Ask Alexander...Free!

Published on Sunday, October 28, 2007 in , , ,

Ask AlexanderThis time last year, I discussed the Genii Archives, an online archive of every Genii Magazine from 1936 up to 1998.

This valuable resource is made possible thanks to the Conjuring Arts Research Center (CARC). Normally, you would either need to buy access to the Genii archives for $45-$200, or become a CARC member for $95-$100,000/year, giving you access to more magic magazines and books than just Genii. Wouldn't it be nice to try out the CARC archives for free?

Thanks to Paul Harris' Astonishment Project (it's MySpace for magicians), now you can sample the CARC archives free! From that site, click on the Library tab, and then the Ask Alexander link. Ask Alexander is the CARC's formal name for their online library archive, named for the magician of the same name and whose likeness is used in the logo.

There are two main limitations to this access. First, you don't have full access to the complete library. Instead, you only have access selected magazine and book archives. Second, you must start by searching, as opposed to just browsing works. Once you've accessed a work (such as a book, or a yearly volume of a magazine) via a search, however, you can easily move back and forth in it, via the browser-style arrows or by entering a page number (very handy for articles that are continued 5 pages later).

Even with these limitations, this is still a valuable resource. Among the books available online are Erdnase's Artifice, Ruse and Subterfuge at the Card Table, Elliott's Last Legacy and Expert Card Technique. There are also numerous complete magazine archives, such as The Jinx (complete CD-ROM archive: $20), Stanyon's Magic (complete print archive: $90-$250) and Hugard's Magic Monthly (complete print archive: $350).

Above and beyond the monetary value of these works, the magic routines and tips they provided are priceless. Have you ever wanted to do a routine in which you reveal a card that is merely thought of by the spectator, but couldn't find just the right method? Fred Braue filled 11 monthly columns in Hugard's Magic Monthly with variations on this one idea!

Magicians often joke that the best way to hide an idea is to put it in print. It is true that ideas in print can be quickly forgotten. That's why I find it amazing that a resource such as this is available for free. There are many ideas that have been lost, but can now be easily re-discovered. Regardless of your specific interest in magic, you'll find a seemingly endless variety of tricks to suit you, and many are so old and underused, they'll be completely new to your audiences!

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