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Finding Inspiration on Dusty Bookshelves: a thought piece by Nathan Kranzo

As a creative and a performer I am always looking for new sources of inspiration. My favorite place to find inspiration is to take a look back into the past. Sometimes the best inspiration is hidden right under your nose in a book that’s been sitting on your shelf for years. Or better yet, maybe it’s in a book that has been sitting on someone else’s dusty bookshelf for years and it’s just waiting for you to pick it up and snag it for a few dollars. One mans trash is another mans treasure! I'd like to share with you one of my favorite books that I often turn to for inspiration when I'm feeling a dry spell on creativity. 

New Era Card Tricks by August Roterberg

New Era Card Tricks was written specifically for magicians by Chicago magic dealer August Roterberg, unlike prior magic books which were published and written for the public.

New Era Card Tricks contains a number of mechanical card effects and gaffs reproduced from the German works of F. W. Conradi. The book introduced the term "Color Change" and gave an early explanation of the Double Lift. It was also the first book to provide a description of the Back Palm.  It may even have been an influence or inspiration for S.W. Erdnase when writing Expert at the Card Table since some of the sleights are identical or provided inspiration for Erdnase.

In 1897 it sold for two dollars.  Original copies today have gone for $250 or more on some auction sites!

Lucky for us it was reprinted just a few years ago and is available at a very reasonable cost thanks to Stephen Minch and Byron Walker.

It is definitely one of my favorite card magic books as it is full of popular card magic from the turn of the century and includes some amazingly strong magic that any magician would be glad to include in their repertoire.

Just because it's old doesn't mean it is not full of cutting edge magic!

It also includes what is most likely the first version of the Haunted Pack ever published. This is a classic of magic popularized by Al Baker, Eugene Burger and others. Look up August's "The Hypnotized Card" inside this book for a magical version where the deck cuts all by itself exactly where the selected card lies. Here's a tip: instead of using a magic wand use a pen and a pad of paper. You'll thank me later ;)

Another favorite effect of mine from this book is an extremely magical trick where a letter that you received in the mail is displayed and when you toss the letter in the air it turns into the selected card. This is great visual magic at its best. Another hidden gem called "the envelope card" and is found on page 258. This effect would be an absolute killer for all the zoom magic calls we are doing nowadays with the current quarantine.

Here's one more goodie for you:
"Improved cards read behind the back".  This effect could be used to close your show, it's that strong!!! A deck is thoroughly shuffled by audience members and the performer has his back turned and is blindfolded. You could even have a bag over your head because you genuinely cannot see. Even though the cards have been shuffled and you are blindfolded you are now able to call off the cards in order as they are dealt one at a time until you have named every card!!!

 Track yourself down a copy and you'll be glad you did. Enjoy!!!

Kranzilla :-) 


This blog post was written for us by our good friend Nathan Kranzo who is a professional performer and creator of magic having published many effects and theories into the world of magic. You can find more of his original effects for sale over at his website at

Go show him some love and support!


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Aim High,

Jordan Groll

CEO/ Co-Founder


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