Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice - Ricky Jay on Ways of Learning: Books and Teachers

Ricky Jay is an author, scholar and collector of books, art works and ephemera that delve into the long and international history of magic, conjuring and sleight-of-hand work. Though he has collected thousands of books on magic technique, Jay still believes that the personal mentor relationship is most important in learning his craft.

“It’s almost like the sensei master relationship in the martial arts–that the way you want to learn is by someone that you respect showing you something,” says the sleight-of-hand artist. Learn more about Jay’s mentors and watch a film excerpt on Jay’s relationship with magician Charlie Miller and a film outtake with Jay speaking about magician Dai Vernon.

Old Magic Reference Books

These are some important books on magic that Ricky Jay has studied and written about.

  • La Premiëre Partie des Subtiles et Plaisantes Inventions (The First Part of Clever and Pleasant Inventions) by Jean Prèvost. It is the earliest known major conjuring book, printed in Lyons, France in 1584.
  • The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot, London, 1584.
  • A Candle in the Dark: Or a Treatise Concerning the Nature of Witches and Witchcraft, by Thomas Ady, 1656. It includes an important 17th-century account of an English magic performance.

Jay spoke about these books, his mentors and more in April 2014 at the New York Public Library, whose holdings include rare books of magic history.

Ricky Jay’s LIVE from the NYPL talk with host Paul Holdengräber: