Deal of the Day
The Trilogy DVD

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Hugard's Magic Monthly Volumes XVII, XVIII and XIX by Jean Hugard, Editor and Publisher

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii April, 1999)


Readers of this column will already be thoroughly aware of my fondness for this series of reprints that has been underway now since 1995. (See Genii , April 1995 and Genii , November 1995, Genii , August 1996, Genii , February 1997 and Genii , December 1997.) With these final two volumes, Magico completes its reproduction of Hugard's Magic Monthly —all 245 issues, 2,524 pages, and 1,560 individual tricks and sleights of it! This important journal is not only brimming with magic tricks, ideas, advice, wisdom, and inspiration, but provides a fabulous window into the magic scene and culture during its impressive span of publication, from June of 1943 until April of 1965. To say there is a boundless wealth of resources here is to offer a miserly assessment at best!

The penultimate volume continues with the delightful columns of Milbourne Christopher (a constant flow of ideas), "Backstage" with Frank Jonglar (Christopher's nom de plume, rich with reports on the magic of the day, including the amusingly occasional plug for Christopher himself), and perhaps my constant favorite of these pages, "Roundabout" by Fred Braue, an ongoing roundup of the magic scene. Jean Hugard serializes his otherwise unpublished final book, Outline of Mystery, the Secrets of 20th Century Magic. Al Stevenson, the Sponge Ball King, contributes an ongoing series of practical close-up magic subtitled "The Wizard's Variations." James Randi contributes a series on lock-picking, along with an intriguing locked-box seance piece. An excellent series of descriptions of Bert Allerton's repertoire also appears, including his trademark routine with a memorized stack. Fred Braue contributes a lengthy series on thinkacard tricks and methods. Treasures abound: Milbourne Christopher contributes an unusual routine for a mechanical color-changing silk by Oswald Williams, and examines Stanley Jaks' famed signature duplications; Jerry Andrus releases his now famous color change for the first time; Paul Rosini offers a clever impromptu Han Ping Chien with nickels and pennies; David Devant's complete presentations for the "Eggs from Mouth" appears here, and we learn that in 1915 he presages the emblematic usage of Albert Goshman and coins the verb "magish" in a letter.

And as in any work of this nature, there is much that is bittersweet. Jean Hugard dies during this period, in 1959, although via his notebooks and the efforts of Milbourne Christopher, much material in the ensuing two years of the magazine still frequently bears Hugard's byline. Christopher assumes editorship, then moves on (with Jonglar following rather closely on his heels!), and then Fred Braue takes over. In "Backstage," Jonglar notes "Happy reports from Miami Beach on the recent Ricki Dunn run at the Carillon," and elsewhere Ricki contributes a clever idea for the cigarette pull. And Jonglar also notes that "Young Peter Pit, the Dutch deceptionist, was introduced as British on the Ed Sullivan Show. His time was short. He opened with a floating cane routine, followed and closed with a many-bottle Passe Passe routine." Indeed, his time was short. But life goes on, and so too the legacy of these performers, and you can live it with them in these glorious pages.

In the final volume, Fred Braue also leaves us, and Blanca Lopez, longtime production manager for the magazine, takes over as managing editor in the final days. These final few issues, absent Hugard, Braue, and Christopher, are admittedly weakened by these losses. But there are other greater things to be found in this final volume of Magico reprints. William L. Broecker, who created the first-ever indexes for the three preceding Magico volumes, now provides the first complete master index for the entirety of Hugard's Magic Monthly. Following a nine-page overview of the journal's history, identifying key columnists and contributors, editorial staff, reconstructing the publication schedule, and pointing out select "items of interest" to the reader, including subscription and advertising rates and more, plus a two-page itemization of the Monthly's pagination, Mr. Broecker then provides a two-page guide to using the index. Herein he explains that he has created a classified directory of 90 categories plus additional sub-headings that will enable the reader to find virtually any entry with exquisite ease and efficiency. There is even a category of "Magicana; Magiquotes; Maxims; Pearls of Magic Wisdom, etc." of which there is abundant quality in these twenty-two years of publication. The work that Mr. Broecker has done here is simply marvelous, and present and future enthusiasts and historians owe him a great debt for his service. It is a model for those who would reprint collected works from the past and fool themselves into thinking they have done the art a service by the act of mere reproduction. I, for one, am grateful for the effort.

This last volume concludes with a reprint of the program for the Jean Hugard Testimonial that took place at the Barbizon Plaza Playhouse in New York City on April 28, 1945. These hundred-plus pages include commentaries, testimonials, and photographs by and of magic's leading lights of the day. Some might suggest that this final book is a bit slender in terms of magic, containing as it does only the final two volumes of a magazine that had become greatly reduced in issue size from its format in previous years, and curmudgeons might allege that the testimonial program is padding of a sort, but the index is all but priceless and the complete package seems to me to serve as a fitting conclusion to this worthy project. Jean Hugard was one of magic's greatest teachers, even continuing to guide, write, and publish in the last years of his life when he was totally blind. A remarkable man; a remarkable legacy, and we are fortunate to have such ready access by which to benefit from it

8-1/2" x 11" hardbound; more than 44 0 pages; extensively illustrated