Magic and deception has been practiced throughout history. Magicians have performed in the streets and marketplaces of ancient Greece and Rome, and even today magicians continue to entrall audiences. From Robert Houdin to Chung Ling Soo to Black Herman and Harry Houdini, the world of magic and magicians has always found a place in books. A collectibe copy of The Fashionable Science Of Parlour Magic - one of magic's pioneering books - by John Henry Anderson was sold on AbeBooks in August 2010 for $3,500.
Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, otherwise known as the "Father of Modern Magic", was a French magician who performed in Europe in the 1840s and '50s. Houdin was one of the first magicians to work inside theaters as opposed to country fairs and street corners. Houdin was most famous for incorporating science and technology into his show and was well known for his trick called "The Light and Heavy Chest" (this involved a magnet in a wooden chest and asking a spectator to lift the box which was done easily. Once Robert-Houdin's assistant turned on the magnet, the attraction made it impossible to move the chest). Much of what is known about Robert-Houdin is from his writings including The Secrets of Conjuring Magic or How to Become a Wizard and Life of Robert Houdin, King of the Conjurers.
Harry Houdini is perhaps the most famous magician of all time. Born Erich Weiss in Hungary in 1874, he moved to the United States and changed his name to Harry Houdini after Robert-Houdin. Best known for his amazing escape acts and his obsession with spiritualism and mediums, much has been written about the man. Collectible copies of books written by Houdini and about him can be found on AbeBooks including Houdini: His Life Story.It's not all smoke and mirrors when it comes to finding enchanting books about magic and magicians.