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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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Thomas Frost
The Lives of the Conjurors by Thomas Frost

This 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...

$8
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Martin Breese
The Magic of Al Koran by Martin Breese

Martin Breese spent a substantial amount of time to piece together routines and information about Al Koran with the help of many of his friends, people who worked with Al Koran in some form or another, information on audio recordings, magazine articles and many other bits and pieces of information. Originally published in 1983, but revised by Martin Breese before his untimely death in 2012.

The ebook contains virtually every Al Koran effect as performed on TV. It analysis the effect and the method, then provides the exact words of patter as used by Al Koran.

There is a listing of all...

★★★ $25
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PDF & EPUB

David Alexander & Richard Kyle
The Magician as Detective by David Alexander & Richard KyleThis product consists of an ebook with two parts and a video. The first part of the ebook is a reproduction of David Alexander's article from the Genii January 2000 issue where he introduced his candidate for Erdnase, Wilbur E. Sanders. The second part is an unpublished booklet titled The S.W. Erdnase Report by Richard Kyle which includes a narrative and several letters to David.

David Alexander and Richard Kyle would speak for hours on the phone exchanging their thoughts, their insights, and their discoveries regarding Erdnase. Richard Kyle would often write a letter to David afterward to memorialize...

$29.50
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PDF & MP4

Ben Robinson
The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret CIA Life by Ben Robinson

The only biography of the master magician and spy instructor John Mulholland including his work for the CIA.

"John Mulholland is surely one of the most fascinating personalities in magic history. For his work to advance conjuring as a recognized art, he deserves tremendous respect, and no serious student of magic will want to skip this book." - Michael Claxton, Magic Magazine, Feb 2009.

"I can even imagine him up in heaven huddling with Christopher, Houdini, Blackstone and Thurston as they discuss your biography. Their applause is loud enough to be heard on planet Earth." - Maurine Brooks Christopher

"I am an avid reader of books, all...

★★★★★ $19.99
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softcover

Ben Robinson
The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret CIA Life (Audiobook) by Ben Robinson

This is the audio-book version of The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret CIA Life. Listening time over 9 hours. The author, Ben Robinsion, reads the entire book. Additionally he also reads ten letters to and from Mulholland previously unpublished and not part of the book or ebook. Here is the first half of the first chapter:

[If the embedded player should not properly work in your browser you can also download the MP3 here.
"John Mulholland is surely one of the most fascinating personalities in magic history. For his work to advance conjuring as a recognized art, he deserves tremendous respect, and no serious student of magic will want to skip this book." - Michael Claxton, Magic Magazine, Feb 2009.

"I can even imagine...

$14.99
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MP3
(on CDROM)

MP3

Leo Behnke
The Making of Playing Cards by Leo Behnke

Leo Behnke worked for many years for Paulson, a playing card manufacturer. He describes in this ebook the history of playing card production up to the process that is used for todays cards. He also describes in detail the 9 editions of the Magic Castle cards and how one can identify them.

Beyond the interesting historical and technical descriptions Leo is offering, this information can also be quite helpful in creating a script or interesting line of presentation for a trick or routine.

The contents of this ebook was presented at a Magic Collectors meeting in Las Vegas, April 8 2005. ...

★★★★ $3
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Barton Whaley & Martin Gardner & Jeff Busby
The Man Who Was Erdnase by Barton Whaley & Martin Gardner & Jeff Busby

This 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....

$45
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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...
$5
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PDF

John Scarne
The Odds Against Me by John Scarne

If he'd had a touch of larceny in him, he could have been the number one card sharp of all time. Instead, the author of these fabulous memoirs, born to a mother who considered gambling the "devil's tool," puts his extraordinary gifts to far different purpose.

He has used his incredible gambling sense, his miraculously dexterous fingers, his brilliant mathematical mind, his fascination with carnival and gambling life, to become America's number one authority on gambling and odds.

He was the greatest practitioner and analyst of card and dice sleight of hand. His artistry impressed FDR as...

$19
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Henry Ridgely Evans
The Old and The New Magic by Henry Ridgely Evans

From the introduction:

The very word magic has an alluring sound, and its practice as an art will probably never lose its attractiveness for people's minds. But we must remember that there is a difference between the old magic and the new, and that both are separated by a deep chasm, which is a kind of color line, for though the latter develops from the former in a gradual and natural course of evolution, they are radically different in principle, and the new magic is irredeemably opposed to the assumptions upon which the old magic rests.

Magic originally meant priestcraft. It is probable...

$12
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Thomas Frost
The Old Showmen and Old London Fairs by Thomas Frost

A 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...
$5
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PDF

Dr. Kurt Volkmann & June Barrows Mussey
The Oldest Deception: Cups and Balls in the Art of the 15th and 16th Centuries by Dr. Kurt Volkmann & June Barrows Mussey

This ebook is a treat for any magic historian as well as for anybody who likes to learn more about the history of the cups and balls. A collection of 20 woodcuts, copper engravings and oil paintings from the 15th and 16th century depicting conjurers with cups and balls is described in great detail by Kurt Volkmann, the president of the German Magic Circle from 1952-1958.

For example, you will find the famous oil painting "The Juggler" by Hieronymus Bosch as well as an imitation and a very similar copper engraving. Read what we can learn from the various depictions of the cups and balls. One...

★★★★★ $20
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T. Hayes
The Reference Guide to Early Works on Card Cheating by T. Hayes

This ebook presents an analytical review of works on card cheating that are written in English and published before 1900. Given this scope, The Reference Guide to Early Works on Card Cheating takes 151 publications, and documents the card cheating techniques that they describe. Only card techniques discussed in the context of cheating at card games are considered. The 146 defined techniques are used to evaluate the publications based on their breadth and their contribution to the literature. The breadth is indicated by the absolute number of techniques each work describes, and the contribution...

$20
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PDF

Robert Harbin
The Robert Harbin Book by Robert Harbin

This is a digital facsimile version of the original hardcover book. [The one hardcover I had left has sold. Sorry.]

Back in the 1970s Martin Breese had the chance to record Robert Harbin on one of his early Magicassette releases. The Harbin Magicassette probably rates as the most popular of his recordings.

In 1983 Martin asked the late Owen Griffith to transcribe the words from the Harbin Magicassette. The late and great Eric Mason created the illustrations for The Harbin Book. One day at a business trade fair Martin saw a full scale photo litho printing machine being demonstrated and decided to leap in to the deep end and he bought the demonstration machine and had...

$49
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PDF_facsimile

Harry Houdini
The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin by Harry Houdini

Houdini was upset that the widow of Robert-Houdin did not want to meet him. As a revenge Harry Houdini wrote The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, in which Houdini tries to push Robert-Houdin from his pedestal. He tries to show that most tricks Robert-Houdin claimed as his invention were in fact not his invention and that Robert-Houdin was not this great magician he usually is thought he was. But most of Houdini's allegations are fabricated and do not stand close inspection. Jean Hugard wrote as response to Houdini's nasty book Houdini's Unmasking, where Hugard point for point refutes Houdini's argumentation. I personally favor Hugard's opinion,...

★★★★★ $6
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PDF & EPUB

Frances Marshall
Those Beautiful Dames by Frances Marshall

An 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...

★★★★★ $24.95
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Al Mann
To the Sea in Ships by Al Mann

Biography of Captain Gilbert S. Aleman's, a.k.a. Al Mann, early part of his life.

You may know Al Mann only as magician and mentalist. He was also a master mariner, a captain in the merchant marines, who spent years on the sea. This is an autobiographical account of his life before he became a mentalist. There is some mention of gambling, John Scarne, and how Al Mann got into magic, which may be of particular interest to magicians.

  • Chapter I First Impressions
  • Chapter II Rumors of War
  • Chapter III The School
  • Chapter IV Of Pins and Heroes
  • Chapter V Through the Golden Gate
  • Chapter VI Passage To...
★★★★★ $10
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Topper Martyn
Topper Martyn Interview: all 4 parts by Topper Martyn

Martin Breese recorded this interview on September 16th 1977, but never released it. He passed on the reels to me with the instruction to release them whenever I wish. Topper Martyn was an extraordinary showman, magician, juggler and musician. Learn about his life and the lessons he learned.

$22
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MP3

Paul Gordon
Victor Farelli: A Magical Memoir by Paul Gordon

This 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.

$8
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Paul Voodini
Victorian Seance and the Birth of Mentalism by Paul Voodini

Paul Voodini presents Victorian Seance and the Birth of Mentalism, recounting the rise of Spiritualism in the 1800s, the antics, tricks, and techniques of the fraudulent mediums, and how this led directly to the birth of that branch of the magical arts known as 'mentalism.'

This detailed manuscript outlines and explains such techniques and methods as mesmerism and hypnosis, table-tipping, slates, automatic writing, book tests, 'reading' techniques and Q&A, spirit manifestations, the Ouija board, and much, much more. The text also touches on escapology, quick change, and other magical techniques. ...

$40
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PDF

Thomas A. Sawyer
Victorian-Age Conjuring Books by Thomas A. Sawyer

A guide for collectors and bibliographers.

This is the first digital-edition of the third edition of Thomas A. Sawyer's Victorian-Age Conjuring Books: A Guide. The first printing of the third edition was a softcover printed book, published in late 2017. That printing consisted of less than 60 copies.

This edition is significantly longer (in terms of the number of words) than the second edition (which itself was longer than the first edition).

In preparing the third edition, Sawyer thoroughly overhauled the second edition (which appeared over 25 years ago), making additions and deletions....

$28
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Wayne Dobson
WD40 by Wayne Dobson

Wayne Dobson has had a life full of incredible highs and hard-to-bear lows, and in this candidly written ebook, he lays it all before you. The full story is here charting his meteoric rise to international fame and TV stardom in which, when he was at the height of his powers, he became a household name in the UK and was seen as a genuine alternative to Paul Daniels as a mainstream TV magician, right through to his valiant and uncomplaining struggle with MS. It's a tale of courage, is often very funny, and it is always fascinating.

As well as Wayne's life story this excellent ebook provides...

$19
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Barton Whaley
Who's Who In Magic by Barton Whaley

New updated edition.

This biographical guide lists over 5,500 men and women associated with the art of conjuring from earliest recorded times to the present: performers, inventors, writers, teachers, dealers, manufacturers, publishers, collectors, historians, and showmen of magic. Several are included from the so-called allied arts of magic. Thus it gives those whose deceptions or careers directly influenced magicians, such as pseudo-psychics and card sharps; and those who share many deceptive methods with magicians, such as escapologists, mentalists, and stage pickpockets and hypnotists....

★★★★ $50
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Val Andrews
You'll Always Have A Dollar by Val Andrews

This is Val's own life story. Val is one of magic's most prolific writers and he draws from his vast magical experience as he recounts the story he knows best - his own. To people who know magic and the Show-Biz scene this is a marvelous recording to listen to.

This is a licensed reproduction of the famous Magicassette series created by Martin Breese - now owned by Lybrary.com.

runtime 1 hour

★★★★★ $12
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MP3

Displaying 129 to 152 (of 152 products)
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