The Historical Society of Montgomery County has several hundred rare books, that is books published before 1850. The titles cover the Dewey Decimal spectrum with religious works, history, science, home economics, and fiction. One of the most curious books is this German language work from 1798, Das Natüralichen Zauberbuchs (The Natural Magic Book). This book contains instructions on all sorts of parlor tricks and science experiments meant to impress your friends. Numerous woodcuts illustrate the various tricks. The one illustrated here translates as “A lock put on one’s mouth, or to thrust an arrow, knife, rapier, or something else iron through one’s head.”
Other bits of natural magic include card and rope tricks, smoking tobacco through water, mathematical riddles, and how to make bird calls with your hands.
The best way to preserve antique books like this one, is to keep them in an acid free, archival box, to protect them from light, pests, and other environmental hazards. Currently, HSMC is conducting a fundraising campaign called “Boxes for Books.” For only $10 you can purchase a custom fitted box for one of our rare books. The box will be labeled with your name or the name of a person you wish to have remembered. We’ll even let you know which book your donation has saved. Contact the Historical Society for more information.