Alexander Herrmann (1844–1896) was a prominent stage magician in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Born in Paris, the son of Samuel Herrmann, a German physician who also toured Europe as a conjuror, he was a second-generation magician. His stage career began at age eight when he joined his brother's stage show. Herrmann later emigrated to the United States, where he became a naturalised citizen in 1876. He performed stage magic shows throughout the U.S. along with his wife, Adelaide Herrmann, who, after Alexander's death, continued to perform their trademark illusions until the age of seventy-five.
In this posthumous book, published in 1903, he reveals many of the
secrets of the conjuror, from the fundamental sleight of hand skills
of palming objects and vanishing and producing them, to the operation
of famous illusions such as the disembodied head which speaks. While more
than a century has elapsed since this book was published, many of the
skills of the conjuror are timeless, and mastering the techniques in this thin
volume (164 11×17 cm pages in the original) will equip you to
amuse your nieces and nephews, entertain dinner guests, and become an
utter, tedious bore if you over-do it.
This book was originally published in 1903, an epoch when adults were considered responsible for their own actions and for the safety of their children, and presumed to be sufficiently intelligent and competent to weigh the risks of their activities and decide wisely which to undertake and which to avoid. Some of the tricks explained in this book involve techniques which, by present-day standards, would be considered hideously dangerous and in some cases cruel to animals. Descriptions of these tricks have been highlighted with a background like that of the following.
This is a most effective trick, and easily performed. Be careful not to swallow the needles.
The electronic edition of this book is presented in its integrality as an historical document. The producer and publisher of this text assumes no responsibility whatsoever for any consequences of performing the activities described herein, whether highlighted as especially dangerous or not. You are entirely responsible for your own actions. If you do not agree with this, please stop reading now. And yes, I do wish I lived in a time and place where statements like this were unnecessary.
This book was published in 1903 by Frederick J. Drake & Company of Chicago, whose books addressed the mass market; see their book catalogue for exemplars. The book has been assigned Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) 05035787. There are a substantial number of typographical errors in this text; in keeping with Fourmilab conventions and my interpretation of the Project Gutenberg (to which this text will be contributed) policy, obvious errors (misspellings of common words, “it” where “is” is intended, etc.) have been corrected. Disputable flaws have, however, been left as-is. For example, both “conjurer” and “conjuror” are used to denote a stage magician; both spellings are perfectly acceptable in English usage both today and when the book was published, so I have preserved the spelling of each instance in the original text in case it should help some literary detective determine the urtext for a passage in this book.
Bill Walker discovered the original copy of this book and kindly provided it for the production of this on-line edition—thanks!
This document is in the public domain.