Collectable


It’s taken a while but I’ve finished our latest Second Hand Books List (Number 81, for those interested in such niceties). And it’s the biggest yet: 66 pages, a positive cornucopia of conjuring chronicles. You can download it from our website as usual. Or just click here.

We have over 2000 titles in stock, from Percy Abbott’s Magic for Magicians (1934) to Allen Zingg’s The Little Box That Could: The Three Keys to Performance Excellence (2005), with titles in between from almost every major magic author of the past 100+ years. Probably the oldest book is Charades, Enigmas and Riddles by ‘A Cantab’ published by Bell & Dalby in 1865, wherein you’ll doubtless find the origins of many of the patter lines used by magicians today.

For the first time, by fairly popular request, I’ve begun to add magazine listings; mainly complete volumes except for certain rarer items. Most are loose copies, but we have some bound volumes and some in custom boxes. There’s still some way to go with this, but at the moment I reckon we have about 3000 listed.

So if you’re looking for Abra, The Altar Flame, Antinomy, Conjurors’ Magazine, The Gen, Magic Manuscript, Magical Gazette, Magical Nostalgic, Magigram, Minotaur, Pabular, Pentagram, New Pentagram, New Tops, Sphinx, Stanyon’s Magic, or Talisman, let us know. We may be able to help.

I’ll be adding to this section when time allows. (So difficult when going through boxes of magazines not to get sidetracked into reading the odd article or a tempting trick which sounds suspiciously similar to the ‘latest’ from ***********, and then discover a couple of hours have passed and you’ve yet to sort a complete volume…)

Don’t forget, if you want to get all the latest news, special offers and additions to the second-hand catalogue join Jim and Gladys and get your name down on our mailing list. We guarantee not to swamp you daily (or even weekly) with plugs for stuff everyone else is selling. And if you change your mind (although why would you?) it takes but a click to cast yourself back into outer darkness.

Several people have been touch about the Houdini pitch book. To answer the first question, yes it is for sale. It’s not mine, unfortunately, but I have examined it and can put you in touch with the seller.

I posted a scan of the front cover on my last post. Here are a few more scans to give you a better idea of the book. Back cover on the left, inside front cover and first page above right, inside page spread lower right.

Incidentally, a little local interest, one of Houdini’s certificates from “various chiefs of police” (see right hand scan above, lower right) reads:

Chief Constable’s Office,
Sheffield, Jan. 19, 1904.

This is to certify that Mr. Harry Houdini was this day stripped stark naked and locked in the cell which once contained Charles Peace. The cell was searched and triple-locked, But Mr. Houdini released himself and redressed in five minutes, having also opened the iron gate of the corridor.

Charles J. Scott, Commander (R.N.)
Chief Constable, Sheffield,
Witness to the foregoing feat,
George H. Barker, Deputy Chief Constable

Charles Peace? An “infamous murderer”; brief history of his exploits, capture, escape, recapture and execution can be found here.

A few more details of the book:

The book is a soft cover, wire-stitched pitch book entitled Handcuff Tricks Exposed, Illustrated Life and History of Houdini. It was printed by Clegg & Son in 1911 (revised edition).

It has a pictorial yellow wrapper with a bust portrait of Houdini (the “Houdini for President” image) and a reproduced signature. The front cover is worn with minor tears and nicks but it is still attached. The back cover is loose. The last three pages although intact are loose from the staples, the rest are attached.

Overall, considering this paperback is almost 110 years old I feel it has survived in remarkable condition.

The seller has stated, ” I have had this book for many years and it is  only recently that it has surfaced again. I did an amount of research on this particular book and found it to be extremely rare and with a value of around $2000. (That was for bad copies. *) I am open to sensible offers and appreciate this book needs to go to a serious collector.”

* Russell’s note: one copy which went for over $2000 had clear marks of having been folded in half.