Most used magic reference book?

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 05/20/06 08:19 PM

Among all the books on your shelf, which is the first "go-to" volume when you are trying to answer a question, recall a fact or figure something out?

I thought about this recently after purchasing a copy of T.A. Waters Encyclopedia of Magic and Magicians for my godson, who is fascinated with all things magical. T.A. Waters book is probably the most dog-eared volume in my library, since I usually reach for it first when confronted with an effect, technique or performer with whom I am unfamiliar. It would be a great service if, one day, someone worked out all the rights issues and released a second edition of the Encyclopedia.

When looking for something more obscure -- particularly lesser-known performers -- I usually reach for Magic - A Pictorial History of Conjurers in the Theater. Penned by David Price -- a kind and generous gentleman with whom I had the distinct pleasure of corresponding for several years -- Pictorial History is a truly encyclopedic work, contains a vast trove of information. While I recognize that the book is often an uncritical compilation of information (including the questionable claims by many performers), the amazing breadth of the book more than compensates for its limitations. And David's first hand observations of many performs adds color and texture. It gets a fair amount of use.

So, which books do you use most frequently?

Gary Brown

Postby Guest » 05/20/06 09:08 PM

As a pure reference for general historic information I use the two Bart Whaley's books "Who's Who in Magic" and "Encyclopedic Dictionary".

I have T.A. Waters "Encyclopedia", too, but I rarely use it, because most questions are answered by Whaley's.

Postby Herman Koster » 05/21/06 09:08 AM

I remember that when I started out in magic and didn't know anything about the names of gimmicks etc. I would always look at The amateur magician's handbook, and most of the time find the answers.
And yes, for knowledge about magicians, Who's who in magic is very good.
And of course, now for research the World wide web is very usefull.
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Postby Guest » 05/22/06 11:09 PM


Good question, but a tough one because of the subcategories in magic. For example, if antiquarian conjuring books, I'd pick Toole Stott's conjuring bibliography.


Postby Matthew Field » 05/23/06 05:24 AM

Without question, Whaley's Who's Who in Magic.

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Postby Guest » 05/24/06 06:50 AM

I would add Stanyon's Bibliography of Conjuring and Robert Gill's Magic as a Performing Art to the above list.


Postby Guest » 05/24/06 10:03 AM

Ortiz's Annotated Erdnase is a fairly regularly reference for me.

Postby Guest » 06/10/06 09:26 PM

I think more magicians use Tarbell as a reference when they are looking up a general method.

One reason is that there is an overwhelmingly larger number of the Tarbell books than there are of all the other references mentioned.

Postby Guest » 06/11/06 02:52 AM

The reference source most used depends on the area the seeker is involved. For cards, for me, Expert C T and Card College are my first sources if I do not know where to look. I wrote the last seven words because sometimes the answer already may be partly known, e.g. Jennings, LePaul, Marlo, Racherbaumer, Duffie.

Postby Guest » 06/11/06 09:24 PM

For info about practically any magician .... without a doubt it's Bart Whaley's Who's Who In Magic. As with any work of this scope, it does have some date errors, but I think that's to be expected. Keep track and send Bart the corrections for future revised versions.

I puchased the computer version from Bart about five years ago and would not want to be without it!

Mark Damon

Postby Guest » 06/12/06 08:59 AM

Whaley's Who's Who ( hmmm - the WWW?)gets pulled at least once a week. Second place goes to Martin Joyal's work in progress The Joyal Index. I've discovered quite a few hidden gems by flipping through the Index.

Postby Guest » 06/12/06 10:39 AM

Tarbell is number one and for cards I first look in Focus by Phil Goldstein (apologies if spelled wrong) and secondary Card College.
Steve V

Postby Guest » 06/12/06 01:49 PM

Academics use "citation indices" to help their research. I wonder if the field of magic will ever mature to have a similar resource...

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