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Bill Palmer
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Recently some conjecture came up in Ever So Sleightly as to the true authorship of a series of books that were "edited" by W.H. Cremer of London. These books included The Magician's Own Book, The Secret Out and Hanky Panky.

When I wrote my comments about Cremer and these books, I referred to him as a hack writer (and I still consider him such), but I had only the comments from Raymond Toole Stott's A Bibliography of English Conjuring -- 1581-1876 as a reference, since little is said about Cremer in The Annals of Conjuring or any of the other books in my possession. I was asked why I did not consult Alexander at Conjuring Arts. The reason is simple. I find Alexander to be a very clunky search device. It doesn't do boolean searches well, which makes it difficult to find certain terms. Also, many of the scans involved have not been rendered accurately by their OCR software.

However, by eliminating the periodicals and magic instruction sheets, I managed to pare the irrelevant references to various and sundry items down to a bare minimum.

I did searches on W.H. Cremer and Frikell, as well as two other candidates. While there may be some additional references to them somewhere in the literature, I don't believe I left out anything that is actually relevant. This is what I have uncovered.

First of all, I had been under the impression that the British publications were earlier than the American ones. This is not the case. It is very difficult to place an accurate date on the British publications, because the copyright notices in British books of this time period are not often dated. The only dated section in any of these in the British versions is in the supplementary advertising sections in the back of the books. These changed from year to year. Since these books were available as late as the 1950's, the advertising supplements only tell us roughly when the particular copy we are looking at was printed.

Although most of the American editions of these books have copyright dates, they also do not necessarily tell us when the books were printed. For example, my copy of the US edition of The Secret Out has an illegible copyright date. I know from Toole Stott that the copyright is supposed to be 1859. However, the copy I have has an ad in the back for a book about Sherman's campaigns during the civil war, so it must have been printed sometime after 1865.

I think the dilemma is clear. In order to be certain about the copyright date of the British editions, a visit to Stationer's Hall would be necessary.

We find this further complicated upon learning that one of the British editions of The Magician's Own Book supposedly has a section on cups and balls. This is not present in the copy I have.

However, we can be fairly certain that Dick and Fitzgerald published their copies first. The American edition of The Secret Out is quite similar to the British edition of the same book. The American edition of The Magician's Own Book is vastly different from the British edition.

So, who wrote what, and when did they write it? This is where the waters become a bit murky.

Some of the older bibliographies, such as they are, are of almost no help at all. For example the bibliography by Clarke and Blind simply lists the books as being by Cremer and/or by H. L. Williams. There is no elaboration on the title pages, etc. And both Toole Stott and Clarke and Blind list editions that simply are not factual. For example, the first American edition of The Secret Out is listed in Toole Stott as being edited by Cremer, when, in fact, this is not indicated anywhere in the American edition of the book. Similar errors occur in Clarke and Blind, in which the American publication dates are given for the London editions.

So, what do we know with any certainty?

1) The American editions were published first. Cremer, who was a magic dealer in London, had nothing at all to do with them. The two main works,The Magician's Own Book and The Secret Out, were of American origin, not English origin, the first being published in 1857 by Dick and Fitzgerald and the second being published in 1859 by the same company. The London editions of these "edited by W.H. Cremer" did not appear until about 15 years later.

2) Frikell's contributions to these books was minimal if any at all. While there may be a reference to Frikell in some printings of the American editions, the chief source of the impression that he had anything at all to do with the books came from Cremer, not from Dick and Fitzgerald. A look at Frikell's writing style fairly well eliminates him as an author of this material. His writing is much more Nordic than either the original authors or Cremer's plagiarized work. There was no reason to refer to him in the US, anyway. He was not well-known over here, and did not, in fact, visit America until 1872, long after the books were first published.

3) The chief reference to H.L. Williams comes from a letter that was in the possession of H. Adrian Smith. This is referenced in Toole Stott and in Books at Brown. This letter, from Harris Dick, son of the founder of Dick and Fitzgerald states that he had "heard his father mention that he had employed a writer named H. L. Williams to work on some of the early books. This puts Williams into the running, but doesn't give him all the credit. John Wyman was supposed to have helped Williams with the technical details on this.

4) An interesting secondary set of authors shows up in an unlikely reference. After The Magician's Own Book was issued in 1857, a second book, The Sociable, Or One Thousand and One Home Amusements was published by Dick and Fitzgerald. A line on the title page states "by the author of The Magician's Own Book." Much of The Sociable was written by "Messr. Cahill and George Arnold." This has led Harry Price to believe that they wrote The Magician's Own Book.

Many of our modern magic book experts believe that Arnold may have written The Magician's Own Book with the help of Wyman. Few, if any believe that Frikell had anything to do with any of these books. None belives that Cremer wrote anything, except, perhaps, the London edition of The Magician's Own Book, which is totally different from any of the material published by Dick and Fitzgerald.

But the American and British editions of The Secret Out are very similar. The text has been changed slightly by Cremer so that it appears that he actually did a little work on it. Also, some of the drawings have been (not so cleverly) altered, so they appear to be a bit different. This is particularly noticeable in the cups and balls sections of both books.

It's too bad that we don't have a bibliographic resource that has the title pages, copyright pages and introductions of all the different editions of these books. This would tell us much more than these bibliographic sources that sometimes leave out information because it is not regarded as important.

I'll be looking at other editions of these books, I am sure, when I visit the collectors weekend in May. Until then, I don't have anything to add to this.
"The Swatter"

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Rennie
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I recently purchased this book and will check it out more this evening. I thought my dates were around 1892 or 1894, not sure now. As I said I will check it out this evening and do a follow-up.
Rennie
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Bill Palmer
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Remember, there are two basic editions -- the American edition, published by Dick and Fitzgerald, and later by Fitgerald "Successor to Dick and Fitzgerald" -- and the English edition "edited by W.H. Cremer" -- which is nothing more than a rearrangement of the chapters of the original American work. Cremer was, at best, a plagiarist.

Posted: Mar 10, 2007 2:19pm
Upon a hint from a friend of mine who is an extremely well-informed bookman and historian, I decided to do a search at the Library of Congress. This is what I have uncovered.

1) The LOC listing for the American edition has the error of listing the editor as W.H. Cremer. This is not actually indicated on the title page or the copyright notice of the book. It does show up in the English editions. But these were published about 15 years later than the original American editions.

2) More interesting is the line on the title page -- By the author of "The sociable;
or, One thousand and one home amusements," "The magician's own book,"
etc., etc.

When you look these up, you find two authors -- Frank Cahill and George Arnold.

This seems to have eluded Toole Stott and most of the other bibliographers.

However, considering the amount of misinformation about the authors of all of these books, who should we believe. Frikell is obviously not connected in any way to the American edition. He was not known in the US at the time it was written. His style is so different from what is published in this book, that it is obvious that he did not have any final input into it, if any. The idea that John Wyman helped with the technical details makes much more sense.

I also believe that H.L. Williams can be discounted as an author of these books. He was born in 1842. His writing period seems to be centered around the 1870's. He would have been 15 when MOB was published and 17 when TSO came out. The writing here is much more advanced than that.
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JimMaloney
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Bill,
There's been some speculation that the contents of The Secret Out were largely taken from two French books, "Les Magiciens des Salons, ou Le Diable Couleur de Rose", by Richard & Delion and "Manuel du Magicien" by Blismon de Douai. Have you looked into these at all? I've been meaning to take a trip to the Conjuring Arts Research Center, as I believe that they have copies of both books in their collection. While I'm not fluent in French, I can understand a little bit, especially if I have the time to sit down and study it a bit. It'd be interesting to compare them and see if anything jumps out, though it would certainly be better to have someone who understands French do the comparison.

It's my understanding that the American edition of The Secret Out was published in 1859, as indicated by Toole Stott. I believe that the UK edition was first published sometime around 1871-74. I need to compare my copies, but I didn't get the impression that there was a lot of overlap between the US and UK editions -- maybe about 50% of the material. I'll get back with more info when I have a chance to look over them.

-Jim
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Bill Palmer
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I have both versions. There is more overlap than that. There is quite a bit of rearrangement of chapters in the two books. I'd say it was more like 75% overlap.

Toole Stott is not a good reference for this material. A conversation this afternoon with someone who knows him has revealed that much of his "research" was simply trips to various personal and/or public libraries. Some of the entries are not even magic books. While the Cremer edition quotes the bbook you mention as one of his sources, placing the two books side by side, and looking for the similarities will prove very revelatory.

Just for one example, the American edition starts off with tricks with cards. The layout is different, but when you get into the English edition, you find that the second chapter is basically the first chapter of the American edition, with a bit of clever editing. Most of the book is cadged from the American edition.

Go to the Library of Congress web site and do a search on H.L. Williams, as well as on George Arnold and Frank Cahill. There is so much there that is of interest.
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Bill,
Just pulled my book titled "Magician's Own Book" 999 Startling Tricks Edited by W.H. Cremer ( stated on the spine) Inside first page it says Edited by W.H. Cremer, Jun. below that it says Edinburgh John Grant. I cannot find a copyright date anywhere.
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Bill Palmer
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That's the same basic edition as the Chatto and Windus and John Cameron Hotton editions. It's the English edition. The original post explains the problem with the copyright dates in English books. Look in the back of the book, and you will probably find about 8 pages of advertising. Sometimes these have a date at the beginning of the ads. This will tell you roughly when it was printed.

We have the actual publication dates of the English books nailed down very well. They were first produced about 1871 or 1872.

I forgot to mention in my previous posts that much of what Cremer did not get from the Dick and Fitzgerald edition came from the D&F edition of The Magician's Own Book.

When considering these books we need to remember that availability of American books in England and English books in America was not like it is now. These things had to be brought overseas via ships. There was no air freight.

Also, we need to bear in mind that Cremer would have been quite young when the Dick and Fitzgerald books were originally published.

My expert bookman doesn't want to be named on list, but if you PM me, I will tell you who he is.
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JimMaloney
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Ok, my copy of the American edition, based on the ads, appears to be from the 1870's, probably the latter half of that decade. My UK edition is 1907. Haven't had the opportunity to sit down and compare contents yet.

-Jim
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Mark R. Williams
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On my Copy of

"the Magician's Own Book, or the Whole Art of Conjuring" Dick & Fitzgerald- New York 1864

This has a copyright of 1857 in the Southern District of New York, on the copyright page.

From the Preface, the last paragraph (or rather sentence?!?!?!)

"In conclusion we would say, that the Magician's Own Book contains a great variety of curious tricks and deceptions, many of which the publishers beg to acknowledge their indebtedness to Mr. John Wyman,Junior, the celebrated magician, that gentleman having kindly furnished clear and simple explanations to many of his most surprising parlor feats and fancies."

The preface seems to indicate "Mr. John Wyman,Jr." as a primary source.

On the front & back end pages are many such compilation books ranging from "1000 Tales to 500 Curious Puzzles; Various etiquette books for the male and female; books on games, Freemasonry and How to care for the household ect. All published by "Dick & Fitzgerald" . A very few do have authors named as appropriate, most do not. Not one author is mentioned for the compiled works. Over 40 works are listed here.

The last several pages after the finish of the book contain and additional catalog of sorts, including many more available books.

All ads, including the front and end pages include prices.

It seems that "the Magician's Own Book" was $1.25 postage included!

I am not sure looking for "An Author" is the correct approach here. Many such books are compilations and gatherings of multiple sources and put together by staff or hired "Editors" of the publishers. I have several such books in my collection that have no ONE author. Many of these Editors had no real background in the subjects they were hired to work on.



Remember we have many such books in magic. Do we really consider Bobo the AUTHOR of "Modern Coin Magic" or Hilliard the AUTHOR of "Greater Magic" ?

Even John Lewis (Professor Hoffmann) considered himself more a compiler/editor than an author of many of his books. Remember he was editor for many books on games , boy's annual books, and even an early book on calisthenics's.

Just my thoughts and some information from my early edition.

Regards,

mark

Posted: Mar 19, 2007 5:37pm
Oh, an additional note.

My 1864 edition DOES include "The Three Cups" trick, as they call it.

M
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Hello,

I’m just putting this out as another potential piece of the puzzle. I obviously have no way of knowing the accuracy of the writer’s statement below, or the facts for his belief in the statement. And as you will see, I’m not even sure who he (Old Timer) really was.
_____________________

Frikell, the great German magician and father of pure sleight-of-hand was the real author of “The Secret Out” and “Magician’s Own Book.” His nom de plume was Cremer.
_____________________

The sentences above are from an article in the October 1934 issue of The Linking Ring titled, “Magic Notes” From Wheeling West Virginia, by Old Timer. And that leaves another puzzle, anyone out there know whom “Old Timer” was? His columns, “Magic Notes” and “Magical Notes” ran monthly in the LR from 1934 to 1941.

By the way, that one short paragraph is the lone statement in the article regarding the books, and “Old Timers” belief of the author. His columns were just a series of short one or two sentence paragraphs of interesting magic items like the above.

Regards, Mark Damon
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Not sure who "Old Timer" was, but the idea that Frikell was the author of the books in question has pretty definitively been debunked. See Bill's original post in this thread for some details on this.

-Jim
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Mark R. Williams
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No, Frickell has been eliminated from this speculation.

Much "History" that has been written in the late 19th century into the mid 20th century has been spurious and downright fabricated to stroke an ego or two. They had not the ability or often the inclination to resource primary references as we now do.

How long did we think that the paper magic called "Trouble-wit" was the invention of some mid to late 19th century performer? Now we know that it is indeed at least some 150 years older than that and under the same name "Trouble-wit" (Thank you Steve Burton).

As has been said "what a modern and fascinating time we live in".

The internet for the most part, is quite helpful.

M

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Bill Palmer
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It's only helpful if you use a whole lot of resources and filter them like crazy.
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Mark R. Williams
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Bill,

I cannot agree with you more.

As I said the Internet "For the Most Part" is helpful.

It does help to link us to individuals who possess the primary resources that we would be otherwise ignorant of. And it saves a LOT of driving to same said resources.

Regards,
M
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Bill Palmer
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We do know from information that H. Adrian Smith had in a letter from Harris Dick, son of one of the founders of Dick and Fitzgerald, that his father was an avid amateur magician, which is why he published several magic books. However, as you can tell from the advertising in the back of the book, they published all sorts of other things, as well.

There was a lot of confusion over the actual authorship of these books, because neither Dick nor Fitzgerald did much if any of the writing. But they hired some of the better writers of the day, such as Frank Cahill and George Arnold. George was a poet and a prodigy who wrote large sections of a previous work on social amusements. A reference in the introduction to the American edition of MOB mentions that it was by the same author as this work. Since Cahill and Arnold wrote major parts of the other work, many magic bookmen now believe that they also wrote MOB and/or TSO. Wyman definitely had a lot to do with MOB. He is referenced there many times.

The American edition of MOB does have THE THREE CUPS in it, but the English edition does not, until the editions that came out with it specifically listed as "including a section on the cups and balls." The American and English editions of MOB have nothing in common except the title.

The Frikell myth started the same place as the reference to the French works. It was included in the introduction of the English edition of TSO, in order to give the work more credence. Bear in mind that America was about as popular in Europe during the 1870's as it is now, which means not at all.

It was far more advantageous to quote a familiar French reference and a popular European performer than it was to state that someone from the former colonies had contributed to the books.
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Mark R. Williams
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Bill,

Where is this reference to MOB being written by the same author of the social amusements book?

My 1857 edition /1864 printing has NO such reference in the preface to the book.

As I wrote it DOES have a reference to "Mr. John Wyman,Jr." as a primary reference.

My book is an American edition.

As you noted Dick & Fitzgerald did hire some of the best writer/editors, but as I said that did not mean they had any background on the books and compilations they were working on. This was (and still is) very common in the publishing industry.

I have also seen the "1859" edition which I almost purchased at the last Collector Weekend held here in Chicago. But at the time I found my money dearer.... I wish I had bought the book though..................

But back to that 1859 book, I believe you will see that it is the same as my edition, that is to say it is not an "1859" edition but the same 1857 edition printed in 1859. I think this is the second printing. My edition I believe is the 4th printing as I think there is an 1861 printing also.

The copyright page on the 1859 book will contain the same 1857 copyright as my edition does. It is on the title page that 1859 will appear. The title page is also where my 1864 appears.

That means both are first editions, later printings.

The title page indicates the current printing as the numbers, actual dates ect. on our copyright pages indicate now on our modern books. We have just unified the information on the one page now.

This dating of the title page is VERY common on American books of this period. I have MANY examples in my collection. It is much more the norm than not, especially as to later printings.

As an aside it is not uncommon during this period to have a book that has a copyright of say 1859 and a printing date of 1860 and it still be a first edition, first printing.

I have some examples of this also.

There were many reasons for this including publishers waiting for confirmation on the copyright approval before printing ect. The printing processes were not as quick to set up as now, and depending on workload ect.........................


regards,

mark


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Bill Palmer
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The 1859 edition I am referring to is TSO not MOB. Different book.

The last paragraph of the Preface of the copy of the Magician's Own Book that I have has the reference to John Wyman, Jr. that you mention.

The reference to the author of The Sociable is on the title page of The Secret Out, not MOB. Sorry about the confusion. These are TWO DIFFERENT BOOKS.

I don't know where you get your information about having to wait for approval of a copyright before you publish. That's not true. In fact, when these books were published you were required to send two copies to the LOC along with your copyright registration forms.

Copyright registrations are not subject to searches like patents are. They are simply registrations. That's it.

BTW, my copy of the Tarbell course has no reference in the preface to the author of "the sociable," but we weren't discussing that one, were we?
"The Swatter"

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Mark R. Williams
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Bill,

I am aware that MOB and TSO are different books. I have copies of each.

I was replying to your reference to MOB. Talking about two different books at the same time is messing us both up........... Smile Perhaps a thread for each???

I did not say that Publishers had to wait for approval before they printed the book. I did state that they sometimes waited for conformation (of registration process completion.) Sorry I did not make myself clear.

This has been one explanation I have read for books being actually published at a different date to their copyright.

It is true that you sent in two copies of the book to be copyrighted for publication, BUT, these were not necessarily (and often were not) from the first print run any more than they are now. Many copyrighted materials of the time were nothing more than written manuscripts, some of which never were published.

BTW I do not understand your reference to Tarbell???? I was responding to a part of your post:

" A reference in the introduction to the American edition of MOB mentions that it was by the same author as this work. Since Cahill and Arnold wrote major parts of the other work, many magic bookmen now believe that they also wrote MOB and/or TSO."

Again, I think perhaps we should perhaps have a separate thread for each. Smile

My best regards,

M

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Bill did we each break our leg???? Smile
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Bill Palmer
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Have you ever secured a copyright on anything? If you haven't, you are working with a lack of knowledge. I have done so. I understand the copyright process first hand. According to the old law, the copyright application had to be submitted with two copies of the best version of the book. This would have been done from the first run.

The reason that you have differing printing dates from copyright dates is quite simple. Some publishers indicated the printing date specifically. Others did not. The thing that counts is the copyright date. You will seldom, if ever, see a copyright date that is after the printing date. If you do, under the old law, that puts the book directly into the public domain.

The reference in the part you quoted was an error. I meant TSO. We don't need a separate thread.

The reference to Tarbell was to show you an example of irrelevance.
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Bill,

I do not want to get into a tado about this but,

You are correct on:

"According to the old law, the copyright application had to be submitted with two copies of the best version of the book."

HOWEVER: that does not mean that the copies are from the first print run, but rather are the best available at THE TIME OF of the copyright application.

This means if only manuscripts are available, then that is what you submit.

Often small print runs are made for copyright application (and also to be sent to pier reviewers, newspaper columnists ext. kind of like a pre-release film) and in no way resemble the final production run. These books are also NOT considered first editions and often are softbound and otherwise lacking in quality. Again they are run in VERY limited quantity (12 or less) generally. (They have a weird collecting nitch for bibliophiles)

And I DO have a back ground in LAW. Though as you well know does not make me any more of an authority really than anyone else especially with all the changes that have been made since the "Disney Modifications" as many now refer........

Perhaps we can go back to our corners now. Smile

Regards,

M

Posted: Mar 20, 2007 5:04pm
BTW,

I, do understand about differing publication dates and copyright dates (especially as to pertains to book of the mid 19th century)but was pro-offering some insight for others reading this thread.

Regards,

M
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