Book of the Month: Classic Secrets of Magic

This forum is an ongoing, and evolving, discussion. Genii Forum members discuss opinions and trade notes on current and past magic books.

Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/18/02 04:08 AM

I have tried to make this the kind of book I would like to have read when I first became interested in magic.

From the preface of Classic Secrets of Magic by Bruce Elliott; Harper & Bros. 1953
In January of 1942, Walter Gibson and Bruce Elliott (1914 - 1973) launched a four-page periodical that became lovingly referred to as "The Bird." Gibson and Elliott shared the editorial duties of The Phoenix until December 1944. Gibson's name vanished from the masthead with issue 74, and from issue 75 through 300, a period of nearly a decade, Bruce Elliott served as sole editor of one of magic's greatest publications.

While cranking out a biweekly magic magazine, Elliott also had a career to which to attend. He was a freelance writer, with short stories and articles published in magazines of varying subjects: detective stories, fantasy, sci-fi (his specialty) and children's works (he became managing editor of a children's magazine toward the end of his run with The Phoenix) and he even did some early TV script writing (ever see the TV version of "Flash Gordon"?).

It is in his editor's piece in The Phoenix called "The Back Room" that we learned about all his goings on. His jottings in "The Back Room" were as varied as his other works; he never followed a pattern. Elliott shared his personal news (and plugs), magic news, reviews, newspaper clippings, tips on tricks, even complete tricks were described. Sometimes he would publish a letter he received, or he would regale his readers with the events of the latest "Friday Night Sodality" that usually took place at his home. The list of attendees to those events usually read like a "who's who of magic," but sometimes a "who's that?" And his occasional jabs taken at Frank Joglar (usually return volleys) a columnist (and trivia question) in Hugard's Magic Monthly were always fun to read; right up to issue 300. At least one time there was only a cartoon, but usually it was an odd mix of any of these and other tidbits. "The Back Room" was masterful writing by a master of the typewriter. There is little question that The Phoenix is Bruce Elliott's legacy. However, in 1953, he contributed a work to the published record that is truly significant.

Published by Harper & Bros., a mainstream publisher, Classic Secrets of Magic is a compendium of some of the greatest effects in magic. Twelve to be exact. Twelve, that is, with variations and treatments from some of the great names in magic that ends up equaling over 30 effects, many of which are still very popular today.

There are card revelations (who didn't learn the "snap change" from this book? If you didn't, you probably learned it from someone who did); the rice bowls; a wine glass production; paddle move work, including Dr. Sachs' Dice Routine that seems to be making it back into everyone's repertoire these days. There appears several versions of the Four Ace trick; the Miser's Dream; Egg Bag and Chink-a-Chink. Effects with razor blades, matches and billiard balls. (Did this have any influence on our own Chief Genii who authored a book on the balls early in his own career?) Also included is Elliott's version of the Ambitious Card, Charlie Miller's cups and balls and Roy Benson's bowl routine. It's all in there. It's a clich, but in this 210-page book there truly is enough solid material from which to choose for one to begin a career in magic.

Just a few of the notable names that appear in the book are Dai Vernon, Jay Marshal, Lee Noble, Walter Gibson, Joe Berg, Cy Enfield and the aforementioned Miller and Benson.

Readers of Genii will recall David Regal's fine article, "Speaking Volumes" in which he asks an impressive list of magicians to speak about their favorite "buried treasure" from magic's panoply of books. Classic Secrets of Magic is mentioned a couple of times. Impressive, if one stops and thinks about the number of titles available.

Bruce Elliott received some grief about his "exposure" of magic in his books, since non-magic publishers published them (he also wrote Magic as a Hobby, The Best in Magic and Professional Magic Made Easy). Classic Secrets of Magic even had a "read and return guarantee" promotion for which Elliott was lambasted. However, the promotion was not national, and it was done through the mail. The mailing list used by Harper's was provided by Elliott and came from a magician's directory. But, since his books were marketed to the general public, was Elliott "exposing" secrets? Especially these amazing pieces in this book?

What about the fact that this volume is a compilation? That issue has been discussed within these forums recently. What sets this book apart from other compilations? (Other than the fact that it's a book, not a video. And if you want to discuss this issue, the issue is compilations, not print vs. video.)

These are just a few of the thoughts that come to my mind regarding this book. Of course, you may wish to discuss which effect(s) you use or used. Did this volume have a specific influence on your magic?

In the mean time, while you collect your thoughts on this book, I will also pose a couple trivia questions specific to the book and Elliott (fear not Richard, I won't do this all the time. But please forgive me, old habits are hard to break):

1 Whose name is misspelled several times in Classic Secrets of Magic?
2 Who was behind the "poison pen" of the infamous pseudonym "Frank Joglar" who tormented Bruce Elliott so much?

That's all for now. Do keep those emails coming.

Dustin
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PS: Should you be the first to post the correct answers to the trivia questions, you win bragging rights. Sorry, that's the best I can do.
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Postby Michael Edwards » 08/18/02 07:13 AM

Frank Joglar, the candid and controversial columnist of Hugard's Magic Monthly, was Milbourne Christopher.
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Postby Guest » 08/18/02 07:31 AM

What a wonderful book. Back in the 60's Michael Skinner would spend weekends as our house guest. The old man (my father, not Vernon) had just got "Classic Secrets". Skinner had stayed up the whole night and read the entire book, from that day...until his remaining days he performed Dr. Sachs dice routine religously!

PS: my name was the misspelled name throughout the book...Elliot kept spelling it V-e-r-n-o-n and sometimes M-i-l-l-e-r
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Postby Philippe Noël » 08/18/02 12:11 PM

Concerning the misspelled name, isn't it Charlie Miller who is named in the book as Charley Miller?

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/18/02 04:54 PM

Trivial Matters:

Phillippe: I have to check that one out – I don't recall it – so it's not the one I am thinking of. It's a famous surname that is misspelled consistently in the book.

Michael E. has bragging rights on Frank Joglar. It's interesting that Elliott apparently thought that Hugard was the guilty party because Hugard admitted “responsibility” for the content. Hugard took responsibility because he was the publisher/editor of HMM.

Mike G.: I recall Richard saying something about you being a “trouble maker.” Turns out you're a dreamer! (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)

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Postby Guest » 08/18/02 06:57 PM

Dustin,

My 4th grade teacher always accused me of being a dreamer as well...I guess history does repeat itself :)
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Postby Pete McCabe » 08/18/02 11:38 PM

My copy of this book (under the name Great Secrets of the Master Magicians) has a list price of $1.50. This makes it unquestionably the greatest value in the history of magic.
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Postby Van » 08/19/02 05:26 AM

Mine was an even better bargin. The Collier paperback edition published in 1962 sold for $0.95. It and The Amateur Magician's Handbook were my magical foundations.

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Postby Guest » 08/19/02 01:15 PM

My cost beat all of yours...i stole my fathers...lol
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/19/02 08:10 PM

No-Moves Lou is going to be angry with you, Mike, when he learns you stole his book!
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Postby Robert Kane » 08/20/02 08:27 AM

Re Trivia Question 1 - Don Allan instead of Don Alan.

Re the Dr. Sack Routine - James Lewis referred me to Elliott's wonderful book to learn this routine. I have been working on it for about 4 years. On Sunday, I attended a small workshop in San Francisco featuring Eugene Burger and hosted in the home of James Hamilton.

There were about 8 performers in attendance. 4 of them (including myself) performed 2 to 3 effects and then Eugene provided constructive and very candid comments on timing and presentation. I performed my version of The Dr. Sack Dice Routine. Eugene complimented me on my technique and kindly ripped apart my illogical premise.

Eugene's new suggestions for an improved, fun and logical premise were outstanding...as painful as they were to hear. Great workshop.

The Dr. Sack Dice routine is one of the few effects that I perform that actually receives gasps from the audience. It really is inexplicable.

What I love about Classic Secrets of Magic are the short but dense instructions. You really have to slowly study and absorb the text to get anything from the book...but that is a very pleasurable process. I also love the Four Ace Routines. :)
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/20/02 09:47 AM

Robert is correct about the misspelling of Don Alan's name. He wins – well – nothing. Sorry Robert, but good job anyway!

Your observations about the text are right on target. In fact, it was one of the arguments made (though I cannot recall by whom – perhaps Elliott himself) against the idea that this book was an “exposure.” The fact is, one could not just lightly flip through the book and learn secrets: it had to be read and studied. Only a magician or a person with a true desire to become one would have the patience to do that.

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Postby Jim Morton » 08/20/02 10:24 AM

What a great choice to kick off the BOTM Club! Of course, I'm prejudiced because this was the first magic book I ever owned. It is the book that first got me interested in magic, and the book that got me reinterested in magic when I came across it again many years later.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/20/02 02:09 PM

It is a great choice, and I only wish I could say that I thought of it. I was tossing around a few ideas in my mind, but this one was way off the radar. But when the email suggesting it came in, I didn't have to think twice. It is only a coincidence that it was Richard Kaufman that came up with it. So now, I am looking forward to his thoughts on the book. :D

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/22/02 08:27 PM

Let's not let this new topic fail so quickly. This is one of my favorite books, as it is with so many people. I haven't had time to list my favorite tricks in it because I've been finishing up the October issue.
I know many of you own and have read "Classic Secrets of Magic," so let us know what YOUR favorite tricks are that lie within its pages.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 08/22/02 11:35 PM

For those thinking about purchasing the book here's a link to the contents on:
Magic Reference Pages
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Postby Ian Richards » 08/23/02 08:28 AM

Classic Secrets Of Magic by Bruce Elliot was one of the first magic books that I ever bought.

I initially obtained it in order to learn the Benson bowl routine and Dr. Sacks dice trick. I have found that with the exception of just skiming through the chapters on the corncob pipes and rice bowls, that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the rest of the book. I was also able to gain insight into the "Swallowing Razor Blades" effect from reading this book after having seen Penn and Teller perform it on television.

At the time I purchased this book I had absolutely no interest in card magic. After reading Bruce Elliots description of the Ambitious Card, that quickly changed. While I do not consider myself a card guy, I do dabble with the pasteboards thanks to this portrayal of a card continually rising to the top of the deck.

With the recent increase in interest of Dr. Sacks Dice trick, I have a question regarding the spelling of his name. In the copy of Classic Secrets Of Magic that I have, Harper & Row, 1953, it is spelt Sack on page 39. In this thread and elsewhere, I have seen it spelt Sach, similar to Edwin Sachs author of Sleight Of Hand: A Practical Manual Of Legerdemain For Amateurs and Others. I am assuming that these are two different people with similarly spelt names. Thanks for any clarification.
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Postby timbrown » 08/23/02 08:34 AM

This is a great subject. So much so that I made a visit my local library just to check out a well worn copy of "Classic Secrets of Magic". I must obtain a copy for my collection.

I wonder how many people lost their lungs or lips to the hydrochloric acic used in the "Corncob" effect because they accidentally smoked the wrong pipe. (If you have never read this book that last statement alone should create enough curiosity to cause you to find and read this book!)

How dangerous is this effect? Has anyone (still alive) actually performed it as described in the book? Can anyone explain the chemistry that occurs during the performance of the effect?

I must admit that it sounds like a really spectacular routine but the acid and ammonia mixture seems a bit risky.

I'll continue my reading tonight!

Tim Brown
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/24/02 09:39 AM

I want to thank Dustin (and RK) for this topic.

Now I have a terrible admission to make.

I have a pretty large magic library (about 1,000 books) containing some rarities (first edition of "Gaffed to the Hilt" with gaffs, Hofzinser's "Card Conjuring" in an edition from Henry Ridgely Evans' library (thanks again, Richard and my wife), Earl Nelson's "Variations," the Marlo Magazines. But I'm not a collector.

I am an admirer of Bruce Elliot. His Phoenix is an astonishing magazine, and I have his "Magic as a Hobby." But, somehow, "Classic Secrets of Magic" eluded me.

Not for much longer, though. I just found a $25 copy on the Advanced Book Exchange ( Click here for Abe Books ) and it's on its way to me.

So, again, thanks to Richard for starting this Forum and suggesting the book, and to Dustin for writing an excellent intoduction that made me realize the gap in my library.

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Postby Guest » 08/24/02 10:44 AM


Now I have a terrible admission to make.

I have a pretty large magic library (about 1,000 books) containing some rarities .... But I'm not a collector...

Matt Field
I'm sure there's a support group for this kind of denial.

Randy Campbell
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Postby Guest » 08/24/02 06:37 PM

Not to get too far off topic, but Matt, try to track down a copies of PROFESSIONAL MAGIC MADE EASY, and THE BEST IN MAGIC. This will give you all four of Bruce Elliott's wonderful books. No matter your skill level, they are simply wonderful books.
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/25/02 09:32 AM

Thanks for the tips, John.

And Randy, I am seeking a cure for the denial. It's found in a limited edition book I bought on the subject :D

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Postby Pete McCabe » 08/25/02 11:13 PM

Classic Secrets of Magic was a part of my first life in magic. I must have been in high school when I got it; how I got it or how it got picked for me out of the many magic books available I have no idea. Perhaps Bob Elliot at Tannen's on 7th ave or Broadway or wherever it was recommended it to me.

I remember performing the Cy Endfield Slow Motion ace assembly when I was 14. I can't imagine if I was able to palm cards well enough to fool anyone, but my family responded enthusiastically.

I just reread Chapter 5, "Those Four Aces!" and I think it may be the best in the book. ("The Eternal Cups and Balls" and "The Very Peripatetic Paddle" also deserve consideration.)

Subthread: What is the best chapter in the book?

I have been working on my own Ace Assembly on and off for most of the 12 years since I started doing magic again after the requisite 15-year layoff. I've read a lot of assemblies in the past 12 years, but I can't identify one whose structure is the equal of Cy Endfield's routine.

Switch the aces out of the first two packets, 5 as 4 counts in the receiving packet, then palm the two cards across to the third packet where you show the ace, then change it, and secretly transfer it to the leader packet.

If there's a better structure for the Ace Assembly I'd really like to hear about it.

My personal routine uses a different sleight for every single step of the routine, but the underlying structure is still exactly the same as Cy Endfield's, step for step.

The chapter also teaches the Collins Ace Vanish, which is a beautiful thing to do, and to know.

So I recommend that anyone interested in the Ace Assembly should head straight to Classic Secrets of Magic. And anyone there should make sure to check out Chapter 5.
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Postby timbrown » 08/28/02 06:49 AM

I'm still wondering about the "Corncobs" effect. This would be very unique in today's world of cards and coins and from the description in the book it seems that the routine would be very magical if properly presented. So I ask again - has anyone actually performed this routine (or seen it performed)?
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Postby Alain Roy » 08/28/02 03:08 PM

I think the idea of having an in-depth book discussion online is a great one. I also think that we need some interesting questions to generate discussion.

Here's a question I thought of:

Imagine you are teaching a new magician to perform magic, and you use the Classic Secrets of Magic as a textbook. Because you want your student to stay focused, you are only using this book for now--there will be a lifetime of expansion later, but you really want to see what can be gotten out of this book.

Your student wants to develop a 15-minute close-up show: how would you routine a show from this book alone? What if your student wants to do a 15-minute parlor show? Remember that we're not just stringing tricks together, but building a routine.
My goal here isn't to get you to put together a routine for me so I don't have to finish reading the book. (I'm still only partly through it because it just came in the mail, but I am reading it.) My goal is for us to put our creative minds together and see what we can come up with, and what we can learn from each other.

When I finish my first read-through of the book, I'll post my own ideas in response to this question.

I have some more discussion questions that I'll be happy to share if people are interested and this discussion dies down.

-alain
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/28/02 03:26 PM

Originally posted by Tim Brown:
I'm still wondering about the "Corncobs" effect. This would be very unique in today's world of cards and coins and from the description in the book it seems that the routine would be very magical if properly presented. So I ask again - has anyone actually performed this routine (or seen it performed)?
Tim,
In regard to the corncob pipes, as “Mr. Moderator” I suppose I should be able to reply, but I can't on this particular subject. I'm sorry, but it's just not something that interests me, so I never studied it. Apparently, from the lack of response you are receiving, I am not alone here.

It's great that the effect has captivated your interest, and I believe you should pursue it. Apparently you were hoping to hear from someone who recently had tried it, and if they had any success. The fact that you haven't may be a blessing in disguise on one of two possible levels:

First, it's so old that it's new again, and it is something that no one is doing. Coupled with a good presentation, it's something that could set you apart from the crowd.

Second, part of the above (no one is doing it) is true, and you pursue it only to find out that it just doesn't work for you. Is this a bad thing? In my mind, the answer to that question is no. Trial and error is a huge part of learning this craft and, more importantly, learning what works and doesn't work for you on an instinctive level. To learn that, you must fail as well as succeed.

Work on it; see where it takes you and relish the journey! And let us know what happens.

Best,
Dustin
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Postby Guest » 08/28/02 06:31 PM

Hi Dave,
Welcome to Genii! I like this forum. Note the lack of censorship! :genii:
Best to you,
John
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Postby Mitch Dutton » 08/29/02 05:28 AM

I am so sorry to have missed out on such a wonderful book. I have just ordered a copy from Ron Allesi, and I hope to have it in time to participate in a little discussion here - the initial post was made on 8-18... does that mean we begin the next book 9-18? Dustin? Thanks! --Mitch
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Postby Brad Jeffers » 08/29/02 08:55 PM

If anyone knows where I can get a copy of this book, please let me know. Thanks :)
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Postby Jackie Huang » 08/29/02 09:16 PM

Originally posted by Brad Jeffers:
If anyone knows where I can get a copy of this book, please let me know. Thanks :)
You can find used copies in www.amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/offer ... =25&rank=+ price/
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Postby reed mcclintock » 09/01/02 04:23 PM

I will often go to used book stores to locate magic books. I have discovered the smarter magicians, that might run into a financial pinch will sell their used magic books to a used book store. Why? Simple, a used book store does not realize the value of some of the used magic books, so they are cheap. Also a magician can make more money on the books he is selling than what a cheap magic shop owner will give him. Example I got Kenners book "totally out of control" for $7.50 Another example Earl Nelson's "Variations" $3.50.
Anyway I saw Bruce Elliots book in an old book bin with a sign that said all books $1.00. I smiled from ear to ear, my eyes got big, and I picked up the book. I realized I had better be cool and I quickly wiped the smile off of my face casually walked over set the book on the counter pulled out my wallet and placed a dollar on the table. ( We don't have sales tax in Oregon) The lady rang me up and I left with the best deal I ever got on a magic book. This book has been priceless to me. Heck it lead me into Ivory Connection, That is a video of a dice routine. But I thank Elliots book for taking me there. :cool:
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/02/02 03:59 AM

In the opening of this thread I spoke of this book in, for the most part, glowing terms. As the thread begins to lose some steam, I thought I might stoke the fire a bit by sharing some of my less than glowing feelings about Elliott's Classic Secrets of Magic.

Before getting into it, there is one thing I need to make clear: Even though some of the things I am about to say will appear to be critical, I have the utmost respect for Bruce Elliott. He authored four magic books and published one of the greatest periodicals in the history of the art. I have read all 300 issues of the Phoenix twice (and referred to individual issues countless times) so far. The second time through I concentrated mainly on "The Back Room" because it simply is some of the most entertaining writing in magic. Bruce Elliott was an amateur magician and a professional writer. I am an amateur at both. Keep this fact in mind when reading my words that may appear to question his work.

Aside from the misspellings of the names of people he knew (Don "Allan" and "Charley" Miller - yes Philippe, you were correct about that), the most curious thing about the book is its structure. As I noted in the opening, there are twelve "effects" (chapters) in the book, but most of them contain multiple variations of the base effect. There are no headings for the individual pieces and in some cases no clear segue or introduction. It actually makes for somewhat difficult reading. There was, of course, a reason for this: Mr. Elliott did not wish for the mere curious to flip through the book to find out how, for instance, the "dice trick" worked. Dr. Sack's dice effect doesn't even appear in the table of contents, as do none of the variations. The illustrations are in no way self-explanatory and the text has a certain lack of immediate detail; the book requires careful study and in fact you must reread portions of the text at times to grasp its meaning. Again, I'm sure that Elliott did this on purpose, and these tactics should have been enough to dissuade the mere curious. I feel it should have allowed for separate headings for each variation within the chapters, making it a bit easier for those willing to wade through the material.

Also from a structure standpoint is the order the effects fall in the book. There are three chapters that involve playing cards yet they are not together in the book, even though they refer back and forth several times, even in the opposite direction. An item in chapter 1 will refer to a move described in chapter 11. Why not describe it in chapter 1 and then in chapter 11 refer back to chapter 1? Oddly enough, in the preface, Mr. Elliott recommends reading the book out of sequence! He gives the order he feels that will help the beginner build his sleight-of-hand skills sequentially. He recommends beginning with chapter 12 (the chapter covering the cups and balls - and in fact the last chapter in the book) then chapter 6 followed by 11 and so on. It certainly makes sense to learn magic progressively, so why didn't he simply order the chapters in this "easiest to most difficult" sequence to begin with?

Within the material itself there is little about which to quibble. Elliott clearly knew that experienced magicians would be purchasing this book as well, so he included items that would challenge them. The chapter on the "four ace trick" contains some wonderful material including Cy Endfield's version of Vernon's "Slow Motion Aces." Stanley Collins' Ace Vanish is something that I have used in a four ace routine for years (though with fewer cards, a la Eddie Fechter). Of course the Sack's dice routine found within these pages is in the middle of something just short of a Renaissance of late.

That all being said, I am not at all a fan of the Miser's Dream found in this book, even though it is one of my favorite effects in all of magic. And Elliott is absolutely correct when, after briefly describing gimmicked versions, that Wally Dean's all sleight-of-hand version is superior to those. I would have been much happier if he could have described a more in-depth sleight-of-hand routine.

There are a few other chapters in the book that simply do not interest me as a magician, so I've never devoted serious time to them. However, it gives me comfort to know that if I ever decide to do an egg bag routine, I have a starting point for my research resting on my bookshelf.

At the end of the book appears an appendix that lists the results of a Genii poll which only forces Elliott to again explain why some of these "favorite" effects that appear in the lists are not included in the book (he mentions some of this in his preface). It serves little purpose other than to ultimately plug the Tarbell Course (thus Louis Tannen's; address and all) and of course the Phoenix. Why not a complete listing of the major magic shops across the country?

Finally, the concluding remarks, which follow the last chapter in the book and take up a little more than two and a half pages, are vintage Elliott. This short piece could have (should have?) been expanded on and placed at the front of the book as a lesson in itself. But even in it's brevity, it says a lot. And it really doesn't matter where these remarkable words of wisdom appear in the book; the vast majority of the book's readers would still ignore them.

Ultimately, Bruce Elliott's Classic Secrets of Magic is itself a classic. In the genre of "for public" compendium works, it certainly ranks among the very best. While I am not one of them, I know there are those that rank it as the very best.

Thanks for your time,
Dustin
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Postby Guest » 09/03/02 01:18 PM

Dustin,

Your review is very much on the money...which is what makes this book so unique. With everything you pointed out wrong with the book it is still as the title implies..."classic". If a book was to be published today with all them faults...well let's just say there is a good chance that J.S. and M.C. would show up at the writers door and beat the hell out of him ;) !

Is it me, or is anyone else suprized at the lack of response on this great tome!

Mike
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Postby Guest » 09/03/02 02:47 PM

Yes, I'm surprised too. And I'm also surprised that this tomb is not on everyone's shelves already. This is probably one of the most overlooked classics. (Should I assume most of us own Our Magic?) In fact, I didn't bother to own a copy until last December, 27 years after I first read it from my local library.

Thanks to Richard and Dustin to make this our first Book of the Month item.
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Postby Mitch Dutton » 09/03/02 06:43 PM

I just wrestled my copy out of the shipping box and can't wait to read it... gotta go... I'll be posting later! --Mitch
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/03/02 10:50 PM

Originally posted by Mike Gallo:
If a book was to be published today with all them faults...well let's just say there is a good chance that J.S. and M.C. would show up at the writers door and beat the hell out of him ;) !

Is it me, or is anyone else suprized at the lack of response on this great tome!
Mike,

I would be very interested in hearing what Jamy Swiss and Michael Close have to say about this book! And yes, I am flabbergasted at the light response. Of course, summer vacation is grinding to a rapid halt, so perhaps more people will come in from the playground. I'm going to give it a couple more weeks, which will give me a little more time to pick the next book. (The list is short now…no hints!)

Thanks,
Dustin
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Postby Dave Egleston » 09/04/02 01:20 PM

I just got a copy last night - I'm trying not to judge this book by the way it is written - In one of the first posts on this book I believe Dustin said Bruce Elliot was a professional writer and an amatuer magician - I guess I could like this book more if the opposite were true! - I am a poor magician at best but I love reading about the art - If this were the first book I ever bought on the subject - I would have never bought another
I'm the idiot child they keep locked up in the basement - It's not meant to offend anyone - I'm just not smart enough to get it.
The magic in this book looks solid - The writing style and format are not - The illustrations - are a joke! about 80 percent of the drawings that I've tried to marry to the topic presented are not helpful at all - It's as if they decided to put in a "picture" to keep people interested -
The book I bought is a 1st edition - looks like it was never opened - I payed $4.00 for it - I think I got a good deal - the original price was $5.95 - if I payed that much - I might be upset
At about the time this book was written - There were some real classic magic books being published
Once again - The magic described in this book is solid and presentable - and some of it is outstanding -

The corncob pipe is fantastic - showing an ingenuity above the norm (I can't imagine inhaling a combination of acid and ammonia fumes)

Razor sharp was well written,in my opinion, and had an illustration that was helpful - along with an idea that I hadn't seen before (using a spool as a loading device)

I'm going to work out the eternal cups and balls - that also looks like fun
I guess because I've only been involved with our art for about 10-11 years I'm spoiled with writers such as:Racherbaumer - Minch - Kaufman -Close - Hugard - Giobbi - Lorayne, and others

Just because the book is old and hard to read and the magician is a "legend" doesn't mean everything the guy does is going to be a classic
Good maybe even close to very good - But classic - Not in my opinion
Makes me wish I wrote under cover of a "Screen Name"
Dave
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Postby Mitch Dutton » 09/04/02 06:59 PM

I got a first edition hardcover, published in 1953 with a price of $2.95 printed on the inside of the dust jacket. It is in very good condition and I paid $28 for it, including shipping.

I think I got a great bargain!

The effects are true audience pleasers with a wide variety of props and plots. Elliott tried to write a book that was full of do-anywhere magic that needed minimal set up and advance preparation. I think he largely succeeded.

As far as the style and presentation, I love it! It is conversationally full of golden nuggets of experience and suggestions. As Dustin says, it requres reading and thought to get the meat from the text (and illustrations), but this serves to discourage the merely curious and secret mongers. My 13 year old boy is a big-time secret monger - all he wants to know is "how it's done." He picked this book up, paged through it, dismissed it and walked away from some of magic's gratest secrets!

As I get older, I realize how important simplicity and clarity are. That's why I am returning to old classic texts that are full of entertaining, mystifying simple effects with simple methods...

This book is chock full of them and I am working on them now! Namely the Egg Bag, Miser's Dream, and Benson Bowl routine. Others will follow!

I'm glad I have this companion to my copy of Magic as a Hobby, and you can bet I'm also looking for The Best in Magic! --Mitch
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Postby Guest » 09/04/02 07:57 PM

Dave, I read your entire post and have no idea what you are talking about! Really, I don't know what your opinion is!
As for me, I love all four of Bruce Elliott's wonderful books. For my fellow fans, Michael Weber reviewed them in MAGIC magazine about 9 years ago. I think its the issue with the "two contests - two winners" cover, or the Orson Welles cover.
Dustin, I like what you're doing here, but that post about the books shortcomings..that was reaching a bit. It wasn't THAT bad. Well okay the names being misspelled isn't good. However, a lot of folks on the forum make up for that by misspelling his name! I mean its not like he recommended a sound system he liked or anything!
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Postby Guest » 09/04/02 08:13 PM

Long time listener; first time caller...

Tim, I hope you're still there.
I spoke with Lee Noble tonight and I mentioned that you may have some questions regarding 'Corncobs' from Classic Secrets.

He said that he would be happy to answer any specific questions you had. He mentioned that since the pipes are destroyed at the end of the effect, and the pipes used are not easy to come-by today, that it is no longer a practical effect.

If you have any further questions, I'd be happy to pass them along to him.
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