Is there an older book than "Discovery of witchcraft?

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Postby Guest » 03/14/06 05:23 AM

Hi there,

I heard a rumour that someone found an older book than discovery of witchcraft, a few month or weeks ago. Is it true that there is an older book of magic than that? Who can give me more information about it? What is the name of the book? what is written in it? who wrote it? when did he wrote it?...

Thanks for your help

Postby Guest » 03/14/06 09:46 AM

The short and hurried answer is yes, but I'm not aware of any recent important discovery. The answer depends on one's definition of what constitutes a conjuring book, and also on whether or not the search is restricted to the English language. For example, although it has been debated since the 1950s, many have considered the 1581 edition of Thomas Hills Natural and Artificial Conclusions to predate Scot for magic content in the English language and the search remains for the 1567 and 1571 (if memory serves me on the dates) editions of the same book. But the likes of Bill Kalush and others before him have noted Italian works covering card tricks dating from the first half of the 16th century. So yes, there are many books with conjuring content which were published before Scots 1584 work, but we English-speaking collectors and historians still revere Scots work, not only because of its content, but also because of why it was written. Hope this helps. Clay

Postby Guest » 03/14/06 10:25 AM

Don't overlook the "first" magic book in French, which is completely (!) devoted to the explanation of magic tricks, and which is translated into English:
J. Prevost CLEVER AND PLEASANT INVENTIONS Part One (Jan. 1584) translated by Sharon King, ed. By Todd Karr, Stephen Minch , Hermetic Press, Inc. 1998.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/14/06 10:42 AM

I think Bill Kalush has turned up quite a bit of literature devoted to magic, in many languages, prior to both Scot and Prevost.
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Postby Guest » 03/14/06 10:59 AM

I believe Bill Kalush gave a paper at an LA History Conference that included a reference to an ancient Greek text that essentially spelled out all the principles of cold reading. I remember sitting in the audience and hearing him enumerate the principles in the old text with it sounding like something Richard Webster or Bob Nelson would have written....only it was a couple of thousand years old.


Postby Ian Kendall » 03/14/06 11:42 AM

Bill Kalush's presentation is published in the excellent Puzzlers' Tribute on page 119 (I got mine from Richard Hatch). I've a feeling I've seen it printed in a magazine fairly recently as well, but I'm mid move and surrounded by boxes.

The paper is titled Sleight of Hand with playing cards prior to Scot's Discoverie, and in the second paragraph he starts with:

The recorded history of sleight of hand magic begins at least as early as 2500 BC. Unfortunately, for our purposes here, playing cards don't make an appearance here in the West until the third quarter of the fourteenth century.

The early depiction mentioned is apparantly Dedi of desdinefru performing for King Cheops...

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