This is truly an encyclopedic work including sleight of hand manipulation with cigarettes as well as all gimmicks, all explained with more than 300 photos. Pretty much everything that is to know about this subject is included in this ebook. Produce lit cigarettes endlessly, crush a burning cigarette in your hand and have it vanish and a lot more.
This comprehensive work on the technique of cigarette manipulation first made its appearance in 1937, and fairly promptly went out of print. Despite this indication of a good demand for the book, it was not reprinted until 1952, and then by a new publisher. Though the new, second edition shows some changes from the first, they are relatively so slight that the 1952 book was not reset in type but reproduced by offset printing. Modifications that we have observed in the new edition include a moderate number of editorial changes (bringing the biographical and historical material up to date, but not correcting all of the old typographical errors), the substitution of a few new photographs for older ones, the deletion of several items and expansion of others, and the addition of a new chapter, with a net increase of a half-dozen pages over the former total of 298.
This brief comparison of the 1937 and 1952 books leads to two conclusions - first, that Mr. Clark did an extraordinarily thorough piece of writing fifteen years ago; and, second, that owners of the first edition will scarcely need to buy the second, unless they happen to be book collectors who of course must have every edition of every work! Going a step further, and having in mind the enormous amount of practicable material contained in this genuinely encyclopedic treatise, we do not see how any true lover and performer of cigarette magic could find life worth living, or treat his audiences as magic audiences deserve to be treated, without making a serious study of the book and thus improving his performance.
What some readers will be looking for but will not find in this book is a specific, detailed, ready-made routine which they can take over bodily and make their own. But Mr. Clark will have none of this. "l will not yield," he writes, "to the temptation to make an easy success with readers of the illogical or unthinking varieties by merely describing a few ready-made production systems and going into infinite details about them which would be superfluous to any reader knowing his magic. Such routines can generally be worked out easily and, if the reader has any sense, as easily discarded and abandoned. They do not pay any dividends nor even reimburse him for his expenses, to say nothing of the precious time wasted and of the high hopes crushed at the first attempt of public performance of these pipe-dream routines."
So the book remains in its second edition, as it was in its first, essentially an encyclopedia of sleights, and not of tricks and routines - but of sleights so abundant, varied, and amply described that it would be a dull wizard indeed who could not choose from among them those that appealed to him most strongly, build them into a unified whole, and thus have (by reason of this expenditure of effort) a routine peculiarly suited to his personal tastes and capabilities, and even distinguished by a trace of originality. Here are 183 sleights clearly explained, here are described the mechanical "aids" to cigarette-manipulation which the student may decide for himself to adopt or reject, here is professional advice on misdirection, presentation, and the way to go about constructing a routine to fit one's individual idiosyncrasies. Here, in short, is the information needed to turn a reader into a first-rate cigarette-manipulator - provided he is willing to do some thinking and practicing in order to achieve that goal.
As a piece of bookmaking, we find the new edition somewhat less pleasing than the old. We prefer the ivory-tinted paper of the original book; the use of photographic illustrations actually printed from halftone cuts on coated-paper inserts, instead of the less distinct reproductions of the present volume; and the more attractive binding of even the "regular" 1937 edition - for there was also in 1937 a "de luxe" edition, bound in gold-stamped full leather cover. But these are minor shortcomings, which do not in any way lessen the practical worth of the Encyclopedia of Cigarette Tricks, a work that will doubtless remain the outstanding textbook on cigarette conjuring for at least another fifteen years.