The Tarbell Course in Magic is a notable encyclopedia of magic amongst professional and amateur magicians.. It has eight volumes; the first five were part of the original home-study correspondence course compiled in 1928 by Dr. Harlan Tarbell, the remaining three volumes being added on later.
This magic volume series was originally designed as a correspondence course for budding magicians. Once they were collected and bound, the series has become an unparalleled reference standard for magicians. In its impact on the magic world, it is second perhaps in its influence on the art of magic only to Hoffman’s Modern Magic and many professional magicians have based their careers on the Tarbell Course.
The entire collection comprises more than one-hundred lessons in every aspect of magic including micro-magic/close-up magic, escapology, mentalism and stage illusions. It is the most comprehensive literary work in magic history. The original five volumes contained sixty correspondence lessons with more than 3,000 illustrations.
In addition to teaching specific tricks, The Tarbell Course also teaches patter, marketing, the history of magic, ethics, advertising, routining, presentation, diction and elocution, magic theory, performance theory, acting, misdirection, timing and showmanship.
Volume 7 of the series was written by Harry Lorayne and compiled from contributions by other magicians; it is valued largely for its comprehensive index, subdivided by title, contributor, and properties, to the first seven volumes. Volume 8 was published as a “graduate lesson” in magic and is composed of Tarbell’s writings that appeared in books and magazines that were not part of the original course. It has its own separate index and is not included in the volume 7 index of the rest of the course.