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the First Illustrated Book in the English Language
Devoted Entirely to the Subject of Magic

Title Page of Hocus Pocus Jr. 1st Edition (1634)

Frontispiece of Hocus Pocus Jr. 1st Edition (1634)

Scans from photocopies obtained at Fondren Library
Rice University, Houston, Texas

This book contains the first detailed routine for the cups and balls. I have transliterated the routine from the first (1634) edition and third (1638) edition and combined them into a document that many cups and balls aficionados have found helpful. For your own copy of this as a PDF file, click here

Hocus Pocus?

Little is known about the actual author of this amazing book; however, the author of this web site, Bill Palmer, M.I.M.C., will be exploring the possibilities and conjecture in depth as this work proceeds.

Copies of the first edition of Hocus Pocus Jr. are avaliable from Steve Burton and many magic dealers.

During the two years that I appeared at Cavalier Dayes, in Smithville, Texas, instead of playing Merlin the Magician, I played a character called Hocvs Pocvs. The use of the V in place of the U was inspired by the title page of Hocus Pocus, Jr.

I approached Doug Bible, who was the entertainment director of Cavalier Dayes about performing there. He acted somewhat embarrassed and said that he didn't think he could afford me, and that he felt that Merlin would be out of place. He wanted to stay away from fantasy characters.

So I brought him a copy of the frontispiece of Hocus Pocus, Jr. He was captivated by the idea of the character, and hired me right away.

To see what the character looked like in costume, click here.

Here is more information about Hocus Pocus. In the November, 2002 issue of The Magic Circular, the international publication of the Magic Circle of London, there was an article concerning the 27th Collectors' Day which was held at the headquarters of the Magic Circle on 25 May, 2002. One of the speakers was Dr. Philip Butterworth, Reader in Medieval Literature at the University of Leeds. Dr. Butterworth's research turned up the following:

"The 1620s brought William Vincent to the Records when in 1619 he was granted a licence 'to exercise the art of Legerdemaine in any Townes within the Relme of England and Ireland.'

"He was described as 'alias Hocus Pocus, of London,' and was involved in cheating at the game of 'ticke tacke.'

"References from 1634 until 1642 indicate that he was also a rope dancer and was actually paid to stay out of Gloucester in1636-7 at a time of plague, to prevent possible spread by contagion. A later description indicated he was a sword swallower too,'vomiting up daggers, like Hocus, to amaze the people.'

"The epitaph to Vincent appeared in 1667 and no payments were recorded after 1642 in Coventry, but the term 'Hocus Pocus'continued to appear in magic literature, especially in book titles."

Dr. Butterworth concluded his lecture with the possibility (even probability) that Vincent was the author/compiler of Hocus Pocus Junior. (This quote is excerpted from the article which appeared in The Magic Circular.)

I collect various versions of the cups for the cups and balls. To view my collection, click here.

My friend, Sean McWeeney, has recently compiled an excellent resource for people interested in the history of the cups and balls. This contains the cups and balls sections of two French books, expertly translated into English. These are the books commonly called Ozanam and Guyot, after their authors.

To download this compilation free, click here.

For more information, send e-mail to

All pages on this site © Bill Palmer. All rights reserved.
For permission to republish contact Bill Palmer at the above e-mail address.