The Milbourne Christopher Library by Maurine Christopher and George Hansen

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii August, 1998)

While most of the no doubt limited but nonetheless ecstatic target audience will already be familiar with this volume, I only recently received my copy, and it certainly deserves mention. Magician, author, and collector Milbourne Christopher was an influential voice in the world of magic throughout his lifetime, and his personal collection is legendary. I well remember, in a search for information about Max Malini, my one youthful pilgrimage to Christophers lair—vermillion walls dripping with rare posters— and the wondrous treasures which he brought forth. Now Mrs. Christopher has created an in-depth bibliography of her husband's collection of more than 1100 early works, circa 1589-1900, concerning "magic, mindreading, psychic research, spiritualism and the occult." The format is consistent with the most professional of academic bibliographies, and hence will be a useful tool to serious researchers. As well, Milbourne Christopher's own notes are often included, and make fascinating if all too tantalizingly brief reading. The Houdini section is remarkable, including frequent notes like this one, concerning the 1856 volume, Systematical and Practical Hebrew Grammar, for the Use of Hebrew Schools, Colleges and Self-Instruction: "Houdini's copy, signed by him in pencil on inside cover, 'Ehrich Weiss.' Christopher terms 'this perhaps the earliest Houdini-owned book extant.'" The mind boggles.

8 - 1/2" X 11" hardcover with laminated dustjacket; 160 pages; 23 pages of photographic illustrations; 1994; Published by Mike Caveney's Magic Words