"Brother John Hamman's Lost Works" contains six DVDs with over 97 original card effects, both performed and explained by Bro. John Hamman. Over 11 hours of footage. Invaluable to the close-up card magician. Highly recommended.
Brother Hamman Liner Notes
By Richard Kaufman
Brother John Hamman (1927-2000) first cast his spell on the world on magic in the 1950s, when Gene DeVoe began marketing his routines. Several of these, including "Final Aces" and "Micro-Macro," have become classics. A small collection of his material appeared in a book authored by his friend Paul LePaul in 1958, The Card Magic of Bro. John Hamman, S.M. (S.M. stands for the Society of Mary, the religious order of which he was a member.) The next batch of his material, nine effects, was published by Karl Fulves in the 7th Folio of the Pallbearers Review in 1972. A decade passed before another group of his routines appeared in Richard's Almanac, in 1983. In 1984 Seven Deadly Miracles (written by Stephen Minch) was published in conjunction with his appearance at a magic convention.
Shortly after I finished writing and illustrating The Complete Works of Derek Dingle in 1981, I knew exactly whose material I wanted to tackle next: Brother John Hamman. I had the opportunity to meet Brother John (as he liked to be called by magicians, though his family called him "Bud") first at The Midwest Jubilee, a convention in his hometown of St. Louis. When I asked him about doing a book he seemed interested, but always felt that his work as a high school English teacher precluded the time necessary to get all his routines in order and make sufficient coherent notes. We met at least once a year, and he graciously contributed wonderful routines to whatever magazine I happened to be writing for at the time. One day I received a postcard shortly after he retired from teaching and he announced that he was ready to do the book. "Roll the presses," he wrote, and then he asked for time to finish working on a number of new routines and also to go over his older material. That took about six to eight months, and then in 1988 I traveled to Kirkwood, Missouri, where Brother John lived in a Catholic Brother's residence adjacent to Vianney High School, where he had taught English. I stayed in a guest room at the residence for a week and videotaped almost 100 routines.
The DVDs contained in this package are derived from the Beta Max tapes I shot on that visit. Home video was extremely primitive compared to today. The camera was huge and required a lot of light when used indoors: several table lamps had to be right next to Brother John, and he had to have a white shirt on, so there would be enough reflected light to make things visible. The videotapes were never intended to be seen by anyone but myself, and existed merely as a teaching tool so I could understand his material in order to describe it as clearly as possible. They are not professionally shot and there's camera jiggling a plenty. The image also goes out of focus now and again, a victim of the wonders of "auto focus." And, Brother Hamman always spoke fairly softly, and the microphone built into the camera was barely up to the task. You'll have to turn up the sound in order to hear what he's saying.
In order to keep the routines clear in his own head as he explained them, he made extensive notes which he frequently consulted while we were taping. He also made mistakes. Since many of the routines were new at that time, all of this was to be expected, and you should keep these things in mind.
Of the routines recorded, 80 appeared in my book The Secrets of Brother John Hamman in 1989. Brother John and I decided that the remaining 17 effects were either too similar to others in the book, or just didn't quite make the cut. All 17 appear on these DVDs.
Upon Brother John's death in 2000, Jon Racherbaumer and I wrote up a dozen of the effects which were on the tapes, but had not appeared in the book, for his memorial issue of Genii, The Conjurors' Magazine (Volume 64, No.2).
In 2002 I was approached by Geno Munari with the idea of putting the videotapes I had shot of Brother John on the market. I was reluctant, because the tapes had been made with the understanding that no one else would see them. (Unfortunately that logic went out the window when Brother John lent his copies to someone who showed them to others without the permission of Brother John or myself.) Since few people had seen Brother John perform most ofthe material in his book, and his premature demise prevented the production of any future DVDs, I decided that rather than allowing his performances to go unseen, many magicians now and in the future deserved to see exactly what it was like when he presented this material. He had no greater joy in magic than in fooling his fellow magicians by leading them down the garden path and "turning the hose on them."
These tapes have been edited and much of the personal banter between us has been removed because it was never intended for anyone else to hear, though we do joke around now and again. Brother John was always a very private man who kept his criticisms to himself.
These DVDs may be the only opportunity most of you will ever have to see him perform and teach these remarkable routines. This was the most compelling reason, to me, to make them available.
You are about to experience what I recall as one of the most wonderful weeks of my life, when I woke up every day and was fooled from dawn to dusk by Brother John Hamman.