Review by Andy Martin for Shattering Illusions by Jamy Ian Swiss

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Review by Andy Martin for Shattering Illusions by Jamy Ian Swiss
Review by Andy Martin for Shattering Illusions by Jamy Ian Swiss
4 out of 5

A Modern Day Fitzkee?

I love it when intelligent, gifted magicians take time out to really analyze our industry and art. Jamy Ian Swiss, like the greatly respected $link(2120,Trilogy of Dariel Fitzkee), holds no punches and makes some very thought provoking observations on magic, magicians, and mentalism.

In my book anything that makes magicians think twice about what they do and say is a winner. We don’t need more mediocrity in magic; this goes for performers, inventors, dealers, and manufacturers. By reading authors like Mr Swiss maybe our industry can get over its love of itself and actually start to produce great magic and entertainment that was abundant forty or more years ago.

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Review by Andy Martin for Showmanship for Magicians by Dariel Fitzkee

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Review by Andy Martin for Showmanship for Magicians by Dariel Fitzkee
Review by Andy Martin for Showmanship for Magicians by Dariel Fitzkee
5 out of 5

Now for the truth about magic and entertainment …

"Magic, as exhibited by the majority, is the indulgence in a hobby which rarely instructs, seldom amuses and almost never entertains." Dariel Fitzkee, Showmanship for Magicians, 1944.

If you want to take the warm fuzzy feeling away from what many magicians, both professional and amateur, have with regards to their performance and their magic, then Fitzkee is your man. The first book of this trilogy changed my life, well at least that aspect that is devoted to magic. He makes you really think about the entertainment value of a typical magic performance.

I think everyone wanting to be a "Magician" should read Fitzkee’s words. Highly recommended!

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Review by Andy Martin for Expert at The Card Table (2002) by S.W. Erdnase

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Review by Andy Martin for Expert at The Card Table (2002) by S.W. Erdnase
Review by Andy Martin for Expert at The Card Table (2002) by S.W. Erdnase
5 out of 5

A classic piece of magic history for just $52.

This 2002 Facsimile version of Expert at the Card Table by the, still mysterious, S.W. Erdnase is an incredibly faithful reproduction of the original book. It was published in 1902 and has had a profound impact on card magic ever since (after some prodding from ($link(2151,Dai Vernon)). With the exception of using better quality archival-grade materials and a modern binding technique it is as close to the original as possible – the anonymous publishers even found what is to believed to be the same cloth.

This seminal work on card and gambling moves is a must have for all serious card workers, and now it is available as it was first delivered by Erdnase over 100 years ago. This book is small enough and cheap enough to be carried around with you wherever you go. Unlike the original which can fetch $2000 and is likely to fall apart in your hands.

Of course you might find reading something like $link(1682,The Annotated Erdnase) easier going and more practical today. So get both.

There are only 750 of this 2002 version so I suggest you $link(http://www.canick.com/erdnase.html target=_blank,order one now) – it is a truly amazing how authentic this book looks and how much you will gain from reading it in its original form. Thanks to $link(http://www.canick.com target=_blank,Michael Canick) for distributing this amazing book.

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Review by Andy Martin for Jinx, The Vols: 1-50 by Ted Annemann

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Review by Andy Martin for Jinx, The Vols: 1-50 by Ted  Annemann
Review by Andy Martin for Jinx, The Vols: 1-50 by Ted Annemann
5 out of 5

Just can’t get enough Jinxisms!

I often find it difficult to spend long periods of time reading magic books and this is where The Jinx fits perfectly. It is filled with incredible gems in bite sized pieces. Apart from a wealth of incredible effects, I love the commentaries by Annemann.

The historical impact that The Jinx appears to have had is quite amazing. So much seems to have come from this publication.

You can pick up all three volumes incredibly cheaply. Get these and the Phoenix and you will be one hap, hap, happy camper! Highly recommended!

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Review by Andy Martin for World of Magic – Vol. 1 by Jack Hughes

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Review by Andy Martin for World of Magic - Vol. 1 by Jack Hughes
Review by Andy Martin for World of Magic – Vol. 1 by Jack Hughes
5 out of 5

Jack Hughes was the Master

I grew up in the UK dreaming of owning some Jack Hughes effects. It was clear that the House of Hughes was producing some of the best magic around. I was able to buy a few of his items, but for the most part his effects were too expensive for my pocket.

Thirty years on, it is a wonderful pleasure to look through these impressive volumes to relive so much of Jack’s magic. These books are beautifully produced and give very detailed instructions on how to build nearly all of the House of Hughes magic.

I was even lucky enough to get a signed copy of the first volume.

Simply beautiful!

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Review by Andy Martin for Thayer Quality Magic Vol. 1 by Glenn Gravatt

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Review by Andy Martin for Thayer Quality Magic Vol. 1 by Glenn Gravatt
Review by Andy Martin for Thayer Quality Magic Vol. 1 by Glenn Gravatt
5 out of 5

Wow – what a treasure trove of magic in these volumes!

As I buy more books I realise how much magic is out there, and how few truly new ideas have occurred in the last 10, 20, 30, or more years!

These are a wonderful historical document of 100’s of the marvellous items that came from Thayer. When you read through the effects with their accompaning instruction sheets you recognise so many effects that are still being pushed today as new ideas!

The first time I saw Shakespeare’s Hamlet I remember thinking how many cliches were used, forgetting of course that when the Bard wrote the play the phrases were new. These Thayer volumes are reminiscent of that – so many of these effects were new with Thayer, but today we consider them public domain.

If you have any abilities to construct magic you could be building your own magic for years to come!

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Review by Andy Martin for Man Who Was Erdnase, The by Bart Whaley, Martin Gardner, Jeff Busby

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Review by Andy Martin for Man Who Was Erdnase, The by Bart Whaley, Martin Gardner, Jeff Busby
Review by Andy Martin for Man Who Was Erdnase, The by Bart Whaley, Martin Gardner, Jeff Busby
4 out of 5

A bit too heavy for me!

This is a very thorough book about the man who susposedly wrote one of the great card Classics: The Expert at The Card Table by S.W. Erdnase. Unfortunately, for me it was a bit too heavy going. Over 430 pages of fairly small type. I managed the first 100 pages and flipped through the rest.

The conclusions reached by Bart Whaley, Martin Gardner and Jeff Busby are the subject of a great deal of contention and there appears to be a lot of evidence to support the theory that S.W. Erdnase was not Milton Franklin Andrews. A great thread on this whole subject can be found on the Genii Forum by $link(http://geniimagazine.com/forum/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=000947 target=_blank,clicking here).

I think you would find this very stimulating reading if you were a big fan of Erdnase, but given that I have not read it yet (oh my word!) its hard for me to get too excited by it. I have however just $link(http://www.canick.com/erdnase.html target=_blank,ordered) the 100 year Anniversary edition so maybe I will revisit this book another day after I have emersed myself in the classic itself!

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Review by Andy Martin for Marked for Life by Kirk Charles

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Review by Andy Martin for Marked for Life by Kirk Charles
Review by Andy Martin for Marked for Life by Kirk Charles
3 out of 5

Good book to breathe a new lease of life into your Readers!

When you first start out in magic it seems you quickly go off using stripper decks and marked decks. I remember using a marked deck all the time before the age of 15. I also remember have great fun with Deland’s Deck, which of course is a combination of a stripper deck, a marked deck, and a stacked deck all in one. In fact I used to do all sorts of miracles with the Deland Deck. But I haven’t picked one up now for over 25 years!

At some point you figure these tools are not good magic and move on. Well Kirk Charles’ book Marked for Life reminds you that marked cards are still very useful and by mixing in sleights, non-reader effects, and reader effects you not only can create some huge miracles, but also you can keep the audience guessing.

This 95 page soft covered book spends about a third of the book going through various types of marking systems and its very interesting to see the different approaches various people take. I decided to give the bold, but easy, $link(http://www.martinsmagic.com/?html=gallery&keywords=lesley+marked,Ted Lesley’s Working Performers Marked Deck) a shot.

Once you read this book you will start using a marked deck again. It has many wonderful routines that just are so much better with a marked deck. And providing you follow the tips and tactics mentioned in this book no one will ever suspect a marked deck is being used. I think that is the key thing for me: by combining the marked deck with other principles you can make a good effect into a complete mind blower that could not be easily achieved in any other manner.

The book is well written and researched and comes with a large bibliography of other areas to continue reading about marked decks. Many of which I’m sure you already have, much to your surprise. It may not be a classic book, but it does provide you the path back to an old friend that really should be in every magician’s toolkit.

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Review by Andy Martin for Classic Secrets of Magic by Bruce Elliott

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Review by Andy Martin for Classic Secrets of Magic by Bruce Elliott
Review by Andy Martin for Classic Secrets of Magic by Bruce Elliott
5 out of 5

If you could choose just one book on magic …

… I believe this would be a very worthy contender. Bruce Elliott’s Classic Secrets of Magic is a small book by modern standards: it has only twelve fairly short chapters, with each chapter focusing on a single basic effect and some variations. However, if you were to thoroughly study and learn the magic and routines contained within these chapters and nothing more, ever, you would have enough material to last a lifetime of magical performances.

Very few props are required, the sleights are straight forward, and the magic is beautiful.

In my magical youth I used to perform three card routines from Chapter 1 (the Spectator’s Card is Produced) with the highlight being the Card on the Ceiling; the rice bowls from Chapter 3 (Water, Water, Everywhere!); two paddle routines from Chapter 4 (The Very Peripatetic Paddle); the four ace routine from Chapter 5 (Those Four Aces!); the Egg Bag from Chapter 7 (The Egg Bag, Well Done); two matrix type effects from Chapter 8 (The Two Covers, and the Four Objects …); some simple billiard ball moves from Chapter 9 (Billiards, Magic Style); and the Ambitious Card from Chapter 11 (The Ambitous Card!). I also dreamed of performing effects with Razors, Money and the Cups and Balls from the other remaining chapters.

If you bought this book today and spent one month on each chapter and spent say $100 on props you really could be in the top 1% of magicians in the world after just twelve months. Of this I have absolutely no doubt – provided you were committed to the task, and focused just solely on each chapter of this book.

Of course if everyone did this a lot of magic dealers would go out of business. And you wouldn’t have the excitement of trying out 100’s of different tricks, gimmicks, gadgets, fine wooden and brass collector’s pieces in a vain attempt to find the ultimate effects. This book contains them all, but where is the fun in that? One book, hardly any props to buy and just reading and practicing the same routines for a year? That doesn’t sound very magical does it.

Maybe the true secret of magic is that buying magic props from dealers won’t make you a good magician, knowing 100’s of tricks won’t make you a good magician, but learning just twelve effects really well will.

Like so many magicians before me I have fallen into the trap of thinking more props will allow me to create routines for all occaisions. In reality of course, just twelve effects are needed. I know it’s fun collecting magic. I have been doing it for over thirty years. But in fact if I just had the balls to stick with the Classic Secrets of Magic, I would be more rewarded, save a fortune, and give back a lot more to the art.

Well it’s something to think about at least as we enter the new year!

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