Our 15th issue of Gibecière is our biggest issue ever! As with some previous issues of our journal, we are once again very proud to deliver a long lost manuscript that sheds refreshing light on our history while also unearthing some forgotten treasures.
The Asti manuscript is estimated to have been written somewhere between 1670 – 1730 and, until recently, had been relegated to a storage closet housing a miscellany of things in the Biblioteca di Asti. Someone did discover the manuscript there and deemed it worth being inventoried and catalogued, although they ultimately decided it was not of any major importance.
It was Marco Aimone and Aurelio Paviato who learned of the manuscript and thought otherwise. Just a brief look at the first two items, and they knew they had found a new and important addition to magic literature. Here we find the earliest known descriptions of a sleight-of-hand color change and the under-the-spread force. In addition, there are unique effects described that would otherwise have been lost, as well as early precursors to now-classic effects. The forgotten effects may inspire you to breathe new life into them with modern methods, while the early handlings of classic effects could drive a well-worn plot in new directions.
The manuscript has been painstakingly transcribed by Aurelio Paviato and then translated into English by Lori Pieper and features sections on tricks with playing cards, sleight of hand with other objects and tricks with apparatus, and, finally, tricks, stunts, and experiments. The author has included a plethora of clear and very informative illustrations. Additionally there are a number of tips on handling sprinkled throughout the manuscript that point to some early psychological advantages in use by magicians of the era.
The manuscript has been made as readable as possible and supplemented with numerous annotations by Lori Pieper, Aurelio Paviato, Thierry Depaulis, William Kalush, and Stephen Minch. Further, studies of the history and background for the work have been provided by Donatella Gnetti and Thierry Depaulis.
We think you will enjoy this fantastic window into our history! It should be at our offices near the middle of February (a little late due to the extensive work involved in getting the manuscript ready coupled with setbacks attributed to Hurricane Sandy), and we will be shipping them out to members as soon as we receive them. To insure that you get your copy, make sure that your membership is up to date. Or, if you are not a member, please join by going here. In addition to the journal we offer numerous other benefits, not the least of which is our searchable magic database, Ask Alexander.
Recently one of our board members found what might be the only existing example of the Bee 216 deck. This was printed by the New York Consolidated Card Company for a very limited time around the year 1900, and although the back design appears in catalogs and illustrations, no other complete deck is known. What is even more exciting is that our deck is in mint condition. What this means is that for the first time we can determine exactly what the cards that Erdnase used felt like! For example, the deck is very thin (52 cards is 14.50 mm!) and very smooth (Cambric finish wouldn’t be used until 1910!). Fittingly, Erdnase wrote, “For superior work the cards should be new, thin, flexible and of best quality.”
The back design of the Bee 216 is another very interesting thing. Anyone who has studied Erdnase sufficiently has noticed that the illustrations clearly indicate that he was using Bees. This can be seen by the Ace of Spades in Figure (101). On even closer examination of the illustrations, you can see in many of the Figures (see Fig. 75, for example) that the back design is not redrawn but just a squiggle is used. This is very possibly just a shortcut by the illustrator, and this has been our opinion for many, many years. But, on discovering the Bee 216 deck, a new theory arose. What if this design, which matches M. D. Smith’s “squiggles”, was actually the type of card Erdnase used at the time the book was illustrated?
This discovery was first revealed on February 26, 2013, the 111th anniversary of the copyright registration for The Expert at the Card Table, on our erdnase.com website.
Research Appointments at the Conjuring Arts Research Center
Thank you for your interest in conducting research at the Conjuring Arts Research Center. The Conjuring Arts library operates on a closed-stack system: this means we don’t allow browsing of our shelves. What we do allow however, are prearranged research appointments. If you are interested in arranging a research appointment, please send a brief proposal to email@example.com. The proposal should include the following:
1. Project goals
2. A list of up to 5 texts you plan on using. Our online catalog is accessible at http://www.conjuringlibrary.net/newopc/simplesrch.asp.
3. End uses of the research
This will be reviewed by the librarian and sent to the Board for approval. If approved, an appointment will be scheduled at a time that is mutually convenient . Please allow at least two weeks for the arrangement of an appointment.
A few notes on the actual research appointment:
-All appointments last two hours
-Current photo ID must be presented at the beginning of the appointment
-Bags and backpacks must be left with the librarian at the beginning of the appointment
-You are welcome to use a personal laptop during your appointment
-Pencils are the only writing instrument allowed
-No food or beverages are allowed in the library