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Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser

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Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser
BornJohann Nepomuk Fidelis Hofzinser
June 19, 1806
Vienna, Austria
DiedMarch 11, 1875 (age 68)
Vienna, Austria
Resting placeZentralfriedhof (Vienna Central Cemetery)

Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser (1806-1875) is called the Father of Card Magic by the most prominent representatives of modern card-artistry.


Hofzinser was a minor employee at the financial department of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. He used the name Dr. Hofzinser as a stage name after retiring in 1865, but was never a doctor of philosophy; there is no such title in his working descriptions. As a magician he was best known for his clever conjuring inventions and refined sleight of hand skills.

In his day, Hofzinser's talents were famous throughout Europe. From 1857 on, under the name of his wife Wilhemine, Hofzinser presented illusions in their apartment (Salon) for an elite audience of invited guests three or four times a week. They called these gatherings Eine Stunde der Täuschung or "An Hour of Deception" and charged a relatively high price for admission. In 1865 he went on tour with his show and was seen in Berlin, Munich and in most of the bigger cities in the Austrian Monarchy.

Hofzinser is famous for his minimalistic approach to performing his illusions. Rather than presenting large-scale effects to impress his audience, Hofzinser focused on a simple setting using small props to demonstrate his skills. Playing cards were one of Hofzinser's specialties and he was one of the earliest performers to demonstrate card tricks. He invented many card manipulations, some of which continue to be used by magicians today.

Ottokar Fischer spread the story that after his death in 1875, Hofzinser's wife destroyed many of his manuscripts to honor her husband's instructions though there is some dispute about this. Even so, many of his mechanical plans and card-handling methods may forever remain a secret. Several of Hofzinser's pupils preserved portions of their teacher's notes and instructions. There are still about 270 manuscripts and letters of his own and of his pupils in various collections.

What is known about Hofzinser was mostly based on the work of Ottokar Fischer (1873-1940) who published his findings in his books, Kartenkünste (1910) and Zauberkünste (1942) though many of Fischer's findings turned out to incorrect. In recent years, Austrian magician Magic Christian has discovered many new facts about the life and magic of Hofzinser, publishing them in his books Non Plus Ultra, currently available only in German.

He was also most likely a cousin of fellow magician Ludwig Dobler.

Dai Vernon often mentioned Hofzinser in his books.

See also: Swedish magician Max Hofzinser (1885 - 1955) who adopted the surname "Hofzinser" after seeing it in a magic catalog and spent most of his career riding the fame of his namesake.

Sleights, Effects and Routines

Items attributed to Hofzinser or were used by him.

Famous Card Routines




Magic Christian's Non Plus Ultra

  • Magic Christian, Non Plus Ultra: Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser, Erster Band (1998)
  • Magic Christian, Non Plus Ultra: Hofzinsers Kartenkünste, Zweiter Band (2004)
  • Magic Christian, Non Plus Ultra: Hofzinsers Salonkunststücke, Dritter Band Teil A/B (2012)
  • Magic Christian, Non Plus Ultra, Vol. 1: Magic of the 19th Century (2013, Hermetic Press)
  • Magic Christian, Non Plus Ultra, Vol. 2: Hofzinser's Card Artistry (2013, Hermetic Press)


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