History of Magic

You can find out more about my views on the History of Magic 

Click HERE to go back to Hux’s Bio

I found a PDF by ‘Kravatz’ online which i feel explains many of the fundamental principles of magic. I have also added my views throughout.

Magic is a performing art that entertains individuals and audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means. These feats are called magic trickseffects, or illusions.

One who performs such illusions is called a magician or an illusionist. Some performers may also be referred to by names reflecting the type of magical effects they present, such as conjurorsmentalistsescape artists and even prestidigitators. (Prestige which refers to a good reputation or high esteem, though in earlier usage, it meant showiness, Digits meaning fingers, and *ators appended to words to create a masculine noun, usually denoting a profession or a performer, used chiefly for words of Latin origin)


In 1584, Reginald Scot published The Discoverie of Witchcraft. Exposing how (apparently miraculous) feats of magic were done, The book is often deemed the first textbook about conjuring. All obtainable copies were burned on the accession of James I in 1603.

From 1756 to 1781, Jacob Philadelphia performed feats of magic, sometimes under the guise of scientific exhibitions, throughout Europe and in Russia.

Modern entertainment magic owes much to Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin (1805–1871), originally a clockmaker, who opened a magic theatre in Paris in the 1840s. His speciality was the construction of mechanical automata which appeared to move and act as if they were alive.

The British performer J N Maskelyne and his partner Cooke established their own theatre, the Egyptian Hall in London‘s Piccadilly, in 1873. His son Nevel went on to use his vast knowledge of Magic, Illusion and Camouflage to assist the Allies in WW2, and was dubbed ‘The War Magician’.

The model for the look of a ‘typical’ magician—a man with wavy hair, a top hat, a goatee, and a tailcoat—was Alexander Herrmann (February 10, 1844 – December 17, 1896), also known as Herrmann the Great.

The escapologist and magician Harry Houdini took his stage name from Robert-Houdin and developed a range of stage magic tricks, many of them based on what became known after his death as escapology. Houdini was genuinely skilled in techniques such as lock picking and escaping straitjackets, Houdini’s show business savvy was great as well as his performance skill.

As a form of entertainment, magic easily moved from theatrical venues to television specials, which opened up new opportunities for deceptions, and brought stage magic to huge audiences. Unfortunately, (in my opinion) this along with YouTube, although it has brought magic to a far wider and vast variety of people across the globe, it has also ruined many tricks, revealed important secrets and left an air of doubt in peoples mind that if its seen on screen, its a camera trick. I often find that the close up magic I do (often in the spectators hands) is peoples first powerful experience of magic, because it hasn’t been brought to them by means of a screen.

Some of my favorite famous magicians of the 20th century include Tommy Cooper, Paul Daniels , CardiniDai VernonSiegfried & RoyDavid CopperfieldLance BurtonJames Randi, Ricky Jay, Paul Zenon and popular 21st century magicians include Penn and TellerDavid BlaineCriss Angel, Dynamo, Lennart Green, Derren Brown and the Masked Magician (Who is well known for revealing the secrets – often wrongly!) Well known women would include Debbie Magee (Paul Daniels wife) and Faye Presto.


Types of Effects

  • Production: The magician produces something from nothing—a rabbit from an empty hat, a fan of cards from thin air, a shower of coins from an empty bucket, a dove from a pan, or the magician him or herself, appearing in a puff of smoke on an empty stage—all of these effects are productions.
  • Vanish: The magician makes something disappear—a coin, a cage of doves, milk from a newspaper, an assistant from a cabinet, or even the Statue of Liberty. A vanish, being the reverse of a production, may use a similar technique, in reverse.
  • Transformation: The magician transforms something from one state into another—a silk handkerchief changes colour, a lady turns into a tiger, an indifferent card changes to the spectator’s chosen card.
  • Restoration: The magician destroys an object, then restores it back to its original state—a rope is cut, a newspaper is torn, awoman is sawn in half, a borrowed watch is smashed to pieces—then they are all restored to their original state.
  • Teleportation: The magician causes something to move from one place to another—a borrowed ring is found inside a ball of wool, a canary inside a light bulb, an assistant from a cabinet to the back of the theatre, a coin from one hand to the other. When two objects exchange places, it is called a transposition: a simultaneous, double teleportation. A teleportation can be seen as a combination of a vanish and a production.
  • Escape: The magician (an assistant may participate, but the magician himself is by far the most common) is placed in a restraining device (i.e. handcuffs or a straitjacket) or a death trap, and escapes to safety. Examples include being put in a straitjacket and into an overflowing tank of water, and being tied up and placed in a car being sent through a car crusher.
  • Levitation: The magician defies gravity, either by making something float in the air, or with the aid of another object (suspension)—a silver ball floats around a cloth, an assistant floats in mid-air, another is suspended from a broom, a scarf dances in a sealed bottle, the magician hovers a few inches off the floor. There are many popular ways to create this illusion, including Asrah levitation,Balducci levitationLooy’s Sooperman, and King levitation. The flying illusion is often performed by David Copperfield and more recently by Peter Marvey (who may or may not be using a technique similar to that of David Copperfield). Harry Blackstone’s floating light bulb, in which the light bulb floats over the heads of the public, is also spectacular.
  • Penetration: The magician makes a solid object pass through another—a set of steel rings link and unlink, a candle penetrates an arm, swords pass through an assistant in a basket, a saltshaker penetrates the table-top, a man walks through a mirror. Sometimes referred to as “solid-through-solid”.
  • Prediction: The magician predicts the choice of a spectator, or the outcome of an event under seemingly impossible circumstances—a newspaper headline is predicted, the total amount of loose change in the spectator’s pocket, a picture drawn on a slate.

Many magical routines use combinations of effects. For example, in “cups and balls” a magician may use vanishes, productions, penetrations, teleportation and transformations as part of the one presentation. Click HERE to go to the Videos section where much of this is demonstrated.



There is a fantastic book that was given to me (by Santa…no really, the Actual Santa, after I gave him a lift home from a gig and he told me jokes that you would NEVER expect Santa to know.. but that is another tale) called the War Magician. I highly recommend it.


according to the PDF: ‘Magicians are good inventors. For example, English stage magician John Nevil Maskelyne invented the pay toilet and his grandfather, Jasper Maskelyne invented the typewriter keyboard’ … So now you know!



link to PDF :- https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEQQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pdsd.org%2Fcms%2Flib6%2FPA01000989%2FCentricity%2FDomain%2F333%2FMagic%2520History.ppt&ei=Xvt0VIHEH6m07gbqqIGQBQ&usg=AFQjCNHxQh8Pe5H-k4xrwX4UoUWADtPYUg&sig2=T881zyKUmZSO70AwVFHBUg


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