Sphinx Magic Magazine 1940 - Vol. 38
John Mulholland
 (1938)
In Collection
#3482
10*
Conjuring
Magic, Magic tricks
Hardcover 
One of the most sought after conjuring periodicals bound with gilt stamping on spine.
A complete file of "The Sphinx" is probably the greatest single resource in English for research on 20th-century magic. From the first issue in March 1902 till the final one in March 1953, it documented the golden age of magic with a profusion of tricks, reviews, photos, playbills, tour routes, letters, and gossip.

Dell O Dell SIGNED Front and Back Sphinx Magic Magazine Bound Set.

Product Details
Extras Autographed
Rare Yes
Personal Details
Read It No
Location Magic Library (Home) Shelf R
Condition Very Fine
Owner Bryan-Keith Taylor
Notes
A complete file of "The Sphinx" is probably the greatest single resource in English for research on 20th-century magic. From the first issue in March 1902 till the final one in March 1953, it documented the golden age of magic with a profusion of tricks, reviews, photos, playbills, tour routes, letters, and gossip.

At mid-century The Sphinx stood as America’s oldest and most prestigious magic magazine. Over its five-decade history, it had become part of the lifeblood of the conjuring world. Then, on June 29, 1953, John Mulholland wrote a letter to journal’s subscribers. This is to inform you that as of June 1, 1953, the publication of The Sphinx has been suspended. The immediate cause is that my health does not permit me to do the necessary work. My Doctor orders me to confine my efforts at this time to the shows by which I earn my living.


It was true that Mulholland's health was not good. An inveterate smoker, he suffered from ulcers, stomach disorders and arthritis. Editing The Sphinx for twenty-three years had taken a physical and financial toll. But rather than limiting his activities to his live performances, Mulholland had actually embarked on a new endeavor…an endeavor far more secretive than anything in the realm of conjuring. He had entered a world of covert operations, espionage, mind control, drugs, and even death. John Mulholland had gone to work for the CIA.

***

At the time, John Mulholland was one of America’s most highly regarded magicians. An outstanding stage as well as close-up performer, he had become a noted author, lecturer, historian, collector, editor, and world traveler. In many ways, he had helped make magic intellectually respectable.

Mulholland was born in Chicago, Illinois, on June 9, 1898. As a five-year old, he sat enthralled by a performance of Harry Kellar’s. It would begin a lifelong love of conjuring. His family moved to New York when he was quite young and it was there that he began to learn the techniques of the craft. At age 13 Mulholland began taking magic lessons from John William Sargent at $5 an hour. Known as “The Merry Wizard,” the gray-haired, goatee’d Sargent had been President of the Society of American Magicians in 1905-6 and would later serve as Harry Houdini’s secretary from 1918 until 1920. He was a true mentor to young Mulholland and instilled in him not only an appreciation of the art of magic but of its theory, history, and literature.

Mulholland learned his lessons well. He made his debut as a performer when he was 15. While he would be later regarded as one of magic’s great scholars, his academic achievements were somewhat limited. He took a number of courses at both Columbia University and at New York’s City College, but did not attain a degree. From 1918 to 1924, he taught industrial arts at the Horace Mann School in New York. He sold books for a while and then taught at Columbia University before embarking on a career as a full time professional magician.

Over the years, Mulholland developed an enormous range of presentations. He was equally at home performing close-up magic, entertaining a society dinner, or working the mammoth stage at Radio City Music Hall. In 1927 Mulholland gave a lecture in Boston about the magicians of the world, illustrating each vignette with a trick from that nation. It added a new genre for him and for the profession: the magician as lecturer.

After the death of Dr. A. M. Wilson in April of 1930, he took over editorship of The Sphinx. For the next 23 years he would oversee magic’s most influential periodical. He was a prolific writer. Aside from the vast number of articles he penned, he authored such books as Magic in the Making (with Milton M. Smith in 1925), Quicker than the Eye (1932), The Magic and Magicians of the World (1932), The Story of Magic (1935), Beware Familiar Spirits (1938), The Art of Illusion, (1944) reprinted as Magic for Entertaining, The Early Magic Shows (1945), John Mulholland’s Book of Magic (1963), Magic of the World (1965) and The Magical Mind -- Key to Successful Communication (with George Gordon in 1967). He had also co-wrote a 1939 magic-detective novel, The Girl in the Cage, with Cortland Fitzsimmons.

Over the years, he amassed one of the world’s finest collections of magic books and memorabilia. His library housed some 4,000 volumes related to conjuring.

His knowledge of tricks seemed inexhaustible, as was his familiarity with the performance, theory, psychology, history, and literature of magic. He served as the consultant on conjuring to the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Merriam-Webster dictionary and at one time was the only magician listed in Who’s Who in America.