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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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    Dai Vernon in Britain 1958 by Lewis Ganson & Dai Vernon    The Autobiography of an Old Sport: Fifty years at the Card Table by Harry P. Dodge    Fred Culpitt: a brief biography by Val Andrews    Those Beautiful Dames by Frances Marshall    Abbott Compendium 2016 by Greg Bordner    Conjuring Contretemps by Anonymous    The James McKinney & Co Bankruptcy Files by National Archives (NARA)    A Lifetime in Magic by Percy Abbott    Chan Canasta: A Remarkable Man Volume 1 by David Britland    Lives of the Conjurers: Volume 2 by Professor Solomon    Piddington's Secrets: We know How They Did It! by Martin T. Hart    The Hunt For Erdnase: and the Path to Edward Gallaway by Chris Wasshuber    A Warlock's Wandering by Billy Benbo    Chris Van Bern: The Busy 'B' by Roger Woods    It's Alive: The World of Tony 'Doc' Shiels by Tony Shiels    Lives of the Conjurers: Volume 1 by Professor Solomon    Victor Farelli: A Magical Memoir by Paul Gordon    Percy Naldrett: A Man of Sussex, Conjurer and Poet by Paul Gordon    Edward George Brown: a magical life by Paul Gordon    Cues for Collectors by Edgar Heyl    Harry Houdin: The Great Polynational Mimic by Tom Interval    The Annals of Conjuring by Sidney W. Clarke    History of Magic and Magicians by Hardin Jasper Burlingame    Memorable Magical Moments by Solyl Kundu    WD40 by Wayne Dobson    Showmen or Charlatans? The stories of 'Dr' Walford Bodie and 'Sir' Alexander Cannon by Brian Lead & Roger Woods    Josephine Langley Lady Ventriloquist: The story of Mrs Edward Howarth by Roger Woods & Maurice S. Howarth    Houdini The Myth Maker by Brian Lead & Roger Woods    Harry Houdini Legend and Legacy by Brian Lead & Roger Woods    The Magic of Al Koran by Martin Breese    Classic Indian Street Magic by Martin Breese    Congregation: The Magic Trick Historically Known as Chink-a-Chink by Sean McWeeney    Okito on Magic by Okito    Annotated Discovery of Witchcraft by Stephen Forrester    Chan Canasta: A Remarkable Man Volume 2 by David Britland    Browsing Around in Magic by Bert Pratt    Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase by Hurt McDermott    Kodell: Do Something Different by Jack Kodell    Magic and the Silent Clowns by Ben Robinson    Rovi: The Story of a Man and his Magic by Richard Owen    At Home With Rachel Colombini by Cameron Francis    At Home With Aldo Colombini by Rachel Colombini    Don Driver Interview by Don Driver    Faucett Ross on Magic by Faucett Ross    Dr. Alexander Cannon by Goodliffe    Sid Lorraine by Sid Lorraine    You'll Always Have A Dollar by Val Andrews    The Oldest Deception: Cups and Balls in the Art of the 15th and 16th Centuries by Dr. Kurt Volkmann & June Barrows Mussey    Amedeo by Amedeo & George Schindler    The Ganson Story Volume 2 by Lewis Ganson

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Dai Vernon in Britain 1958

Lewis Ganson & Dai Vernon

Dai Vernon in Britain 1958 by Lewis Ganson & Dai VernonA silent film record of Dai Vernon's visit to Britain in 1958.

If you have only read about the Professor Dai Vernon but never seen him in real life, then here is your chance for a glimpse into what he was like. You will see him sightseeing and you will see him perform several of his feature routines such as the Symphony of the Rings, card production, color change, wand spin vanish and more.

  • Portsmouth: H.M.S. Victory and Dicken's Birthplace
  • Polo at Cowdrey Park
  • Stratford-on-Avon
  • Fellow Magicians
  • Leipzig's Card Levitation
  • Card Production
  • The Symphony of the Rings
  • Colour Change
  • Wand spin Vanish
  • Jumping Jack
  • Charlie Miller's Diminishing Cards ...
2017 / 11 / 7

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MP4 (video)

The Autobiography of an Old Sport: Fifty years at the Card Table

Harry P. Dodge

The Autobiography of an Old Sport: Fifty years at the Card Table by Harry P. DodgeThe record of a career famous for adventure and vicissitude, and in which the jester won more tricks than the gamester.
  • Preface
  • Chapter I: Birth And Early Peregrinations
  • Chapter II: Becoming A Patron Of The Pasteboards
  • Chapter III: Early Times On The Mississippi
  • Chapter IV: Getting A Sobriquet And Meeting Great Men
  • Chapter V: The Turnpikes, The Packets And The Inns
  • Chapter VI: Initiated In The Sons Of Malta
  • Chapter VII: From The Green Mountains To Pike's Peak
  • Chapter VIII: With The Bold Soldier Boys
  • Chapter IX: The Fraternity Of Gamesters
  • Chapter X: To Point A Moral And Adorn A...
2017 / 8 / 9

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Fred Culpitt: a brief biography

Val Andrews

Fred Culpitt: a brief biography by Val Andrews
  • A Typical Culpitt Performance
  • The Vanishing Stick (Or "Culpitt's Cork")
  • The Abanazer Fan Vanish
  • Torn And Restored Newspaper
  • The Bathing Costume Trick
  • A Rabbit From A Hat
  • Culpitt's Clock
  • Cards Ala Culpitt
  • Egg-Bag Ruses
  • Production Of Eggs From A Net-Fronted Bag
  • The Doll's House Illusion
  • Culpitt's Silk Loader
  • Culpitt Card Box
  • Reward Poster
  • "On Toast"
  • Rabbit To Silks
  • A Culpitt Card Sleight
  • Thumb-Nail Sketch

1st edition 2001; 1st digital edition 2016, 43 pages.

2017 / 6 / 10

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Those Beautiful Dames

Frances Marshall

Those Beautiful Dames by Frances MarshallAn ebook honoring those great women in magic, some from the past centuries. A world survey of "Those Beautiful Dames." Featuring among others Debbie Henning. Dan Waldron has a section on the Blackstone Saga, covering the magical life of Harry Senior, then the Blackstone, Jr. we know. Beautiful and talented women figured in both their lives, with Gay Blackstone a star in the Blackstone show. Marion Nicola writes of her show and life with the Great Nicola, Val Andrews covers many famous lady assistants. Carol Roy, Mrs. Electric releases the inside story of their adventures in odd parts of the...
2017 / 4 / 30

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Abbott Compendium 2016

Greg Bordner

Abbott Compendium 2016 by Greg BordnerThis is the most complete history of Abbott's Magic, and in particular it covers the long history of the Abbott's Get Together.
  • Welcome to the 2016 Abbott Compendium
  • Abbott's Historical Documentation
  • Art of the Abbott Catalog
  • Art of the Get Together
  • Complete Get Together Performer List
  • Timeline of Abbott's and the Get Together
  • 2016 Magic Capital Events
  • 79th Get Together August 3-8 2016

1st edition 2016, 521 pages.

2016 / 11 / 12

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Conjuring Contretemps


Conjuring Contretemps by AnonymousThis is a fun and informative article by an anonymous amateur magician detailing various mishaps of magic performances. Along the way we learn the modus operandi of all kinds of illusions, from Buatier de Kolta's vanishing cage all the way to the bullet catch.

This article was originally published in Chamber's Journal of December 16th, 1882.

1st edition 1882, 5 pages; digital edition 8 pages.

2016 / 7 / 27

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The James McKinney & Co Bankruptcy Files

National Archives (NARA)

The James McKinney & Co Bankruptcy Files by National Archives (NARA)You will find three bankruptcy files in this PDF, one with No. 842 from 1899 which consist of 37 pages, one with No. 8576 from 1903 with 476 pages, which is the Jamieson-Higgins bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy No. 8577 from 1903 with 624 pages. The particularly interesting one is the last No. 8577 which was the James McKinney & Co. bankruptcy.

The Jamieson-Higgins bankruptcy is included because James McKinney printed essentially all of the books Jamieson-Higgins published and they were also financially entangled.

It also tells the tale how Chris Wasshuber located the files, had them digitized, and how...

2015 / 7 / 27

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A Lifetime in Magic

Percy Abbott

A Lifetime in Magic by Percy AbbottWritten by a man who spent seventy-four years ... a lifetime in magic! A professional magician, a world traveler, author, inventor, founder of the world's largest magic company. Percy Abbott, the 'Caliph of Colon', and magic are synonymous. In this ebook you will discover stories, experiences, secrets and advice that only a lifetime in magic can offer. You will uncover facts about the greats that will amaze you. There is a fund of information on tricks and illusions new to present day magicians.


  • Dedication
  • Memories
  • Foreword
  • The Chrystal Lantern
  • Comedy Snake Basket
  • Lost In...
2015 / 6 / 28

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Chan Canasta: A Remarkable Man Volume 1

David Britland

Chan Canasta: A Remarkable Man Volume 1 by David BritlandChan Canasta (1920 to 1999) was something of a TV sensation in the 1950s as one of Britain's leading mentalists. His blend of psychology and traditional conjuring which he called psychmagic, was a breath of fresh air. This beautifully produced hardback book is a unique record of his mentalist effects and unique entertaining style.
"Martin has excelled himself with the production values. It looks beautiful; maybe it is the most attractive looking book I have ever seen. If you are interested in Canasta then you will have to buy the book." - Peter Zenner

"I'm not sure that there have been other books...

2015 / 6 / 5

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Lives of the Conjurers: Volume 2

Professor Solomon

Lives of the Conjurers: Volume 2 by Professor Solomon
  • CARDINI He seemed bewildered by his own magic
  • BLACKSTONE "The Last of the Great Magicians"
  • LEON MANDRAKE He wore a turban or a top hat - depending on the gig
  • DUNNINGER Was it true that the renowned mindreader couldn't read the mind of a gnat?
  • DAVENPORT BROTHERS Their spirit cabinet brought them fame. But were they mediums or magicians?
  • PROFESSOR NEUMAN He had misread a mind - and the police hauled him away
  • THE GREAT LESTER Did he have the exclusive rights to that name?
  • GEORGES MÉLIÈS A magician who transformed himself into a filmmaker
  • CHARLIER No one knew where he came from - or where he finally went ...
2015 / 3 / 1

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Piddington's Secrets: We know How They Did It!

Martin T. Hart

Piddington's Secrets: We know How They Did It! by Martin T. HartWe know how they did it! The Piddington's were a 1949 husband and wife telepathy act who seemed able to transmit their thoughts to each other, even across vast distances. They could do this without talking.

Finally, the unfathomable mystery behind the world's most baffling telepathy act is revealed after 70 years of silence. Martin T Hart takes us on a fascinating and detailed journey into the lives of 'The Amazing Piddingtons' and deep inside the cunning methods that fooled a global generation. To this day no magician or scientist has ever discovered how Sydney was able to transmit his thoughts...

2015 / 1 / 26

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The Hunt For Erdnase: and the Path to Edward Gallaway

Chris Wasshuber

The Hunt For Erdnase: and the Path to Edward Gallaway by Chris WasshuberThe hunt to find the true identity of S. W. Erdnase, the author of The Expert at the Card Table, published in 1902 in Chicago, has been raging for more than a century. The book is as revered by gamblers and magicians as the Bible is by Christians.

One of the first and most active Erdnase hunters was well-known science writer, puzzle expert, and magician Martin Gardner, who erroneously thought he identified cardshark and murderer Milton Franklin Andrews as being Erdnase. After Andrews many other candidates were proposed, but none had a case strong enough to withstand scrutiny. None wrote like Erdnase, nor had sufficient opportunity, nor even a...

2015 / 1 / 21

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A Warlock's Wandering

Billy Benbo

A Warlock's Wandering by Billy BenboA Warlock's Wandering is one magician's memories of his journey along the eternal path of wonder. It is my sincere hope that within its pages you may find something of value in presentation, thought, adaptation, and dressing. Between the lines are little gems of wisdom and knowledge gleaned from the many performers met over the last sixty seven years.

1st edition 2015, 57 pages.

2015 / 1 / 18

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Chris Van Bern: The Busy 'B'

Roger Woods

Chris Van Bern: The Busy 'B' by Roger WoodsThis is a biography of Chris Van Bern (1872? - 1950) christened The Busy 'B' by The Magician Monthly in 1911 because of his versatility as a variety performer. His presentations were original and he was something of a 'character'. He became a member of so many local magic clubs throughout the UK that it is believed his record has never been surpassed by anyone. He was Honorary Vice President, for example, of The Modern Mystic League (Blackburn & District Society of Magicians), and The Order of The Magi (Manchester). A generous man to all magicians he co-authored A Whirlwind of Wizadry with De...
2015 / 1 / 10

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It's Alive: The World of Tony 'Doc' Shiels

Tony Shiels

It's Alive: The World of Tony 'Doc' Shiels by Tony ShielsThis is not your typical magic video. While Tony Shiels demonstrates a few bizarre magic effects, it is for the most part a human interest piece. Tony invites us into his home as well as into the woods where we see him talking, walking, pointing at leaves and stones, giving performance advice and pondering the past - all done in his weird and unique way.

If you want to learn more about the personality behind Tony Shiels you will love this video. If you are after the next best effect you will certainly be disappointed.

Includes a five minute intro with Martin Breese talking about his foray...

2014 / 5 / 16

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Lives of the Conjurers: Volume 1

Professor Solomon

Lives of the Conjurers: Volume 1 by Professor Solomon
  • HENRY SLADE Was he a medium or a magician?
  • CAGLIOSTRO The Mystery Man of Europe
  • KATTERFELTO Lecturer, conjurer, and quack
  • SERVAIS LE ROY He levitated a pianist and her piano
  • C. W. STARR His vanishing act was for sheriffs
  • TORRINI His greatest illusion was himself
  • SIGNOR BLITZ What he pulled from a hat one night kept a family together
  • CHARLES MORRITT His masterpiece was the Disappearing Donkey
  • THE BOTTLE CONJURER How was he going to jump into a bottle?
  • MAELZEL There was more to his Chess-playing Automaton than met the eye
  • ROBERT HELLER His mindreading act mystified audiences
  • THE BANGS...
2014 / 4 / 14

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Victor Farelli: A Magical Memoir

Paul Gordon

Victor Farelli: A Magical Memoir by Paul GordonThis is a brief historical account, a biographical essay, of one of the most intriguing characters in magic – Mr. Victor Farelli.

1st edition 2006, 36 pages.

2014 / 1 / 5

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Percy Naldrett: A Man of Sussex, Conjurer and Poet

Paul Gordon

Percy Naldrett: A Man of Sussex, Conjurer and Poet by Paul GordonA tribute to Percy Naldrett by Paul Gordon who shares birth place Worthing in Sussex with Percy. Includes photos and other bits and pieces of information not published anywhere else.

Percy Naldrett was born on 17th May 1888 and died 28th September 1973. He was a printer by trade and a semi-pro magician and collector. He wrote a number of books such as Magic of the Moment (1912, 50pp), Magical Notes and Notions (1913, 36pp), Miscellaneous Magic (1913, 48pp). He was editor of the Magic Circular from 1938-49.

1st edition 2005, 31 pages.

2013 / 12 / 15

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Edward George Brown: a magical life

Paul Gordon

Edward George Brown: a magical life by Paul Gordon
  • Preface - Paul Gordon
  • About the Author by Martin Breese
  • Introduction - Paul Gordon
  • Edward George Brown - a biography by Paul Gordon
  • Obituary by Francis White
  • Heartfelt Tributes
  • - John Carney
  • - Roger Crosthwaite
  • - Members of The Magic Circle
  • Trevor H. Hall & The Card Magic of Edward G. Brown
  • Willane's Methods for Miracles
  • Ibidem - P. Howard Lyons
  • The 'Lost' Magic of E.G. Brown
  • - Divination of Two Mentally Selected Cards
  • - The Three Billet Test
  • - A Cigarette Change
  • - The Penetrating Tumbler
  • - Handkerchief and Glass to Hat
  • - A Nap Hand
  • With Thanks to Edward George Brown
  • - The Brown Detective - Peter Duffie
  • - Thin...
2013 / 12 / 15

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Cues for Collectors

Edgar Heyl

Cues for Collectors by Edgar HeylOne of the world's foremost authorities on magic books, palming coins and tokens, Mr. Heyl brings you a fascinating ebook on collecting. Includes: Early American Editions of Robert Houdin's Autobiography, Boy's Own Book, American Magic Books, Odd and Unusual Books, Two Worthy Wizards, Mythical Magic Books, Cards for Conjuring, 17th Century Notes, Dainty Conceits, Hocus Pocus, Peripheral Bibliographies, Magic, Black and White, The Cheaters, Rid, Rowlands, Juggling, Sports and Pastimes, Scarce and Rare, Little Known Conjurer's Medals and Tokens.

[This is a collection of articles that appeared in the MUM a long time ago.

1st edition 1964, 1st...

2013 / 11 / 4

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