The Life, Adventures, and Unparalleled Sufferings of Andrew Oehler: Containing an Account of His Travels through France, Italy, the East and West Indies and Part of the United States: His Imprisonment in France Germany and Spain; and the Latitude, Soil, Climate, Productions, Manners and Customs of the Different Countries
Trenton: D. Fenton, 1811. 12mo. (6 3/4 x 3 7/8 inches). 226pp.
Bound to style in half calf and 19th-century marbled boards, spine flat, black morocco lettering piece.
First edition of this remarkable picaresque history, with many travels through the South between 1800 and 1808, considered the first book on magic published in the United States.
Born in Germany in 1781, Oehler claimed he arrived in Baltimore in 1800 as a bound tailor; escaped to become a dancing master in Alexandria and then a fencing master in Port Tobacco, Maryland; then went to Santo Domingo, where he says he served with Toussaint; Egypt; China; Charleston, South Carolina, in 1802; then Columbia, Augusta, and Nashville. In 1805 and 1806 he experimented with ballooning in Nashville and Natchez (an ad in a Natchez newspaper for 1806 corroborates this part of the sometimes incredible tale). In New Orleans he claims to have learned "Legerdemain," by which he paid his debts, but which got him thrown in jail in Mexico. He gives a long account of his sojourn, in and out of jail, in Mexico. Returning to the U.S., he made two trading expeditions to the west of the Mississippi, one to Natchitoches in 1807. He returned overland to Georgia in 1808, and later settled in New Jersey. This work is considered the first known autobiography of a magician printed in America and has been called the first book on magic published in the United States. Felcone records two issues printed in 1811 (the other issue published by the Author).
Felcone 1188; Howes O-25; Shaw & Shoemaker 51124; Kaplan 4310; Sabin 56732; Clark II:110; Toole Stott 869' Erik Barnouw, The Fantasms of Andrew Oehler, 2009.