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Theory, Articles & Reviews

Theory is too often neglected. As the saying goes "The most practical thing is a good theory," you should be well grounded in magic's theory. We offer a wide variety of titles from the classics Our Magic, The Art of Magic and Fitzkee's trilogy, to modern articles by some of the most respected and outspoken teachers like Jamy Ian Swiss and Michael Close. You might also want to browse our Marketing category which offers a lot of advice on how to present yourself in a professional manner.

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Harry Houdini
Mysterious Mr. Yu by Harry Houdini

Mysterious Mr. Yu or Haldane of the Secret Service is a story (film script) to one of Houdini's own movie creations. It features Houdini as Haldane, a secret service agent who fights an evil ring of counterfeiters, interwoven with a love story.

1st edition, 1921, Harry Houdini; 6 pages.

$2
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unknown
Saturday Review by unknown

This is the review of Robert-Houdin's The Sharper Detected and Exposed that appeared in Saturday Review on May 9th, 1863.

1st edition 1863; PDF 5 pages.

★★★★★ $2
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Harry Leat
Magical Cartoons & Interpolations by Harry Leat

Harry Leat presents a great selection of cartoons with a magical theme, many of which reveal a universal truth. They will make you think, just as they will make you laugh. Harry also continues his stories from Forty Years in & around Magic.

1st edition, 1927, Harry Leat, London; 95 pages.

  1. Truth
  2. Your Mirror
  3. Introduction
  4. A Good Opening
  5. The First "Palm"
  6. "See the Thread"
  7. Not for Magicians
  8. The Flying Candle
  9. Apparatus and Books
  10. Chemical Magic
  11. New Apparatus
  12. A Great Future
  13. Fakirism
  14. Dreams and Reality
  15. Telepathy
  16. Refined Magic
  17. "Uncle"
  18. Mr. Charles Conyers
  19. Mr. Wilfrid Jonson
  20. The Modern Conjurer
  21. The Good Old Days
  22. Circumstances...
$3
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James Alan & Dr. Sammy Jakubowicz
Ninety Nine Fabrications: the ultimate collection by James Alan & Dr. Sammy Jakubowicz

Rumors have long persisted of an "other" IBM Ring in the city of Toronto. This motley crew of magicians, mentalists, gamblers, jugglers, psychics, university students and general dilettantes met regularly at a secret place known only as "the usual place and time" and adhered vigorously to its vague objectives of advancing the art of magic, trading gossip and exploring techniques for the vanishment and disappearance of pub foods in a collegial environment.

This is Ring 99 and these are their stories.

Includes the official Ring 99 membership oath, the Ring 99 induction lecture, "Hail to...

$3
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Joseph Jastrow
The Psychology of Deception by Joseph Jastrow

Jastrow explains the various types of deception and discusses in particular how conjurers as well as spirit mediums make use of them.

1st edition 1888, PDF 10 pages.

$3
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Max Dessoir
The Psychology of Legerdemain by Max Dessoir

This is an interesting analysis of how a magic trick works in terms of psychological processes. A better understanding of the underlying science does help the performing magician.

Translated from the German by Mrs. Emily S. Boyer. The original German essay appeared in Psychologische Skizzen by Edmund W. Rells, which was a pseudonym of Max Dessoir.

1st edition 1893, PDF 21 pages.

$3
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Alfred Binet
Psychology of Prestidigitation by Alfred Binet

This article makes an effort to analyze the different processes by which sleight-of-hand illusions are produced in the mind of spectators. Different causes are identified by studying various illusions and observing performing magicians in the lab.

1st edition 1894, 17 pages; PDF 15 pages.

$3
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Joseph Jastrow
Psychological Notes Upon Sleight-of-Hand Experts by Joseph Jastrow

Jastrow wondered if the pursuit of sleight-of-hand conjuring develops any special motor or mental powers. He invited Alexander Hermann and Harry Kellar and put them through a range of tests comparing them to average folks. In this article you will find out how these two giants of conjuring compare to the average.

From the introduction:

Having recently enjoyed visits at my Psychological Laboratory from Messrs. Hermann and Kellar, the widely-known prestidigitators, I put together the results of the series of tests to which they kindly submitted. As the time at my disposal for these tests was limited,...

$3
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Ken Muller
Satchel of Secrets: F.U.N. Presentation Series by Ken Muller

Learn some "real secrets of magic" - not the stuff that comes in the box. Gleaned from 60+ years of performing under various conditions. Dozens of quotes, ideas, ponderings and quips about performing magic that will change the way you perform, deal with audiences, create routines, select volunteers, practice and more.

No magic effects are taught here, just exciting ways to be better at what you do - and to appreciate being a magician.

1st edition 2018, 16 pages.

$3
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Devin Knight
10 Myths About Magic Exposed by Devin Knight
"Devin Knight is the Guy Jarrett of our time. He exposes many common magic "facts" as myths and explains why they are not true and should not be believed. You can improve yourself and improve your magic if you stop taking to heart those age-old lies that magicians and magic dealers made up just to ease their conscience about taking money from strangers." - Jim Kleefeld

"A fast, informative, high-impact read from the ever-interesting Devin Knight. As magicians and mentalists, we often lose sight of the observations detailed here. Highly recommended!" - D. Ulin

The theme of this e-book is that the...
★★★★★ $4
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Mystic Alexandre
The Art of Performance in Magic and Mentalism by Mystic Alexandre

This was the first booklet I published way back in 2002 and it was born out of a lecture I did in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where I ended by discussing The Art Of Performance In Magic And Mentalism and answering questions on the subject.

It's a brief manuscript with strong messages to reflect upon concerning principles that will enhance your rounded approach to becoming a respected performer.

In this manuscript I touch on the following questions:

  • Is There a Quicker Way To Become a Better Performer?
  • How Do You Keep Spectators From Messing You Up?
  • What Is The Most Important Aspect of Performance? ...
★★★★ $4
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Gregg Webb
Aether 11: Creativity and Originality by Gregg Webb

If you think you have no creativity in you, you should read this article. Gregg describes concrete examples of his own creative process and development and how you can start with baby steps to ease yourself into becoming more creative. Progressively you take bigger and bigger challenges to ultimately create your own tricks.

Gregg Webb encourages magicians to create some original magic tricks, even though there is plenty of good material out there, for several reasons. It is a good exercise for the part of the brain that thinks creatively, and that part gets stronger by use. Also, even though...

$4.95
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S. W. Erdnase
The Expert at the Card Table by S. W. Erdnase

Originally entitled Artifice Ruse and Subterfuge at the Card Table, is probably the most cited and referenced book about card gambling moves - a classic in the history of magic literature. A must read for any card magician or aspiring gambling expert and an indespensable reference book. While the authorship of this book is hotly debated we are convinced it was Edward Gallaway. (For a detailed work on the search for Erdnase see Hurt McDermott's Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase.)

[A copy of this book is also included in Michael McDougall's Card Mastery. This ebook is also available in a German translation.

Paul Fleming wrote:

The information contained in this book is the very basis of modern card conjuring. When first...

★★★★★ $5
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L. C. Collier
What is a Stage and How Do I Use It? by L. C. Collier

This publication is intended to give you a general working knowledge of the parts of a stage and how to use them. It covers stage construction, stage terminology, lighting and cue sheets. This will give you a nutshell version of subjects that would normally take three book volumes to cover.

A general working knowledge will help you present your act in the best possible way. Most of the legitimate theaters require union workers to run the theater. They appreciate it when you know what you want, what their facility has to offer and how to ask for it.

1st edition 2003; 17 pages.

★★★★ $5
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Jon Racherbaumer
The Too Perfect Theory by Jon Racherbaumer

Can a magic trick be too perfect? Too impossible? Well, opinions differ. Some of the most prominent minds in magic disagree. Reading these essays will help you form your own personal opinion on this fundamental question. The theorists are:

[Note that this collection of essays is also part of the Ask Roberto Giobbi ebook.

1st edition 2008; 61 pages....

★★★★★ $5
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John B. Pyka
Theatrical Magic Omnibus Edition: Turning Tricks into Theater by John B. Pyka

This is a revised and updated edition.

"A magician is an actor, playing the part of a great magician" - Robert Houdin.

This classic quote is at the heart of Theatrical Magic by John Pyka (aka "Big Daddy Cool" Johnny Dellarocca). John is an accomplished actor and magician, with a degree in Music and Theater Performance from Eastern KY University and a thriving career producing theatrical entertainment for theaters, theme parks, cruise ships and corporate events.

In his ebook Theatrical Magic, John teaches the reader how to create theatrical presentations for by presenting the reader with creativity...

★★★ $5
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Dariel Fitzkee
Misdirection for Magicians by Dariel Fitzkee

This is an early version of what would eventually become Magic by Misdirection.

A detailed analytical treatment of the principles and methods. Explores the psychological basis and its adaptation to the performance of magic. Many detailed ruses included covering the entire field. How to develop misdirection to fit all situations. What it is and how it works. The first concrete work on a subject that is common to all effects and all performers.

Paul Fleming wrote:

Every magician knows - or ought to know - that misdirection plays a vital part in the creation of a perfect conjuring illusion. We recall, as an outstanding...

$5
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Hermann Pallme
Entertaining by Magic by Hermann Pallme

Not a trick in the ebook, but contains more real information on how to entertain with magic than you can get by reading a hundred others. Gives details so frequently neglected. Invaluable to any magician, for not only must one know how to do tricks, but he must also understand how to make his tricks entertaining.

  • Preface
  • Hermann Pallme
  • Foreword
  • CHAPTER I. History Of Magic
  • CHAPTER II. The Literature Of Magic
  • CHAPTER III. Educational Value Of Magic
  • CHAPTER IV. Magic As A Profession
  • CHAPTER V. The Study And Practice Of Magic
  • CHAPTER VI. Concerning Deportment
  • CHAPTER VII. The Dramatic...
$5
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William B. Rugh
A Comparison of the Gravatt and Hugard Encyclopedias of Card Magic by William B. Rugh

This work compares the contents of Jean Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, Encyclopedia of Self-Working Card Tricks, and The Second Encyclopedia of Card Tricks by Glenn G. Gravatt, to see which effects and discussions were kept, altered, or deleted by Hugard. It will also identify those effects added by Hugard.

1st edition 2020, PDF 19 pages.

★★★★ $5
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Norman Triplett
The Psychology of Conjuring Deceptions by Norman Triplett

This study identifies deep lying instincts and impulses of the psychic life are the basic elements in conjuring. Its aim is to show the psychological reasons of deception of a magic effect. It also provides an extensive classification of magic tricks.

Contents:

  1. Origin of Conjuring.
  2. Classification and Typical Examples of Modern Conjuring Tricks.
  3. The Training of the Conjurer.
  4. Psychological Justification of the Rules and Practices of the Conjurer, treated under
    1. Attention
    2. Perception
    3. Suggestion and Association
    4. Suggestion and the Law of Economy
  5. Sociological and Pedagogical Observations. ...
$5
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Brian T. Lees
20 Minute Set Empty Handed by Brian T. Lees

Out with your friends just to enjoy the evening. The manager comes up to you and says one of the acts did not show up. He asks you to do a 20-minute set. You didn't bring anything with you. All you can work with is what you can find on hand. Could you do it? This ebook offers some ideas you could use.

  • Real events
  • Don't panic
  • Relax, take your time
  • Audience must believe this is natural
  • Look around
  • Wrapping it up

1st edition 2021, PDF 16 pages.

★★★★ $5
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Joel Howlett
Attention Please! by Joel Howlett

In March 2022 there was a unique gathering of professional magicians in Sydney Australia. Joel Howlett was one of the lecturers on the bill and he discussed performing exciting visual magic that caters to modern audiences who have shortening attention spans.

Participants were invited to take an honest look at the effects they were using before the COVID pandemic and reassess if they might be a little slow-moving for today's audiences. This PDF is a brief outline of the points discussed.

1st edition 2022, PDF 7 pages.

$5
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James B. Findlay
How's Your Library? by James B. Findlay

An authoritative ebook on collecting for collectors. Written by one of the world's foremost collectors. Covers the whole subject of the care and arrangement of the magical library, data on the books themselves, bookplates with pages of examples, plus the Mulholland article on same. Other bits by well known collectors. Highly recommended to all who are building up their magic libraries, no matter how small at present. Preface by John Mulholland.

1st edition 1952 (self); 2nd edition 1958 (Ireland Magic); 1st digital edition, 44 pages.

★★★★★ $5.95
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Max Holden
Programmes of Famous Magicians by Max Holden

This ebook gives a very nice glimpse into the past. It describes the routines and effects of the programmes of famous magicians. You will find descriptions of programmes by Dai Vernon, Al Baker, Annemann, Cardini, Blackstone, Dante, Davenport, Hugard, Keating, and many more. Check the table of contents link further down for the complete list.

1st edition, 1937, Max Holden, New York City; 49 pages.

  1. Percy Abbott
  2. AMAC
  3. Annemann
  4. Al Baker
  5. Roy Benson
  6. Walter Baker & Co
  7. McDonald Birch & Co
  8. John Blackledge
  9. John Booth
  10. Harry Blackstone
  11. The Late Herbert Brooks
  12. Milbourne Christopher
  13. The Great Carmo
  14. Keith Clark
  15. Cardini
  16. Cortini
  17. Chris Charlton
  18. Judson Cole
  19. Henry Clive ...
★★★★ $6
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Maximiliano Yedid
The DaOrtiz Report by Maximiliano Yedid

This ebook is published with Dani DaOrtiz' permission and blessing.

Card magic is evolving. Card magicians are no longer looking for the latest "moves" and "techniques", no longer are they caring for more ways to deal seconds and bottoms. What they are looking for are psychological ploys and techniques that will allow you to create impossible magic.

Dani DaOrtiz is a new force in card magic. He revolutionized it. But how many times do I hear: "I would do that... If I were him". Many magicians feel that DaOrtiz' spontaneousness and carefreeness is not a match of their personality.

In this report...

★★★★★ $6
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Ken Muller
Magic Awareness: F.U.N. Presentation Series by Ken Muller

A collection of stories, poems, and reflections about magic - inexplicable phenomena in life that impact our audience, or you as the performer. This can be inspirational or focusing for novices, amateurs, collectors, or professionals. I wrote this a decade ago as a Christmas gift for magic friends around the world, but it could be an ideal gift to others or self at any time.

"This book is written for those who have chosen to make of performance magic something more than an onlooker or student - those called magicians, conjurors, mentalists, illusionists, and magical entertainers (and their...

$6
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Mihwonkuoy Refizul
The Book Without Words by Mihwonkuoy Refizul

The real secrets on how to become the greatest magician in the world. Dedicated to the discerning conjurors, the cheaters, the liars, and all other lost souls - whatever age, who want to impress, manipulate, and magish other people for profit, fun, or just entertainment.

Included is a very clever and creative book test, for all of you who require a strong effect to justify the purchase.

The truth is delivered as a satire, which makes it a fun read, but at the same time delivers a profoundly deep and true message.

  • About the Author
  • Part One
    • Introduction
    • The Basic Principles
    • The...
★★★★ $6.66
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Van Cleve
How To Win A Magic Contest by Van Cleve

Written by a man who has won many magic contests and who has the trophies to prove it! They illustrate this ebook.

  • Introduction
  • Why Enter A Magic Contest
  • How To Win...Before The Contest
  • Deadlines
  • Time Limits
  • Contest Categories
  • Standard of Judging
  • Learn the Situation
  • Plan the Act as a Contest Winner
  • Consider What Works Best in a Contest
  • Rehearse a Winning Act
  • How To Win...During the Contest
  • Make the Most of the Audience
  • Make the Most of the M.C.
  • Make the Most of Your Act
  • Make the Most of the Judges
  • How To Win...After the Contest
  • Win With the Magic Award
  • Win With or Without...
$6.95
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PDF & EPUB

Arthur Buckley
Principles and Deceptions by Arthur Buckley

Another great book from Arthur Buckley. He discusses some theoretical aspects of magic and then goes into detailed instructions of moves and routines with coins, cards, and billiard balls. I can highly recommend this book.

1st edition, 1948, Arthur Buckley; original 222 pages; PDF 185 pages.

  • CHAPTER ONE
    1. Photograph of the Author
    2. Dedication
    3. Introduction by Theo Bamberg (Okito)
    4. Foreword by the Author
    5. The Principles of Magic
    6. Manipulation
    7. Substitution
    8. Duplication
    9. Camouflage
    10. Imitation
    11. False Partition
    12. Concealed Mechanism
    13. Falsification
    14. Arrangement
    15. Preparation
    16. Misdirection
    17. Concealment ...
★★★★★ $7
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Wilhelm Eberhard
Understanding the Tamariz False Clues Method by Wilhelm Eberhard

Tamariz' False Clues method helps professional magicians to eliminate contradictions from their acts, guaranteeing they produce the effect they really want on their audiences. This ebook explains the method, helps you avoid common errors and provides an overview of the fundamental theoretical concepts you need to correctly use every aspect of it.

Contents

  • Understanding and using Tamariz' False Clues method
    • Is it difficult to use the False Clues method?
  • First Part: Preliminaries
    • Nelms' importance of meaning theory
    • Tricks lacking meaning are perceived as a challenge to solve a puzzle ...
★★★★ $7
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Edward Maurice
Showmanship and Presentation by Edward Maurice

Tips and tricks from a Vaudeville professional including openers, audience appeal, costume, make-up, and a lot more. The ideal is to have a director who pays attention to these areas, but most magicians are performers and directors rolled up into one person. It is therefore important to read and study showmanship and presentation.

From the introduction by Park Shackleton:

It is now, thank goodness, many many years since I cared two hoots how a trick was done (i.e., the actual secret which is of no importance). I am only interested in how it is presented (which is of vital importance). ...

★★★★★ $7
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Daniel Skahen
Magic by Theory by Daniel Skahen

As the title suggests, this is a pure work about theory, but not old and dusty thoughts, instead a fresh and new look by Daniel Tyler. Certainly you will find topics which are as old as magic, such as 'the merit of gimmicks' and 'misdirection', but you will also find a chapter dealing with 'where to shop', which is up-to-date and includes places on the internet. This chapter alone can save you a multiple of the price of this ebook. Or what about 'getting the girl' or 'how to admire Blaine, but be yourself' - all topics that Daniel discusses. You might be shocked to hear that Daniel is just eighteen...

$7.50
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Ian Kendall
Egotistical Opinions: Entrances by Ian Kendall

This is the first lesson from Egotistical Opinions. In this 12 minute video Ian talks about entrances, and how to make that important first impression. Covering both stage and close up situations, he shows examples of how he starts a show, and then explains why he does what he does when he does it. The final story is not only true, but still makes him wince...

1st edition 2009, runtime 12 minutes

$7.50
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MP4 (video)

Ian Kendall
Egotistical Opinions: Microphone Technique by Ian Kendall

This is the second video from Egotistical Opinions. The 32 minute video covers microphone technique for magicians, covering handheld, tie clip and headset mics. Ian shows the correct way to handle and use the microphone so that you look and feel confident and professional.

1st edition 2009, runtime 32 minutes

$7.50
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Ian Kendall
Egotistical Opinions: Visual Noise by Ian Kendall

This is the third video from Egotistical Opinions. This ten minute lesson talks about the concept of visual noise, and how you can control your body language so that you are not distracting to watch. This information is useful for both stage and close up performers, as well as anyone who needs to speak in public.

1st edition 2009, runtime 10 minutes

$7.50
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Ian Kendall
Egotistical Opinions: Performance by Ian Kendall

This is the fourth video from Egotistical Opinions. This 13 minute clip talks about performance, professionalism and generally getting the correct attitude to entertaining your audience.

1st edition 2009, runtime 13 minutes

$7.50
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MP4 (video)

Ian Kendall
Egotistical Opinions: Practicing by Ian Kendall

This is the fifth video from Egotistical Opinions. In this six minute lesson Ian talks about the correct way to approach practising and how to get the most from your practice sessions.

1st edition 2009, runtime 6 minutes

★★★★★ $7.50
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MP4 (video)

Ian Kendall
Egotistical Opinions: Stage Fright by Ian Kendall

This is the sixth video from Egotistical Opinions. In this six minute lesson Ian explains his approach for conquering stage fright, a proven method that may sound strange, but one that means stage fright, and 'shaky hand syndrome' are a thing of the past. Everyone can benefit from this advice, beginners and experienced performers alike.

1st edition 2009, runtime 6 minutes

$7.50
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MP4 (video)

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