The Jack Hughes Ultimate World of Magic
by Chris Cross

Large hardback format.
Reviewed by Jack Brown

As an avid Jack Hughes collector the news of ‘The Jack Hughes Ultimate World of Magic’ excited me greatly. Not since the 1980s when Derek Lever released his three volumes entitled ‘The World of Jack Hughes’ has much been published about this great magic manufacturer and dealer. After the author, Chris Cross, acquired Derek Lever’s collection of Jack Hughes props, effects and ephemera there was early hints that he would be releasing this ultimate book to accompany the previous three volumes. The main objective of this title to act as a visual cross reference guide for all of Jack’s creations. As the Derek Lever volumes did not contain any actual photographs of Jack’s creations the thought of seeing photographic examples of all such props is a collector’s dream. To accompany the book a DVD was promised on which there would be performances of Hughes props by both Derek Lever and Chris Cross himself. The first 100 purchasers of the book would also be treated to a limited edition Jack Hughes poster.

At a cost of £40 the book has been released in a hardback format of approximately 200 pages (the pages are not numbered). This would appear to be a self published book as the format and editing of it has an interesting style. It follows a scrapbook style format demonstrated by the centralised text, scattered images, changing fonts and eclectic typography. In some cases the text is difficult to read due to poor choice of font and background colour such as the white text on red background.

After a pleasant foreword from David Berglas and introduction by the author the book then contains a number of contributions from other notable magicians and examples of original source material. It is wonderful to see some of Jack’s original concept sketches and ideas for props which eventually made it to market. Along with this are a number of interesting original letters and extracts from previously published magic magazine articles and catalogues. All a delight to see.

The majority portion of the book is dedicated to ‘an index’ to accompany the original Lever volumes, entitled ‘A Full Photographic Index to the World of Magic Volumes’. From the title of this section one was hoping to find photographic examples of each and every Hughes release, unfortunately this was not the case. Whilst there are a plethora of nice photographic images of Hughes props there are also many simple line drawings and adverts of which, some are directly lifted from the original volumes and Hughes catalogues. Accompanying each alphabetically arranged photograph / line drawing is a page and volume number cross reference to the original Derek Lever volumes.

The accompanying DVD contains footage of Derek Lever performing a large number Hughes effects during a memorial lecture as part of an IBM talk. Contrary to what was promised, no additional footage from the author performing Jack’s effects is included on the DVD. A printed DVD would have been a nice touch to the book, however, the DVD supplied is of the standard blank format with a couple of stickers placed upon it. As one of the first 100 purchasers I received the limited edition Jack Hughes ‘poster’. This is sadly not of poster size at all but more so a large leaflet printed on thick stock A4 paper.

Sadly the book is littered with spelling, grammatical and typographical errors along with colloquial phrases. It would seem that the book may have been rushed to market in order to meet a deadline as a period of thorough proof reading and book formatting appraisal would have identified such errors. It is a shame that the author could not achieve the book’s main objective of providing full photographic evidence of each Hughes item, however that being said, the additional, unique, supporting material found within the book makes up for this.


© Jack Brown, March 2022