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The Whole Art of Legerdemain, or Hocus Pocus in Perfection

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First published in London in 1722.

The Whole Art of Legerdemain, or Hocus Pocus in Perfection
AuthorHenry Dean
Publication Date1722

Dean was conjectured to be a magic dealer, a book dealer, or a person in some way connected to an 18th-century publisher of the same name.

Much of the book is taken from Reginald Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft and Hocus Pocus Junior.

Also seen it published as "Hocus Pocus, or the Whole Art of Legerdemain".

Quote from book

"Legerdemain is an operation whereby one may seem to work wonderful, impossible, and incredible things, by agility, nimbleness, and slight of hand. The parts of this ingenious art are principally four: First, In the conveyance of balls. Secondly, In conveyance of money. Thirdly, In cards. Fourthly, In confederacy."


  • Toole Stott located eight different London publishers of the book between 1722 and 1800. Five variant imprints appeared in Glasgow between 1762 and 1817. Two publishers issued the book in Dublin and one each in Stirling and Belfast, all during the 19th century.
  • First edition 1722
  • Second edition 1727
  • Fifth edition 1760
  • Sixth edition 1763
  • Eight edition 1781
  • Eleventh edition was the first American edition published in Philadelphia by Mathew Carey in 1795. Possibly the first magic book published in the United States.

Table of Contents (1795 edition)

  • 02: Preface
  • 03: Introduction
  • 04: How to pass the Balls through the Cups
  • 11: To seem to swallow a long pudding made of tin
  • 12: To seem to eat knives and forks
  • 13: To put a lock upon a man's mouth
  • 15: How to show the magic bell and busbel
  • 17: How to put a ring through one's cheek
  • 18: How to show the Hen and Egg-bag, and out of an empty bag to bring out above an hundred eggs and afterwards to bring out a living Hen
  • 19: How to cut the blowing book
  • 20: To show the trick with the Funnel
  • 22: How to make three little children dance in a glass upon the table
  • 23: Bonus Genius or Hiccius Doctius
  • 25: Of conveyance of Money
  • 25: To convey money out of one of your hands into the other by Legerdemain
  • 26: To convert money into counters and counters into money
  • 26: To put one testor into one hand, another into the other hand, and with words to bring them together
  • 26: To put one testor into a stranger's hand and another into your own and to convey both into the stranger's hand with words
  • 27: How to show the same or the like feat otherwise
  • 27: To throw a piece of money away and to find it again where you left it
  • 28: How to make a groat or testor to leap out of a pot, or run along upon the table
  • 29: To make a groat or a testor to sink through a table, and to vanish out of a handkerchief strangely
  • 30: A notable trick to transform a counter to a groat
  • 31: An elegant feat to make a two penny piece be plain in the palm of your hand, and be passed from thence where you like
  • 32: To convey a testor out of one's hand that holds it fast
  • 32: To convey a shilling, being in one hand, into another, holding your hands abroad
  • 33: To transform any small thing into any other form by folding paper
  • 33: Another experiment of the like nature
  • 34: Of cards, with good caution how to avoid cozenage therein, specially rules to convey and handle the cards, and the manner and order how to accomplish all difficulties and strange things wrought with cards
  • 36: How to deliver out four aces and to convert them into four knaves
  • 38: How to tell one what card be seen at the bottom when the card is shuffled in the stock
  • 38: Another way to do the same, having yourself never seen the card
  • 39: To tell without confederacy what card be thought on
  • 39: How to make a card jump out of the pack and run on the table
  • 40: How to tell what card any man thinking on, and how to convey the same into a kernel of a nut or cherry stone, and the same again into one's pocket, and how to make him draw the same, or any card you please, and all under one device
  • 41: How to let twenty gentlemen draw twenty cards, and to make one card every man's card
  • 42: how to change a pack of cards into all manner of pictures
  • 43: How to knit a knot upon a handkerchief, and to undo the same with words
  • 44: How to take three button moulds off two strings
  • 45: Confederacy
  • 46: To cure the tooth-ach
  • 47: To know if it be a head, or woman, and the party to stand in another room
  • 48: Fortunatus wishing-post, or how to make any person dance naked
  • 49: To seem to cut a hole in a cloak, scarf, or handkerchief, and with words to make it whole again
  • 49: The Egg Box
  • 51: To make a room seem to be all on fire, mighty dreadful to behold
  • 51: How to eat fire, and to blow it up in your mouth with a pair of bellows
  • 53: How to walk on a red hot iron bar without danger of scalding or burning
  • 54: How to make a knife leap out of a pot
  • 55: The melting-box
  • 57: How to light a candle by a glass of cold water, or other liquor, without the help of fire
  • 58: A trick upon the globe-box
  • 59: To tell the names of all cards in the pack, before you see them
  • 60: How to hold four kings in the hand, and by words to seem to transform them into four aces, and afterwards to make them all blank cards
  • 61: To tell or name all the cards in the pack, and yet never see them
  • 62: To show one what card he took notice of
  • 63: To tell the number of spots on the bottom cards, laid down on several heaps
  • 64: To make any two cards come together, which any body shall name
  • 65: How to make a cat draw a fellow through a pond of water
  • 65: How to burn a thread, and to make it whole again with the ashes
  • 67: To cut a lace asunder in the middle, and to make it whole again
  • 67: How to pull innumerable ribbons out of your mouth of what colour you please
  • 68: To draw a cord through your nose, mouth or head so sensible as it is wonderful to see
  • 69: To thrust a bodkin into your forehead whitout hurt
  • 70: How to thrust a bodkin through your tongue
  • 71: How to cut your arm off, a pitiful sight, without hurt or danger
  • 71: How to kill any fowl, but specially a pullet and with words to give it life again
  • 72: To thrust a piece of lead into your eye, and to drive it about with a stick between the skin and flesh and forehead, until it be brought to the other eye, and there thrust out
  • 72: To make the constable catch the knave
  • 73: To seem to change a card into a king or queen picture
  • 74: To seem to turn a card into a live bird
  • 74: Three or four cards being laid down, to tell any one which of those cards he touched
  • 75: To tell one what card he took notice of
  • 76: How to let a gentleman hold ten pieces of money in his hand, and to command them unto what number he can think on
  • 77: To thrust a dagger into your body very strangely, and to recover immediately
  • 78: How to cut a man's head off, and to put the head into a platter, a yard from his body
  • 80: To seem to turn water into wine
  • 81: To make sport with an egg
  • 82: To fetch a shilling out of a handkerchief
  • 83: To cause the beer you drink to be wrung out of the handle of a knife
  • 84: How to make it freeze by the fire side
  • 84: To cut glass, a famous invention
  • 85: How to make two bells come into one hand, having put into each hand one
  • 86: How to make a sheet of paper called Trouble-wit
  • 90: To make sport in company
  • 91: How to command seven half pence through a table
  • 92: How to turn a box of bird-seed into a living bird
  • 93: How to command a six pence out of a box
  • 94: How to call for any card in the pack
  • 95: Another way to call for a card
  • 96: To tell one what card one thinking on
  • 97: Another way to tell one what card is noted
  • 97: How to make a card jump out of an egg
  • 99: How to make the fountain of command
  • 101: To seem to kill a horse, and to cure him again
  • 101: A very strange trick, whereby you may seem to cut a piece of tape into four parts, and make it whole again with words
  • 104: A device to multiply one face, and make it seem to be a hundred or a thousand


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