Alexander Herrmann –
the world’s greatest prestidigitateur
Alexander Herrmann was a famous French stage magician (1844-1896). This description of how he fooled the Czar of Russia during a game of billiards is an excerpt from a book published after his death: The Art of Magic, Black Art Fully Exposed (1903)>>
I consider the trick of restoring the shattered mirror as my most famous one. This I had the honor of performing before the Czar of Russia upon an invitation to give an exhibition at his court. It was done unexpectedly to the spectators, and was not down on the regular bill. While playing billiards with the attaches of the court after the performance, the Czar being present in the saloon, I shot a ball with all my strength against a plate-glass mirror extending from floor to ceiling. It was shivered into fifty pieces. Consternation was depicted on every countenance; on none more plainly than my own.
While the Czar courteously waived my apology, considering the destruction of the mirror as trifling, and ordered the game to proceed, I could easily see that my supposed awkwardness made a disagreeable impression. With the Czar’s permission I examined the mirror to estimate the damage done and the possibility of repairing it. While so engaged one of the suite playfully challenged me to exercise my art and make the mirror whole again, never dreaming that his challenge was the very cue I wanted, and not considering the successful acceptance of it as possible. I hesitated an instant, and then ordered the mirror to be covered with a cloth entirely concealing it from view. On the removal of the cloth, after ten minutes, the mirror was found without a flaw, and as perfect as before the damage.
I will leave it to my readers’ imagination to decide how this trick was done.
In Herrmann’s full poster, I particularly like the description for the trick "The Marvelous Decapitation": "A man’s head cut off – a sure cure for headache."
by Alexander Herman
Alexander Herrmann, Wikipedia>>