A Peek Inside a 17th-Century Guide to Magic Tricks

The title is a mouthful: Hocus Pocus Junior The anatomy of legerdemain. Or, The art of iugling set forth in his proper colours, fully, plainly, and exactly; so that an ignorant person may thereby learn the full perfection of the same, after a little practise.

The publication date is 1634. Although it's the earliest book devoted to magic as a performing art, it apparently takes its text almost exactly from a 1584 book called The Discoverie of Witchcraft. The Witchcraft book was meant to be a debunking text, proving to people that witches didn't exist and, thus, that we shouldn't go about condemning other people for witchcraft. Hocus Pocus Junior took the chapters on sleight of hand and slightly (heh) reworked them as an instructional manual.

Comparing Hocus Pocus Junior and the Discoverie of Witchcraft at Early Modern Whale.
Two Posts on the History of Hocus Pocus Junior from Bookride.com

Thanks to Holly Tucker!

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  1. I cannot be the only person to immediately picture Ricky Jay incorporating this book, and even the exact routines, into his act, explaining EXACTLY how he was doing them and still managing to leave the entire audience in abject wonder…

    This is one of those book I’d love to see reprinted, just so us Vulgar People could own a copy.

  2. It’s a wonder any copies of Reginald Scot’s book even survived. King James I ordered them all destroyed once he came to the English throne. Scot was lucky he was dead by then or he would have likely been burned with his books.

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