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The Art of Modern Conjuring: For Wizards of All Ages Hardcover – June 26, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1st Potter edition (June 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609608290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609608296
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Cards, coins, rings, and even the human predilection for wonder may all be expertly manipulated with the help of this expert guide to favorite tricks and illusions of the magician's art.

Professor Henri Garenne, the urbane author of this manual on conjuring, intended it as a "guide for amateurs and young beginners." Starting with the basics of palming objects and using props, and progressing through more than 200 tricks, this distinctive volume is a rich resource for the new magician or the armchair prestidigitator.

The lessons involve cards, coins, rings, balls, and handkerchiefs. They explain mesmerizing tricks like The Flying Glass of Water and To Produce Eggs from a Person's Mouth. Even more astounding are The Indian Basket trick, The Living Head in a Bottle, and-for a truly stupendous effect-A Lady Suspended in the Air Without Any Visible Support! And those looking for instruction in ventriloquism and thought reading will not be disappointed. The secrets are here.

Elegant vintage engravings demonstrate the tricks and add to the charm of Professor Garenne's delightful treatise.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Author's Views and Intentions

Having devoted much time to the study and practice of the art of Conjuring and Illusions, I have determined to write this treatise upon the "dark" art. Conjuring is an art that has been known for many ages; and people were foolish enough to believe in those days, that the performer, or magician, had dealings with a certain dark gentleman whom we will not name. However, people of the present day are getting more enlightened; and although they see something done beyond their ken, yet they know it is only a piece of deception or sleight of hand on the part of the performers.

I have written this work not as an exposure of the art of Conjuring and Magic, but simply to act as a guide for amateurs and young beginners; therefore I shall enumerate many tricks and illusions that my young friends can perform at home amongst their numerous friends. In addition to this, I shall also enumerate those tricks and illusions which demand a larger amount of room, and also require specially constructed apparatus; such tricks the amateur would do well not to attempt, as they are only suitable for performance on a stage. I shall give a description of most of the numerous tricks and illusions as performed by most of the leading "wizards" of the past and present day. I shall also give a detailed account of many of the so-called spiritualistic illusions, manifestations, and séances, also a few hints and remarks upon the so-called latest novelty, thought-reading. My intention in these pages is to touch on sleight of hand generally, as well as other more particular and effective tricks and illusions. The reader, if he follows diligently the instructions that I will give him, will be able in a short time to astonish his numerous friends with his acquired knowledge. Of course, he cannot expect to be a Robert Houdin, a Professor Anderson, or a Robert Heller in a week, a month, or even a year, because a wizard is not to be made in a day. And the student will do well to commence the same as in learning the art of music or anything else, and begin at the beginning, with simple things first, and practice with diligence and perseverance until he attains the much coveted dexterity. Simple tricks, if performed neatly, have oftentimes a brilliant effect, and gain more applause from your audience than the performance of some more particular and costly trick.

Rules to Be Remembered

The first rule to be borne in mind is this: Never tell your audience beforehand what you are going to do. If you do so, the chances are that the spectators will then detect how you do such a trick, as their vigilance will be on the alert.

It next follows as a second rule: Never perform the same trick twice before the same audience. The best trick loses half its effect by repetition; besides which, the audience would know precisely what was coming, and would be on the alert to find out at what point you cheated their eyes on the first occasion.

If you get an encore, a little tact will always get you out of your difficulty; and when you have become thoroughly proficient in the art, you will then be able to find many ways of altering the working of a certain trick, in the variation and combination of ways and means of causing a given article to vanish and of reproducing a given article.

The student must cultivate the art of talking, from the first commencement, and to be able to use his eyes and hands independently, because in working or doing any trick, the performer must be talking to his audience, looking at them steadfastly, never once casting his eyes down toward his hands. I might say that the most effective way for the student to practice is to stand in front of a looking glass, where he can form a better idea if a looker-on can detect what he is doing.

This he will find most particularly useful in practicing card tricks.

Before proceeding to the practice of the art of Magic, a short description is necessary of a few of the appliances which are in constant use and requisition by every one who practices the art of Conjuring.

Of these, first in order comes --

The Magician's Wand

This is a light rod, about fifteen inches long and three-quarters of an inch in diameter. It may be of any material, but is generally made of ebony. It is decorated in any manner the owner may fancy. To the uninitiated, it may appear a mere piece of affectation on the part of the performer; but such is not the case. Without his wand, a magician would be at a loss on many occasions what to do, because the wand affords a plausible pretext for many necessary movements, which would, without its use, appear very awkward, and thereby sharpen the vigilance of the audience at, perhaps, the most critical portion of the trick. If the performer wishes to hold anything concealed in his hand, by holding the wand in the same hand, he can keep it closed without the slightest suspicion. If it is necessary, as frequently happens, to walk to the table to get rid of, or to pick up, any desired article, the mere taking up or putting down of the wand affords the required opportunity.

I should always advise the student to cultivate the habitual use of the wand. With its use the performer can, according to his professed character, cause a magical transformation, by using it, and touching daintily the articles he is supposed to be operating on, thus leading his audience to believe that such a change did actually take place at that particular moment, instead of having been secretly effected at an earlier period.

The Magician's Tables

It is generally the practice to have three tables when performing, one center table and two smaller or side tables. Of course it is not necessary to use the three, as in many instances the performer can do all he requires with the one center table.

There are many kinds of conjuring tables in use, being specially made, and fitted with various concealed traps, pistons, etc. This kind of table is, however, chiefly used for stage performances. For the student, however, who intends starting only with simple and minor tricks, an ordinary table will do, but with this difference, that the legs should be six or eight inches longer than the legs of an ordinary table. The required height could be obtained by putting firm blocks of the necessary height, with a depression made in the top of each of them in which to put the bottom of the table legs, thus making it firm and preventing it from slipping off the blocks.

At the back of the table, it is necessary to have a shelf or ledge fixed, this shelf to be six or eight inches in width, extending nearly from end to end.

Such a shelf could be made portable, to enable the performer to fix it on any table, by means of short thumbscrews.

This shelf is technically known as the servante, and should be covered with a thick woolen cloth or green baize, to deaden the sound of anything falling upon it. When it is not possible to fix a servante, a table having a drawer in one side can be used, the side with the drawer in to be away from the audience, this upon occasion will make a tolerably fair servante.

Over this table should be thrown a small cover, fastened at the back edge with a couple of drawing pins, to prevent its slipping. This cloth should hang down a few inches from the top of the table, enabling the audience to look right under the table. This class of table will do very well for amateurs to use, until they get more initiated into the art of Stage Conjuring, in which case they would require to use proper conjuring tables or tables fitted with a combination of traps, pistons, etc., and such can be had either with ornamental fronts or plain. As regards the two small side tables, or guéridons, or stands for candles, lamps, etc., they are made either with plain tops, or can be made fitted with traps, similar to the center table; if the latter, they are very useful for getting rid of any article or articles in the course of working a trick. Many performers use only plain tables, and they are either brought forward or put back, to assist in the period of working some tricks, as they are much more convenient to use than the larger table. The height of the center table, to an extent, depends upon the height of the performer; the shelf or servante at the back of the center table should be just high enough from the flooring to be on a level with the hands of the performer when his arms hang by his side; and the top of the table should be about six inches higher than this. The performer will find that this will enable him to pick up or put down any article without stooping or altering the position of his body in the least.

One of the first tasks of the novice should be to acquire the power of quickly picking up or laying down any article on the servante without any corresponding motion of the body, and especially to abstain from looking down at his hands, because if the audience once suspects that he has a secret receptacle behind his table, half the novelty of his tricks is thenceforth destroyed.

A small oblong box, well padded with wadding, or half filled with bran, should be placed on the servante: it will be found useful in getting rid of small articles, such as eggs, oranges, coins, rings, etc.; and they can be dropped into the box without causing the slightest sound, or attracting attention. Be particular, in setting the table ready before commencing a performance, not to have a lot of unnecessary articles on the table, as it looks unsightly; and the performer must place the various articles he will require on the servante in such position that he can walk up to the table and pick such articles up without once looking down. With a little practice, the performer will be able to do this easily and without attracting the slightest attention.

The next most important thing is --

The Magician's Dress

It was formerly the custom of conjurers to wear a long flowing robe, embroidered with strange figures. This st...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
How do they do that? That's the question this book answers. In so doing, it will extend your imagination to help you decipher illusions for yourself in the future.
I had more fun reading this book than any other "how to" book I have seen this year. As a result, I feel this book deserves more than five stars. What captured my attention was the careful demonstration of how the assumptions of viewers cause them to be misled by the practiced illusionist. I learned more from seeing the details of how the hand is quicker than the eye in this book than I have from all the scientific books I have read about perception and how the brain works. The book's examples will spill over into making readers more usefully observant in all areas of life.
The Art of Modern Conjuring was originally published in 1886. The publisher has done a nice job of keeping the feel of the original (especially with the cover) while providing an easy-to-use volume. Although I have read many books about simple magic tricks and illusions, this one was more revealing and more interesting than any other. I strongly recommend it for those who want to learn how to do simple illusions and for those who want to understand what appealed to families and audiences in the late 19th century. The book is greatly enhanced by the many illustrations that carefully demonstrate how to make the illusions work.
The book was designed as a "guide for amateurs and young beginners."
The subjects covered include basic skills, various illusions, how to assemble an act, and how to handle an audience. Among illusions, you will find out about essential skills like palming and passes, and how to do tricks with cards, coins, wedding rings, handerchiefs, balls, hats, candles, animals, string, flying, and inexhaustible sources.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hans Castorp VINE VOICE on January 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hard to believe this was originally published in 1886!! This 206 page book is pure delight from beginning to end, with very clear illustrated explanations on Palming,Card and Coin Tricks,Ring,Hat,Ball,and Handkerchief tricks, and a lot besides.Perhaps you will not be totally convinced that they all work, and you may feel some of these acts are not completely described, but you have to admit it's a nicely done work. As far as the THOUGHT READING described in last pages, I am not convinced that by feeling a person's pulse you'll be able to pick a previously disclosed object on a table, but it may be possible! Worth trying at your next little get together,along with an Ouija Board! The book and it's contents are so well done/designed you can be sure it will be browsed thru and admired probably into the 22nd century!!
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Format: Hardcover
Although when written ,this book was intended as an instructional manual for someone wanting to perform magic.It is a delightful read today,even though it was produced in 1886.Everyone today associates the names of Houdini or Kreskin with Magic;but probably few had ever heard of Professor Henri Garenne.You must take into account that when this book first appeared, it was during the hayday of all kinds of live shows,including Medicine Shows,and particularly Conjuring Acts.You will note the absence of the term Magic and Magicians in this book.The art at that time was more commonly called Conjuring and those who practiced it were called Wizards.Also, instead of associating the word Great with them;they often called themselves Professors.I really don't know;but I imagine this book was very popular at the time and may have even been the "bible" for anyone wanting to learn the art.
The whole art of Magic is really intended to entertain people;however,anyone seeing it performed today,assumes there is a "trick" involved,and immediately wants to know "how it's done?".In most cases the "secret" is much simpler than imagined,and once learned,half of the fun disappeard. For that reason,it has always been the "code" of the performer not to repeat the trick or to expose the "secret".In this book you will see how many of the classic tricks were done and there is even instructions on how to get started in learning some fundamentals of the art.It is no secret however;that to gain any expertise in this art,one must do a lot of practice.As much as learning the secret of a trick;the performer mus present it with great showmanship ,since after all,the whole point of it all is entertainment.
Even if you don't plan to learn tricks with the intention of performing them for others,this book is an excellent read to see what is involved in this form of entertainment that has entertained and amazed people for thousands of years.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a great primer for the introduction of magic. It is well organized, and the illustrations are classic. Though much of the tricks are classic, there are tricks in the book still used today by top magicians like Lance Burton (e.g. sword and card trick). I would recommend it for any magicians library.
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