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Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata
(Electronic Download)

You can purchase the print edition here.

Here is the Acrobat version of this wonderful book available for immediate download.

The Sette of Odd Volumes published two fantastic books in the early 1890s. The Sette was a club of book collectors and eccentric personalities in London. It was founded by the famed book dealer Bernard Quaritch in 1878. He collected members for his club much like he did rare editons: each had an expertise in some unusual specialty.

William Manning was a club member who gave an after dinner talk on his recollections of the great magician Robert-Houdin. When Manning was a young boy he met the great magician and befriended Robert-Houdin's sons. His 'recollections' about Robert-Houdin were later published as a small book. Reading it today, over a hundred years after the speech was originally given, one is still struck by how forward thinking Robert-Houdin was and how down to earth. He developed many famous magic acts that are still performed today. Originally trained as a clockmaker, Robert-Houdin built all his own automata and magic props. He experimented with electricity and even wired his house with clocks and alarms in the 1860s which must have seemed very magical indeed. Manning captures the spirit of his admired friend. His words make the magician seem very contemporary and even more remarkable.

Manning's talk on Robert-Houdin prompted another member, Conrad William Cooke, to undertake a brief survey on the history of automata down through the ages. That talk resulted in the second wonderful book included here.

Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata collects these two books into a single volume. Carefully reproduced from the original copies this book is a delight to read. The file is an Acrobat PDF and can be read on ipads, iphones, computers, and Android devices.

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