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panlives
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Can anyone shed light on this intriguing (and seemingly scarce) volume?

Kurt Volkmann
1956 - "The Oldest Deception A study of the Cups and Balls in the art of the 15th and 16th Centuries," illustrated with the prints and drawings of the period. An informative and scholarly study for the Magical historian
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
fortasse
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It's an interesting little book by a German lawyer and much respected magic historian, Kurt Volkmann, now deceased. What sets it apart from other magic histories is that it collects in a single (but very slim - 48 pages) volume black-and-white photos of the the most important graphic art featuring cups and balls in the 15th and 16th century. In this regard, Volkmann was for that period what the late Bob Read later became for the C&B graphic art of the 18th and 19th centuries (albeit more prolifically).

Having said that, Volkmann's book has little in the way of commentary on the actual performance of C&B in the period in question. Instead, the book is essentially a discussion of the larger cultural and artistic themes and symbolism of the paintings and engravings that are featured. Many of these works were included in the so-called "planet books" of the period, the C&B performer usually being associated with the supposed ill-effects of the moon ("Luna") on human behaviour.

Still, for those who have a special interest in the evolution of C&B, the pictures in the book will not disappoint. You get a good feel for the basic design of cups 600 years ago; the number used (3 or 4); and the open-air public setting favoured by the itinerant C&B performer.

It's a good point of reference for that and an important one too.

A bit expensive nowadays : few copies turn up for sale. Expect to pay several hundred dollars.

Fortasse
fortasse
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Sorry, where I say "(3 or 4)", it should have read "(2 or 3)".
Bill Palmer
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The original German edition may have been in color. The English editions do come up from time to time. I recently got a nearly mint one for around $200.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Payne
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Quote:
On 2010-07-09 23:52, Bill Palmer wrote:
The original German edition may have been in color. The English editions do come up from time to time. I recently got a nearly mint one for around $200.


That would be interesting to discover. Of the 19 or so illustrations in the book only five of them are originally in colour.

Many of the illustration in the little tome can be found online

Page 12 http://vitruvio.imss.fi.it/foto/galileop......_450.jpg (the one on the right)

page 17 http://www.zeitenblicke.de/2002/01/zika/images/fig04.html

page 19 http://www.superstock.com/stock-photos-images/1443-1036

detail from page 20 http://www.angelfire.com/space/tarot/ima......una3.jpg

Page 22

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co......Luna.jpg

Page 26 http://www.masterpaynemagic.com/bosch1.jpg

Page 28 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co......osch.jpg


page 46 http://www.zeitenblicke.de/2002/01/zika/images/fig03.html

These are about half the illustrations in the book

$200.00? Glad I only paid $10.00 for mine thirty years ago.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Bill Palmer
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Two things -- although that last one is not in color, it is also not the original of the Breughel.

The other is this -- when I got my first copy, sometime back, probably about 1972 or 73, it cost me even less than that. I have since really manhandled that copy to get some of the illustrations I use in my presentation. The copy I paid $200 is an absolutely pristine copy.

I still want the original, though.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Payne
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The original Breughel is not in the book. The illustration on page 46 is by Pieter van der Heyden

I've never come across a copy of the original in German. Actually the true original would be the series of the magazine Magic, the publication of the magic circle in Germany in which it first appeared.

My copy says it was printed in Germany. I'm curious as to whether both translations were printed simultaneously.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
fortasse
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Payne :

The book was originally published in the German language (in Germany) in 1954 under the title "Das Becherspiel". It was indeed based on a series of articles that Volkmann had published in various periodicals including the Sphinx and The German Magic Circle's magazine Die Magie. By arrangement with the magic publisher and bibliophile, Carl Jones, it was subsequently translated into English by the well-known magic writer, Barrows Mussey (known to most of us as the author of that superb general book on magic tricks "The Amateur Magician's Handbook").

The original German version of the book which is exceedingly rare was only 36 pages (printed on art paper) in contrast to the 48 pages of the English translation.

The book in English translation (printed in Germany but published in Minnesota) is itself a bit scarce nowadays although copies do surface every now and then during the course of the year, usually at one of the magic auctions. There was only ever one printing of this book, described at the time as a limited edition of 500 copies.

Fortasse
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2010-07-10 12:30, Payne wrote:
The original Breughel is not in the book. The illustration on page 46 is by Pieter van der Heyden

I've never come across a copy of the original in German. Actually the true original would be the series of the magazine Magic, the publication of the magic circle in Germany in which it first appeared.

My copy says it was printed in Germany. I'm curious as to whether both translations were printed simultaneously.


Payne:

Read my text. I didn't say the original of the Breughel was in the book.

I'm not sure what you mean by "both translations."

The German magic magazine it was serialized in was "die Magie," which is not in English.

Fortasse has the history of the single volume publication exactly right.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Bill Wilson
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I to have a copy of this interesting little book. Was surprised to hear of it's present value. My copy bears the stamp of Lee Jacobs Productions and I believe it cost me ten dollars back in the early seventies. To correct Fortasse though, 'The Amateur Magician's Handbook' was written by Henry Hay, not Barrows Mussey.
kentfgunn
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WB,

Dustin, over at the Genii forums has written a nice piece on this exact topic. I'd cut and paste it here, pretend I did all the work, like most folks, but Dustin Stinett (probably a psuedonym), deserves the credit. It's an interesting read on Henry Hay/June Barrows Mussey.

http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubbt......r=148721
Bill Wilson
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I stand corrected, I had no idea they were one of the same. I should have known better as 'The Amateur Magician's Handbook' is probably the major book that really got me going in magic.
Dale Houck
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Quote:
On 2010-07-11 11:36, wandboy wrote:

'The Amateur Magician's Handbook' is probably the major book that really got me going in magic.


There used to be a copy of this book in a ditch between Oskaloosa and Lawrence, Kansas. I had checked a copy out at the Lawrence Public Library in the early 1980's. On the way back home to Oskaloosa, my four year old (at the time) daughter told me she could make the book disappear. She did. She tossed it out the window. One of the drawbacks of doing magic for your children is that they want to do it too! I never did find it, so ended up paying for it and later bought a copy. Great book.
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fortasse
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Yes indeed, Henry Hay was just a pseudonym for Barrows Mussey.

Mussey's contribution to magic was really immense. In addition to translating The Oldest Deception and authoring the Amateur Magician's Handbook, he translated a number of other important works from German to English, most notably Ottokar Fischer's Illustrated Magic, another outstanding book.

Like many others, I remember what a revelation it was when, many years ago, I read and studied the Handbook for the first time.

Mussey was a gifted writer, translator and through his Handbook, a teacher to thousands.

Fortasse
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2010-07-11 11:19, kentfgunn wrote:
WB,

Dustin, over at the Genii forums has written a nice piece on this exact topic. I'd cut and paste it here, pretend I did all the work, like most folks, but Dustin Stinett (probably a psuedonym), deserves the credit. It's an interesting read on Henry Hay/June Barrows Mussey.

http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubbt......r=148721


I have met Dustin, and I believe this to be his real name. He came to the combined IBM-SAM convention in Louisville.

If this is a pseudonym, it's more like a nom de plume.

That essay of his, at the beginning of that thread, is very insightful.

I haven't read the whole thread, but I can say this. I believe that Mussey had much more to do with the translation of das Wunderbuch der Zauberkunst AKA Illustrated Magic than Fulton Oursler did. Oursler contributed an essay on contemporary magicians. He may have also done some of the editing.

This is one of my favorite books. I usually keep a couple of copies in my library. There are a couple of photographic spreads in the book that look like "the real work" on magic. These are mainly rather complex mechanical devices.

I have found that if you wish to have a machinist make something special for you, quite often he will do it for a copy of the book. They are not expensive. I saw one at the IBM convention last week that I could have picked up for $11.00. Thousands of copies of it exist.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Woland
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A quick check of Abebooks shows many copies of the Wunderbuch. Copies in English can be found for less than $10. Copies from German editions are available for less than $100. Of course, fine examples in excellent condition of the early editions go for a lot more. (The most expensive is an example of the 1929 German edition, at a bookseller's in Belgium, for $386 & change.)

Woland
panlives
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Does anyone know of a similar book (perhaps one that covers a longer time horizon) that is more accessible?
A current listing for "The Oldest Deception" on A.B.E. was over $800.
Have any relatively recent issues of Genii (for example) devoted special editions to the Cups?
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
fortasse
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Panlives:

$800?? That could only be Robert Gwodz (just kidding). Still, that's way too much. Unless you're in big rush for it, a little bit of patience is likely to be rewarded. As I indicated in an earlier post, a copy or two should show up at auction during the course of the year and I seriously doubt that the hammer price would be more than $300 or so.

There is no other book that I'm aware of that covers the 15th and 16th centuries the way that Volkmann did. There's the Art of Deception by Chuck Romano (the first chapter) but I'm not sure that's really what you're looking for. The late Bob Read was THE authority on cups and balls in graphic art but his special period of interest was essentially the 18th and 19th centuries. He gave a lecture on the subject that he subsequently published in photocopy form : "The Cups and Balls in 19th Century Graphic Art". It is extremely rare. Even rarer is the later edition under the same title but with the words "Second Spasm" added at the end. In each instance, however, you need to be forewarned that the quality of the prints is dreadful : photocopies of photocopies in the pre Photoshop era! Still, it's a great source of information (and it needs to be said that Read himself pointed out in his Introduction that the copies were only intended to give a general idea of what they were about.

Incidentally, Michael Ammar's Cups & Balls DVD set includes some video inserts with Bob Read showing and commenting on some of his vast collection of C&B lithographs - great stuff!.

Probably the most affordable and most readily accessible book featuring C&B prints through the ages is Milbourne Christopher's Panorama of Magic.

One last thing : if you're interested in reading some of Volkmann's articles on C&B in art while you're waiting to buy The Oldest Deception at a reasonable price, you can check out The Sphinx which is available online from a number of different sources. His article "Renaissance Art" in the Sphinx (vol.49 (1950) includes nine of the prints that eventually made their way into his book (that's a pretty high percentage). And then there is Volkmann's "Conjurers of the Sixteenth Century" which you'll find in the Sphinx vol. 52 (1953).

Hope this helps.

Fortasse
Payne
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There are many wonderful 19th century cups and ball prints in the two volume Houdin biography by Christian Fechner as well.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
fortasse
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Fechner was a great collector of Cups & Balls prints as well. Read was probably the only person who had a bigger collection of prints. The auction catalogue (Gros & Delettrez) for Fechner's Magie et Illusionsme is full of photographs, many of them C&B related. (Note : this auction is not to be confused with the later multi-part auction by Swann Galleries of Fechner's magic collection. There are some prints in these later catalogues that as well but nearly as many as are to be found in the catalogue for the earlier auction).

The late Dr. Etienne Martaret was a major collector of C&B prints as well (see the auction catalog for his collection - also Gros & Delettrz 2001).

Fortasse
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