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John Nevil Maskelyne

John Nevil Maskelyne

(22nd December 1839 - 18th May 1917)

Born in Cheltenham, England. Founded the great Maskelyne dynasty of English magicians. He got his start exposing the spiritism performance of the Davenport brothers. His performing partner was George Cooke. He opened the Egyptian Hall in London, a showplace for magic and illusion performances, and operated it for thirty years. In partnership with David Devant, he then opened St. George's Hall, a similar venue. A feisty personality, he was involved in two nasty and noteworthy lawsuits. The first involved a claim that Maskelyne had not exactly duplicated the feats of a spirit medium and was therefore not entitled to the challenge money offered. The second suit involved his attempt to stop two other magicians from performing a box escape similar to the one in his show; this suit was dropped when Maskelyne refused to reveal the secret of the escape to the court.

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John Nevil Maskelyne
Sharps and Flats: A Complete Revelation of The Secrets of Cheating at Games of Chance and Skill by John Nevil Maskelyne

Sharps and Flats is probably the most important early book on cheating devices and methods. Sharps being the cheaters and flats being the cheated, the mark. Maskelyne details among others, marked cards, holdouts (Kepplinger holdout), reflectors and manipulation. He describes not just cheating at the card table but also cheating with dice, cheating at Sporting houses, and at Roulette. The book is very thorough with many wonderful illustrations.

1st edition, 1894, Longmans, Green and Co., New York and London; reprinted, Gamblers Book Club, Las Vegas; 335 pages.

  1. Preface to the Second Edition ...
2005 / 9 / 5

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