroad company - My modus operandi - My interview with the company's manager at Nashville - I am sent to be examined by a doctor, who discovers that my injuries are faked. At his request I give a private performance under an assumed name, at the Medical College - I receive $1,500 compensation from the railroad company - I go to New York and take an engagement at a variety theatre on the Bowery - Reply of the German proprietor to my request for my salary - I give a performance at William H. Vanderbilt's house on Fifth Avenue - A comedy of errors.

I sail for Liverpool on my first visit to England - My appearance at the Folly Theatre, Manchester - My great success - My disappearing cage and canary trick - I perform the trick at the offices of the R.S.P.C.A., in Jermyn Street, and successfully refute the charge of cruelty which has been brought against me in connection with it - My appearance at the Crystal Palace - Amusing incident with Mr. Clement Scott, the dramatic critic, at the Alhambra - Engagements at private houses - The house in Grosvenor Square - Conjuring entertainments and baccarat parties - Singular sequel - I give an entertainment at an evening party at Mr. Alfred de Rothschild's house in Seymour Place - A distinguished company - The Prince of Wales and the rabbit - Visit to Mr. Rothschild in the City - His cigars.

An adventure at Ascot - Mr. Jennings, of the Oxford Music Hall - I give an impromptu entertainment to fill a gap in the programme - Indignation of Mr. Jennings at my refusal to accept payment for my performance - The Vanishing Lady Illusion - Difficulty of finding a lady to assist me in this trick - I engage Mlle. D'Alton, who subsequently becomes my wife - Ludicrous misadventure of an illusionist while performing this trick at Plymouth - My provincial tours - Singular requests made to me by persons who imagine me to possess supernatural powers - I leave England on a tour through Germany and Austro-Hungary - Amusing incident at the Reichsallen Theatre, Berlin - The missing pocket-book - I give a performance before King Ludwig II. of Bavaria, who is the only person present - "Where are you, George?"

I sail for New York in s.s. City of Chicago - The young Englishman and the cardsharpers - I intervene, and the shearers are shorn - Sequel to this adventure - My American tour - The pigeon and the diamond ring - The hat and the cake - Singular misadventure while performing at San Francisco - My reputation is saved by the presence of mind of my assistant - A lucky chance enables me to perform a trick which is regarded as really marvellous - "He is coming! ... He is here! ... He has gone!" - The German proprietor and the red fire - I am the innocent cause of a young man being thrown over by his sweetheart, but succeed in reuniting the lovers - An audience of one - I perform card tricks for an hour at St. Louis to allow time for the rest of the company to arrive - I quell a racecourse riot - A facetious gentleman - Practical joke which I perpetrate at an hotel at Buffalo necessitates my abrupt departure from that town - Curious experience at Leadville, Colorado.

Madame O'Della Diss De Bar, the celebrated medium, is prosecuted for fraud - I am called as an expert witness at the trial, and perform all the medium's manifestations in open court - Madame Diss De Bar sentenced to two years' imprisonment - The Swami case in England - I communicate with Scotland Yard and Swami is identified with Madame Diss De Bar - Story of August and Adolphe - I sail for England - My interest in mesmerism - My first attempt to mesmerise a person - An alarming experience - I acquire proficiency - My experiments in mesmerism during the voyage to England - Donovan's Derby - The gentleman with the revolver - I make the acquaintance of an apparently wealthy young man, who persuades me to allow him to accompany me to the different halls at which I am performing - Presents of jewellery which he makes to a lady singer and myself - I receive a visit from two detectives, who inform me that the jewellery is stolen property.

I leave England on a tour of the Continent - The "Phoenix Illusion" - I accept an engagement to perform it at a music hall in Berlin on the understanding that the stage there is about to be rebuilt - On my arrival I find that the stage has not been altered, and is quite unsuitable - A noisy audience - I decline to continue to perform the illusion - Refusal of the management to pay me my full salary - But they are eventually compelled to do so - Unscrupulous treatment of foreign artists by German music-hall managers - Instances of this - I am engaged to introduce the "Phoenix Illusion" into a revue at the Eden Theatre, Paris - Refusal of Madam Granier, who plays the part of Jeanne d'Arc, to allow herself to be "burned" - Ingenious manner in which this difficulty is surmounted - A "Vanishing Lady" who did not reappear - A wealthy young woman with stage ambitions - I am engaged to instruct her in the performance of the "Phoenix Illusion" - Her failure - My tour in Spain - I perform before Queen Christina and King Alfonso - Visit to a bull-fight.

I sail for Australia - Trick which I play with a passenger's watch during the voyage - I open at the Opera House in Melbourne - A novel method of advertisement - After visiting the principal towns of Australia, I tour New Zealand - Amusing experience in the market at Auckland - I escape from an unpleasant predicament - I sail for San Francisco en route for England - The two priests - I detect one of them cheating at poker - With the consent of the other players, I manipulate the cards, and he loses heavily - His money is subsequently returned to him with a sharp lecture - On reaching San Francisco, I learn that he is a cardsharper in disguise - England again - Sad experiences of my friend G. W. Hunter and myself at the Liverpool Autumn Meeting of 1892 - Vanishing gentlemen - Herbert Campbell's watch.

A little game of "Nap" - "Carl Hertz, the King of Cards" - Laughable incident on the way to Newmarket - I produce my "Vanity Fair" Illusion at the Empire - The Irish parlour-maid - "What's the good of me clothes!" - Provincial tour - I produce "Yum Yum, or the Pagoda Mystery" at the Palace Theatre, and "Noah's Ark" at the Alhambra - Tour in the North of England - Strange adventures of a pig - Mishap with a "cannon-ball" at the Empire.

I leave England for New York to fulfil an engagement at Oscar Hammerstein's new theatre on Broadway - Hammerstein's wagers - His extraordinary versatility - I return to England and prepare to start on a tour of South Africa - The cinematograph - Difficulty in procuring a machine to take with me - I sail for South Africa in the Norman and give the first cinematograph performance ever given at sea - Troublous times in South Africa - My adventures with Boer officials at Vereeniging - Arrival in Johannesburg - An expensive bath - Scene in the theatre on the night of the release of the Reformers who had been sentenced to death - Success of the cinematograph - In order to show fresh pictures, I make use of Kinetoscope films - Racing at Auckland Park - A bet of £10 to a cigarette won by the punter - Barney Barnato - Anecdotes of him - A "Johnny" plays poker.

Continuation of my South African tour - I sail for Australia - Huge success of the cinematograph at Melbourne - I am summoned for permitting overcrowding in the theatre - Visit to New Zealand - I buy a derelict steamer by way of advertisement - The cockatoo of Charters Towers - I return to Australia and set out from Perth with a caravan of twenty camels on a tour through West Australia - Fatigues and discomforts of travel through this waterless country - Improvised theatres in mining-camps - Seats paid for with gold dust and nuggets - Liberality of the miners - My adventure with the Bushmen - Arrival at Coolgardie - A "sacred" illusion show - I sail for Ceylon.

Refusal of the manager of the Novelty Theatre, Bombay, to give me another date, notwithstanding the fact that the plague is raging there - I decide to open on the date I have booked and sail for Bombay - Notwithstanding the epidemic, we play to packed houses - Method by which the theatre is darkened to allow of the cinematograph being shown at a matinée - Extraordinary cheapness of native labour - Continuation of my Indian tour - The Fakirs and their tricks - The Mango Trick - The Rope Trick - Version of the latter trick performed by me - My opinion of Indian conjurers.

Burma - Singapore - Manila - Return to Singapore - Java - I fall ill of malaria at Batavia - "The Actors' Graveyard" - I receive an invitation to journey to Borneo to perform before a wealthy Dyak Rajah in the northern provinces - After some hesitation, I accept and sail for Borneo - Journey into the interior - The Rajah's "palace" - Visit to the town - A Dyak house - Human skulls, trophies of head-hunting - Appearance of the Dyaks - Their dress - Their ornaments - Terrible mutilation of the ear - The Rajah and his daughter - First performance - The Dyaks' manner of applause - Second performance - I am requested by the Rajah to defer my departure - The princess smiles - I receive a message from the Rajah offering me his daughter's hand in marriage - I decline the proposition, on the ground that my religion does not permit me to have more than one wife - The Rajah proposes that I shall change my religion - Serious situation in which I am placed - I feign acquiescence and resolve to effect my escape by the exercise of my art - My plan - Its success - A night in a property-basket.

Singapore again - Saigon - Terrific heat - Flying-bats in the theatre - Hong-Kong - Shanghai - Performances in the Chinese city - Burning crackers to drive the devil away - Great success of my entertainment with the Celestials - Canton - My manager employs a hose against the Chinese who are endeavouring to get a free sight of the performance - We are besieged in the theatre - Sad fate of a favourite dog - We sail for Japan - A typhoon - On our arrival at Nagasaki we are placed in quarantine - An unpleasant fortnight - We are liberated and proceed to Kobe - Embarrassing experience while taking a bath at Kioto - Remark of Arthur Roberts on hearing of this - A Japanese dinner-party - Sad effect of drinking saki - The cherry dance at Kioto - Danjaro, the Henry Irving of Japan - His wonderful acting - Japanese and Chinese theatres - Fires in Japan - Fiji - Honolulu - We sail for San Francisco en route for England - Invaluable assistance rendered me by my wife during my tour in the Antipodes and the East.

I buy a film of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight - It proves to be a fake - I determine to get my money back - A risky experiment, which, however, is attended with success - Return to England - I take a house at Brixton Hill - My curio room - I meet with a serious accident while rehearsing at the Metropolitan Music Hall and am unable to perform for three months - I present "Iris, the Mystic Cameleon," at the Empire.

I leave England on a tour of Germany, Italy and France - Command performance before the Kaiser at Potsdam - Present which I receive from the "All-Highest" - The accommodating railway official at Dusseldorf - An unpleasant surprise - A packed house at Lucca - I learn after the performance that it is three parts "paper" - An unclaimed set of artificial teeth - Performance in a half-finished theatre at Turin - Singular adventure of one of my assistants during my engagement at the Folies-Bergères in Paris - Return to London - "The Demon, or Magic Kettle" at the Canterbury - Difficulties which I experience in procuring the liquid air required for this - Fortunate chance through which I am able to surmount them.

Engagement at Copenhagen - My exposure of a well-known medium - On my return to London I receive news of the serious illness of my father and sail, with my wife, for New York en route for San Francisco - At a wayside station on the Union Pacific we learn of the San Francisco earthquake - We are obliged to remain the night at Oakland, which is crowded with refugees from the stricken city - We obtain permission to go to San Francisco - Appalling scenes of destruction - I find, to my intense relief, that my relatives are safe - We are obliged to remain in San Francisco for two months - The scenes in Golden Gate Park - A strange meeting - Death of my father - We leave for New York - Engagements there and at Chicago - Singular story of a cardsharper - We return to England - My second tour in South Africa - Nervous breakdown, which obliges me to spend some weeks at Las Palmas and Madeira.

I visit Vienna and Berlin and then proceed to Moscow - Russian music-halls - A generous prince - Religious character of the Russians in those days - Objections to an illusion of mine called "The Sign of the Cross" - I am obliged to change the cross into a tree - St. Petersburg - Command performance before the Czar and Czarina - Present of a cigarette-case - Racing in Russia - Tip which I receive from an American trainer - A nice little win - Riot on the racecourse - Return to England - Another Continental tour - Fire at the Eldorado Theatre at Nice - My first visit to Monte Carlo - I am ordered to leave the Rooms - Interview with the Director, who explains to me the reason for this - Further experiences at Monte Carlo - Engagement at the Alhambra in Paris - Harry Fragson - Incident at the Bal Tabarin - Fragson's unfortunate infatuation - His tragic death - An autographed cigarette-case - The Great Lafayette and his dog "Beauty" - Terrible fate of Lafayette - His funeral - Chung Ling Soo.

The Continent again - Racing at Vienna - A lucky mistake - "The horse with the pretty colours" - 1914 - The outbreak of war finds my wife and myself at Ostend - Difficulty of getting back to England - Refusal of a South Wales manager to allow me to fulfil an engagement at his theatre on the ground that I am a German - I bring an action against him and win it - Performance which I give in hospitals during the war - Tour in France and Belgium in 1919 - Visit to Ireland - I decline to continue a performance in Dublin owing to the conduct of the audience - The Lord Mayor's motor-car.

Prosecution of the Vaudeville Club for permitting poker to be played there - I visit the secretaries of the principal London clubs and raise a fund to fight the case - It is decided that poker is not an unlawful game - Amusing incident during the trial of the case - Jokes played by the members of the Vaudeville Club upon one another - The Performing Animals Bill - I am summoned as a witness before the Select Committee appointed by the House of Commons - Repetition of the charge of cruelty in connection with my cage and canary trick - I smuggle cage and bird into the committee room and am allowed to perform the trick - Amusing account of this incident in the Daily Express - Remarks on the training of animals - Mr. Bostock's bear and the policeman - Mr. Ginnett and the lioness - The Wild Australia Show - Bonita, the rifle-shot, and her two suitors - A race for a wife.

Devices of cardsharpers and other swindlers - The Three Card Trick - The Top and Bottom Dice Game - The Strap Game - The Padlock Game - The Dummy Bags - Finding the Ace - The Swindle Trick - The so-called mystery of Mind-Reading - Claims of its exponents to the possession of occult powers exposed - An exhibition of mind-reading by myself - How the tests were performed - P - - , the Chicago mind-reader - His exposure by Dr. Gatchell.

Experiments apparently simple, but actually very difficult - The cork and the bottle - The finger-tips - The silk cigar-band - The silk hat and the pack of cards - The reel of cotton, the pins and the penny - The clenched fists - Some amusing card tricks - Cartomancy, or divination by playing-cards.

Difficulty which I experience in observing the practices of the Jewish religion while travelling in remote parts of the world - I keep the Day of Atonement twice over in Queensland, owing to having mistaken the date on the first occasion - A Jewish service and a dancing class held simultaneously in the same hall in Honolulu - I commemorate the anniversary of my father's death with the help of Chinese Jews - Curious experiences with my assistants - A singular epistle - My reply - Episode of a lost diamond stud.

A few stories - The electric chair - Too much of a good thing - The Scotsman's cigars - A belated performance - "Pinch the baby!" - "Blackleg" elephants - The frown of Mr. Snelbecker - A singular orchestra - A dressing-room incident - "Ain't they on speaking terms?" - "The Bucket of Blood" - Conjurers' blunders.

1st edition 1924, 319 pages; PDF 231 pages.
word count: 110042 which is equivalent to 440 standard pages of text