February 18, 2021 10:00 AM EST Cincinnati


[ENTERTAINMENT -- MAGIC]. RUCKER, Benjamin (1889-1934). Black Herman's Secrets of Magic-Mystery & Legerdermain [sic]. New York: Empire Publishing Co., [ca 1938].

8vo (149 x 217 mm). Photographic plates. (Toned.) Original wrappers (front wrapper partially detached, tape repair to spine). 

Fifteenth de Luxe Edition. Benjamin Rucker was the most well-known African American magician of the early 20th century, popular with both Black and white audiences. He apprenticed to and succeeded Prince Herman, taking the stage name “Black Herman” in his honor. He specialized in prestidigitation, the Asrah levitation, and a “buried alive” routine which lasted three days, beginning with his “internment” in Black Herman’s Private Graveyard. He would then rise from the grave and walk to the performance venue to perform the rest of his show. When Rucker actually died on stage in 1934, the audience refused to leave believing this was part of his act. This book, consisting of astrological advice, numerology, basic magic tricks, folklore, and a semi-fictionalized autobiography, is reported to have been first published in 1925 and sold at shows. All known copies, however, have a 1938 copyright date and are stated “15th (de luxe) edition.”


Alzoria and Johanna, World's Strangest Family, Calvalcade Variety Show. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenblum-Poppel Printing Corp., n.d. 5.5 x 3.5 in. postcard, 2 copies (some soiling). Each inscribed on recto: "Alzoria and Johanna: Coney Is. N.Y. 'Freak Show'." The women, who had similar disabilities, performed together at Coney Island under various stage names. 

Estimate: $300 - $500
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