Awesome little book on card magic and slights. Amazingly, this book has been in continuous publication since 1902 and has a small but diehard following in the card magic community. Although most consider a lot of the moves contrived and archaic the magicians who form the core following are immensely
loyal to the book and spend many hours studying it with great care and attention. I am probably somewhere in the middle. The book is very nice but there are goofs and limitations that keep me from being one of the utterly devout.
The mysterious author's identity was never really discovered. The credited author, S.W. Erdnase, is believed by many to be East coast gambler James Andrews (just lop off the 'Jam' and spell his name backwards). Andrews, who admits in the beginning of the book that he wrote it purely for financial gain, adopted the Erdnase pseudonym to avoid being associated with a book that no doubt pissed off many professional gamblers of the day as it spelled out so many of their coveted secret moves.
In any case, Erdnase starts the slim volume with a treatise on gambling cons to be performed at the gambler's table (the Artifice
section), moves on to some fantastic magician slights (the Legerdemain
section), then wraps the volume up with a short card routine that uses some of the techniques just described.
This Bible Edition
of the book is really cool. It's called this because of its similarity with many pocket-sized Christian Bibles. The pages are gold edged, it has a ribbon bookmark, and the thin paper rings similar as well. The version is a compact little number that can easily be stored in a shirt pocket if you're so inclined. It's a little larger than a deck of cards and only about a half inch thick. Not that it really matters but, despite the photo and description, the book is black (not blue) and the cover is not leather but some synthetic -- and hardcover-like -- facsimile. Word of warning though: the print is pretty minuscule so if you have a hard time reading the print on a bottle of Tylenol you might consider another edition of the book.