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Biographies & History

Magic has a rich and long history. You will read fascinating stories about Houdini, Robert-Houdin and their predecessors, or about long forgotten inventors of today's popular tricks. Maybe you have seen the movie "The Illusionist" or "The Prestige" and want to find out more about magic and some of the tricks from the movies. Here is a great place to start to wet your appetite and then later you can dive into the methods and how to ebooks.

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Displaying 1 to 20 (of 139 products) Pages:  1  2  3  4  5 ...  > 

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Author
Listed Price 
Richard Hatch

Searching for Erdnase by Richard HatchThis article succinctly critiques the Milton Franklin Andrews case, and introduces us to two at the time new suspects, James DeWitt Andrews and Edwin Sumner Andrews.

This article first appeared in the 1999 December issue of Magic Magazine, except for this release Richard Hatch added two pages introductory notes to better frame his article in the historical context of the hunt for Erdnase.

1st edition 1999 (intro 2021), PDF 16 pages.

2021 / 1 / 21
$4.99

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John King van Rensselaer

Prophetical, Educational and Playing Cards by John King van RensselaerThis work explores the history, meaning, and uses of playing cards.

From the foreword:

If an apology is needed for writing again on the subject of playing cards, the excuse may be offered that new lights have been turned on the subject, so that there is fresh information to lay before the public, derived from a close and exhaustive study of the European libraries and museums, as well as of the pictures on the Playing Cards themselves or prints found in those repositories, and also in the collection owned by the writer; for these speak their histories to those who regard their symbols with...
2021 / 1 / 2
$10.00

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Barton Whaley & Martin Gardner & Jeff Busby

The Man Who Was Erdnase by Barton Whaley & Martin Gardner & Jeff BusbyThis book won the SAM Special Library Award. It details Martin Gardner's, Jeff Busby's and Bart Whaley's search to uncover the person hiding behind the pseudonym S.W. Erdnase. It lays out in detail the case for Milton Franklin Andrews. It describes the life of Andrews, how he started with magic, and how he transitioned to become a cardshark, including his travels around the word hustling and cheating to make a living.

A detailed analysis of Erdnase's likely sources and inspirations, as well as other information about the book, its reprints, and other pertinent information will help every Erdnase researcher....

2020 / 12 / 29
$45.00

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Harry P. Bowman

As Told On A Sunday Run by Harry P. BowmanA collection of basic information about circuses small and big, their names and when they were in operation.
  • War Time Circus
  • Shows Harry Bowman was connected with
  • Famous Firsts in Circus History
  • Circus Wrecks and Accidents
  • Circuses and Tent Shows (in alphabetical order)

1st edition 1942, 31 pages; PDF 75 pages.

2020 / 12 / 3
$10.00

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Thomas Carlyl

Count Cagliostro by Thomas CarlylThis is Thomas Carlyle's long essay on Count Cagliostro, published in 1833 in Fraser's Magazine. He is examining the hero and his shadows - what was false about Cagliostro. Cagliostro was a Sicilian mountebank, whose lasting notoriety was a bit part in the Diamond Necklace Affair that rocked pre-Revolutionary France, and whose most enduring work was the confession extracted by the Roman Inquisition, a tome published in 1792, three years previous to Cagliostro's demise in an Inquisitional cell.

1st edition 1833, 61 pages; PDF 42 pages.

2020 / 10 / 15
$5.00

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Henry Ridgely Evans

The Napoleon Myth by Henry Ridgely Evans(We are carrying this ebook primarily because of the author, Henry Ridgeley Evans, who published several interesting books on conjuring.)

On its face the book is about the myth that Napoleon never existed. It was at one time a popular myth, hoax, or fake news as it would be called today. It also provides interesting lessons and insights on how myths can develop. Since there are a number of myths in the world of conjuring, this work can help one understand why and how some of the myths in magic may have developed.

  • Introduction
  • Grand Erratum. The Non-Existence of Napoleon Proved
  • The Mythical...
2020 / 10 / 15
$5.00

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Ed. S. Taylor

The History of Playing Cards by Ed. S. TaylorIncludes chapters on conjuring, fortune-telling and card-sharping.
  • Preface
  • Part The First. The History Of Cards
    • I. Introduction
    • II. Oriental Origin Of Cards
    • III. Introduction Of Cards Into Southern Europe
    • IV. Date Of Introduction Of Cards
    • V. Introduction Of Cards Into France
    • VI. The Cards Of Charles VI
    • VII. Invention Of The French Cards And Game Of Piquet
    • VIII. Cards In England
    • IX. History Of Tarots, As Told By Themselves
    • X. Modern History Of French And English Cards
    • XI. The Application Of Cards To Science
    • XII. Card Miscellanies
  • Part The Second. Card Playing And Card Players...
2020 / 9 / 3
$10.00

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W. R. H. Trowbridge

Cagliostro: The Splendour and Misery of a Master of Magic by W. R. H. TrowbridgeThis is a very good book on Cagliostro, because Trowbridge does not simply parrot the opinion of other authors who wrote about Cagliostro, but he did his own research and came to his own conclusions. One can certainly argue about some of Trowbridge's conclusions, but overall this is a very thorough and detailed description and analysis of Cagliostro's life.
  • Preface
  • Bibliography
  • Part I
    • Chapter I: The Power Of Prejudice
    • Chapter II: Giuseppe Balsamo
  • Part II
    • Chapter I: Cagliostro In London
    • Chapter II: Eighteenth Century Occultism
    • Chapter III: Masked And Unmasked
    • Chapter IV: The...
2020 / 8 / 16
$10.00

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Henry Ridgely Evans

Cagliostro and His Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry by Henry Ridgely EvansEvans raises the possibility that Cagliostro's real name might not have been Giuseppe Balsamo, as well as describes his Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry.
  • Introduction
  • PART I.—A Master Of Magic
  • PART II.—The Egyptian Rite
  • PART III.—A Visit To The House Of Cagliostro
  • PART IV.—Reception Of An Apprentice In An Egyptian Lodge
1st edition 1919, 26 pages; PDF 37 pages.
2020 / 8 / 5
$5.00

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Henry Ridgely Evans

Cagliostro by Henry Ridgely EvansCount Alessandro di Cagliostro, by real name Giuseppe Balsamo, was an Italian occultist, mentalist and magician, who managed to achieve entry into the royal courts of Europe where he practiced various occult arts, mentalism, magic, alchemy, etc. His fame continued beyond his death, but eventually he was labeled a charlatan. Regardless of how one wants to portrait Cagliostro, there is a lot magicians and mentalists can learn from him and his exploits.
  • Proem
  • I. A Master of Magic
  • II. The Conjurer and the Cardinal
  • III. The Affair of the Diamond Necklace
  • IV. The Downfall of the Grand Cophta ...
2020 / 7 / 25
$7.00

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Henry Ridgely Evans

Adventures in Magic by Henry Ridgely EvansFrom the Foreword:
Some years ago I went to see a performance by the late Imro Fox, a clever conjurer, that pleased me very much. The curtain rose on a gloomy cavern, in the middle of which stood a smoking caldron, fed by witches à la Macbeth. An aged necromancer, habited in a long robe covered with cabalistic characters, entered. He went through certain incantations, whereupon hosts of demons appeared and danced a weird ceremonial dance about the caldron. Suddenly, amid a crash of thunder and a blinding flash of lightning, the wizard’s cave was metamorphosed into a twentieth century drawing-room,...
2020 / 7 / 12
$10.00

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Henry Ridgely Evans

Some Rare Old Books on Conjuring and Magic by Henry Ridgely EvansFrom the introduction:
Magic has been divided into (1) White Magic, or the evocation of angels and beneficent powers; (2) Black Magic, or the summoning of demons; and (3) Natural Magic, or feats performed by dexterity and mechanical appliances, etc. Although believing implicitly in white magic and black magic, the medicine men, spirit doctors, and hierophants of olden times did not disdain to use natural means also to overawe and surprise their votaries.

...

With the passing of so-called genuine magic or sorcery we see the rise of natural magic and conjuring. In the Middle Ages conjurers...

2020 / 7 / 12
$6.00

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Arthur Watson

Conjurers by Arthur WatsonA very interesting article about early conjuring, conjurers, books and manuscripts. Includes detailed research on how the term 'hocus pocus' came about.
Up to about the end of the sixteenth century, the wonderful was by preference regarded as magical—as the work of supernatural powers, good or bad, but mostly bad. A puzzling phenomenon, the explanation of which was not obvious, was generally regarded as due to the invocation of powers above the natural. Many of the feats ascribed to demoniacal or divine aid are such as we know to be similar to the tricks included in the conjurer’s repertory....
2020 / 6 / 28
$5.00

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Henry Ridgely Evans

History of Conjuring and Magic by Henry Ridgely EvansHenry Ridgely Evans provides an account of the history of conjuring, from ancient Egypt through the Middle Ages and into the 20th century. He develops biographical portraits of many well-known magicians and includes descriptions of their acts. Perhaps the most unusual feature of the work is that at the very end he includes photos of the hands of many famous magicians.

From the Proem:

With the passing of so-called genuine magic or sorcery we see the rise of natural magic and conjuring. In the Middle Ages conjurers were mere strolling mountebanks who exhibited their feats at fairs, in barns,...
2020 / 6 / 13
$10.00

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Thomas Frost

The Lives of the Conjurors by Thomas FrostThis is considered one of the best early histories of magic.

From the Preface:

The present volume closes the series of works on the entertaining classes which I contemplated when writing Circus Life and Circus Celebrities, the greater part of which was written before The Old Showmen and the Old London Fairs was commenced, though the publication of the latter work preceded that of the former. In embracing within the present volume the lives of the conjurors of every period and every country, while the record of shows and showmen is confined to London and the suburban districts, (which may now be said to embrace a circle of twenty miles across,) and that of circuses...
2020 / 5 / 19
$8.00

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Patrick Davison

Born on the Highwire: The Autobiography of Arthur Duchek by Patrick DavisonArthur Duchek, born (almost literally on the highwire rigging of his parents' circus act) into a European circus dynasty in 1930, grew up to be a world-famous circus and variety artist and international entertainment agent.

He survived a devastating accident on the circus lot as a 4-year old child, an accident that left him with a speech impediment. His will power and determination, along with the help of an eccentric Parisian speech therapist, helped him overcome this obstacle. After joining his uncles with the circus in America, Arthur experienced unbelievable abuse at their hands.

You...

2020 / 5 / 2
$5.00

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Thomas Frost

The Old Showmen and Old London Fairs by Thomas FrostA detailed chronology of places, dates and performers of fairs in and around London. We learn mostly of theatrical productions of various kinds including pantomime and dances, and menageries exhibiting exotic animals, and less so of tumbling and acrobats, juggling, balancing and the like. It includes some coverage of conjurers including Fawkes, Pinchbeck, Breslaw and others. There is some overlap of stories from Circus Life and Circus Celebrities because some performers and operators were active in both venues.
  • PREFACE
  • CHAPTER I: Origin of Fairs - Charter Fairs at Winchester and Chester - Croydon Fairs - Fairs in the Metropolis...
2020 / 4 / 19
$5.00

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Thomas Frost

Circus Life and Circus Celebrities by Thomas FrostA history of the circus in Britain during the 19th century. One chapter deals with America, another with circus slang. Perhaps most interesting are the recollections of a gymnast and how he made it into the circus.

From the Preface:

But of the circus artistes - the riders, the clowns, the acrobats, the gymnasts, - what do we know? How many are there, unconnected with the sawdust, who can say that they have known a member of that strange race? Charles Dickens, who was perhaps as well acquainted with the physiology of the less known sections of society as any man of his day, whetted public...
2020 / 4 / 14
$5.00

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Charles Bertram

A Magician in Many Lands by Charles BertramThis is a fascinating travel log, including a good number of photos, by an accomplished magician circling the globe including visits to India, China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Unites States, Canada and other places. He devotes three fascinating chapters to the tricks of the Indian conjurers, but does not tell us a lot about his own performances during his voyage.

From the introduction by Professor Hoffmann:

A book of travel, written by a keen observer, is always interesting. Charles Bertram was not only a keen observer, but enjoyed opportunities of observation denied to ninety-nine travellers out of...
2020 / 4 / 3
$5.00

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Charles Bertram

Isn't It Wonderful? by Charles BertramA history of magic interwoven with Charles Bertram's recollections.

From the introduction:

The profession of conjuring, if not the most ancient, is certainly one of the oldest professions in the world, and, before commencing my account of the efforts made by a humble professor of the art, I trust that the reader may be interested by a short sketch of its history. Without this, it is possible that he might receive a book relating to the conjurer's art with a shrug of the shoulders. But conjuring, if it has now drifted down to the level of mere entertainment, has played its part in the history...
2020 / 4 / 3
$5.00

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