It’s kind of a big deal.
As with some previous issues of our journal, there is a long lost manuscript that sheds refreshing light on our history, while also unearthing some forgotten treasures.
The Asti manuscript is estimated to have been written somewhere between 1670-1730 and, until recently, had been relegated to a storage closet housing a miscellany of things in the Biblioteca di Asti. Someone discovered the manuscript there and deemed it worth being inventoried and catalogued, although they ultimately decided it was not of any major importance.
It was Marco Aimone and Aurelio Paviato who learned of the manuscript and thought otherwise. Just a brief look at the first two items, and they knew they had found a new and important addition to magic literature. Here we find the earliest known descriptions of a sleight-of-hand color change and the under-the-spread force. In addition, there are unique effects described that would otherwise have been lost, as well as early precursors to now-classic effects. The forgotten effects may inspire you to breathe new life into them with modern methods, while the early handlings of classic effects could drive a well-worn plot in new directions.
The manuscript has been painstakingly transcribed by Aurelio Paviato, and then translated into English by Lori Pieper. It features sections on tricks with playing cards, sleight of hand with other objects, tricks with apparatus and, finally, tricks, stunts, and experiments. The author has included a plethora of clear and very informative illustrations. Additionally, there are a number of tips on handling sprinkled throughout the manuscript — these point to some early psychological advantages in use by magicians of the era.
The manuscript has been made as readable as possible and supplemented with numerous annotations by Lori Pieper, Aurelio Paviato, Thierry Depaulis, William Kalush, and Stephen Minch. Further, studies of the history and background for the work have been provided by Donatella Gnetti and Thierry Depaulis.