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The Fine Art of Magic, 2nd Edition

by George G. Kaplan & Warren J. Kaps
$59.50

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The Fine Art of Magic, 2nd Edition by George G. Kaplan & Warren J. Kaps

Customer rank: +1

[Note: Due to Covid-19 shutdown and slowdown at our supplier we currently see delivery times of 5-7 weeks for the hardcover. At some point this will change, but we do not know when. Under normal conditions, the hardcover will take about 2 weeks to be delivered to you.]

Some have argued that George Kaplan's Fine Art of Magic is the best magic book ever published. Juan Tamariz, who wrote a foreword to this second edition, says: "Hardly a performance where I do not include an effect from this book. It's the only book that contains only good and excellent tricks."

This magic treatise has stood the test of time. It has become a standard magic reference work. The First Edition is one of the most sought after magic books and is now available in its Second Edition, which incorporates additions and corrections from Kaplan's own notes, as well as adds more than 25% new and unpublished magic.

The (e)book has been completely reformatted. The original illustrations by Frances Rigney have been preserved, and additional illustrations for new content have been created by Tony Dunn. The printed and digital editions are identical in terms of contents.

"Everything anyone could expect of a book on magic - An outstanding collection of new, completely practical and easily workable tricks. ... There are no idle dreams,... but practical effects which have been audience tested time and time again. The close attention given to detail, the simplicity of working and the various subtleties employed, all point to the fact that much careful thought has gone before and that only a result approaching perfection would suffice ... It's a fine book." - J.G. Thompson, Jr.

"I've spotted a dozen tricks I've put down for immediate use, and any number of other items I'll get into in the future. ... The material is good solid magic - there are no pipe-dreams ... I can't praise the book too highly." - Frederick Braue

"Here is a book of exquisite conjuring. I recommend it enthusiastically to every magician ... It's great." - John Crimmins

  • Contents
  • Forward To The First Edition
  • Introduction To The Second Edition
  • Preface
  • About George G. Kaplan
  • About Warren J. Kaps
  • Chapter 1 Corner-Short & Breather
    • The Corner-Short
    • The Secret Gadget
    • The Breather Crimp
    • Advantages Of The Corner-Short And Breather Procedure
    • The Pencil Dot
    • Locating The Corner-Short Or Breather, And The Delayed-Action Control
    • Avoiding Contrasts
    • To Bring The Corner-Short Or Breather To The Top Of The Pack
    • The Kaplan Fan Cut
    • To Bring The Corner-Short Or Breather To The Bottom Of The Pack
    • To Control A Selected Card By Means Of The Corner-Short Or Breather
    • The Kaplan Control Of A Glimpsed Card By Means Of The Corner-Short Or Breather
    • Retaining Control Of Several Glimpsed Cards By Means Of The Corner-Short Or Breather
    • Controlling Three Selected Cards By Means Of The Corner-Short Or Breather
    • To Bring A Prearranged Packet Above A Chosen Card By Means Of The Corner-Short Or Breather
    • Obtaining A Desired Packet Instantly By Means Of The Corner-Short Or Breather
    • Using The Corner-Short Or Breather To Retain A Prearranged Deck In Order
  • Chapter 2 Subtle Sleights
    • Master Card Control
    • The Rifle-Force - A New Angle
    • The Gambler's False-Cut
    • The Peek
    • The Step-Control Of A Peeked At Card
    • To Glimpse Or Sight A Card Secretly
    • Impromptu Marking Of Cards
  • Chapter 3 Tricks Employing Corner-Short Or Breather Crimp
    • Out-Of-The-Room Selection
    • The X-Ray Location
    • Double-Back Corner-Short Location
    • Mind-Reading With Two Subjects
    • The "Impossible" Discovery
    • The Twenty-Sixth Card Location - Using A Corner-Short
    • Au Naturelle
    • The Topsy-Turvy Fan
    • The Kings Arise
  • Chapter 4 Close-Up Card Tricks
    • Will-O'-The Wisp Routine
    • New Card Affinity
    • Revello Card Circle
    • The "Stop!" Fan Discovery
    • Kaplan's Clock Trick
    • A Lesson In Misdirection
    • Rex Card Mystery
    • Multiple Do As I Do
    • Follow The Arrow
    • The Card In The Shoe
    • The Royal Assembly
    • The Captain Kid Card (1st Version)
    • The Captain Kid Card (2nd Version)
    • Magnetic Thought Transference
    • The Jokers Are On Me!
  • Chapter 5 Platform Card Tricks
    • The Lie Detector
    • Giant Trio-Flight
    • Card-Stabbing
    • The Kaplan Rising Cards
    • The Card In The Balloon
    • A Winning Wager
    • The Kaplan Torn And Restored Card
    • The Chameleon Card
  • Chapter 6 Mind Reading Tricks With Cards
    • Ultra Modern Mentalism
    • The Calcutta Mystery (First Version)
    • The Calcutta Mystery (Second Version)
    • The Bombay Mystery
    • Think
    • Do As I Do
    • The Princess Card Trick
    • The Yogi's Secret
    • The New Brain-Wave Deck
    • Mahatma Thought Control
    • Psychic Sympathy
    • Twenty-One Cards - A Double Prediction
    • Crystal Clairvoyance
    • Dial
    • Information, Please!
    • The Medium's Card Test
    • Yogi Spelling Test
    • The Eighteen-Cards Spelling Trick
    • The Triple Spelling Trick
    • The Three-Billet Test No. 1
    • The Three-Billet Test No. 2
    • And Then There Were None
    • Zig-Zag
  • Chapter 7 More Mind-Reading Tricks
    • The Trance Quick-And-Dead Test
    • A Capitol Problem
    • An Improved Sealed-Message Reading
    • Mind-Figures
    • The Spirit-Slates And Magazine Test
    • A Cigarette-Paper Pellet Switch
    • The Three-Billet Test No. 3
    • Forcing Three Numbers
    • The Odd-Even Force
  • Chapter 8 Coin Tricks
    • The Kaplan Coin Switch
    • The Kaplan Okito-Box Presentation
    • I Do As You Do
    • The Stack Of Quarters
    • The Sympathetic Coins
    • Coin-Extraction Perfected
    • The Kaplan Coin Transposition
  • Chapter 9 Selected Tricks
    • The Spirit Handkerchief
    • A Billiard-Ball Transposition
    • The Brema Tube And Bill
    • The Cigarette Vanish In Handkerchief
    • The Trap-Door 'Kerchief
    • Tying The Knot For The Rope Trick
    • The Bent Pin And Nail
    • The Game Of "Thirty-One" Played With A Die
    • The Game Of "35"
    • The Fifteen Match-Sticks Puzzle
    • Calendar Trick
  • Chapter 10 Miscellaneous Platform Tricks
    • Ben Ali's Rope
    • The Lemon Trick
    • Card And Crystal Ball
    • The Gypsy Thread Trick
    • The Comedy Of Errors
    • The Kaplan Nest Of Boxes Routine
    • The Mystery Of The Red Block
  • Chapter 11 Amusement Area
    • Whats My Line
    • He Done Her Wrong
    • Solid Objects
    • High Finance
    • Mathematchsticks
    • In One Year And The Other
    • Magic Cross
    • On The Level
    • Affair Question
    • Party Lines
    • Hire Education
  • Chapter 12 Concluding Observations
1st edition 1948; 2nd edition 2019, 370 pages.
word count: 126965 which is equivalent to 507 standard pages of text

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Reviewed by Marc DeSouza (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★   Date Added: Friday 26 June, 2020

This review was first published in MUM July 2020:

The Fine Art of Magic is a true classic among magic books. Originally published by Fleming Books in 1948, it has remained a seminal text for generations of magicians. Although Jean Hugard is credited as editor of the first edition, he truly was the author, putting Kaplan's work to print. So many magicians have been inspired by this book, no less than Juan Tamariz, who penned the preface to this new edition.

I was pleased to take this opportunity to reread this book and was amazed to see how many now-classic effects are taught within. I also looked at the original side by side with this new edition to see what has changed. My friend Warren Kaps has done yeoman service in not only bringing the original back into print, but in adding much in the way of new and updated information. Many will long for the look of the original, but Lybrary has done a fine job of producing a very clear and clean layout that is easy to read. In addition, a bolder, clearer font is used. The original Frances Rigney illustrations are still here, but are augmented by additional illustrations by Tony Dunn that capture the same feel of the originals.

Reading Kaps' forward to the Second Edition lays out not only his goals, but much about the original edition. Rather than focusing on each chapter's contents and revisions, let me make an overall statement that applies to everything in this book. By using Chapter One on the corner short as an example, one can see how much has been added or revised for modern day techniques and advancements. The new title is "Corner-Short and Breather," making the case for the new editor's preference for what was really arcane knowledge of the day of the first edition, but is now a well-known tool. Kaps gives an analysis of why he prefers the newer technique. Throughout the book there are additional credits and references to newer sources for additional information on the effects and subjects noted. There are several new effects and added commentary, along with newer, better handlings for previous entries. I might add that these references are by no means voluminous and are generally acknowledging a limited grouping of more well known published works of recent vintage.

There is also a new chapter added titled "Amusement Area" that contains a number of stunts and bar bet type novelties. In Chapter Twelve, "Concluding Observations," Kaps appends a number of his own to Kaplan’s original entries. I would have preferred that he notate which were his comments versus the originals, but that is a small criticism. All in all, both of these gentlemen have provided excellent commentary.

I would be remiss if I did not at least provide a list of some of my favorites from the book. Will O' The Wisp is a fine Cards Through Newspaper assembly, later popularized by Albert Goshman. The Stop Fan Discovery is a superb forcing tool that is still in use by many. The Giant Trio Flight is a stand-up version of Cards Across using jumbo cards and envelopes that might enjoy renewed interest, along with a great handling for Card in Balloon. The Spirit Slates and Magazine Test is a favorite of Tamariz that also deserves more consideration. The Stack of Quarters has a great handling and one I use frequently. There is a superb copper/ silver handling of Sympathetic Coins. Kaplan’s routine for the Brema Bill Tube may well have you scouring your drawer for your set. For anyone considering The Bill in Lemon, you should certainly read and absorb the wonderful details provided in this book. Finally, my favorite of this tome is certainly The Gypsy Thread. Despite numerous variations, this remains the seminal work on this effect and there are details provided here that have been forgotten. It has been a constant in my own performing repertoire for over forty years.

This book has been out of print for many years and has commanded high prices on the secondary market. This is not just for its collectible nature, but that it is a wonderful resource on great, performable magic. The fact that it has been reprinted would be beneficial enough, but Warren Kaps and Lybrary.com have gone far beyond that goal. This edition deserves to stand right next to the original on its own as a new classic. Highly recommended.


Reviewed by Ricky Smith (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★   Date Added: Wednesday 12 February, 2020

Hello! I love the Fine Art of Magic and was very excited that a new edition was coming out, especially one with an introduction by Juan Tamariz. I feel like the hardbound version that I received wasn't a great value for the price. Fleming did such a lovely job with their printing, so I was sad that the new version is just a print on demand level job...especially with the high price.

Reviewed by William Rugh (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★   Date Added: Friday 31 January, 2020

This is a large book with 371 pages that should be in every serious magician's bookcase (or computer as a PDF). While almost 73% of the book deals with cards, a wide variety of other props are also covered. George G. Kaplan wrote (with Jean Hugard) the first edition in 1948. In 2019 Warren J. Kaps (who served as National President of S.A.M. during 2001-2002) created this second edition by updating some of the methods and adding some of his own effects. Really the best praise for this book comes from the Parent Assembly of the S.A.M. in 1995:

"His book, The Fine Art of Magic, is now considered one of the most important books on magic ever published. Like its author, it relies on effective presentation, subtleties, and clarity to create miracles. The entire world of magic is grateful to George for his contributions to its literature."


Reviewed by Chet Cox (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★   Date Added: Thursday 30 January, 2020

We’d heard about George Kaplan and about his Fine Art of Magic* for a very long time. Never thought we’d see a copy we could afford, and I wasn’t sure it deserved its reputation. So few things do. This is one of those happy exceptions - It actually exceeds my expectations. Frankly, I find it as fun to read as Greater Magic - maybe more so. You ever try to run a search on that humongous book? Not so easy when it’s not digitized.

Kaplan seems unduly modest in his Foreword, not seeming to realize how this isn’t just another magic trick book, but a well-written book about how to perform magic. The whole project starts out on the right foot with this opening: “A good trick, properly executed, is as individual a work of art as a fine painting, and, like every work of art, is a reflection of the skills of the artist. Gone is the day when magicians sought merely to ‘fool’ their audiences. The present-day performer aims both to mystify and entertain.”

That last sentence may have been true in 1948, but a casual walk today at a magic convention or through You(too?)Tube belies the statement. Or worse, the guy performing to the public who ruins, ruins, ruins the reputation of magicians and ensures that THAT particular customer will never ever hire a magician again. Because we desperately need a lot of new magicians, real magicians, who know how to perform and entertain, who know that humans have a sense of wonder and want that itch scratched.

Yes, we need more books (BOOKS!) such as Kaplan’s Fine Art of Magic, Tarbell’s lessons, and the Amateur Magician’s Handbook**. And not only do we have them in our libraries (and in our Lybrary) but in a second edition which has been gently and respectfully seconded editionated by Warren Kaps. It’s not that the original text was wanting - it was, after all, edited and evidently written, by Jean Hugard from the work, research, and drafts of Kaplan. So there are no egos to bruise here, but there are tender feelings of the living generations of magicians and authors who want to see credits, historical origins, and possible methods which just didn’t exist in the 1940s.

See how many of today’s hot new tricks (many available as download videos for more than the price of this PDF) you find within this book. The immortal Denny Haney and I once went through his showroom and tried to find something which didn’t come out of Tarbell. We could have done much the same with this book. Because, I do not tire of repeating this, you have a choice of learning methods of tricks or learning how to perform magic.

Buy this book. Study. Practice. Your audiences will thank you.

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* Please excuse me for “fixing” the title. As past librarians and editors know, leaving the article “the” at the front of a title absolutely wrecks the ability to alphabetize anything with a title.

** Yes, here’s an exception to the aforementioned rule. Thank goodness I don’t need to alphabetize herein.

Frequently bought together with:

A Hobsonian HandbookThe Annotated Royal Road to Card MagicNelson Enterprises Manuscript Collection 4

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