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THE NEW YORK TIMES May 27, 1956 Page 29, Column 2

Editor's Note: The name Hofzinger, which appeared in the original 1956 article, is a typographical error. The correct name is Hofzinser, the surname of the legendary 19th century Viennese magician Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser.


Special to The New York Times

WASHINGTON, May 26–There now is probably more high-class hocus-pocus on Capitol Hill than anywhere else on earth.

This appeared likely with the announcement today that 20,000 magic items, encompassing “the whole history of magic, legerdemain, and related fields” have been given to the Library of Congress. The Library already had 4,000 rare Houdini items.

Unloaded on an array of stacks, and as yet unclassified, the gift includes 4,000 books, 2,000 pamphlets, individual items by the thousands, scrapbooks, posters, prints.

Included are luxurious editions, rare bindings, and that world-famous group of gimmicks of exquisite craftsmanship created by Dr. Johann N. Hofzinger [sic] to mystify the elite of Vienna, Austria, a century ago.

The new library acquisition is a collection of more than forty magic libraries from which the culls have all been weeded out by two couples who were connoisseurs of magic.

Donors Stressed Public Interest

The donors were:

The late John J. McManus of Brooklyn, American representative for Rolls-Royce, Ltd., and one of the owners of the Hudson River Navigation Company, and his widow, Mrs. Hanna M. McManus.

Dr. Morris N. Young, practicing ophthalmologist in New York, and his wife, Mrs. Chesley V. Young.

Dr. Young wrote the book, “Hobby Magic,” for which Mr. McManus wrote the foreword. Both men were longtime collectors of magic books when they met. Cooperatively, they then developed separate collections with the idea of merging them in the public interest.

Plans for the gift to the Library of Congress were completed before Mr. McManus died last September.

The oldest item in the collection is “Hammer of Witches” printed in German in 1484. It was written by two Dominican monks, Jacobus Springer and Henricus Institor, for the use of ecclesiastical judges inquiring into witchcraft.

A 1,400 page tome of the year 1677 titled “Physica Curiosa” delves into demons and monstrosities.

‘Hypnotic Dance’ on Poster

One typical poster depicts two hypnotists, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert L. Fling, influencing two feminine subjects into a “hypnotic skirt dance.” Among the many books on hypnotism was one doctor book, telling how to treat all human ills by hypnosis.

Illustrative of individual items, a peddler of secrets promised that the card-magician would see his own deck go ga-ga before his eyes.” [sic]

The Library of Congress seldom accepts objects, but it did not even consider separating from the collection the gimmicks of the Austrian Dr. Hofzinger [sic], who was born in 1806, and died in 1875. He held his art sacred to the drawingroom and decreed its destruction in his will—happily partly disregarded.

Among his gimmicks are a silver ladle that is self-filling; a copper bell that produces bird seed, and a most amazing silver-chased box that will produce by an inner mechanism even more intricate than a music box any card called for.

This article is reproduced here only for educational purposes. Please do not copy the text or accompanying images for commercial use.


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