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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Oldies... but goodies! » » Golden Age of Magic Books (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Mike M
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I believe I am fortunate to have lived through the golden age of magic books. I'm sure there will always be new ones, but magic books have been in decline for years now.

Before the 1980's magic books were plentiful, but most were poorly written, small, and read like text books. Then came Richard Kaufman, Stephen Minch, and others who changed the industry. They made quality, hard back books that were just fun to read, and they made so many it was tough to keep up with them.

Now that computers have changed the industry, a decent new magic book is a rarity, and I for one miss them. But I'm certainly glad I lived through that Golden Age!
jay leslie
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One thing you can’t do with a computer is find a trick on 3 or 4 pages of different books and study them all at once. Somehow a computer doesn’t give the same feel.
Richard Kaufman
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Hey Mike, me and Minch are still publishing good books! Smile
Wizard of Oz
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Indeed you are Richard. Better than ever.

I don't think the golden age has ended yet, but I completely agree with Mike. When I was growing up I would ride my bike up to our county library on any given Saturday, go the magic section (pretty large given it was a county library...at least 3 shelves), pull out a book or two and plop myself into a corner for the afternoon. It was glorious.

But, as thorough as the inventory was, it didn't change much over the years. A decade or so passed, and the late Joe Lefler opened his Magic Hat magic shop in our local Richmond Mall. That became my new hangout, but as Mike mentions, the book section consisted mainly of cheaply produced booklets...and were mainly on a single subject, e.g. Rope Magic. The selection was uninspiring.

I gave magic up in high school and college, then rediscovered it again after I was well into my workforce years. I had some time in between press approvals (I was at a printer approving an annual report I designed), and thought I would take a break by looking in the Yellow Pages (it was awhile ago) to see if there were any magic shops in the area I could visit. And yes!!! There were two, only miles apart from one another...Yendor's World of Magic, and Illusions. I went to both. Aside from all of the amazing magic that had been released since I left magic, I was also amazed by the amount of books that had been published. And beautiful books. Well-designed, well-illustrated and photographed, and wonderfully printed. As a graphic designer I fell in love with magic again, and haven't regretted the romance since.

So yes, I think there was, is, a golden age of magic books. And it is because of the innovative publishers who figured out a way to turn out high-end, short-run books for a limited audience, and still be profitable enough to thrive. Like Mike, I consider myself fortunate to have lived during this era.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Richard Kaufman
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One reason that there was a "golden age" of magic books, if there was one, is because there were great people who had never spilled all the beans before. Therefore, there were great books to be had from them. Once I got started, then Minch, and finally L&L, we burned through most of the names with a lot of material.

So now we look to younger magicians for our books, and to the future. Unless it's Theodore DeLand, who is way in the past, and the general exception to the rule is Juan Tamariz, who has a load of unpublished killer material.

The last big holdout was John Thompson, and his book will be out later this year. When will the golden age of magic books end? When Juan's final book is published. Then a new era will begin.
Dick Oslund
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When I was 14 (1945) most of the magic books in the Carnegie public library,in my home town, were "juveniles". E.g.: Joseph Leeming's "Fun With Magic", "More Fun With Magic", Alexander the Magician's "The Magic Show Book", etc. --But, they were a "beginning"!

I met an amateur magician, from a town, 60 miles away. He loaned me his 1941, hardbound set of TARBELL! I thought that I had "died and gone to Heaven!". A year or so later, another man, loaned me his copy of "Greater Magic". I was now in "seventh Heaven"!

The Professor Hoffman series was a bit "Victorian", but, they did add to my library.

In my early 20s, I added Ganson, Bobo, Fitzkee, the Fleming series, and dozens more.

I never dreamed that I would someday write a book, too! Then, my good friend,Jon Racherbaumer, a cardician of "some repute" and, author of "world class" card books, plus life stories of world class magicians like Don Alan, kvetched me into writing "my story".

Over lunch, he said, that stories of the magicians who had worked legitimate theaters, like Thurston, Houdini, Blackstone, Neff, et al, had been written. Ditto, those like Virgil, and Birch, who had worked auditoriums, Also, "tent theater" magicians like Willard the Wizard, had had their "stories" written.

Jon said, No one has written about the "school show magicians", those who kept LYCEUM theater, "alive". Jon continued, "You are the "last" of the "veterans" of those who played the "knowledge boxes on the kerosene lamp circuit"! Write a book!

I bought an "infernal electrisch peckenclacer", and, wrote "Dick Oslund -- Road Scholar". It isn't on the New York Times "best seller" list, but, it is selling steadily, and there are now copies on FOUR continents. I never dreamed that a book by me, would have world wide circulation!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Shawn Truitt
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Austin, TX USA
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I've had a deep interest in collecting books on magic since around 12 years old. There were so many props that I spent my allowance on until Phil Thomas of Phil Thomas' Yogi Magic Mart in Baltimore, MD convinced me that there were many effects to perform in a book but only one trick (and variations) performed with a gimmick. Can't thank him enough as well as Dave (who worked the counter most days) when I was visiting the shop and attending the groups from 1978 to 1984. Question: is there a site that displayed every (you know what I mean) book, printed trick, lecture notes, et al that I could check some of my rare pieces? Thanks so much for any cooperation my fellow performers. Shawn Truitt.
jaschris
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This might be what you're looking for?
http://www.conjuringarchive.com/
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