This is an obscure but extremely fine lesson in conjuring. It is true that it was written as an introduction for the neophyte, but it is a gem of a book of great value to absolutely anyone regardless of their experience.
The text is very modest - no 'latest novelty' or 'top secret'. Just solid sensible counsel about standard, albeit classic, items from Devant's repertoire. Devant is not simply saying what you might want to hear, he is telling you what he has found to be important. He is treating you the way he would treat a private student. For a book this is quite unusual. Most authors hold back, except for their private students and personal friends.
David Devant's position in England was, for several decades, closely comparable to that of Harry Kellar in the United States; for he was recognized by both his colleagues and the general public as unquestionably the country's greatest magician. But he was, in addition, the author of many books, and (following a regrettably early retirement from the professional stage by reason of illness) a personal teacher of those who sought expert instruction in magic.
His Lessons in Conjuring is a little book of 152 pages, illustrated and bound in stiff boards, which was first published in 1922. It is divided into seventeen short chapters, each of which deals with a single, complete trick. The tricks are not new; they are, almost without exception, of the tried-and-true type, and all the better on that account. Among them are The Thirty Card Trick, The Cards Up The Sleeve (12 pages), The Diminishing Cards, The Coin and Envelopes (16 pages), The Multiplication of Money, The Dyed Handkerchiefs (invented by Mr. Devant in 1893, and no less effective in 1942), The Handkerchiefs and Soup Plate, The Egg Bag (9 pages), The Ropes and Rings (13 pages), The Cups and Balls (19 pages), and so on.
These, we assert without fear of refutation, are some of the finest things in magic. Here is excellent material for five or six club acts (or for a couple of programs each an hour in length) which, if adequately presented, will stand comparison with the best that is being shown today. Here, too, are the instructions that will enable the student to make these feats his own; for David Devant is never content merely to tell how tricks are done - he teaches his readers to do them, which is true only of the best writers on magic. He keeps the plot simple, so that neither the performer nor the audience is confused by a multiplicity of complications. In many instances, he gives bits of patter that are delightfully humorous and may safely be used before groups of intelligent ladies and gentlemen. And throughout the book are the unmistakable signs that the author knows what he is talking about, that his observations have grown out of years of actual stage experience.
This is a book that belongs in every magician's library. We doubt that there is any serious performer, amateur or professional, young or old, who could not benefit by a careful study of these "lessons." Seldom do magicians have an opportunity to get so much for so little.