In general magic books cover a certain subject area. Here a slice through time is offered. The 'Magic Annual' describes the best and most popular effects from one year. (There is a second volume in this series Magic Annual 1938-1939.)
Max Holden writes in the introduction: "Some of the items are new, some are old tricks given a novel twist, while other effects, although known in a general way, are now published in detail for the first time - among these latter, the Hugard Fire Eating Act, Hugard's Bullet Catching Feat and my own presentation of Smoke Pictures. Jean Hugard has given his best, as usual, and I am especially indebted to Daniel Dew whose contribution, 'Walking Through a String of Beads,' is one of the cleverest illusions to be brought out in many a day."
When an author has written as many books as Jean Hugard, it is inevitable that some should receive smaller recognition than they deserve. This, we suggest, has been the fate of Hugard's Annual of Magic for 1937 and Hugard's Annual of Magic for 1938-1939, two volumes which we shall examine in the present review and the one that follows.
The 1937 Annual consists of 65 items, which carry the reader into many fields of magic. Sleights and tricks with cigars, cigarettes, coins, cards, silk handkerchiefs, billiard balls, and numerous other articles are presented clearly and interestingly, with the aid of many helpful drawings by Nelson Hahne - an artist who also contributes to this volume a half-dozen "comic strips" that amusingly portray the trials and tribulations of a magician!
The specific tricks in this Annual include pouring cigar smoke from glass to glass (which we have seen presented with weird effect by William Frazee); the manipulation and multiplication of cigarettes; the familiar Multiplication of Money, but performed this time without a mechanical tray; a coin trick by Jess Kelly and L. L. Ireland, in which a borrowed half-dollar is apparently converted into a nickel, after which the performer mysteriously produces the missing "change" in the form of a stream of forty-five pennies; Touch, a card prediction by Paul Curry (of Out of This World fame), which Mr. Hugard says "is undoubtedly the best trick introduced in many moons" - and we are inclined to agree; G. W. Hunter's Twelve Card Transposition; The Knock-Out Card Trick, by Sam Horowitz; a very ingenious card "force" by Leon Maguire; G. W. Hunter's very smooth Silk Routine; sleights and three complete "routines" with billiard balls; and a host of lesser items which include a half-dozen "useful gimmicks" and twice that number of impromptu tricks.
Among the more important feats here explained are Mr. Hugard's own presentation of the beautiful Floating Ball, described in seven pages of text with explanatory diagrams; Fire Eating, again Hugard's own tried-and-true method, and again accorded seven pages of explanation; Max Holden's detailed description (six pages) of his well-known Smoke Pictures; The Ropes, Fan, and Silks, which was presented on the stage with great effect by Dante; The Twentieth Century Spirit Séance, which employs the principle used in the Walking Away From His Shadow illusion; The Production of Real Cannon-Balls (not very clearly explained) of the late Owen Clark; Walking Through a String of Beads; and Mr. Hugard's version of the Bullet-Catching Trick, to which are given seven pages of print and illustrations.
Hugard's Annual of Magic for 1937 is a volume of 141 pages (or, more accurately, of 130 pages since the text begins on page 11); it is well printed on good paper, and is substantially and attractively bound in maroon fabrikoid, with gold stamping on both front cover and "spine." In our opinion, it was excellent value at the original price of three dollars. Bargain hunters will find it doubly so now that the price has been cut in half.