07 Jun 2013
It’s a really busy time in the Bradford Magic Circle at the moment. As you know the Dinner is in a couple of weeks on Friday 14th November, which is certainly something to look forward to. The Hey Presto show next March is also occupying a lot of the committee’s time at present. I have to say that a lot of members don’t realise the amount of hard work that is put into organising these events.
So, as there is so much going on I was just going to pick a book from the library and review it this month. I picked a book purely at random and it turned out to be ‘165 card Tricks and Stunts’ by Jean Hugard. The paperback cover looks as if it has been designed for the younger performer, but nothing could be further from the truth. The author’s name got me thinking so I started to delve a little further into the life of Jean Hugard, better known perhaps as the author of the card magician’s bible – The Royal Road to Card Magic.
Jean Hugard, (December 4, 1872 - August 14, 1959) was born John Gerard Rodney Boyce in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. Hugard became interested in magic after seeing a performance by Louis Haselmayer, a magician known for his interest in mechanical illusions. He eventually began his own professional career in 1896. Jean used the stage and pen name of Jean Hugard and Chin Sun Loo. One of his full evening shows presented on a tour of Australia and New Zealand was a silent Chinese act. In 1915, he moved to USA and worked successfully in vaudeville from 1916 until 1918. One of the illusions he was particularly well known for was his Bullet Catch routine which he called "The Great Rifle Feat". He was the first to present it with modern day guns at the time. In 1919 he bought a magic theatre in Luna Park at Coney Island and performed there until 1929. He also appeared in a Broadway Show in 1928 at the Forrest Theater called "The Squealer”, a three act melodrama which only ran for 64 performances. (I have to say that after checking the opening night cast of this play I can find no mention of Jean Hugard, so he must have appeared under another name).
When he retired from performing, he moved to Brooklyn to write and edit magic publications. He wrote more then 30 books on magic. With the death of John Northern Hilliard who had written only the first chapter of his master work Greater Magic, a lot of manuscript was left to be completed. Carl Waring Jones, who had been contracted for it's publication, brought Jean Hugard on board in 1938 to complete and enlarge the text to over 1,000 pages. In 1943 he started and edited Hugard’s Magic monthly, a popular magazine at the time. Near the end of his life, Hugard was blind, having lost the sight of both eyes following operations for the removal of cataracts. In spite of this handicap he continued to work in the magic field at his home in Brooklyn, NY. Till his death in 1959.
Quite a varied career for someone who is best known for card tricks. Now back to 165 Card Tricks and Stunts, you remember, the book I pulled at random from the Circle's library shelves. This publication is in fact a compilation of 4 publications written by Hugard. Card Manipulations Vol 1 to 4 and they were written between 1933 and 1935. At the time each would have been an expensive and authoritative publication on the subject. The book is packed with ideas, illustrations and tricks concerning card magic. The four sections are faithfully reprinted and take the reader through the various manipulations and effects from beginner to a very advanced level. Well worth a read for anyone hoping to master the art of card magic.
It just goes to show that cannot judge a book by its cover.
Ok here’s one or two one liners about magicians to finish off with.