Most hobbyist magicians learn their material from a small number of professionals. Paul Harris, Jay Sankey, Michael Ammar, Oz Pearlman, Bill Malone, and Roberto Giobbi. Perhaps you disagree with the names I’ve mentioned. But regardless of specifics, many magicians do own a limited group of similar books and videos.
I used to fit into that category, but I’ve come to a realization in the last few months. Most of the stuff that I bought, or considered buying, was only the tip of a proverbial iceberg.
I’ve discovered hundreds of magicians who authored books far better than anything that’s released today.
These magicians, who are no longer with us, understood magic on level that’s simply inaccessible to most of us. They were people who studied magic, not learned it or performed it.. I'm talking about people like Ed Marlo, Don Alan, Slydini, Ross Bertram, Bert Allerton, Dai Vernon, John Scarne, and Malini.
Many magicians have never heard of these people. It's a shame that they ignore the wealth of knowledge available to them, opting instead to buy the newest crap from Penguin.
I've pretty much stopped buying the 'latest and greatest' things that come out. I’m concentrating on older books, many of which are difficult to find or out of print. And I've learned some amazing things. I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to discover them, as they’ve been hiding in front of me since I got into magic seven years ago. I think that I'm becoming better as a performer. Getting more value for my money is also nice.
In the last few weeks, I've bought The Card Magic of LePaul, a bunch of old Lorayane stuff, and the Stars of Magic collection. I expect my library to grow. I’ve also been reading some old books that I’ve had for a while but never really paid much attention too. Books by people like Johnny Benzais, Don Alan, and Jean Hugard.
I really wish that these kinds of books would get more attention from magicians. Sadly, many people are under the impression that magic began in the nineties. In reality, there is far more worth reading and studying. Do yourself a favor and go buy some of it.
Perhaps you wonder what spurred my interest in older books. It’s an interesting story, actually. The magic shop closest to me went out of business a few months ago. I began going to another shop, Denny and Lee’s, which carries a staggering number of older books, pamphlets, and lecture notes. Online stores like Penguin don't carry these items because they don't sell as well and don’t make as much profit. For one reason or another, most real magic shops decline as well. Thankfully, Denny does not.
Denny introduced me to a wealth of knowledge that I never new existed. Since then, I've been stopping in on a regular basis, buying a book or two, and learning about magicians past. Denny knew many of them personally, which makes my visits to the shop even more enjoyable.
If you're in Maryland
, I recommend stopping in Denny's shop. You won’t regret it.