The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

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Conjuring Arts
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The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Conjuring Arts » June 19th, 2014, 5:54 pm

Hello from Conjuring Arts,

I wanted to briefly check in and tell you that the long awaited "The Oldest Trick in the Book" has been published by Volker Huber. Only 300 were printed and we have brought in 100 copies to sell in the U.S.

It's hardbound, sewn, beautifully printed in full color and was incredibly expensive for Volker to produce. We've decided to offer it at $179 but for early purchasers we have put it at $149 which is literally the cost to produce this book.

For anyone who didn't know Bob he was not only a brilliant performer but also an astonishingly diligent researcher. He scoured the earth for images of the Cups and Ball published in non-magic sources and unfortunately died before he could publish his findings.

After Bob's untimely passing Volker Huber stepped in and out of the goodness of his heart and at great financial risk he took on the publishing of Bob's work and Legacy.
This is the time to get one as the 100 we have will not last.

The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Thanks for you interest,

Ricky Smith
Conjuring Arts Research Center
Want to reach us or have questions? Send us a PM or email us at: questions@conjuringarts.org
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 26th, 2014, 12:17 am

I received my copy of this book today. (For those who are aware that I am broke, don't worry--my son can handle the indentured servitude I sold him into in order to purchase this book.)

Obviously I have not read it yet, but I just wanted to mention its production.
In a word: stunning.
Bob Read would be thrilled.

Some of the images are a bit small, but there are SO many of them that to make them all larger would mean a book the size of the Taschen book.

This is still large as it is, 13x10.5 inches, and 271 pages, but a truss is not needed after looking through it.

I'll let the Genii book reviewer lucky enough to get this do his thing, but in the meantime, don't waste time. Get this book.

Thank you CARC, Mr. Huber, and of course Bob Read.

Dustin

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Tom Pilling » June 26th, 2014, 6:22 am

Dustin,

It seems that the U.S. consignment has sold out. I cannot find any information about copies available in the UK. Have I missed this particular boat?

Cheers,

Tom

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby erdnasephile » June 26th, 2014, 6:45 am

Agree with Dustin's comments.

Note: if you pay via Paypal on the CARC site, a preapproved payment authorization to CARC will be created in your Paypal account. (this is to facilitate one-click ordering) This authorization can be removed within your Paypal account.

My Account > Profile > My money > My preapproved payments

(I want to make it clear that I trust the folks at CARC and don't think they are doing anything nefarious here as there are many other companies that do the same. Nevertheless, if you use Paypal frequently, you might check as you might find a few surprises while you are there. For example: http://www.mymoneyblog.com/preapproved- ... aypal.html )
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Jim Martin » June 26th, 2014, 9:02 am

Jim Martin
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 26th, 2014, 10:59 am

Jim beat me to it. Obviously it will cost more through Volker Huber, but still well worth it.

DO NOT WAIT! There were only 300 printed and if CARC has sold their 100, fewer than 200 remain.

I cannot help but wonder if Mr. Huber underestimated the demand for this book! The average number of history geeks at "open" (read, not invitation only) history conferences is about 250, so I can see how he arrived at that number.

Even though he has stated in the book that it is limited to 300, I have no problem with him reprinting it. I think this book deserves as wide an audience as possible. (As a "collector" I would ask that a second printing state that.)

A quick word about the content (thus far): it is a catalogue, not a historical narrative. The entries are limited but still fascinating to read.

I am so glad I sold my son to get this book! ;)
Dustin

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Tom Pilling » June 26th, 2014, 11:13 am

Thank you for the lead, gentlemen. I may have to sell one of my children now.

:twisted:

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby erdnasephile » June 26th, 2014, 11:16 am

Even if it does sell out it's limited run, I hope to see it reviewed in Genii based on it's historical importance.

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 26th, 2014, 1:28 pm

I doubt that we will get a copy for review. I have not even received a copy for myself and when you get to the bottom of this message you'll be surprised by that.

I have not seen the printed book yet, but I can tell from some of the descriptions that it doesn't appear to be the book Bob Read wrote. His enormous text was a personal journey filled with hilarious anecdotes about how he tracked all of these items down, how they're related, and so on.
It seems from what I've heard that little of this is in the book.

I should also add that I was supposed to edit the book, which was planned as a two-volume set. I was sent only the text consisting of short descriptions of each image, and was promised that the next text I would receive would be all of Bob's writings.

Nothing else ever came and I'm shocked that the book has been published.

Also, the book gives a credit for editing, or something, to the Conjuring Arts Research Center. CARC was not involved in the production of the book and no one associated with it did any editing.

I spent weeks in Bob's home locating all of the material he prepared for the book: thousands of transparencies, photographs, digital images, thousands of pages of text, numerous printed-out versions of the entire manuscript with images in place. Then I physically packed all of the materials at Bob's home for shipping to Germany. I know exactly what was sent and what the book should contain.

If the book is really just a checklist with images and brief text, it's a tragedy. Bob Read spent decades working on this book, and the last four years of his life he performed very rarely and spent almost all his time writing the text.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 26th, 2014, 1:45 pm

This is a VERY disappointing revelation. I had no idea.
Now the book "is what it is" and, while it is beautiful, there is a part of me that feels cheated. And Bob's legacy has certainly been cheated.

For the record, here is a listing of the only other text in the book, other than the short descriptions that accompany the images:

•A Foreword by Volker Huber
•The Co-Author's Acknowledgements (Martina Bergmann)
•A half-page that explains the Entry, Format, and Categories
•A one-page list of and text on "Sources" including Dr. Kurt Volkmann, Arthur Watson, Professor Dr. Metin And, Milbourne Christopher, Etienne Marteret, and Jacques and Francois Voigner

That is all there is of the "text" prior to the listings, so nothing else that can be attributed to Bob Read.

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby I.M. Magician » June 26th, 2014, 1:58 pm

Bummer! I wish I knew all of this $150 plus shipping ago.

All it does is ruin the credibility of those involved in making the book as it was issued.

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Eric Fry » June 26th, 2014, 2:56 pm

It sounds like the format and content are similar to art museums' catalogues of their collections.

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby AJM » June 26th, 2014, 4:22 pm

Based on these revelations, the publisher may end up with a sizeable remainder of the 300 printed.

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 26th, 2014, 4:37 pm

The book will still sell out because of the imagery.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Doug Thornton » June 26th, 2014, 8:32 pm

Teller was in Newark Airport today and we had a brief chat. However, that was before I read these posts; I would've liked getting his take on it.

The story of Teller's visit to Bob Read's and using cups from Bob's collection is a classic.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Richard Hatch » June 26th, 2014, 9:23 pm

Bob had Hofzinser's cups. Where are they now?

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 26th, 2014, 11:15 pm

They were sold at auction.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Ken Trombly » June 27th, 2014, 9:15 am

I received my copy of the book yesterday. First let me say that I have always been drawn to cups and balls imagery. I heard Bob Read lecture a couple of times at magic collector gatherings, and found him totally approachable and knowledgeable. In fact, he inspired me to begin collecting cups and balls prints..and so it was with special excitement that I opened the package yesterday that contained the book. Unfortunately, what the book achieves in quantity of material, it lacks on several other fronts. What the Taschen book is to posters, I was hoping this book would be to the C & Bs. But its absence of interesting lay-out, such as occasionally varying the size of the usually too-small reproductions, renders it not much more than an auction catalog. And, most disappointing is the absence of Bob's unique and entertaining voice. Despite the assertion in the editor and Co-Author's (Martina Bergmann) Acknowledgements (page 7) that "the aim was to complete the work of Bob Read, to bring the contents into a good order and also continue to hold up his non-reversible [sic] way of expression..." [emphasis added] the text is sometimes almost painful to read. The "descriptions" of the images are mostly no more than telling us what the image depicts, with no insight or information added (e.g., "A seated magician performs on a street in a corner of town houses. He sits in front of his booth on a stool and acts at a covered table with four cups. A group of very interested watching spectators surrounds his table."). Moreover, the grammar and syntax are that of someone for whom English is clearly a second (or third) language. (i.e., the editor sorely needed an editor). While Frau Bergmann may be well versed in art history, she regrettably failed to incorporate Bob's wealth of knowledge, much less the entertainingly unique way in which he shared his collecting passion with us. Perhaps Richard, or someone else with access to Bob's actual written material might still consider putting together a second volume, which would be a compendium of his historical research, annotated to cross reference this catalogue of his collection.

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby erdnasephile » June 27th, 2014, 9:52 am

What is puzzling to me is that RK indicates the manuscript was pretty much already written, with illustrations in place.

Why, then, not just publish the manuscript as Bob Read wrote it? Was it just a money issue?

PS: I think Mr. Trombly's idea is a great one.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 27th, 2014, 10:22 am

I'm way ahead of Ken.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby brianarudolph » June 27th, 2014, 10:27 am

Awesome, Richard!

I'm glad I saw a couple of pics of the content pages moments before I was going to place my order. Those definitely struck me as an "auction catalog" as well, so I was hoping to get a little more feedback first. Thankfully (but regrettably) I didn't place my order.

But I sense an order for a different version in my future.

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby mel » June 27th, 2014, 12:19 pm

Ordered the book about an hour ago... (and before reading this thread)!
Still, I´m glad I did:
a) Fortunately I´ve got an address here in Austria (makes it so much cheaper --- I don´t have to sell my family!--- and a change, because usually it´s the other way round!)
b) With a limited edition of only 300 (minus 100 already gone) I think one can´t go wrong!?
c) Of course, one could argue about the content, lay-out, text etc. ... (I can´t and won´t, because I haven´t received "my" book yet) but I have to say, that, in general, I never was disappointed by a "Huber"-Book!

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 27th, 2014, 12:30 pm

Don't misinterpret my remarks: you definitely SHOULD buy the Huber book. All I am going to try and produce is an adjunct to this book with Bob's writing. It will not be a competing volume, nor will it reproduce all the images in this size or quality (if at all). I may just use references in the text to indicate which image Bob is discussing.

What is most likely is that I'll produce a pdf file on a disc that recreates Bob's original intention and sell it at some very low price.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Ken Trombly » June 27th, 2014, 12:38 pm

Richard,
Glad to hear that. You made my day!
Kind of reminds me of another Bob Read scenario, when I bought a video of some of his routines, years ago....only to later learn that a more comprehensive video came out later. So, it is a kind of weird Bob dejavu where history may kind of repeat itself!
Ken

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Jim Martin » June 27th, 2014, 12:38 pm

I'm in - sounds great Richard.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 27th, 2014, 12:52 pm

Ken Trombly wrote:The "descriptions" of the images are mostly no more than telling us what the image depicts, with no insight or information added ...

With respect to Ken, I don't think this is a fair portrayal of the descriptions. I would say that most include (albeit "dry") comments about the sources of the images; be they an antiquarian book or manuscript, their association to other sources and the like. (This is where Bill Kalush makes his contribution to the book, being the guy the editor went to for information of that type.)

This, of course, in no way takes away from the fact that these are not his (and Richard's) friend Bob's words and that is clearly what Ken was expecting and he is rightfully disappointed by that. I don't blame him.

Going in I did not have the point of reference that Ken and Richard have, so I did not have any expectations in that regard. I have no issue with the layout and the size of the images. Any larger and the book is Taschen size—or larger. (And it is worth remembering that the Taschen book has many postage stamp-size images in it; this book has a consistency in size—about 3 or 4 inches—along with detailed close-up of them as needed.)

Yes, it is a large, colorful catalog. But unlike most auction catalogs, every item has an image. For those with an expectation of something more, they will share in Ken and Richard's disappointment. My disappointment is after-the-fact because only now do I know what the book could have and should have been. So if you ordered the book, and you were in my position regarding what to expect, try to keep that in mind. I have no regrets in getting the book. I just regret that it is not Bob's book.

Dustin

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Marco Pusterla » June 27th, 2014, 3:48 pm

Dustin Stinett wrote:But unlike most auction catalogs, every item has an image.


I beg to differ. Just some random examples (by opening at random pages):
2115
2125
2130
3330 (that's fine, as it's the same as another one, illustrated)
3355
5331
5859
1747
etc.

The book is a reference catalog of prints with a magical subject, and in this respect, it is a welcome and long-needed volume. It is a reference volume for antiquarians, collectors, historians, museums... Its scope can be compared to the bibliographies of Toole-Stott or Fechner.

It is not a story of the cups and balls through history, or an erudite discussion on how conjurers were seen through centuries in continental Europe. For a collector, this book is a necessary and welcome volume; for an historian of the art of magic, the volume is just a reference book dealing with a very narrow aspect of the art.

Maybe this was not explained carefully enough in the advertisements posted on the internet and this may disappoint some people when getting the volume.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 27th, 2014, 4:10 pm

Okay, virtually all. Better? 2115 is also 2113, thus it has an image and some were just not good enough to print (as explained in the summary at the beginning of the book).

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 27th, 2014, 4:19 pm

I've just dug out all the discs with the material from Bob's computer after he died.

As an example, the text accompanying just the Thimble Rig illustrations is 8,000 words. That would be about 8 pages in Genii without any of the accompanying illustrations.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby erdnasephile » June 28th, 2014, 12:13 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Don't misinterpret my remarks: you definitely SHOULD buy the Huber book. All I am going to try and produce is an adjunct to this book with Bob's writing. It will not be a competing volume, nor will it reproduce all the images in this size or quality (if at all). I may just use references in the text to indicate which image Bob is discussing.

What is most likely is that I'll produce a pdf file on a disc that recreates Bob's original intention and sell it at some very low price.


Great news!!! Thanks, Richard!

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby I.M. Magician » June 28th, 2014, 12:17 am

Now I am happy that I bought the book. Richard's efforts will complete the work which is all I wanted in the first place.

Yes, thank you Richard!

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby marcar » July 1st, 2014, 4:46 pm

Gentlemen:

I have read these comments which I don't quite understand.

This is the usual "Monday morning quarter backing" I've heard for years about well produced magic books. It even started with the famed Albo books when Lloyd Jones actually criticized Albo's first Oriental Magic of the Bambergs for misspelling "Hofmann". Truly insulting and condescending of this h massive work, ignoring the production costs and time Albo spent on writing, researching and publishing them, by himself. Maybe Mr Jones should have done it himself, as in this case, as he was able to spell Hofmann! I see a green fairy here.

To date no other work of its type has been published even with the much, much cheaper production costs of today. Wonder why.



By no means this is intended to be a historical book and by no means includes all of the engravings available or the history behind each. It would take 15 dvd's to do this or more. it is simply a beautifully produced book (as only Volker Huber could do, due to its production costs and no profit motive)pleasant to the eye and not ardous and painful reading for all of us that enjoy just images and look at Magic as a hobby not a profession.

Volker and Bob Read (close friends) were working on this when I first met Volker some 35 years ago. Volker was always ready to go into production but Bob kept on postponing it as he always found additional images he didn't have. This could have gone forever and it did.

I can assume that this became somewhat frustrating to Huber.

I don't know the circumstances thereafter, but I can assure you that everything that Volker has published is by itself a collectible item with no match. No expense is spared by him to put out a quality product, visually. After all he is well recognized in Germany and worldwide as a modern art dealer with a very successful Gallery and exclusive artists

So don't regret the purchase, and 300 copies (Volker really means it as he has NEVER republished any of his Magic publications) shows even more exclusivity by those that own it. I am sure Bob Read is very pleased himself.

And, lets thank Volker for sparkling an interest on these rare pieces of magic ephemera which have been highly underestimated here in the US all along thus kept "secretly" all these years, must admit to my advantage and those of European Magic Collectors.

Thank you Volker

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 1st, 2014, 5:43 pm

I am sure Volker's book is beautiful, but it is not the book Bob Read wrote.


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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby AJM » July 1st, 2014, 6:02 pm

I was almost in for this book until I read more of the background and decided against it.

Even a beautifully produced book complemented by Richards's planned addition turns me off as I feel all the available material should have been presented as a complete 'whole'.

A missed opportunity in my view.

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Doc Eason » July 1st, 2014, 6:39 pm

When I saw the blurb I jumped on this.. I had the good fortune to spend a bit of time in Bob's house and see a few of these in person. so I was looking forward to this..

Just got it and like a few folks here, I am disappointed as well. It is indeed a catalog with very small representations of the collection. For the C&B scholar it is a gold mine and it is fabulous for the historical record. But I guess I was expecting it to be in the Taschen model. Hard to see the sometimes tiny reprints..

CARC has graciously offered to give me my money back.. I would like to spend a bit more time with it and think about it.. part of me thinks that once the original 300 are gone, maybe this will increase in value.

I look forward to the next volume with color plates tipped in.

I could be off base here.. just sayin...

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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 2nd, 2014, 10:34 am

Of course it will sell out, and of course it will increase in value.
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Re: The Oldest Trick in the Book by Bob Read

Postby hugmagic » July 2nd, 2014, 1:12 pm

Obviously, Tauschen's books have set the bar very high in what we expect then seeing important images. But without a major distribution chain, it does not make economic sense to produce that kind of volume.
I am not a cups and balls person but I commend Volker and those involved for producing this volume as a means of trying to preserve the life's work of a man. I have a feeling, no matter how or who did this, they could never capture the enthusiam and expertise of Bob.
A companion volume to expand on the details would certainly be welcome to supplement and further document Bob's work.
Having had the priviledge to hear Bob's last talk in LA on the cups and balls and his travels, was a remarkable, entertaining and enlightening talk, to anyone who appreciates good research irregardless of the subject.

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