He is the inventor of some of the best and most enduring card tricks ever created. Yet information on his life and magic has been scant and filled with errors. The result is an exhaustive study of this master and his extraordinarily creative magic. He has also examined and evaluated existing material and has reproduced it for the first time in its authentic form. Descriptions of card tricks can be found as early as the sixteenth century.
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In a letter to me dated May 29th. Hofzinser was running through The Sphinx. But as far as I remember the translation was made too verbally, why the sense of the patter sometimes did not come near to the meant one by Hofzinser. In fact, it is not so easy to transcribe the puns that Hofzinser sometimes put in his patter. I hope you have been successful enough to find the correct expressions. Even the puns being cleverly transcribed, where necessary.
Each move, may it seem ever so difficult, is practical and hardly can be replaced with a better one. Of course it is hardly impossible to describe every move as minutely as to depict its possibility of executing, and its full faculty of deception.
From here their fame spread far over the borders of the former mighty Austria and in many cases over both hemispheres of the world. Johann N. Hofzinser, Prof. Roman, Ernest Thorn, to mention some of the most famous Viennese magicians, are known not only by the experts and connoisseurs of Magical History, but also by many people standing out of the circle have of special interest for this subject.
He probably rarely performed outside the salons of his native Vienna; and never beyond Austria. I think it was Adelaide Herrmann, wife of Alexander, who once said of Hofzinser: "In the drawingroom he is a god. Since he died in almost poverty, his wife presumably inherited her fortune from her second husband. I remember vividly how he looked at me, when I performed, for example, "The Power of Faith" to him, he was simply concerned. Let us hope we meet each other as soon as possible, to shake hands and to have a talk about Hofzinser and his marvelous inventions!
All pieces enclosed here are coming from Dr. I am sure the cards I offer you, are the only ones in England. During further correspondence, he wrote to me on Feb.
I thank you for the intention. But now listen: The last days of December I got another offer for publishing this book in German and when I got your writing, the M. As I said it would not be urgent I have not yet gotten the answer, but I do expect it in the very next time.
If my contract will come to a conclusion I think it would not be a bad idea to publish both editions simultaneously. In the meantime many preliminary works had to be done, especially photographing the most interesting apparatuses, for you might know that the magical confraternity of U. The pictures must give the proof of the existence, and for this reason about photos have to be taken. Not to forget that its contents will be about twice as voluminous as the card-tricks are.
And, owing to the increasing political troubles in Europe, which resulted in streetfighting by the revolutionaries; and the accompanying misery in Vienna; especially among the older generation, the publication of the second Hofzinser volume had to be shelved. Ottokar Fischer died on December 1st. The new book was eventually published by Marvelli of Berlin in , under the title: J. Another doubt concerns the previous ownership of the Hofzinser apparatus, which at that time belonged to Mr.
For my part, I can only quote my old friend Fischer himself again: a gentleman of the old school, whose word I cannot doubt. Writing to me on March 10th. Everything was absolutely destroyed by his wife Mrs. Wilhelmine Hofzinser, who later got married a second time with a high state-officer, Biela with name. She over-lived also this man and died on May, Biela told this fact to me herself I mean the destruction of the apparatuses etc.
Hofzinser: a knitted purse containing 12 silver coins, that he used to use in his performances. All stuff in my possession came from four of his pupils. I bought it for a pretty stiff price, for the people have known my eagerness after these things. But it is now a collection unequalled in the world.
However of what use is it now! I guess one day I shall do just the same as Hofzinser did and destroy every bit of his experiments. It might look like vandalism, practically I would act in his own sense, for he himself was not anxious to leave his inventions behind.
If not, why is there, so far as I am aware, no trace of other copies, which must have existed? Were they destroyed? And if so, why? These pieces included: The ornate box from which any card rises from a shuffled pack placed inside.
A circular metal card box for making three changes of cards. The "Ink and Water Vase". The Rice and Egg Transposition. A photograph of some of this collection was reproduced in Magicol for August , Vol. I, No. Hofzinser had a typical artistic temperament, combined with a rather delicate physique, his aristocratic background and intimate manner giving him an appeal to the most exclusive social circles of Imperial Vienna; which at that time was a centre for the Fine Arts.
Hofzinser was unique. But in spite of the range of his originalities and fancies in the art of general conjuring, his chief love was for artistic card-conjuring; which led him to write in one of his letters: "Without Poetry there is no Poet; without Card-Artistry, no Conjurer. Those marked with an asterisk were old tricks, improved by his master touch. Sharpe, Bridlington August, In Modern Card Tricks, Mr. Will Goldston published part of the Introduction and the first five effects in modified form; then—thanks to Mr.
Singleton of New York—the book was published serially through The Sphinx commencing with the issue for March, Unfortunately this translation was practically a literal one and most difficult to follow, being reduced to mere jargon in parts; furthermore the illustrations were omitted.
In the present edition I have endeavored to put the book into understandable English without altering the original idiom, and added notes where they have been deemed necessary.
To Mr. Ottokar Fischer, of Vienna, the whole magical world owes a debt of gratitude. It is sincerely hoped that the reader will not rest merely with studying this book, the contents of which may well be described as the flowers of card magic.
Should he decide to set sail as an interpreter of Hofzinser may I take this opportunity of wishing him—Bon Voyage! Hofzinser, of Vienna. Unfortunately he has not left a single memorandum describing his productions. That we possess to-day part of his secrets we owe to the fact that he imparted at least some of them to his pupils, who delivered them to posterity.
But did he give them of his best? I recognized at once the exceptional beauty of these experiments, and, as was perfectly natural, took the deepest interest in them. Any details of the tricks which Heubeck could not comprehend he interpreted according to his own ideas, thus often interfering with the logic and destroying the beauty of the trick.
It must be said, however, in justice to Heubeck, that he had mastered the technique absolutely and without fault, even if he took undue liberties with the theories of the art. I am deeply gratified in being able to say that my surmises proved entirely correct, not only through my own research but also through confirmation from other sources, which were none other than original letters written by Hofzinser himself and which are now in my possession.
I endeavored to describe each experiment in a plain but concise manner, and followed every clue that might lead to improvement or amelioration of the material at hand.
I examined each point, however vague, which came under my observation, and let neither considerable cost nor weary correspondence interfere in making my collection as complete as possible. Fourteen years have passed since I commenced, but I believe that I have gathered everything in existence pertaining to the subject. For a long time I allowed my work to remain in the seclusion of my study, only showing it now and then to a few confidants who prevailed upon me to give it to the public.
After long deliberation I overcame my objections and resolved to give these card problems to the world. I hope that those for whose benefit it is published will receive a clear and correct conception of Hofzinser and his creative power. We know that his parents came from Suabia.
His father was a wealthy privateer, who gave to his son a most careful education. After absolving his studies young Hofzinser received the degree of Ph. Doctor of Philosophy and, entering the service of the Imperial Government, was appointed to a high position in the Tobacco Monopoly Department of the Ministry of Finance in Vienna, which he retained until his retirement from service on a pension.
At first he devoted his spare time to music, but experiencing a deep disappointment he soon forsook it. In a book published by A. Patuzzi, , under the title: Magic, After the Diary of J. Hofzinser, the latter expresses himself as follows: "In my earliest childhood I was passionately fond of music, I played the violin, had appeared in concerts as well as in private circles, and always received great applause.
One day a smaller boy rendered a violin number following mine. Hardly paying any attention to him at first, I was soon interested, then fascinated and finally deeply humiliated by the fact that this boy displayed a virtuosity, which so far surpassed my own that I was convinced of my inability and, laying aside my violin, buried my dreams of musical renown.
Here he gained greater fame than he would ever have attained in the musical world. Just at what time Hofzinser first devoted himself to the magic art cannot be determined with certainty. It develops, however, from his own letters, that he experimented with cards as early as and that at that period some of his phenomenal card tricks came to life. For more than forty years Hofzinser was the declared favorite of the aristocratic and social circles of Vienna.
No evening entertainment was possible without him. According to his own statement he had an engagement every other day during the social season. Artists competed for the honor of painting his picture which was publicly exhibited in the art shops. He reached the zenith of his popularity in the year when he opened a "Salon" at No.
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