This book was rated one of the ten basic books for a working library of conjuring by H. Adrian Smith, historian, collector and owner of the largest private magic library in his time. It is a magnificent book featuring tricks from Germain, Conradi, Goldston, Okito, Elliott, and others. It is very difficult to get a hardcopy these days. Other books in this top 10 list are
In 1910, Henry Hatton, a well-known writer on magic, and Adrian Plate, an equally well-known performer, collaborated in writing Magicians' Tricks: How They Are Done. The book promptly took its place as a standard work on the subject, and could be found in the library of every up-to-date magician of that time. It is just as deserving of study today; and we are writing the present review to remind magicians of the younger generation that they will benefit by getting acquainted with this excellent but sometimes overlooked treatise.
Magicians' Tricks is a general work, covering various branches of the art of magic. Since Mr. Plate was an unusually skillful performer with cards, it is not surprising that one of the longest chapters in the book (Chapter 1, 125 pages) should deal with card magic. There are in this chapter, to start with, some 25 pages of sleights with cards, to which are later added explanations of other card sleights in connection with specific tricks. The "color-change" with cards gets a good deal of attention; so, also, do The Rising Cards (18 pages, describing the methods of Thurston, Hilliard, Hartz, de Kolta, Dr. Elliott, and others), The Cards from Pocket to Pocket (7 pages, explaining two methods, and including some common-sense patter), and A Mathematical Problem (a startling "mind reading" feat with cards); and many other card tricks are set forth in less detail. Chapter 2 (27 pages) teaches the basic sleights with coins; describes The Miser's Dream as performed by Carl Herrmann, "who introduced it into this country in 1861, and has never been surpassed in the performance of it"; explains a number of other complete coin tricks; and concludes with a 5-page explanation of a good combination trick, entitled A Coin, a Card, and a Candle. Chapter 3 (21 pages), with balls and eggs, has as its features The Patriotic Billiard Balls, in which three red, three white, and three blue balls are placed in three derby hats, so that each hat contains balls of one color only - but each of the hats is finally shown to hold a combination of red, white, and blue balls; The Egg Ching Chang (or Kling Klang) of Colonel Stodare; and The Spherical Paradox of the famous Robert Heller, a charming feat with glass balls to which the authors give 7 pages of explanation.
Chapter 4 consists of 22 pages of handkerchief tricks, the best of which are The Transit of Old Glory (a variation of The Twentieth Century Handkerchief Trick), and a combination handkerchief-and-candle trick that is explained with 7 pages of text and 6 drawings. Chapter 5 is a short (10-page) section on after-dinner tricks, of which The Lemon and Bank Note alone deserves special mention. In the final chapter (Chapter 6, 127 pages) 37 tricks are explained. Here are some of the best things in the whole book. The Disappearance of a Glass of Water, by Okito (Theo Bamberg); The Rice Bowls, with improvements by Conradi; The Spirit Table, by Karl Germain; The Nest of Boxes (10 pages), made famous by Harry Kellar and presented more recently by Dante; The Kellar Rope Tie; The Ten Ichi Thumb Tie; Kellar's Cube Root Trick; Wine and Water; Blackboard "Mind Reading" Tests; and The Egyptian Water Jars, by Germain, are among the feats explained here that have made magical history.
Magicians' Tricks is a book of 344 pages. It is unusually well written, and is illustrated with 192 line drawings. It is printed on good paper, and is attractively bound in a decorative cloth cover. It is a book that can be read with pleasure and profit by every magician.