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37 Magic Books: History/Reference


This article is from the Magic FAQ, by Paul Nielsen nielsen@vulture.eecs.umich.edu with numerous contributions by others.

37 Magic Books: History/Reference

Alfredson, James and Daily, George A Bibliobraphy of Conjuring Periodicals
in English: 1791 - 1983
(1986, Magic of Collectors)

[GH] This bibliography lists over 7500 periodicals. It is the bible for
magazine collectors. Enough said.

Blackstone, Harry Jr. The Blackstone Book of Magic and Illusion
(?, ?)

[MK] A nice picture book of magical history. Naturally there's
lots of stuff about his dad and himself, but it's interesting. He
also includes some simple tricks at the end.

Christopher, Milbourne Illustrated History of Magic, The
(1973, Crowell)

[SD] A very nice history of magic book. A "coffee table" book, but
good information.

[RD] Is this the book where Christopher perpetuates the myth about one
of the pyramids of Egypt containing a picture of a magician performing
the cups and balls?

Clark, Hyla World's Greatest Magic, The
(1976, Tree Communications)

[SD] A "coffee table" book about personalities in magic both past and
present (around the time of this book, e.g., Doug Henning). An
interesting book, however, for those who want to know about some of
the folks who have (and do) make a name for magic. The book also
discusses some magic effects (including large stage illusions) and how
they are done in a special section by The Amazing Randi.

Clark, Sidney The Annals of Conjuring
(1983, Magico Magazine)

[GH] This is a reprint of series that ran in "The Magic Wand" from 1924-1928.
The one book I would take to a desert island. The greatest history of magic
written. This is one of the books that you can read at the beach. While the
level of detail is amazing, Clark's style of writing is so enjoyable that
it seems an easy read. This book covers the magic in England and Europe up
until the early 1900's.

Coleman, Earle Magic: A Reference Guide
(1987, Greenwood Press)

[GH] It discusses 100's of magic books, and is a rather hard read.

Cox, J. Randolph Man of Magic and Mystery: A Guide to the Work of
Walter B. Gibson
(1988, Scarecrow Press)

[JC] I visited him often in the last decade of his life and took most
of my notes for the book from his own collection and from interviews
with him. A fascinating man.

Dawes, Edwin The Great Illusionists
(1979, Chartwell Books)

[GH] One of my favorites. It contains some wonderful chapters on some far
reaching areas of magic history. Everything from learned animals to
Houdini. The depth of research is amazing, one of the best reference work
around. It is based on Dawes's series of articles in the "Magic Circular".
Well illustrated, this book can be picked up in used book stories for
around $5.

Dawes, Edwin and Setterington, Arthur Encyclopedia of Magic, The
(1986, Gallery Books)

[SD] Mainly a "picture book" (color and B&W) discussing the history of
magic and some of its major categories such as escapes, stage
illusions, mentalism, levitations, card magic, etc. Also includes
some current -- at the time of the book and shortly before --

[RD] No relation, at least not that we can determine.

Fisher, John Paul Daniels and the Story of Magic
(1987, Jonathan Cape Ltd)

[RD] Basically a rave-up about Daniels (who is admittedly pretty
good), but also has a lot of interesting information about the
development of magic as an entertainment form.

Forrester, Stephen A Bibliography of Magic Classics
(1993, limited edition of 150)

[GH] This books covers the writings of 58 authors, and has an extensive
bibliography of publications on magic collecting. This is a must have if you
are into magic book collecting. Last I heard the only copies left are the
leather bound ones at $200 plus.

Gibson, Walter The Master Magicians
(1966, Citadel)

[RD] Historical and biographical information about the greats of years
gone by. Interesting stuff.

Gill, Robert Magic as a Performing Art
(1976, Bowker)

[GH] A nice general overview of just over 1000 magic books.

Jay, Ricky Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women

[MK] Jay describes a section of entertainment not commonly found.
The man who grows, folks with strange mental powers, pig-faced ladies,
people who musically expel intestinal gas -- Not your typical
magicians. I have read the book and I still can't remember how Max
Malini got into this bunch.

Pecor, Charles The Magician on the American Stage 1752 - 1874
(1977, Emerson and West)

[GH] This is Charles Pecor's PhD thesis, and what a thesis it is. It gives a
detailed history of the growth of magic in America up until the late
1800's. Based on searches through newspaper files, books and other records,
he really does a great job of breathing life into early American magic.

Price, David Magic: A Pictoral History of Conjuring in the Theatre
(1985, Cornwall Books)

[GH] This is the single best history of magic in English. It covers the greats
and not so greats in more detail than you want. It contains 100's of
illustrations and has a wonderful color poster section. If you only have
one book on magic history, this is the one to have. It costs about $60.

Randi, James Conjuring
(1992, St. Martin's Press)

[MK] Some nice photos. Some historical & biographical info. Still
not sure how Randi decided who to include in the book -- its
impossible to include everyone.

Stott, Raymond Toole A Bibliography of English Conjuring 1581-1876
(1976, Harpur and Sons)
& A Bibliography of English Conjuring 1569-1876,
Volume Two
(1978, Harpur and Sons)

[GH] These two volumes are the book collector's bible, enough said.

Waters, T.A. Encyclopedia of Magic and Magicians
(1988, Facts On File Publ.)

[SD] Just what is sounds like: a one-volume reference book on people,
effects, and places related to magic. Can't think of a better book to
have for such purposes given its reasonable price ($20). It doesn't
explain effects but tells you what they are about, i.e., explains the
parlance of the magical arts. Includes some photographs of
personalities mentioned.


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