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The Magic 36
by William S. Houghton


(1 review, 3 customer ratings) ★★★★★

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The Magic 36 by William S. Houghton

This ebook contains excellent variety for magicians and mentalists of all performing capabilities and experience levels. The effects and routines include apparatus tricks, mental stunts, spirit writing, predictions, magazine and book tests, thumb ties, and tricks with cards, silks, coins, cigarettes, billiard balls, sponge ball and a terrific rope routine.

Paul Fleming wrote:

This book derives its peculiar title from the fact that it contains 36 items. The text begins on page 5 and runs to page 71, making a total of 66 pages of more than average size; and there are 15 satisfactory line drawings. The book is well printed, but the use of thin paper gives it a rather emaciated appearance. The cover is yellow cloth, on which is pasted a paper label bearing the title. On the whole, The Magic 36 does not make a very favorable "first impression" for a book that sells at two dollars and a half.

However, it improves rapidly upon closer acquaintance.

The author has something to say, and says it well. He clearly has a fondness for mental feats, and the inclusion of seventeen pseudo-psychic tests gives the book much of the flavor of The Jinx, of pleasant memories. Because tricks of this kind are difficult (and sometimes impossible) to describe concisely, we shall be able to note specifically only a few of them. Especially noteworthy are variations, by Ted Reuber and William McCaffrey, on the card-and-telephone tests of Al Baker and Audley Walsh; Thought Vision, in which the performer reproduces (on a slate) a word or picture secretly selected by a spectator; the Blue Pencil Book Test, which consists of discovering a word chosen by a spectator making a pencil mark in a book that he opens and holds behind his back; The Foolproof Number Prediction, a very fine method for forcing an "addition" on an audience (but the explanation of this trick must be read with unusual care, for there has obviously been confusion in numbering the diagrams that illustrate this feat); and The Amazing Card Prediction, an ingenious trick which demands no sleight of-hand but should produce a very profound impression. This short list by no means does justice to the fine collection of mental tests that Mr. Houghton has brought together in this book.

Of the other types of magic found here, we may mention Herman Weber's production of a basket of artificial flowers, a mechanical trick; four methods of disposing of the "thumb tip," and also one for getting hold of it secretly; new ideas by William McCaffrey on the presentation of the "Squash" glass-of-liquid; The Coin in The Bottle, again by Mr. McCaffrey; a version of The Twentieth Century Handkerchief Trick that makes subtle use of the mirror-glass; The Fingertip Handkerchief Vanish; a comedy Thumb Tie; several good shell-coin ideas; a simple but excellent billiard ball manipulation, multiplication, and vanish; slate-writing, with unprepared slates; and several tricks with ropes.

The author has been less anxious to introduce strikingly new tricks than to discuss improved ways of performing tricks that are already pretty well known. He has done a good job. We learn from the foreword that this is Mr. Houghton's "first attempt at magical authorship." We predict that it will not be his last. He gives evidence of having thought long, hard, and fruitfully about many phases of conjuring. He writes interestingly and to the point, and has the knack of explaining tricks with unusual clarity. We can use more books on magic by Mr. Houghton.

Written in easily understandable language with all moves clearly explained. In all there are 36 effects described, each worthy of adding to your act. Here is what's included:

  • Publisher's Introduction
  • American Beauty Production
  • "Number Please" Variations
  • Disposing of the Thumb Tip
  • Gimmick Exchange
  • "Thought Coincidence" Again
  • Magazine Test
  • Thought Vision
  • Blue Pencil Book Test
  • Impromptu Name Duplication
  • Prediction Supreme
  • Mystic Slate Prediction
  • Cards to Pocket
  • Book Test with Playing Card
  • "Squash" Routine
  • Coin in Bottle Routine
  • 20th Century Silks Routine
  • Number Exchange
  • Diachylon Number Exchange
  • "Foolproof" Number Prediction
  • "Cigarette from Nowhere"
  • Fingertip Vanish
  • Comedy Thumb Tie
  • Card in Envelope
  • Coin Transposition
  • Shell Coin Routine
  • Another Shell Coin Routine
  • Sponge Ball Routine
  • Paper Napkin Routine
  • Miracle Slate Routine
  • Billiard Ball Routine
  • Spirit Writing Wrinkle
  • Amazing Card Prediction
  • "Blackout" Double Prophecy
  • Three-Pellet Trick Perfected
  • Another Rope Trick
  • Rope Routine, Wrinkle and Patter
  • Opening Lecture for Mental Routine
"Choice stuff with lots of twists, variations and improvements. 'The Magic 36' has great variety, no too-difficult sleights, and a number of individual items each worth a good price." - Lloyd E. Jones.

"The book is particularly strong in mental effects although it covers a wide field, from sponge balls to coins to the production of a large basket of roses. Very much worthwhile and will be found most useful." - The Sphinx review.

1st edition 1943; digital edition 2017, PDF 134 pages.
word count: 40218 which is equivalent to 160 standard pages of text

Reviewed by Timothy Arends (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★   Date Added: Thursday 05 May, 2022

Got a physical copy of this book on eBay as part of a lot. Unfortunately, four pages had been torn out, and they happened to be one of the most interesting sections--that on ditching the thumb tip. This ebook edition allowed me to replace the missing pages. I find it to be an accurate reproduction of the original.