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Created: 02/02/2024
Updated: 03/08/2024

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 and I take my stand now that the shelf of magic as herein listed covers every phase and known principle necessary to a modern performer. There are hundreds of other books, magazines, and pamphlets which contain excellent and practical effects but I'm not listing trick books alone. I'm listing what I think are textbooks and if an absolute stranger to magic asked me tomorrow what books he should buy I'd give him this list. Check it over carefully and see if you can think of a subject connected with mystifying that isn't covered with the best book (my opinion) obtainable.

Books from this list can all be secured through Leo Rullman - 203 West 81st Street - New York City. Mr. Rullman looked this over and estimated the cost of such a shelf at about $125.00. This does not include a file of The Sphinx to date. For thousands of good tricks and for a perfect insight into and knowledge of the trend of modern magic there is no better file to have on hand, but for specialized works take the list as given. I consider the complete file of Stanyon's Magic as the most important followed by Tarbell's monumental course. These two items alone make a working library. From there on it is a matter of speciality.

Bring me a person who has assimilated the knowledge contained within this list and I'll back him academically against the world of magic today.

Almost all the titles Annemann suggests are available as ebooks from

Annemann Five-Foot Shelf of Magic

The History of the Five-Foot Shelf

Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot once stated that the elements of a liberal education could be obtained by spending 15 minutes a day reading from a collection of books that could fit on a three-foot shelf. He later changed this to a five-foot shelf. The publisher P. F. Collier & Son saw an opportunity and challenged Eliot to make good on this statement by selecting an appropriate collection of works, the result is now referred to as "The Harvard Classics". Ted Annemann adopted that same idea and applied it to the world of conjuring literature.