Friday, April 13, 2012

The Magic Behind Magic

If you aspired to the magical as a child, grew up practicing card tricks and sleight of hand, or just enjoyed the obvious skill involved in a good magic show, then "The Encyclopedia of Stage Illusions" by Burling Hull (Ormand McGill, editor) will send a chill up your spine. While the book doesn’t disclose every detail of every stage illusion, it does include enough diagrams and explanations to please both aficionados and neophytes. "The Encyclopedia" was published in a limited edition of 500 copies in 1980 by Magic Ltd. Unfortunately for the publisher, some of the stage illusions were not cleared for copyright before publication and a lawsuit ensued requiring the publisher to recall the book. Fortunately for collectors and magicians some copies were not returned and are still available on the used book market. "The Encyclopedia" is a special book best perused by those who don’t mind knowing the trick behind the illusion, and best left unread by those for whom life is but an illusion.

This oversize and thick book (at 374 pages) was published with a dust jacket over heavy black covers (see actual photo) that have held up well. We doubt this book can be found in a public library (but we have been wrong before). More interesting information on Burling Hull, a magician, prolific author and inventor (who died in 1982) can be found at and