Paul has indeed asked a sensible question and it deserves a sensible answer. In truth Paul will verify that I study all sorts of books on magic which are not card trick based. I am very well read in magic and from pure memory alone I can find a reference to some matter in print very quickly. Paul has often expressed surprise over it.
Paul asked about obscure books and I think he is being very astute in asking. I read all the eminent books such as 13 Steps, Ormond Mc'Gills works, Bobo's Coin Magic, the GAnson books on Vernon etc; but the obscure books I read are far more intriguing to discuss.
Let me think.
Our Magic is certainly one of the obscure books. I think the theory in it is absolutely brilliant but it can be a bit heavy to wade through. Well worth the effort though may be, in the long run a more useful purchase than the latest DVD.
Here is the most obscure book of all. In fact I think only the author and his mother have read it. It is titled simply "The Magician" and the author is Robert A Stebbins. The sub title will give an idea what the book is all about. "Career, Culture, and Social Psychology in a Variety Art" The author is not a magician but a sociologist. The book is a socialogy study about magicians and how they relate to their audiences and each other. It explores the relationship between amateur magicians and professionals and is a very interesting read.
Edward Hutchinson has written a couple of obscure books, one on mentalism and one on hypnotism that I like a lot. I very much like Mr Hutchinsons writing style and I remember many yeara ago in a mall showing Paul the mentalism book and saying how much I liked it. Interestingly enough I see Mr Hutchinson has reviewed my book here and I am happy to return the compliment.
I also think that the volumes I see around consisting of Hugard's Magic Monthly magazines are a real goldmine of information. I see them sitting forlonly on the top shelf of the local magic shop and because of their dull cover and old fashioned printing nobody is the slightest bit interested in them and instead are eagerly devouring the latest book or DVD with the fancy cover and mediocre contents. I just cringe every time I see it and it almost makes we want to weep to see such a goldmine of useful practical material being neglected and cast aside.
There are indeed more obscure books around and I read a lot of them. I do not look after my books properly and you will see them all falling to bits because of my constant use of them.
I have just thought of one more. "Forging Ahead in Magic" by John Booth is pretty obscure nowadays as is CArd FAntasies by Edward Love. Both these books are very valuable indeed. On one of the You Tube videos I posted the sequence of one hand cutting and the patter comes straight from Card Fantasies virtually word for word.
No. Never underestimate the obscure old books. Give them a fresh look and you will find a hidden treaure trove of information that nobody is using nowadays.