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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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Stuart Cumberland
That Other World by Stuart Cumberland

A witty memoir-like debunking of all things paranormal.

Stuart Cumberland describes the fascination of European kings and queens with the occult. He gives a detailed analysis of how Rasputin participated in the fall of the Romanovs. He thoroughly skewers the German government of Wilhelm II. He describes the fake spirit photography, the false claims of clairvoyants, how folks fall for physical manifestations of the spirits such as table rappings. Overall a fun read and expose of human gullibility.

  • Chapter I: By Way Of Introduction
  • Chapter II: Monarchs And Mystics
  • Chapter III: Concerning...
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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...

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Tabby Crabb
Tabman Magic by Tabby Crabb

Known as The Tabman, Tabby Crabb moved through the innercircles of Close up and comedy magic for two decades both with his skill at crafting magic accessories like the famous Tabman Tables, Casino Chips, Knife through Arm, fine hardwood magicians' Wands and much, much more and appearing onstage and backstage with Amazing Johnathan and Kozak the Magician. Additionally Tabman spent five years as the hotel shows director for The International Brotherhoond of Magicians.

This ebook tells the truth about many relationships in the magic field. Relationships with customers like Max Maven, Harry...

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Thomas A. Sawyer
Rethinking S.W. Erdnase by Thomas A. Sawyer

This is the first digital-edition of Thomas A. Sawyer's Rethinking S.W. Erdnase, which was first published in a small hardcover-edition (of about 105 copies) in late 2015.

The book has an in-depth discussion of different approaches that might be considered in attempting to figure out who S.W. Erdnase was. Many people probably tend to "shoot from the hip," and to use intuition and common sense. Those are not necessarily the best tools available.

Rethinking S.W. Erdnase includes a fair amount of information regarding Frederic J. Drake & Co., including images relating to the 1912 Drake catalog...

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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....

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Thomas A. Sawyer
Angelo J. Lewis of the Chancery Bar by Thomas A. Sawyer

This is the first digital-edition of Thomas A. Sawyer's Angelo J. Lewis of the Chancery Bar. The first printing was a softcover printed book, published in 2016. That printing consisted of fewer than 100 copies, so the book is not in wide circulation.

It is well known that Professor Hoffmann was a barrister, but details relating to his law practice are not generally known. This ebook delves into that topic and related topics. As Sawyer says in his Preface to the book:

"Angelo Lewis's specific activities as a barrister have received almost no recognition at all in magic histories. Typically writers do mention...

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Thomas A. Sawyer
Professor Hoffmann and his Conjuring Serials of 1872-1888 by Thomas A. Sawyer

This is the first digital-edition of Thomas A. Sawyer's Professor Hoffmann and His Conjuring Serials of 1872-1888. The first printing was a softcover printed book, published in late 2016. That printing consisted of less than 60 copies, so the book is not in wide circulation, and in fact even its existence is not well known.

What is there about the contents of the book that could make it well worthwhile?

Chapter 1 is called "Angelo Lewis in Perspective." That chapter is an overview of Professor Hoffmann. It alludes to several of Hoffmann's books, inside and outside of magic, that can be considered classics. ...

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Thomas Carlyl
Count Cagliostro by Thomas Carlyl

This 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.

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Thomas Frost
Circus Life and Circus Celebrities by Thomas Frost

A 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...

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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.

  • CHAPTER I: Origin of Fairs - Charter Fairs at Winchester and Chester - Croydon Fairs - Fairs in the Metropolis...
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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...

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Tom Interval
Harry Houdin: The Great Polynational Mimic by Tom Interval

Introducing Harry Houdin—one of the most versatile performers you've never heard of. Born decades before the great Harry Houdini, he claimed to be the nephew of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, the famous French conjurer of the 19th century.

Houdin, who billed himself as "The Great Polynational Mimic," toured Australia and New Zealand between 1860 and 1863 with a one-man act featuring drawing-room magic and international impersonations done to song and dance.

Harry Houdin: The Great Polynational Mimic is the first formal work of research written about this virtually unknown, albeit colorful, entertainer.

1st edition 2013, 27...

★★★★ $0
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Tony Shiels
It's Alive: The World of Tony 'Doc' Shiels by Tony Shiels

This 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...

★★★★★ $15
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MP4 (video)

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.

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Conjuring Contretemps by unknown

This 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.

★★★★★ $2
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Val Andrews
Tell Them You Saw Dante by Val Andrews

Val Andrews recreates the master in Tell Them You Saw Dante and takes you back to the days of Sim Sala Bim. Val Andrews impersonates Dante. A remarkable insight into Dante the man and the performer. Val takes us behind the scenes with this great performer and the whole recording is rather in the style of a radio broadcast featuring extracts from Dante.

This recording was originally created and released by Val Andrews. In 1977 it was purchased by Martin Breese and is now owned and copyrighted by

runtime 45min

★★★★★ $14
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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

runtime 1 hour

★★★★★ $12
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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.

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Val Andrews
The Great Carmo by Val Andrews

The Colossus of Mystery.

  • The Author's Acknowledgements
  • Finding A Gravestone
  • CHAPTER ONE: I Discover "The Great Carmo"
  • CHAPTER TWO: From Cameron To Carmo
  • CHAPTER THREE: Learning The Ropes, The Hard Way
  • CHAPTER FOUR: Servais Le Roy
  • CHAPTER FIVE: "Alma"
  • CHAPTER SEVEN: The Big Circus
  • CHAPTER EIGHT: The Canvas Inferno
  • CHAPTER NINE: The Last Ditch Fight
  • CHAPTER TEN: Every Night, Something Awesome

1st edition 2001, 80 pages; 1st digital edition 2019, 53 pages.

★★★★★ $8
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W. R. H. Trowbridge
Cagliostro: The Splendour and Misery of a Master of Magic by W. R. H. Trowbridge

This 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...
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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...

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Will Goldston
Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston

Stories and anecdotes of the Who's Who of magic in the early 20th century. Several are about Houdini.

  • An Introduction
  • Foreword
  • The Truth About The Zancigs
  • The Tragedy Of Hanco
  • When G. W. Hunter Dried Up
  • How Denny And Will Goldston Escaped Gaol
  • The Truth Of Horace Goldin's Arrest
  • The Cornells And Their Ghastly Publicity Stunt
  • The Strangeness Of Lafayette
  • Dante Perplexed
  • Dante's Experience In Russia
  • Muller The Mystic
  • Was Chung Ling Soo Murdered?
  • A Handcuff Escape That Went Wrong
  • Ceeley And The Naked Lady
  • Frank Van Hoven's Tragic Failure
  • Frank Van Hoven And A Fellow Artist's Wife
  • Wishart And The...
★★★★★ $6
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Wolfgang Riebe
Discover Your Magic by Wolfgang Riebe

This is basically Wolfgang's life story, a great motivational blueprint to achieve your dreams.

How to gain the competitive edge in your life and business. Become aware of everything around you. Clarify and achieve all your goals. Learn to adapt to change. Create a positive image with every one around you. Wolfgang has inspired and motivated more than a million people around the world. This is a comprehensive study on how to gain mastery over your own life, whether in the corporate, or personal field. Every aspect is clearly presented, without losing the true sense or heart of the matter....

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Wolfgang Riebe
Smoke, Mirrors, Braavileis and Sauerkraut by Wolfgang Riebe

A 'magical' autobiography and an inspirational book.

  • 1+ million people have seen him live in 165+ countries
  • 15+ million views on YouTube with over 1000+ videos
  • 180+ TV shows and multiple prime time TV series
  • thousands of global online students
  • 40+ Books and best-selling author
  • TedX Speaker
  • Known as the German with a South African accent

Can you believe it! A non-US, UK, or Europe magician that achieved fame and fortune, traveled the world, became a TV star in his own country, and achieved all his dreams! A magical inspirational real-life story like never before. Magician, Professional...

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Displaying 129 to 152 (of 152 products)
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