Roy Benson By Starlight – excerpt

Psychopathic Suite for Piano and Triangle

By Todd Karr

      An excerpt from Roy Benson By Starlight by Levent and Todd Karr.

Roy Benson in the 1930s

Roy Benson in the 1930s

On a cold day, January 17, 1914, the man we now know as Roy Benson made his debut in Paris. His mother, dancer Dora Ford, had been on the road touring European music halls with her sister Mabel and living on Rue Buffault in the working-class Belleville district of the French capital during the last days of her pregnancy.

Since her teenage years in the 1890s, Dora had danced onstage in a duo with her younger sister Mabel, and later with his brothers Max and Edwin in their acclaimed song-and-dance quartet, the Four Fords. But since 1905 she had been in love with Eddie Emerson, a comedic juggler and magician who romanced the popular dancer with occasional trysts and frequent letters, phone calls, and telegrams. Now they were in Europe together welcoming their new son. Read More…

Signor Blitz Obituary, as published in the New York Times



Antonio Blitz, the magician, better known as Signor Blitz, died at his residence, No 1,831 Wallace Street, Philadelphia, at 9:30 o’clock yesterday morning. He had been in declining health for the past four years, being troubled with a severe cough, which finally ended in consumption. Signor Blitz had been confined to his house for the past six weeks, and his death was not unexpected. He was in the 67th year of his age, and leaves a wife and four children. Antonio Blitz was born in Deal, Kent County, England, on the coast, June 21st 1810. When about the age of 12 he learned something of legerdemain. In September, 1823 his father sent him in the care of a special attendant to Hamburg, where he made his first appearance in public. Read More…

The Wonders of Black Art

The Wonders of Black Art

By Ottokar Fisher

Max AuzingerOn the “Hidden Secrets of Magic” Omar Pascha presented the Black Art Illusion, one of the truly classic illusions in magic. This effect is rarely seen today, by at the turn of the century it was very popular. How it was first discovered and by whom is an interesting story. This is best told by Ottokar Fisher in his book Illustrated Magic, as follows: Read More…

Professor Anderson in Boston

Professor Anderson in Boston

From Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, 1852


The engraving, presented by our artist, Mr. Rosenburg, below represents Professor Anderson, as he appeared, a few days since, at the Melodeon, in this city, in the famous bottle scene, assisted by his little son. This trick with the bottle is certainly a most incomprehensible one, and almost incredible to one who has not witnessed its performance. His ” bottle ” certainly is the greatest wonder of modern times. Brandy, rum, gin, whisky and wines, flow from it in streams. We could understand how a bottle could he constructed to give the different liquids, but we are at a loss to know the quantity.

A gallon is poured from a common quart bottle. One can, throughout our great Union, recommend Professor Anderson as the most incomprehensible and gentlemanly performer we have ever seen in the mystic art; and we are gratified to know that his success is fully commensurate with his merit. On page 205 will be found a full description of the subject of our engraving, and a more elaborate mention of his character and experience as a performer of necromancy, or natural magic. The truthfulness of the fine picture given below will be recognized by any one who has witnessed the professor’s public performances which have proved so popular in this city. Read More…

Houdini, Adrien Brody

Houdini - the History Channel biography, starring Adrien Brody

Houdini – History Channel biography of Harry Houdini, starring Adrien Brody

Once, many years ago in the Bloom County comic strip, Opus the penguin was writing a movie review, which read in part:

“This bad film just oozed rottenness from every bad scene –simply bad beyond beyond all dimensions of possible badness. Well, maybe not that bad, but Lord, it wasn’t good.”

In a nutshell, that’s my opinion of the History Channel’s Houdini biopic, starring Adrien Brody — and that a true pity, for several reasons. Read More…

Letter from John Henry Anderson To His Son

Letter from John Henry Anderson To His Son

By Harry Houdini

John Henry Anderson, the Wizard of the NorthJohn Henry Anderson Jr.(MUM, March 1921)

John Henry Anderson John Henry Anderson Jr.
The passing of Mrs. Angeline Anderson, the last of the line of the celebrated Anderson family, will perhaps render particular significance to a letter in my collection, herewith reproduced, written by John Henry Anderson, Wizard of the North, to his son John Henry Anderson, Jr., after he has learned the sad news of the death of his wife, Mrs. Anderson. It will interest the reader to learn of the pitiable plight of this famous magician and the sore straights into which he had teen reduced in his old age.

Dear old John Henry Anderson who worked so hard and gave away thousands of dollars to charity.


Self-Working Card Magic

Self-Working Card Magic, by Karl Fulves

Karl Fulves' Self-Working Card Tricks, 72 foolproof card miracles for the amateur magician, with 42 illustrations by Joseph K. Schmidt

Karl Fulves’ Self-Working Card Tricks, 72 foolproof card miracles for the amateur magician, with 42 illustrations by Joseph K. Schmidt

buy-from-amazon I’ve been a fan of Karl Fulves’ self-working series, and Self-Working Card Magic is no exception. In short, it’s a collection of card tricks that don’t require technical skill – they rely on using techniques that don’t require manual dexterity.

This is not, in itself, a bad thing — it allows you to focus on presentation, and results. Self-Working Card Magic includes:

Table of Contents for Self-Working Card Magic

Read More…

The Royal Road to Card Magic

The Royal Road to Card Magic, by by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braué

The Royal Road to Card Magicbuy-from-amazon In short, The Royal Road to Card Magic is the foremost book in the world for learning card magic.

It is a step by step introduction, first introducing a card sleight, then several card tricks to use that sleight. It is no understatement to say that, anyone who wishes to learn card magic should begin here.

Editorial review of The Royal Road to Card Magic, courtesy of

With this book, anyone can develop a versatile repertoire of first rate card tricks. The authors, both noted authorities on magic, present complete, easy to understand explanations of basic techniques and over 100 complete tricks. More than 120 line cuts make explanations easy to follow, so that even beginners can develop professional-level skill. 121 figures. Read More…

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Now You See It, Now You Don’t : Lessons in Sleight of Hand — by Bill Tarr, Barry Ross (Illustrator)

Buy from

Now You See It, Now You Don't - lessons in sleight of hand by Bill TarrThere are basically two types of magicians — gadgeteers and finger-flingers. Please note, this is not meant to insult either group. A gadgeteer tends toward self-working magic — things that are set up, and effectively work by themselves. This frees the magician to focus on presentation and entertainment, and not as much on the mechanics of the trick or illusion. Finger-flingers, on the other hand, tend toward actual sleight of hand, relying on their own skill to perform the seemingly impossible. This takes longer to master, but gives greater confidence, as well as the ability to perform anywhere, with whatever is at hand. This book is for those who want to be finger-flingers, or who want to look at that side of the aisle.

Bill Tarr has created a wonderful resource. It’s incredibly well-illustrated, showing both the magician’s & the audience’s view, for each trick or sleight. He also grades the individual tricks based on its’ difficulty. Read More…

Jacob Philadelphia

Jacob Philadelphia (August 14, 1735 – 1795)

Jacob Philadelphia is notable as the first American-born magician to achieve fame — although he primarily performed abroad. Jacob Meyer was born on August 14, 1735.  Dr. Christopher Witt, the associate of Johannes Kelpius, was chiefly responsible for his education. Meyer’s patron in England was Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn.

When he converted to Christianity, Jacob Meyer took the name of Jacob Philadelphia in homage to the home city of the American scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin. He was also performed by the names Meyer Philadelphia and Philadelphus Philadelphia. Read More…