July 23, 2014: 175th anniversary of Prof. Hoffmann's birth

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
Tom Sawyer
Posts: 310
Joined: January 7th, 2012, 6:44 pm

July 23, 2014: 175th anniversary of Prof. Hoffmann's birth

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 23rd, 2014, 6:57 am

I'm not usually very big on recognizing "magic anniversaries" or "magic birthdays." There are way too many of them to begin to track even the significant ones, and before you know it you are mentioning things no one has time to even think about, let alone care about.

However, I think it is okay for me to mention here that today (July 23, 2014) is the 175th anniversary of Professor Hoffmann's birth -- because he was born on July 23, 1839.

As some of you probably know, for quite a while I have operated a blog dealing with card-game booklets, of which Hoffmann wrote quite a few for Chas. Goodall and Son. All of Hoffmann's were first published over a hundred years ago now. (If you are interested, you can probably find the blog easily on Google by searching for: Hoffmann rule booklets.) The blog deals with lots of Goodall booklets -- not just the Hoffmann ones.

Anyway, on that blog I mentioned the anniversary a few days ago, and I kind of contemplated the significance of the passage of years. The 175 years that have gone by seems like an extremely long period of time. My dad lived to be 97, but Hoffmann was born about 75 years before my dad. And I was born in 1949, so Hoffmann was born roughly 110 years before me. Those kinds of facts make it seem like "Hoffmann is ancient history."

On the other hand, Hoffmann passed away in late 1919. That was only (roughly) 30 years before I was born. These kinds of facts make it seem as though "Hoffmann is quite a modern guy."

Oh, well.

Anyway, Hoffmann has probably been my main magic interest since 1965 or so, and he is the primary focus of my so-called "magic collection." Some of you may think that my main "magic" interest is in Erdnase, but that has never been the case.

It might be worthwhile for me to very briefly mention here a few things about the extent of Hoffmann's literary works of various kinds. He contributed to many periodicals of his era, especially London Society, to which he contributed many articles and stories. He edited a periodical called Pick-Me-Up. He contributed many articles to magic magazines.

By my count, Hoffmann authored, edited, or translated twenty-nine major works. This includes his Modern Magic (first published in book form in 1876), More Magic (first published in book form in 1889), and Later Magic (apparently first published in 1904). He also translated (among other works) three books by Robert-Houdin, including The Secrets of Conjuring and Magic.

As to Hoffmann's card-game booklets, which are not included in the above count, I reckon that Hoffmann wrote sixteen different ones, though it kind of depends. For example, his booklet Bridge Whist evolved into Bridge. I consider them two different booklets. Some people might treat them as one. I think it is fairly well settled that the scarcest of his card-game booklets are Quinto, and Bridge Varieties, and Schnapps and Other Original Round Games, and Hearts, Heartsette, and Ombre. Of those four, the only one I have is the one on Schnapps.

I have first editions of the majority of Hoffmann's major works, and in many cases other editions as well. The ones I do not have any copy of, in any edition, are The Code of Civil Procedure, The Indian Penal Code, Baccarat Fair and Foul, and The Game of Skat. The two law books were written under Hoffmann's real name (Angelo J. Lewis).

I have extensive bound runs of London Society and Pick-Me-Up (which Hoffmann edited for only about a year), but while quite interesting, such things are not going to be collected by the typical magic collector.

It is quite an interesting task, to attempt to collect as many of Hoffmann's works as possible. With the advent of the internet, such a task today is probably a bit easier than it was in the olden days. I remember back in the 1970s I visited Leslie R. Cole at his home. At that time I expressed the opinion that it would be quite difficult then to start a Hoffmann collection. Of course, I did not know what I was talking about. Generally, a good time to start a collection on a subject you are interested in is always going to be "today." That is, it is never too late!

--Tom Sawyer

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 24048
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC

Re: July 23, 2014: 175th anniversary of Prof. Hoffmann's bir

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 23rd, 2014, 10:25 am

I think it's fair to say that between Hoffmann and Sachs, magic literature in English came of age in the 19th century, and their influence is still felt today in our field (even if the young folks don't recognize it).
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Return to “Magic History and Anecdotes”