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Sealed Mysteries of Pocket Magic

by Jean Hugard
$3

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Sealed Mysteries of Pocket Magic by Jean Hugard

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Jean Hugard describes in this booklet a complete routine consisting of 6 effects. He starts with a card trick, the piano card trick, and continues with a series of rope effects: production of a rope six feet long; doubling the rope; trick with two ropes; triple cut and restored rope; comedy explanation of vanishing knots.

The value of this booklet is in the routining itself. Hugard has used this routine many times with great success. The effects follow in a logical succession each building on the other.

Paul Fleming wrote:

It is one thing to "work up" a number of tricks so that they will fool a layman, and quite another to build these individual feats into a finished "act" or longer program. For a good program of magic, whether short or long, is far more than a mere collection of tricks. It is fairly obvious that the tricks which make up a performance should be selected with due regard to their effectiveness as separate items; but what is sometimes overlooked is the importance of arranging the tricks in such a way as to get the maximum of interest and climax.

Jean Hugard's main purpose, in writing Sealed Mysteries of Pocket-Magic was to give the reader a lesson in "how to routine his best effects." The booklet is not, therefore, primarily an exposition of tricks. Nevertheless, six feats are explained in detail, and the student is shown how to put them together so as to form a half-hour program which, like a good play, has beginning, middle, and end. The tricks the author includes are (1) The Piano Card Trick, which this reviewer first met in Downs' The Art of Magic in 1909, and has been doing, off and on, ever since; (2) the production of a six-foot rope; (3) the "multiplication" of this rope into two ropes; (4) The Cords of Fantasia, an excellent feat of the "Grandmother's Necklace" type, employing two ropes, a cigar, and six silk handkerchiefs quite similar to a stage effect presented by Dante a year or so ago; (5) The Cut and Restored Rope; and (6) The Vanishing Knots, a comedy feat with ropes.

These tricks will not be new to the well-informed magician, for they can be found elsewhere in the literature of magic. But nowhere else, so far as we know, will he find as good a "parlor routine," in the sense of an act of effective close-up feats, with every detail of preparation carefully planned and described, with the sequence arranged by an experienced performer, and with helpful hints on patter and other phases of presentation. Sealed Mysteries of Pocket-Magic must be appraised, then, not as a book of tricks, but as a ready-made routine for those who are ambitious to present an exceptionally good act of close-up magic-though it also provides a pattern which should be useful in working up other routines with other feats. Judged on this basis, it unquestionably deserves a high rating.

The booklet consists of sixteen well-printed pages of text, with twelve good illustrations. The original price was three dollars, but Mr. Hugard promptly cut the price in half. At a dollar and a half, Sealed Mysteries of Pocket-Magic appears to us to offer first-rate value to those who are interested in close-up magic.

first published in the 1930s; 15 pages
word count: 4420 which is equivalent to 17 standard pages of text


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Reviewed by Jim Schuyler
★★★★★   Date Added: Tuesday 29 November, 2005

"Sealed Mysteries of Pocket - Magic by Jean Hugard" was an interesting down load.

Every item in the booklet has been a long-standing friend of mine. The routine as given is a nice, trouble free one, and a (just about) sleight free one.

However, I don't believe that the booklet was written in the 1930's. I think it probably was written in the 1950's by Julien J. Proskauer as a "tribute" to his teacher, Jean Hugard. It may also have been written with the idea that funds derived from the sale of the booklet would go to Jean Hugard to "help him out". As I remember it, Jean Hugard was blind and not too well off toward the end of his life. The booklet was probably never really put on the market because there may have been some "property" rights in dispute about the tricks contained in the routine.

If Jean Hugard had had an idea in the 1930's that routining of tricks was something that was really needed by the amatuer magicians, he would have concentrated on writing routines such as the one in this booklet. He would not have published one booklet and then dropped the subject. His Hugard's Magic Monthly Magazine is full of nice tricks, but I don't recall that it had a lot of routining with different objects in it. I think that Mr. Proskauer did not remember his association and talks with Jean Hugard too well when he wrote "For years, Jean Hugard and the undersigned (one of his humble pupils) have discussed the necessity of putting before the amateurs a complete routined magical act." As I remember it, Jean Hugard was a super teacher of magic tricks and he would not have talked for years... he would have done it!

The piano card trick is a fine old effect, pretty much public domain at the time this booklet was written.

The rope from the card case was an item from a Milbourne Christopher booklet, not credited to Christopher.

The rope cutting routine is the Panama Rope Trick by Ted Collins, not credited to Collins.

The Chefalo knot at the end of the routine was the invention of a European street performer named Chefalo. It was not credited.

I don't think that the Cords of Phantasia was invented by Jean Hugard. But there is no mention of where this marvelous trick came from. I don't think the use of a cigar rather than a chopstick or a magic wand is an improvement to this trick.

Jean Hugard would certainly have mentioned where the tricks in his routine came from if he had actually written the booklet.

I am quite sure that Christopher and Collins would have raised some hell if the booklet was placed on sale as written.

Having said all that, I still like every item in the routine and I am going to do it as written to see if Mr. Proskauer had a good idea or not.