Harry Dean's Legerdemain first edition makes $25,000


2015-06-26 13:37:27


Harry Dean's Legerdemain first edition makes $25,000

A first edition copy of Harry Dean's classic work on legerdemain led a sale in Chicago

A first edition copy of Harry Dean's The Whole Art of Legerdemain (1722)has sold for $25,000 at Potter & Potter in Chicago.

The book, an early manual for magicians, was the top lot of a sale titled Magic Books & More - The Sperber Collection that took place on February 8.

Legerdemain Hocus Pocus PotterThe Whole Art of Legerdemain was first published in 1722

The majority of the work was compiled from two earlier books, Reginald Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584) and a book by an unnamed author titled Hocus Pocus Junior (1634).

It remained in print for over 150 years, and was reprinted in numerous editions on both sides of the Atlantic up until the end of the 19th century.

There are five examples of the first edition that are known to have survived until the present day, three of which are held in permanent collections. The other is incomplete.

A first edition copy of Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft made $16,000.

Material from the book was used in Dean's Legerdemain, however Scot's work was not intended as a manual - rather as an expose of the methods of supposed witches, and describes a range of common tricks in detail.

The book was a huge success, and even provided inspiration for William Shakespeare in his depiction of the witches in Macbeth.

Despite its popularity, few copies have survived. King James I, a fervent believer in witchcraft, was furious at the book's publication and ordered every copy to be burned when he ascended the throne in 1603.

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