Magic, along with its subgenres of, sometimes referred to as illusion, stage magic or close up magic is a performing art in which audiences are entertained by staged tricks or illusions of impossible feats using natural means. It is to be distinguished from paranormal magic which are effects claimed to be created through supernatural means, it is one of the oldest performing arts in the world. Modern entertainment magic, as pioneered by 19th-century magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, has become a popular theatrical art form. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, magicians such as Maskelyne and Devant, Howard Thurston, Harry Kellar, Harry Houdini achieved widespread commercial success during what has become known as "The Golden Age of Magic". During this period, performance magic became a staple of Broadway theatre and music halls. Magic retained its popularity in the television age, with magicians such as David Copperfield, Doug Henning, Penn & Teller, David Blaine modernizing the art form.
The term "magic" etymologically derives from the Greek word mageia. In ancient times and Persians had been at war for centuries, the Persian priests, called magosh in Persian, came to be known as magoi in Greek. Ritual acts of Persian priests came to be known as mageia, magika—which came to mean any foreign, unorthodox, or illegitimate ritual practice. During the 17th century, many books were published; until the 18th century, magic shows were a common source of entertainment at fairs. A founding figure of modern entertainment magic was Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, who had a magic theatre in Paris in 1845. John Henry Anderson was pioneering the same transition in London in the 1840s. Towards the end of the 19th century, large magic shows permanently staged at big theatre venues became the norm; as a form of entertainment, magic moved from theatrical venues to television magic specials. Performances that modern observers would recognize as conjuring have been practiced throughout history. For many recorded centuries, magicians were associated with the occult.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, many stage magicians capitalized on this notion in their advertisements. The same level of ingenuity, used to produce famous ancient deceptions such as the Trojan Horse would have been used for entertainment, or at least for cheating in money games, they were used by the practitioners of various religions and cults from ancient times onwards to frighten uneducated people into obedience or turn them into adherents. However, the profession of the illusionist gained strength only in the 18th century, has enjoyed several popular vogues since. Opinions vary among magicians on how to categorize a given effect, but a number of categories have been developed. Magicians may pull a rabbit from an empty hat, make something seem to disappear, or transform a red silk handkerchief into a green silk handkerchief. Magicians may destroy something, like cutting a head off, "restore" it, make something appear to move from one place to another, or they may escape from a restraining device.
Other illusions include making something appear to defy gravity, making a solid object appear to pass through another object, or appearing to predict the choice of a spectator. Many magic routines use combinations of effects. One of the earliest books on the subject is Gantziony's work of 1489, Natural and Unnatural Magic, which describes and explains old-time tricks. In 1584, Englishman Reginald Scot published The Discoverie of Witchcraft, part of, devoted to debunking the claims that magicians used supernatural methods, showing how their "magic tricks" were in reality accomplished. Among the tricks discussed were sleight-of-hand manipulations with rope and coins. At the time and belief in witchcraft was widespread and the book tried to demonstrate that these fears were misplaced. Popular belief held that all obtainable copies were burned on the accession of James I in 1603. During the 17th century, many similar books were published that described in detail the methods of a number of magic tricks, including The Art of Conjuring and The Anatomy of Legerdemain: The Art of Juggling.
Until the 18th century, magic shows were a common source of entertainment at fairs, where itinerant performers would entertain the public with magic tricks, as well as the more traditional spectacles of sword swallowing and fire breathing. In the early 18th century, as belief in witchcraft was waning, the art became respectable and shows would be put on for rich private patrons. A notable figure in this transition was the English showman, Isaac Fawkes, who began to promote his act in advertisements from the 1720s – he claimed to have performed for King George II. One of Fawkes' advertisements described his routine in some detail: He takes an empty bag, lays it on the Table and turns it several times inside out commands 100 Eggs out of it and several showers of real Gold and silver the Bag beginning to swell several sorts of wild fowl run out of it upon the Table, he throws up a Pack of Cards, causes them to be living birds flying about the room. He causes living Beasts and other Creatures to appear upon the Table.
He blows the spots of the Cards off and on, changes them to any pictures. From 1756 to 1781, Jacob Philadelphia performed feats of magic, sometimes under the guise of scientific exhibitions, throughout Europe and in Russia. A founding figure of modern entertainment magic was Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin a clockmaker, who opened a magic theatre in Paris in 1845, he transformed his art from one performed at fairs to a performance that the public paid to see at the theatre. His