Our friend Joe Freedman of LEAFpdx has made the book Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata available for download. The book covers some of my favorite subjects including the magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, history, magic, automata, and mechanical toys.
'The Sette of Odd Volumes' was a group of book collectors in Victorian era London. They published transcripts of the lectures they presented to each other. Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata compiles two of these lectures into a single book. An affordable printed version of the book has been available for a while, but if you prefer to have an electronic copy (PDF) you are now in luck!
In the first section of the book, William Manning offers his recollections of the famous magician, Robert-Houdin. In the second section, Conrad William Cooke provides a history of automata to that point. It's a fascinating book and well-worth reading.
Though the digital version of the book is available for free, please consider using the Paypal donate button on his page. A lot of time and effort went into creating this book and I'd like to see Joe Freedman produce more of his excellent mechanical creations. Show him some love if you can! Here is where you can download the book Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata.