Greater Magic or Classic Secrets of Magic

A place where beginners can participate, ask questions, and post their views. However, beginners typically ask a lot of questions about sources, tricks, books, and so on. In fact, all magicians are interested (or should be) in the provenance of tricks, ideas, and related matters. This department will service these needs.

Postby Guest » 07/26/07 03:58 PM

Hello Everyone,

Last year everyone was very helpful to me as I began my study in your field. I picked up The Royal Road to Card Magic, The Magic Book, and Expert at the Card Table as a result. The experience has been very rewarding. I like to see people be entertained.

Anyhow, I am considering another purchase. Therefore, my question is would you folks buy Greater Magic or Classic Secrets of Magic and why

Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/26/07 04:14 PM

Classic Secrets of Magic will cost you about $15.
Greater Magic will cost you about $150.

Greater Magic is about 10 times the size of Classic Secrets of Magic.

Both books will provide you with material for years of study and performance, but it's a lot harder to find the good stuff in Greater Magic because it's so big. The only outright piece of crap in Classic Secrets of Magic is the smoke from Corn Cob pipes, which is extremely dangerous due to the chemicals involved. Other than that, it's one of the best books ever written.

There's more crap in Greater Magic, of course, because it's an enormous book and Jean Hugard didn't understand all of the material he was writing about (Jim Steinmeyer has written that the chapter on illusions is particularly awful).

If you're on a budget, I would suggest Classic Secrets of Magic.
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Postby Guest » 07/26/07 04:57 PM

Richard: That was a very insightful comment. Greater Magic is very overwhelming to a newcomer and requires more study and, hence, is a bit of a put-off. Elliott's book is entertainingly written with more modern illustrations. The cost would be a major factor to a new fellow on the block. Since Greater Magic (reprint with additions) is one of your publications, I found your remarks very generous. Cheers!

Postby George Olson » 07/26/07 05:28 PM


Consider The Complete Tarbell Course. It can keep you learning forever!

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Postby Guest » 07/26/07 06:26 PM

For absolute "best-bang-for-the-buck" books (sorry about all the alliteration...well, no I am not..), the working-man's library really needs only the following books:

For General Study:


For General Sleight of Hand/Manipulations:


For General Mental Magic:


For Advanced Reference/General:


Best Value for Advanced Walkaround/Close-up and General Workers:


NOTE: Stage Illusions are a whole 'nother topic....

FINAL NOTE: Kill for a copy of CLASSIC SECRETS OF MAGIC...(but don't smoke the pipes...hehe)...


Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/26/07 06:53 PM


I dont know if you are aware of it, but both of these books were Book of the Month selections and have pretty good threads about them. Here are the links:

Classic Secrets of Magic

Greater Magic


PS: Yes everyone, I know I havent posted a BoM in a while. But when you see what I have been working on, maybe youll forgive me.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/26/07 07:38 PM


Heres another thread you might want to check out:

The Amateur Magicians Handbook

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Postby Guest » 07/26/07 09:46 PM

In the Book Czar Club review of The Amateur Magicians Handbook Dusin wrote:
Unlike the purposely-ambiguous style chosen by Bruce Elliott in our first selection, the descriptions in this volume - when complete - are crystal clear and easy to read. The illustrations are clear and, as Crimmins said, viewing them "is an education in itself."

Were you speaking of Classic Secrets of Magic here? Is Classic Secrets of Magic difficult to understand?

Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/26/07 11:24 PM

Yes, and sort of: I believe that the trick descriptions in it require study. In this post in the Classic Secrets thread, I clarify what Im talking about (along with some other comments).

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Postby Guest » 07/27/07 04:44 PM

Classic Secrets is one of my favorite books. I learned the Wally Dean Miser's Dream when I was a teenager. Joe Berg supplied the last little bit of finnese when he showed me the back finger clip production....also when I was a kid.

I taught this to a well-known pro for his drink act and he scored well with it. Using thin plated disks with milled edges ala Manual, The Master of the Mightly Dollar makes the coins visible in large venues.

As has been said by others, everything in the book is solid with the exception of the smoking pipes.

Postby Guest » 07/28/07 05:27 PM

This is one of those cases where I would have to ask why you would need to choose one or the other. If you can afford Greater Magic, then you could ALSO afford to purchase Classic Secrets of Magic. Sure, there is a lot of stuff in GM that you will never use. There's a lot of stuff in Erdnase you probably will never use. But that doesn't mean that Erdnase isn't worth the money.

Both books are classics.

Postby Guest » 07/29/07 02:32 PM

Bill makes a good point--Why not just get both? For me, as a beginner, I am seeking out information on books that I am unfamiliar with. I did not know that Greater Magic was $150.00 until Richard said so. Plus, it is a huge book and I don't want to overwhelm myself. However, I am also trying to find out what kind of magic I like best and a guy e-mailed me with the suggestion of one Tarbell book at a time. I have a copy of Classic Secrets of Magic on the way and may send off for Tarbell Vol. 1 to check it out.

Take Care,

Postby Guest » 07/30/07 05:34 PM

I have a real fondness for CSOM, so much so that I took it off the shelf and went through it again. There's gold in that book. It's up to you to find it.

Be careful with those Tarbell books -- read Tarbell 1, and pretty soon, you will want to read Tarbell 2, and Tarbell 3. ;)

Postby Ryan Matney » 07/30/07 11:43 PM

I saw Jim Steinmeyer's comments about the illusion section of Greater Magic in Genii a couple months ago.

I, for one, would very much like to read a more detailed article about Mr Steinmeyer's views and the inaccuracies present. Would make for fascinating reading, anyone else agree?
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Postby Guest » 08/03/07 07:12 AM

Can someone tell me who the author of Classic Secrets of Magic is?

Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/03/07 07:46 AM

Bruce Elliott
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Postby Guest » 08/03/07 10:03 AM

Nate, you can also get the original Tarbell on CDROM for pretty much the price of a single volume of the printed books. There is this guy at who sells these discs. If you tell him I sent you he might add a free ebook. Occasionally he has a split personality but I am sure he remembers me. :rolleyes:


Postby Brandon Hall » 08/06/07 11:34 AM

Thanks for that link. I've been wanting those books for some time now, and this was a great bargain!
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Postby Guest » 08/06/07 04:23 PM

Wow, Greater Magic is a product of RK and he recommends the other book to start with.

Now that's a class act!

Two thumbs up to Richard for being honest and forthright.

Postby Guest » 08/08/07 07:40 AM

Sorry to muddy the discussion but since you've got a foundation in technique from the other books how about opting for one on theory?

Art of Magic - T. Nelson Downs
It is very inexpensive but a dynamite book.

The Trick Brain - Dariel Fitzkee
Chris Wasshuber, the good fellow from, has the .pdf for $9. Did I mention he was a good fellow?

Forging Ahead in Magic - John Booth
Despite the book's age it is still insightful and an asset to the developing magician.

There are also some by Eugene Burger that are well worth the cover price. Though I have not read the following titles, I plan to, and they come highly recommended for those interested in theory: Strong Magic - Darwin Ortiz, Making Magic Real (available at his site in .pdf for $10) and The Principles of Magic both Richard Osterlind.

The best magicians out there are aivd readers so you are on the right path.

Good luck.

Postby Guest » 08/08/07 08:11 AM

I just remembered a few more good ones you might enjoy.

Find The Stuff That's You - Chris Carey
Full of great suggestions aimed at magic performers. If anyone here has read it, would you agree that his seven steps to "Becoming a mediocre magician" (did I get that right?) should be nailed on the door of every magic club?

The Magic of Michael Ammar - Michael Ammar
It is a big book but worth tackling. Many forget he is a business school graduate and the advice he gives is solid on many topics. This book had a great deal of influence on me.

Magic and Showmanship - Henning Nelms
An exceptional book. Can be found for very little money. It is primarily a theory book with some great routines/effects/tricks as well. I may have confused this for the T. Nelson Downs book in my previous post.

There are many book recommendations in this forum so I'll let the experts here do the talking.

Postby Guest » 09/03/07 11:41 AM

Originally posted by George Olson:

Consider The Complete Tarbell Course. It can keep you learning forever!

If you find the cost of the complete Tarbell Course daunting, start out with the first volume. Then when you can afford it, add the second, and so on. The first volume has enough material to keep you entertaining for years.

Postby Guest » 09/07/07 09:04 AM

This is in response to the original question that started this thread...

"Therefore, my question is would you folks buy Greater Magic or Classic Secrets of Magic and why?"

If you are patient and persistent and you "do your homework" you can obtain both of these classic texts and without paying a high price. It will take some time but if you wait long enough you will find real bargains out there somewhere!

I rarely buy anything new - mainly because I am cheap and because, in the case of classic magic books, most are no longer in print. Also, I want to wait to see what the magic community thinks about a book and I want only to collect what is or will become a classic text of magic. This approach pays off and I have been able to purchase many of the most sought-after magic books that are available. I don't get them because they are collectible though, I simply only want the best.

Here is my approach:

Peruse used book stores and go straight for the "games and magic" section. I recently found Vol 1 and 2 of the Card College series for just $15 (that's $7.50 each!) Both have clean dust covers and are nearly new.

Search the internet, especially EBAY for specific titles and hope that the bidding wars don't run the price too high. I purchased Elliot's "Classic Secrets of Card Magic" for $8 delivered and bought all of his other magic books for another $12 total. And sometimes people are practically giving away the Tarbell volumes.

Read the forums. There are a lot of great bargains to be found right here on the Genii forums.

Check out the honest to God real brick and mortar shops and always ask to see the books - especially the used stuff. Harry Lorayne's "Close-Up Card Magic" can be found for $20 NEW! Best deal out there in my opinion.

And finally - stay persistent. I just today received my long desired and highly anticipated copy of Greater Magic (the Kaufman and Greenberg edition) for just $38 dollars, including the shipping charges. The book is used but in excellent condition and needless to say I am thrilled to have finally found it at a bargain price! What a great book.

The thrill of the next target is Garcia's "Encyclopedia of Sponge Ball Magic"...I know it is out there somewhere....just waiting for me....

Tim Brown

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