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The Magic Art
by Donald Holmes


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The Magic Art by Donald Holmes

The Magic Art is a book very much in the style of the Hoffmann books. It describes in particular the tricks invented or used by Mr. Holmes. Tarbell calls this book 'excellent' in the Tarbell Course. Holmes was a prolific author who wrote several other titles as well. In this volume he deals with all kind of props from pill boxes to cards, coins, handkerchiefs, gaffed glasses and the list continues.

Paul Fleming wrote:

In 1920, Donald Holmes announced his intention of writing a series of books which were to form "a complete library on the Art of Magic." Unfortunately, he abandoned the undertaking (for what reason we do not know) after writing and publishing the first volume, which he called The Magic Art. It is a book with which the average young magician of today is wholly unacquainted, but one which he should put on his reading list for early attention.

The "meat" of the book is found in Chapters 2, 3, and 4, which cover exactly two hundred pages. So far as we know, Chapter 2 is unique in magical literature. It is called Some Accessories and Artifices of General Utility, but it is much more than this title suggests. It contains, for example, a system of "tumbler manipulation" devised by the author and worked in conjunction with the "black art table." It contains, also, descriptions of a half-dozen or so pieces of "general utility" equipment, originated or improved by Mr. Holmes, together with explanations of several tricks that can be performed with their aid. Chief among these feats are a new version of the Stodare Egg and Handkerchief Trick; The Flying Glass, Watch, and Flag; and A Chinese Paradox. The chapter is full of interesting ideas.

Chapter 3 explains twenty-five tricks of various kinds. The Card in The Loaf of Bread, Knarf's Coin and Ball of Wool, Christopher's Egg and Bag Trick, The Coin and Orange, Charles Neil Smith's New Spirit Handkerchief, Gloves to Dove, a novel Water and Wine Trick, The Tale of a Rat, and The Tea Chests of Wang Foo are titles which indicate the many types of magic that are well described here, in many cases with patter.

Chapter 4, entitled Working Up an Act, will doubtless appeal to many readers as the most valuable section of the book. In 30 pages, Mr. Holmes describes, in great detail and with appropriate patter, a well-arranged, thirty-minute program that he calls Fun, Deviltry, and Magic. It includes The Jap Handkerchief Box, the old-fashioned Egg Bag, The Rising Cards, The Water and Wine Trick, and The Sliding Die Box. This is followed by a 14-page description of A Suit-Case Act, with cigarette, handkerchief, ball, egg, coin, and card tricks. Finally comes (in 15 pages) a "magical phantasy" called The Magical Man, designed especially for the delight of children. Confetti, a rabbit, eggs, silk handkerchiefs, cookies, a bottle of rootbeer, a magical funnel, and a white rat play parts in this fantastic program. Magicians who find "routining" a difficult matter will get welcome aid from Chapter 4.

The Magic Art is a cloth-bound volume of 232 pages, with 29 illustrations. It is worth a half-dozen current pamphlets which we might mention, and costs less than a third as much! We hope it will have a well-deserved reception in 1942 from the magicians who have not heretofore known of its existence.

1st edition, 1920, by author; 234 pages.

  1. The Tea Chests of Wang Foo
  2. Preface
  3. The History and Psychology of Natural Magic
  6. Holmes' Tumbler Manipulation
  7. The Watch, Handkerchief and Confetti
  8. The Egg and Handkerchief
  9. The Flying Glass, Watch and Flag
  10. How Many Goldfish?
  11. Holmes' Tumbler Manipulation on a Chair
  12. A Novel Exchange
  13. Holmes' Trick Glass Outfit
  14. The Bottomless Mirror Glass
  15. The Bottomless Demon Glass
  16. The Bottomless Confetti Glass
  17. The Mystic Handkerchief and Tumbler of Confetti
  18. Holmes' Crystal Jar Outfit
  19. The Crystal Mirror Jar
  20. The Crystal Confetti Jar
  21. Confetti to Water and Goldfish
  22. A Chinese Paradox
  24. A Series of Card Tricks
  25. The Torn Card Trick
  26. The Barrington Method
  27. The Card in the Loaf
  28. The Card, Orange and Candle
  29. A Hypnotic Experiment
  30. The Cards, Coins and Glass
  31. Knarf's Coin and Ball of Wool
  32. The Coin and Orange Trick
  33. A Dye Tube "Wrinkle"
  34. Knarf's "The Flag Between"
  35. The Handkerchief Sword
  36. Improved Candle and Handkerchief Trick
  37. Holmes' Color Changing Egg
  38. Christopher's Egg and Bag Trick
  39. The Paper Balls and Plates
  40. The Chinese Marble Trick
  41. The New Spirit Handkerchief
  42. Gloves to Dove
  43. The Dove and Hat Trick
  44. The Contrary Fluids
  45. The David Bell Funnel
  46. The Watch and Pill Boxes
  47. The Mysterious Dove Pans
  48. The Tale of a Rat
  49. The Tea Chests of Wang Foo
  51. Fun, Deviltry and Magic
  52. A Suit-Case Act
  53. "The Magical Man"

word count: 59431 which is equivalent to 237 standard pages of text