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Ted Annemann's Five-Foot Shelf of Magic

by Ted Annemann and Chris Wasshuber

Ted Annemann wrote in the Jinx No.8 (May 1935) on page 32:

Down through the years have come many books on the art of magic and allied subjects. Of late the production of such literature has increased until hardly a week goes by without the appearance of a book, brochure, or manuscript. Many are good and many are not. The titles given here is an impartial and unbiased opinion of my own as to what books constitute a working library on the art of mystifying.

Every included work has its value...

Houdini Marginalia

by Chris Wasshuber

For a while, I wanted to inspect Harry Houdini's copy of Jack Pots by Eugene Edwards, which is a collection of poker stories. In my opinion, Eugene Edwards was another pseudonym for Edward Gallaway, aka the legendary S. W. Erdnase. There are also rumors that Erdnase and Houdini met each other, or perhaps had a closer association or even friendship. Thus, there is a possibility that a dedication or some other comment is written in the book. Since I am located a good distance away from the Library of Congress where Houdini's library...

A Little Known Tool to Identify an Online Pirate or Copyright Infringer

by Chris Wasshuber

If you have dealt with online piracy and copyright infringement for any amount of time, you will know that it is often very difficult to identify the person who is the infringer. By identifying I mean finding out their real name and address to be able to hold them accountable for the damage they caused. One of the reasons for this difficulty is data privacy laws that prevent companies from sharing the account information of infringers.

For example, let us assume you wrote a book and you find...

The Largest Pirate in Downloads for Magicians

by Chris Wasshuber

In the past when I was talking about pirates I never mentioned any websites directly because I wanted to avoid sending them inadvertently more customers. But we have reached a point where these pirate operations have become so large that a different strategy to deal with them is called for. It is not hard to spot these pirate sites because everything has so low prices that it should be pretty obvious that something illegal is going on there. If every product is 3-times, 5-times, or even 10-times...

Card Illustrator Tool

by Chris Wasshuber

Let us imagine you are writing a book about conjuring and are in need of illustrations of cards. For example, you want to show a setup or stack in the form of a card ribbon. Perhaps some cards are face-up, some are face-down. Or perhaps you want to show a fan of cards with some cards protruding from the fan. You could take photos but nicely done illustrations do look better. What do you do if you are not an illustrator and can't afford to hire one? I have the solution for you, and it is free of...

Max Maven's Inquisition

by Chris Wasshuber

Max Maven had an encyclopedic knowledge of magic's history. For me, this was always his most impressive skill. He showcased this skill in his Inquisition column in Genii which ran from April 2004 to June 2009. I created an online version of it using the more than 600 trivia questions. (This is, of course, done with permission.) You can check it out at Max Maven's Inquisition.

Part of the fun of these quizzes is that Max would often string questions together that were in some form related. Often...

The CIA Magician: John Mulholland

by Ben Robinson

It is a misnomer to call John Mulholland (1898 - 1970) a “spy” or “operative.” He was neither for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1953 to 1958. He was a pedantic scholar who did field research and wrote reports. Largely criticized by people who seek to take down his reputation as “The World’s Master Magician” (a title he shared with Thurston). Mulholland was a tall, gangly man with wide ears, a distinct sense of offbeat humor and was married to his wife Pauline for forty years, and was...

How to Make Your Own Close-Up Mat

by Chris Wasshuber

A close-up mat is for a close-up magician a necessity. Of course, there are venues and occasions where you do not need one or where you can't use one. But a close-up mat provides a sort of mini-stage for your magic. It marks an area that is special, a space that is under your control. This will reduce the likelihood that a spectator will simply grab an item unprompted from you and inspect it or otherwise disturb your performance. It also creates a good contrast to make your items (cards, coins,...

How to Farm and Plot Chia Coins with just one Raspberry Pi

by Chris Wasshuber

The Chia cryptocurrency has made a splash. It is the brainchild of Bram Cohen, the inventor of the BitTorrent protocol. Some say he is a genius. Others consider him a sleazeball and opportunist. I have no idea. I have never met him and don't know what he is. But my life experience has taught me that the truth often lies somewhere in the middle. Perhaps he is a genius sleazeball. Who knows. This is not about Mr. Cohen. This article is about helping you make sense of it all and navigating the treacherous...

Erdnase Resources

by Chris Wasshuber

The search for S.W. Erdnase has and is being conducted by a small but very dedicated group of investigators, historians, magicians, and gamblers. I am part of this group of investigators. While we often champion entirely different candidates and disagree on many points there is something to be learned from each point of view. The list below is a chronologically sorted list of books and articles which I consider important reading on the subject:

The Expert at the Card Table by S.W. Erdnase The Expert at the Card Table by S.W. Erdnase (1902)
This book is the primary evidence...

John Carney's Recommended Reading List

In John Carney's The Book of Secrets he shares a list of 36 books he can highly recommend - books he would bring to the proverbial desert island. Many of these books are out-of-print. Luckily a good number of them are available as ebooks from

Memoirs of Robert-Houdin

Biographies of Magicians

Magic Craft

A Rowing Machine which Generates Electricity

by Chris Wasshuber

After I had too much pain in my knees running, I decided to switch to a lower impact exercise. The obvious choice would have been cycling, but I discovered rowing and liked the fact that it trains more muscles, because it also exercises the upper body. I like to be efficient with my exercising. I don't have all day just to exercise. An exercise that engages more of my muscles is therefore more time efficient. It also produces lower joint impact than running. Cycling is even lower impact than rowing,...

Triple Gozinta Boxes

by Chris Wasshuber

Go figure this one out. Three boxes, big, medium, small, stacked inside each other. So far so good. But hey, what is this? The small box is now large enough to hold the medium and big boxes?

This is my rendition of Lubor Fiedler's ingenious Gozinta Boxes (also known as Parabox or Inside-Out box). (The reason I am touching the boxes so gingerly is that they are 20 years old made from now brittle cardboard. Nevertheless, this effect is one of my favorite illusions.)

For those who know...

Jason England's 17 Card Books to Study

In September 2010 Theory 11 released a short video clip where Jason England introduced 17 books on card magic any serious card magician should read. It was titled "An instructional download on the things you can't download" (my emphasis). Well, I respect the talented guys at Theory 11, but they are a bit behind the curve when it comes to downloads because even back in 2010, 10 of the 17 books were available as download ebooks from - and most of them for many years. Several more became...

The Thirty-Nine Steps to Mentalism

by Bob Cassidy's

Fundamentals by Bob Cassidy This is an excerpt from Bob Cassidy's exceptional Fundamentals ebook. Many consider this ebook the best Bob has ever written. It lists Bob's 39 most important magic books to study to achieve mastery in mentalism. The unique feature of this list is that Bob explains for each title why it is in his list. So here we go ...

The Thirty-Nine Steps - A Mentalist's Library of Essential Works

Recent Thread on an Internet Magicians’ Forum –
Question: “What book or books are essential reading for someone just starting...

The Many Uses of The Shuber Blades

The Shuber Blades are a flexible accessory to protect your playing cards. Two stainless steel blades together with a special rubber band secure your cards regardless of if you want to protect one card or more than a regular deck of cards.

You can not only protect your cards, but you can also use the Shuber Blades to build a pocket card press. Take two large paper clips of the kind shown below.

paper clips

Clip one on each short end of the deck enclosed in the Shuber Blades. Then remove the wire handles from...

What are the best magic books for beginners?

by Chris Wasshuber

This is actually a very hard question to answer because there are all kinds of beginners with all kinds of backgrounds and interests. I will limit myself to the performance of close-up where I gathered my own experience doing magic, and there I will focus on magic with cards, coins, and mentalism. If you want to take a shortcut and not read through the rest of my opinion here are the three best classics which are wonderful and affordable:

Magic Knowledge Base - Help

Anybody who has a customer account and subscribes to our free magic newsletter has access to our Magic Knowledge Base, a full-text search engine indexing thousands of magic books, magazines, instruction sheets, and other paper ephemera. If you are trying to locate an elusive description of an effect or move, if you are researching magic's history, or if you want to check out an ebook before purchasing, the Magic Knowledge Base will come in handy. It offers features we have not seen...

Who Can Decipher the Title and Author of these Books

Who can decipher the title and the author of the volume depicted below? The book must have been published before 1923. It is probably a well-known classic as the other books from the same photo, but it could also be something lesser known.

Unknown Book

The two books in the picture below have earlier been identified as:

Edward Gallaway is S. W. Erdnase

by Chris Wasshuber

The Cardsharp and his Book by Chris Wasshuber To read the full story, the full case of why Edward Gallaway is Erdnase, get my book The Cardsharp and his Book.

I know this will come as a shock to some, particularly those who hold on to the old rumor that it was an Andrews. However, this rumor cannot be substantiated. We have to trace this rumor back from Vernon to Sprong to a Drake son who would have to get it from his father who we don't even know had any direct contact with Erdnase. Yet some believe this like it is an irrefutable fact. It isn't. It simply is a hypothesis...

Anverdi-type Haunted Card Box

by Chris Wasshuber

In the mid 90s I played around with incorporating electronics into magic. Anverdi had a great idea where a box would close just before a spectator selected card could be placed inside it. I didn't like the mechanics of his box, which was a box for two decks where one half was used for the electronics and the other half for the actual action. The sliding lid of the box would slowly close. Here is a video for the original Anverdi box:

After I read Anverdi's book I could build the variation...

A List of Al Mann Publications

Al Mann Al Mann was a prolific writer who published in excess of 100 manuscripts primarily on mentalism. All the Al Mann products we have for sale on can be found on the Al Mann author page. Since we have already sold out of many of his manuscripts the list there is not complete. As we sell out more and more it will further shrink. To help Al Mann collectors complete their collection I am listing below all the manuscripts and books that are known to me. It is easily possible that I am missing one or the other....

How To Make Your Own Playing Cards

by Chris Wasshuber


If you have been struggling with making your own gaffed cards, printing your own deck of cards, or if you always wanted to put uncle Joe's face where the Jack of Spades is, then now this has become a lot easier and cheaper than ever before. The method I will describe here results in cards that are identical in look and feel to regular USPCC cards. And the best of all of this is that you can do this for a few cents per card right at home. ...

Cy Endfield's Chess Set

by Chris Wasshuber

Cy Endfield was a film director, magician and inventor. Among his many achievements he created a unique chess set which he patented in 1974 in the US (3,806,128). This chess set, which allows one to interlock all back row pieces into a tube for easy storage, was the official FIDE commemorative chess set for the legendary 1972 chess battle between the American chess genius Bobby Fischer and the Russian protege Boris Spassky.

Cy Endfield chess set

The set was originally made from silver and gilded silver in a limited...

Largest Origami?

by Chris Wasshuber

On October 19th, 1994 I created a giant origami model using a square sheet of paper measuring 6.36 meters on each side. Total weight was 5.45 kg. I made the fold inside the largest paper factory in Austria, Leykam Muerzthaler. I used the entire width of the paper the factory manufactured. Just to cut off a perfectly square piece of such a large piece of paper was a challenge.

Origami Beatle

This happened during my time in Japan. I was exposed to the art of origami and when I returned home for break I wanted...

Non-Evaporative Cheap Portable Air Conditioning

by Chris Wasshuber

I decided to combine some of the ideas I found online how to make a cheap non-evaporative air-conditioner. The basic idea is to blow air through ice or cold water to cool it down. The simplest solution is to fill a cooler with ice and have a fan blow air into the cooler and out from another opening comes cooler air. But that simple solution does not provide a lot of air/ice surface for heat exchange. Particularly once the ice starts melting the pool of water reduces the exchange surface and thus...

Business Card Strategies

by Chris Wasshuber

Over the years I had a couple of pretty lame business cards. You know the kind that your employer issues to you or the ones you print out yourself after an hour of fiddling around with a graphics software. During the last years I did not have a business card. While I am not great at handing out my business card, I do get occasionally asked if I have one, and then I am embarrassed that I don't have one. The most recent such incidence prompted me to get a business card made. But I did not want to...

The Learned Pig Project: TLPP

The Learned Pig Project

The Learned Pig Project was started in September 1999 by Marko from Panama. Marko's idea was essentially to mimic the Project Gutenberg for magicians. Project Gutenberg's purpose is to digitize public domain books. The Learned Pig Project's goal is to digitize public-domain magic books. When Marko started he had four books digitized: My Magic Life (Devant), Miracle Mongers (Houdini), The Lives of the Conjurors (Frost) and Behind the Scenes with the Mediums (Abbott). He would later add dozens more. In late 2011 Marko shut down the project due to security issues on his website.

To prevent...

Erdnase/Gallaway Cover Comparison

by Chris Wasshuber

I am firmly convinced that Edward Gallaway is S. W. Erdnase. One of many reasons is the surprising similarities between the books Gallaway published later in his life and The Expert at the Card Table. Dr. John Olsson prepared a detailed forensic linguistic analysis comparing Erdnase with Gallaway concluding a strong possibility that Gallaway is Erdnase. Beyond the linguistic match, there are several other aspects that are matching, too.

Looking for Books with Edward Gallaway Bookplate

by Chris Wasshuber

I am trying to assemble a list of books that have the Edward Gallaway bookplate, shown below, in them.

Edward Gallaway bookplate

If you have any information on books with this bookplate please email me at The books we have found so far are:

  1. The Expert at the Card Table by S. W. Erdnase (1902)
  2. The History of the Works of the Learned (1700)
  3. The History of the Works of the Learned (1705)
We know he was interested in and had books in the following subject areas:

Magic Map

I am sure many of you traveled to unfamiliar locations asking: "Where can I find here some magic shops, venues, and other magic sites of interest?" My answer to that question is the Magic Locator service. This is a custom Google map. Type an address into the search box and you will see a map where points of interest for magicians are marked. These are:

Folding Slingshot

by Chris Wasshuber

As a boy I made many slingshots ever since my father showed me how. Find a y-branching twig, cut it to size, attach rubber bands, and a piece of leather to hold your projectile. I must have made dozens of them. I loved the compactness of a slingshot. I also liked to make bows and arrows but those were not weapons you could put in your pocket. And they were harder to make for a boy. Finding straight arrows was one of the problems. With a slingshot any pebble, cone, or other smallish piece of something...

Story Deck Effects

by Chris Wasshuber

A 'story deck effect' is an entertaining story of some kind which is told with the help of a deck of cards (full deck or partial deck). At certain moments in the story the performer displays a card or a set of cards to illustrate or 'play out' the story.

Probably the most famous story deck effect is Sam the Bellhop as performed by Bill Malone. Bill Malone has to be credited for adding false shuffles and cuts to the performance turning good entertainment into a stunning and amazing signature piece....

Magic Square Effects

by Chris Wasshuber

I have been interested in magic squares longer than I have been interested in magic. And I have been interested in magic for a long time. It was actually a close cousin of the magic square, the magic matrix as described by Martin Gardner in one of his mathemagic books, which got me into magic. But that is a story for another day.

In this article I want to explain two simple ways to construct an arbitrary 4x4 magic square.

The easiest method possible

Start out with memorizing the following 4x4 magic square: ...

Bitcoin Mining: A Miners Tale

by Chris Wasshuber

I have been actively mining bitcoins since June 2014. I fell in traps, was scammed, insulted, lost money, made money, learned a lot and have now learned to wrestle the beast that is called 'bitcoin mining'. It is not an easy way to make money. It is also not guaranteed that you will make money. It requires time and effort to get to know all the good and bad, the things to stay away from and the strategies that work. In this article I will share the lessons I learned in the hope to get you up to...

Quick Change, Costume Change

Recently I have become interested in the art of quick costume changes. I am listing here all the resources I could find. If you have others, please email me or comment below. The information listed here was shared by Dennis Schick, Sam Weiss, Thorsten Happel, Chris Brown, Hans-Christian Solka, ...


Torn & Restored Newspaper

The Torn & Restored Newspaper is a classic effect in magic. Some performers have built their reputation on this trick alone. The other day a customer asked me if I have any explanation that he could download as ebook. Yes, I do have several great explanations and presentation ideas.

Twisting the Aces

"Twisting the Aces" is one of those rare blockbuster card effects which are easy to do and have a very strong visual effect. It was developed by Dai Vernon and uses the Elmsley Count as its primary move. An exceptional trick like this spawns a lot of variations. Everybody is putting his spin on it. I personally learned a variation by Thomas Hierling from Germany from his New Wave Close-up Magic book. It was one of the first tricks I performed that truly and utterly amazed my audience. Over the years I must have done...

The Hunt for Erdnase: The Nickname Theory and the Connection to August Roterberg

by Chris Wasshuber

(This article is a work in progress. I will add and develop certain parts over the coming months.)

Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase by Hurt McDermott The mystery around the authorship of The Expert at the Card Table and who S. W. Erdnase really was, has lead to many theories and lots of speculation. In this article I am offering a completely new theory. I call it the Nickname theory. I will also try to develop the case for August Roterberg's involvement, either as the author himself, which I think is unlikely, or his participation on some level, which I think is almost...

How to View DRM-PDF and DRM-EPUB on iPad, iPhone and Android Devices

Finally there is an Adobe Digital Editons app available for iPad. Other apps that did work well in the past are the BlueFire Reader app and Txtr.

Very important for all apps! If you want to transfer DRMed ebooks you MUST first sign up for an Adobe ID with Adobe and then download your ebooks. Only with an Adobe ID can you transfer protected ebooks. Once you downloaded an ebook you cannot change the associated Adobe ID. This means if you have not registered for an Adobe ID and you download a...

Cups and Balls

You could easily call The Cups & Balls the oldest trick in the book. It's a trick that dates back centuries and despite being "an old trick", it's just as mesmerizing today as it was hundreds of years ago. There's never been a time in magic history, as there is today, that so many products are available dedicated to this one effect.

Its versatility is what has drawn magicians to it over and over again. The Cups & Balls isn't just one trick, it's many tricks combined into a single presentation...

The Cube 3D Printer: an independent review

by Chris Wasshuber

I bought a Cube 3D printer a few weeks ago and have printed with it almost every day. (If you want to see one of the projects I did see my article on Cy Endfield's Chess Set.) Here is my take on the printer, the good and the bad. I am in no way affiliated with 3D Systems the company that produces the Cube. I am an engineer for 30 years and have gone through formal metal workshop training as teenager, later migrated to electronics, and am today mostly active in software. But I have kept my interest...

Pros and Cons of Ebooks

by Chris Wasshuber

If you came this far you probably have already an interest in ebooks. But you might not be absolutely convinced of their benefits or you might have doubts and worries about some of their shortcomings; many of which I would characterize as ‘alleged shortcomings’. Allow me to give you the pros and cons as I see them.


Being able to do a full text search in a single book or a whole library of books is clearly the number one advantage of ebooks. Regular books have nothing like...

Why Why Ebooks?

by Dustin Stinett

It’s been several years now since Chris Wasshuber and his venture,, became a part of the landscape of the magic community. To be perfectly frank (and Chris can confirm this), when he and I first started having discussions about ebooks on the various magic message boards I wasn’t just against the concept, I was vehemently against the concept. Not that our arguments were mean spirited (though Chris had - and in fact still has - to put up with some mean spirited comments): they were...

Popular Playing Cards

When I started to seriously get into magic, which was in the late 80s, the most popular deck of cards was the Bicycle 808 deck either in its red or blue back variety. And most magic gaffs were produced with a Bicycle back, too. Occasionally you saw a Tally Ho or Bee back, but it was a rare event. Outside the US you could find some local brands like Piatnik or Fournier, two European brands. Bicycle was also the most popular brand outside of magic which was partly its appeal for magicians - blend...

Ebook Reading Devices: Sony Reader, Kindle, Nook, Que, iPad, iLiad, ...

by Chris Wasshuber

Which Ebook Reader Should It Be?

Executive Summary

Tips on Website Usage

Organization of Products and Topics

With so many ebooks and videos it becomes a challenge to neatly categorize them all to help you find what you are looking for. Our main topics are: Magic, Games, Gambling, Non-Fiction and Fiction. Magic deals with tricks of any kind such as sleight-of-hand with cards and coins. The focus here is on trick descriptions, how these effects can be accomplished. Gambling deals with games for money played mostly in casinos such as poker, blackjack, and roulette. Here the emphasis is on strategy, how to...