New Monograph on Henry Dean


Although Henry Dean’s name has been famous to generations of collectors and historians as the author of The Whole Art of Legerdemain, or, Hocus Pocus in Perfection (London, 1722), even the most rudimentary details of his life have remained elusive despite dedicated inquiries and research spanning the last 150 years. Bibliographer Raymond Toole Stott most recently addressed this mystery, and his extensive annotations in A Bibliography of English Conjuring 1581–1876 (Derby, 1976) reflect an unprecedented intensity of research.  But Toole Stott came away as stymied and befuddled as his predecessors, to such a degree that he even expressed doubts that Henry Dean ever existed!

After the late Burt Sperber’s acquisition of the rare first edition of The Whole Art of Legerdemain, he asked Eddie Dawes and Clay Shevlin to research and write a biographical essay on Dean, and to prepare an updated bibliographical checklist of Dean’s book. With modern investigatory tools in hand, and aided by James Smith’s research contributions, Eddie and Clay have uncovered much new biographical and bibliographical information on Dean, his life, and The Whole Art of Legerdemain, and next year Magicana will publish their book on Dean.

At the Yankee Gathering recently held by the New England Magic Collectors Association, Eddie shared some of the fascinating discoveries made about Dean. To commemorate his lecture and whet the appetite of fellow collectors and historians, Clay has published a 28 page, well-illustrated monograph with a full color cover, which features subject matter covered by Eddie as well as additional material not included in his talk.  The edition of Henry Dean: Eighteenth-Century Best-Selling Magic Author/Compiler is limited to 150 numbered copies, of which approximately 125 have been made available for sale.

Copies may be purchased from Clay or Byron Walker for $25 postpaid in the U.S., $29 postpaid overseas, and orders will be filled strictly in the order they are received.  You may contact Clay at or Byron at to inquire about availability.



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