This vintage book, a compilation of two volumes on Jean-Robert Houdin and the automata so popular in his era, are offered as donationware — pay what you can afford.
“[William Manning’s] ‘recollections’ about Robert-Houdin were later published as a small book. Reading it today, over a hundred years after the speech was originally given, one is still struck by how forward thinking Robert-Houdin was and how down to earth. He developed many famous magic acts that are still performed today. Originally trained as a clockmaker, Robert-Houdin built all his own automata and magic props. He experimented with electricity and even wired his house with clocks and alarms in the 1860s which must have seemed very magical indeed. Manning captures the spirit of his admired friend. His words make the magician seem very contemporary and even more remarkable.
“Manning’s talk on Robert-Houdin prompted another member, Conrad William Cooke, to undertake a brief survey on the history of automata down through the ages. That talk resulted in the second wonderful book included here.”