early magic book sold at general bookstore

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

Postby MitsuMatsu » 10/12/10 07:44 AM

Dover Publication is one of the early publishers whose magic books were sold at general bookstores marketed for laymen, not at magic shop for magicians.
I think Gardner's "Mathematics, Magic and Mysteries" is one of the earliest one among such books.
I would like to know what other magic books were sold earlier than that at general bookstores.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/12/10 08:07 AM

? who published Neve's Merrie Companion or Hoffmann's Magic books?
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Postby Jim Maloney » 10/12/10 09:30 AM

JT: ? who published Neve's Merrie Companion or Hoffmann's Magic books?

H. Tracey, London (1721) and Routledge, New York (1876 - Modern Magic), respectively.

Dick & Fitzgerald were also printing magic books out of NY in the 1850's. (The Secret Out, etc.)

-Jim
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Postby MitsuMatsu » 10/12/10 09:57 AM

So, the history of magic book publication looks like a history of expose to a considerable extent.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/12/10 10:33 AM

By and large, from Scot's book "The Discoverie of Witchcraft" which included an argument about how our craft of entertainment is not to be confused with sorcery as prohibited by the Bible to later on works like Ponsin's Nouvelle Magie Blanche Dvoile and Robert-Houdin's Les Secrets de la Prestidigitation et de la Magie could be used to support such a case. The Angelo Lewis "Proffessor Hoffmann" books Modern Magic, More Magic... would also seem to support that case.

You'll notice there are few works on the persuasion of the multitudes and how to establish and maintain ones own religion in the literature. That's in "western civilization" and probably needs to be taken in larger historical perspective along with the industrial revolution, mass communications and a shift from a focus on practical knowlege related to building things to fascination with sensations like 'clever' and novelty.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/12/10 10:54 AM

Asked by MitsuMatsu: So, the history of magic book publication looks like a history of expose to a considerable extent.

In the last generation or so there's been a considerable shift toward higher standards in accurately recording the provenance of items, attribution of ideas/script work to those who used the items and much interest in historical precedence as regards the development of ideas, scripts, themes and some artistic/aesthetic trends over time. My contacts in the larger theatrical world still comment that our craft is considered the "slow" cousin to legitimate theater - there's much hope that current and ongoing efforts will get us in good standing there and in the behavioral sciences as well.

:)
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Postby David Alexander » 10/12/10 11:42 AM

"Dover Publication is one of the early publishers whose magic books were sold at general bookstores marketed for laymen, not at magic shop for magicians.
I think Gardner's "Mathematics, Magic and Mysteries" is one of the earliest one among such books.
I would like to know what other magic books were sold earlier than that at general bookstores.

MitsuMatsu"

Dover is actually late to the market as other publishers were putting out magic titles for the general public early in 20th Century. A few representative titles being: Hatton and Plates "Magicians' Tricks How They are Done," The Century Company 1910; Jean Hugard's "Modern Magic Manual," Harper Bros. 1939; "Illustrated Magic" by Ottokar Fischer, The Macmillian Company 1945; all of Scarne's books (On Card Tricks, On Cards, On Dice) in the late '40s early 50s; Bruce Elliot's four titles published in the 1950s by mainstream publishers...and on and on. All published and sold in bookstores, many titles found in public libraries. A number of these books are considered "classics" and viewed as educational and not exposes.
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Postby MitsuMatsu » 10/13/10 06:46 AM

Thank you, David.
Various books you kindly exemplified above are what I was looking for.
Because I am not a native consumer in your country, I wondered what magic books were really sold in general bookstores, not in magic shops.
Yes, these are all good classics, I agree.
Really appreciated!

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Postby MitsuMatsu » 10/13/10 07:20 AM

Thank you very much for your consideration on the magic books that have been sold widely.

>In the last generation or so there's been a considerable
>shift toward higher standards in accurately recording
>the provenance of items, attribution of ideas/script work
>to those who used the items and much interest in historical
>precedence as regards the development of ideas, scripts, >themes and some artistic/aesthetic trends over time.

Yes, indeed.
So, not only creators but also hobbyists in next generation could easily understand how our arts have developed by various brilliant minds over the years.
Magicians in these days can learn much through these books.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/13/10 08:44 AM

MitsuMatsu - you are asking good questions about a conflated - self conflicted subject. The husks of impractical technology used for amusement may wind up in the history of theater when our little craft earns its niche. The notion of effective will itself is uncomfortable to most.

We have a strange craft - so many fuss over what fabric to wear as a bunraku artist yet not so much on the story to tell or how to write new stories.
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Postby David Alexander » 10/14/10 12:43 AM

MitsuMatsu,
It is probably safe to say that a large percentage if not the majority of magic books published before 1950 or even 1960 were made by more or less mainstream publishers to be sold to the library market, general public, and stocked by the relatively few magic dealers then extant in the US.

With the computer revolution and cheap access to laser printers and publishing software the amount of material available to the trade multiplied massively. Hobbyists found an outlet for their interests and books and booklets that would never be financially profitable for a large publisher appeared either from cottage-industry magic publishers or individuals.

Now, with camcorders and instant downloads magic publishing is taking a new tact that opens even more doors to the hobbyist and yet the occasional magic book written for the general public is still produced.
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Postby Max Maven » 10/14/10 03:16 AM

David Alexander writes: "It is probably safe to say that a large percentage if not the majority of magic books published before 1950 or even 1960 were made by more or less mainstream publishers to be sold to the library market, general public, and stocked by the relatively few magic dealers then extant in the US."

I disagree. In fact, I think it's quite the opposite. Once the market for book-buying amateurs blossomed (in the nineteen-teens and -twenties), there were far more titles produced for that readership than for the lay public. That situation has continued to this day.

To get a general sense of this ratio, take a browse through the Potter Index.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/14/10 10:05 AM

? are we counting hardcover titles with print runs over 1000 or some other measure of publication?
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Postby houdini's ghost » 10/14/10 01:43 PM

I remember the forties and fifties. Blackstone's Modern Card Tricks and Secrets of Magic, Thurston's 400 Tricks You Can Do, a whole string of books by Walter Gibson under his own name (he wrote the Blackstone and Thurston books) and Bruce Elliott's books (including Classic Secrets of Magic). Also Bill Severn and Barrows Massey. There were all these books, a few a year that would be published mainstream by big companies. A lot of them showed up in overstock sales.
All in all, they were great books with some great material.
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Postby T Baxter » 10/15/10 12:41 AM

Edwin Sach's book, SLEIGHT OF HAND, now a classic on many magicians' bookshelves, was serialized to the general public in a British Buy & Sell type of newspaper called: THE BAZAAR EXCHANGE & MART. This was before it was published in hard-cover form for magicians in 1877.

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Postby Edwin Corrie » 10/15/10 03:21 AM

I believe many of these books (and others) were sold to the general public:

http://geniimagazine.com/magicpedia/Early_Magic_Books

But it's also interesting to see that by the beginning of the 20th century Ellis Stanyon was advertising a lot of publications in his magazine "Magic" (1900-1920) that were clearly very specialised and only sold to magicians.
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Postby Oli Foster » 12/17/10 09:18 AM

Jonathan makes an interesting point,

"In the last generation or so there's been a considerable shift toward higher standards in accurately recording the provenance of items, attribution of ideas/script work to those who used the items and much interest in historical precedence as regards the development of ideas, scripts, themes and some artistic/aesthetic trends over time."

If you flick through an old book, say mid 1800s to early 1900s, all of the tricks are headed under generic titles, rarely with any idea of the origins of that particular effect - whereas now, it's considered very bad form not to at least reference anyone whose routine you've developed or asked permission if you're publishing it outright.

I think older books for a general audience wanted to be more instructive and encyclopedic to provide 'a complete course in magic', whereas specific publications for magicians naturally assume a degree of interest and experience so, I suppose the origins of the material is more interesting and important to the specialised reader - as well as to the economy of producing these specialised books.

Interestingly though, it's the same today. If you go into a general bookstore and look under their 'sports and games' section for a magic book, they feature similar stuff to the old books with little elaboration on the origins of the material - probably because this isn't of interest or relevance to the general reader.

I know with people here who make a living out of publishing original material, the consensus is probably that the current caution surrounding provenance is wholly justified in an internet age where things can be and are ripped off. Does anyone have an opinion to the contrary? (playing devil's advocate) Are we making mountains out of molehills in a world where intellectual property is increasingly not worth the paper it's printed on?

I personally like to hear about who came up with what because if I happen upon a book by that same person, I'll have a good idea as to whether I'll enjoy it. What do you think the groundrules are on referencing and publishing variations? Just how original should a routine be to justify publication?

(Just trying to stir things up abit ;)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/17/10 11:14 AM

So Oli, you discovered the trick where you pick up a book on mixology and pour out a martini?
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