by Ellis Stanyon
Ellis Stanyon published the first issue of his magazine Magic in October of 1900. The purpose of the magazine was expressed as follows: "It is the desire of the Editor to popularize the Art of Sleight of Hand which at the present day is so little known. He is thoroughly convinced that the more the art becomes known the more it will be appreciated by the public at large, and thus, apart from injuring the interests of any portion of the magical fraternity, all magicians, whether Amateur or Professional performers, will alike derive benefit." This is a noble sentiment, but since Stanyon was a magic dealer, it is possible that the Art of Magic wasn't going to be the only beneficiary. However, that is a debate for another time. Stanyon produced his magazine on a monthly basis until June of 1920, suspending publication during World War I.
Two different publishers are now offering reprints of the complete run of Stanyon's Magic. At the time of this writing (in the first part of September) I have only the L&L Publishing version; the Kaufman and Greenberg edition will not be out until October. Rather than wait for the K and G edition (which would push the review into November or December, thus making the whole thing "old news") I will try to give you as much insight as I can from having looked through the L&L edition and having spoken with Richard Kaufman.
Before I get to the nuts and bolts part, let tell you what you'll find in Stanyon's Magic. There is a ton of magic here. Each issue contains Stanyon's "Original Lessons in Magic" which run the gamut of magical effects. There are biographical sketches of contemporary (then) and historical magicians. A column titled "Explanatory Programmes" had to have raised some hackles back then. In this column the programs of a contemporary performers were detailed, and possible methods for the effects performed were postulated. One column I found particularly interesting is "Queries" in which the subscribers described effects for which they desired methods. Other readers (and often Stanyon himself) would offer possible methods for these effects. "A Bibliography of Conjuring" ran during throughout the course of the magazine, and it is a valuable resource.
I feel there's a limited market for a historical document such as Stanyon's Magic. I enjoy reading old books and magazines, not so much for scholarly research, but to get a feel for the magic of the time, and to perhaps stumble over an interesting effect or presentational slant. If this description fits you, then the L&L Publishing reprint may be suitable for your purposes. The book is huge - over 1400 pages. This makes it somewhat awkward to read. The other drawback to this edition is the lack of a comprehensive index. Stanyon did publish an index to each of the individual volumes from 1 - 14, and at the back of the L&L edition you can find where to locate each of these indices, but if you intend to do serious research with Stanyon's Magic you may feel that the master index provided with the Kaufman and Greenberg edition is more useful. The fact that the K and G edition breaks the book into three volumes may also be important to you. The final factor that you may wish to consider is the secondary market value of the two editions. The L&L printed 1500 copies of its edition, Kaufman and Greenberg printed 500. You should also know that the L&L edition does have a cloth binding.
So, that's about all I can tell you. If you are interested in the history of magic you will definitely want a copy of this reprint. The edition you choose will be determined by how you intend to use the book, and the other factors I mentioned above. Your best bet would be to get to a magic shop and take a look at both editions. Then make up your mind.
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