So, you want to learn magic! Wonderful! You couldn't have chosen a more fascinating hobby. If you're like most magicians that are just starting out, however, you're probably wondering where to begin. Magic dealers get asked about this a lot.
The two most important pieces of information I would need in order to help you are: 1. What kind of magic do you want to learn? And, 2. How much money can you afford to spend? Most people who are just starting out don't have enough exposure yet to magic in general to have any particular preferences. Still, I will make more specialized suggestions in addition to my general recommendations. As far as money is concerned, I will also provide some hints on how to get the most bang for your magical buck.
Magic sets can be a great value. They usually come with a book or two (perhaps even a DVD). Easy to learn from, books and DVDs are good because you aren't spending your money on just one trick that you might not even like, and since magic sets include most of the props necessary to perform the tricks (everything else can be found around the house) you really can't go wrong. I have evaluated a lot of magic sets in my day, and I have found the best one to be "Secrets of the Great Magicians" by Royal Magic.
What I said before about books and DVDs being a great value and easy to learn from applies here. (Really, this applies in all categories of magic.) My favorite product in this category is Royal's "Professional Card Magic" set. With the two books included, you'll learn over 225 Tricks. It has a whole deck of specialized "gimmicked" cards, a regular deck, and a "Miracle Card Case" as well. One of my favorite things to do is invent new tricks using the various types of gimmicked cards included in this set.
Many magicians believe "Scotch and Soda" to be the greatest coin trick in the world. I tend to agree, especially since a seemingly endless variety of different tricks are possible with this one set of gimmicked coins. Don't let the word "gimmicked" mislead you here. These coins can be handed out for examination, and your spectators still will not figure out the secret. Another nice feature here is that the coins do all the work for you. Not only does this eliminate the need for complicated sleight of hand, it also makes many effects possible that wouldn't be with manual dexterity alone.
Saving Money When Buying Magic
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when buying magic (or anything else for that matter). First, you want to compare apples to apples. By that, I mean that when you look at how similar items are priced, you don't always want to go with the cheapest. If a surgeon offered to work on you for thousands of dollars less than one of his competitors, but he hadn't been to medical school, then that wouldn't really be a "bargain," would it? :-) The same is true on a much smaller scale in magic. I suggest buying only recognized brand name merchandise made by companies that have been around for years. If they didn't make quality products, they wouldn't be around very long.
Personally, I also don't often buy props that you can only do one trick with. Think about it: In general, which is a better deal, one trick for $10 or twelve tricks for $10? Also, part of the fun of magic is inventing your own routines with the props that you buy.
My last suggestion here applies particularly to buying magic (or anything else) on the internet. Pay attention to the shipping cost. If dealer "A" sells product "X" for $10, and his shipping cost is $5, then your total price, of course, is $15. If dealer "B" sells the same item for $12.50, but ships it free, then clearly, you're saving money by buying it from him. (Incidentally, all of my items include free shipping.)
If ever I can be of any help to you along the way, please let me know.