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.