Slow Motion Card Vanish

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks

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When assembling the material for this book we received several letters from Ivsua'tf Ross containing practical suggestions. In one of the letters he wrote, "When the Professor was in England, I believe you recorded details of his Slow Motion Card Vanish. I feel this should be included as I can personally vouch for the effectiveness. It was the very first effect I saw Dai perform - at the Elk's Club in 1927!"

We actually did take notes, and at the time Dai told us that Nate Leipzig's Slow Motion Coin Vanish had always intrigued him, so he had set about devising a method for producing a similar effect with a card. We expressed doubts about the possibility, because it seemed that the si/e of the card would create a problem of handling, in that it would be impossible to conceal the card from almost any angle. However, the Professor put us to shame by taking a card and performing the fine effect about to be described. In addition he expressed some words of wisdom which we will endeavour to set down as we go along.

To understand the main principle it is necessary to practice holding a card with one edge under the thumb the card protruding from the nail as in Figure 1. The nail may have to be worn a little longer than usual when you first start, as the card has to remain in position due to its weight creating leverage between the nail and the underside of the flesh at the top of the thumb. The card must be kept in a horizontal plane; a tilt out of plane will cause the card to fall.

In Figure 1 the card is being held so that its length protrudes from the thumb nail - this is for practice so that one can understand the principle and gain confidence in handling the card in this position. In performance the width of the card will protrude, as it is held near the corner of one long side. By practicing handling the card the more difficult way first, it becomes so much easier when it is held in the other position. This may sound like the story of hitting oneself on the head with a hammer because it is nice when you stop! Actually the theory is the same as practicing tricks with wide cards - if you learn to handle these cards, then your task is so much easier when you use bridge cards.

Once the principle is understood, the reader can proceed to learn the moves.

In the illustrations we have concentrated on showing only the grips and hand positions. In performance the moves are made head high, that is, in front of the performer's face.

For a reason that will be apparent later, the performer should be smoking a cigarette.

1. Hold a card upright in the left hand, thumb on the centre of the back of card and fingers extended across the face of the card. The face of the card should be protruding for about half its length above the side of the left forefinger - Figure 2.

2. Place the right hand at the top of the card, fingers in front of the top right hand corner - Figure 2. Slide the right thumb nail onto the corner of the card, then slide the thumb down the side of the card; simultaneously lever the card backwards until it is out of sight. By now the right thumb nail is about half an inch from the bottom right hand corner of the card; the card itself being in a horizontal position, the right hand having turned palm towards the audience with the fingers open and thumb at right angles to the palm. Only the top of the right thumb is behind the tip of the left fingers but, of course, the whole of the card extends behind the left fingers.

3. Move the right hand from side to side exposing all the palm and right to the tip of the thumb. Now move the right hand up a little so that the edge of the card is behind the horizontal left forefinger. Open the left fingers (Figure 3 - exposed view).

Slow Motion Card Vanish

4. Close the left fingers, then move the right hand to the left so that the card is behind the left hand, now turn the left hand over so that the palm is towards the audience with the fingers pointing upwards. Bring the card behind the left thumb and open all fingers (Figure 4 - rear view). The illustration shows how the outer left corner of the card can be rested on the flesh at the fork of the left thumb to steady the card, whilst the whole of both palms (with fingers wide open) are exposed to the audience.

5. Now blow a dense puff of smoke at the hands and move the hands apart for a brief moment, then bring them back to the position shown in Figure 4. This sounds a bold but as the card is edge on to the audience, and the vision is further obscured by the puff of smoke, the card is not seen.

6. Move the right hand to the left to bring the card behind the left hand, then turn the left hand to bring the back towards the audience, with fingers pointing to the right. Move the right hand a little to the right so that the outer corner of the card be clipped between the sides of the left first and second fingers. Release the nail grip and move the right hand to the right, leaving the card in the left hand. The right hand moves to the right just sufficiently so that the palm and extended thumb are exposed.

7. Turn the right hand to bring the back towards the audience, with fingers pointing to the left. Bring the hands together and place both thumbs behind the card and lever it upright into view.

In Dai Vernon's hands this little cameo of card magic is a thing of beauty. He performs it with graceful hand movements and at a slow, even tempo. Some years ago he included it in his night club act, and the American show paper, "Billboard", hailed it by reporting, "Here is something new in Magic." It is a fine example of how a little thing can create quite a stir when given importance by expert presentation.

Dai Vernon has released the secret for the benefit of the magical frater-n.ity, but he stresses that it needs a considerable amount of practice before a perfect illusion can be created. Give it the practice it deserves and you will have a real gem.

SECTION TWO CARD SLEIGHTS AND MOVES

VERNON ON THE PASS

Perhaps more has been written on the standard Pass than any other sleight in card magic, yet very few magicians can perform it without telegraphing that something is happening. Some performers seem oblivious that a telltale movement as the packets transpose will make it obvious that some form of trickery is being executed, whilst others avoid the Pass entirely and employ a substitute manoeuvre to bring about the desired result. Nevertheless the Pass can be one of the most useful of all methods of controlling a card or cards, and the following observations by Dai Vernon will help the reader to master the handling and avoid the pitfalls which deter so many.

In correspondence and on tape recordings Dai Vernon has sent us detailed descriptions of his method of making the Pass; in addition Steve Young has taken three photographs to show the exact movements of the hands and cards. By following the text and studying the photographs the mechanics will be easily but only practice will give that smoothness of execution and understanding of timing which will eliminate all cause for suspicion.

To clarify the description we will assume that we are to bring a selected card to the top of the pack. The pack is held in the left hand for the right hand to cut off the top half of the pack, so that the selected card can be replaced on top of the left hand portion. The bare essentials are that the pack is then reassembled and the packets transposed, so that the bottom portion is brought to the top. It is the transposition of the two packets of cards which causes difficulty in eliminating visual movement.

Dr. Daley used to say, "You have to pay a price for anything in magic and if you remove a slight defect it will crop up in some other way." How true this is will be proved when trying to improve the Pass, for when one fault is rectified another developes, yet by being aware of Dr. Daley's warning one knows the danger and can take precautions.

Angles of vision are the main difficulties we encounter. Anyone can soon perform the Pass so that it cannot be detected from one angle only - e.g. from directly in front, or it can be helped by lifting the hands up or down according to the direction of view and elevation of the spectators. It can be done almost in slow motion without being seen, but to be really effective it must look well from the left, the right and in front. Usually, any person observing the hands from the right will see the packet go down, and the only way this can be covered is by the actions pictured in the photographs and which we will describe later.

First let us quote Dai Vernon's own words on the timing. He "Of utmost importance in performing any or such move is how you into The pass should be executed the very instant the upper hand touches the pack. There should be absolutely no The little finger must be in position between the packets and the pack in the exact position for instantaneous operation the second the hand grasps the pack. The identical basic applies equally for the and bottom palm', 'changes' and so forth."

Now let us study the handling from here on - from the point where the selected card has been returned to the top of the left hand portion.

As the right holding its packet from above, comes over the left hand packet, the left little finger is inserted between the packets.

Photograph A.

This shows the start of the transposition and from the photograph we can visualize why the pass is often detected. The right side of the upper pack is gripped between the left little finger below, and the third finger above. If the transposition is made in the usual way the little finger causes space between the packets, and additionally the upper packet travels in quite a wide arc on its downward passage. Usually the packet goes out and right down before coming under the other packet, and this permits it to be seen by spectators on the right, as well as causing a jumping movement of the hands.

Now let us study Dai Vernon's method. Photograph

When the top packet is gripped by the left little and third fingers the lower packet is immediately shifted forward by pushing with the right thumbtip, until the little finger is at the inner end of the lower packet. This permits the face of the top packet to come flat against the top card of the lower packet, and so eliminates the telltale triangle where the little finger would usually be, in other words there is no wasted space.

Should the top packet be brought straight down, or in an arc, it will still be visible from the right, but Dai Vernon makes it hug the right side of the lower packet.

['holograph C.

With the packets he eliminates both a large arc and an exces sive downward path by revolving the moving packet under the other, as if to bring the packets face to face. This can be seen in the photograph - if the packet was released at this point and the pack squared, one half would be face down and the other face up. However, as soon as the right side of the moving packet clears the right side of the now upper packet, the left fingers curl inwards and the packet revolves in the opposite direction, the side wiping across the face of upper packet, until it is sufficiently turned be brought up against the underside of the other packet. A downward pressure with the right hand prevents a jumping movement as the packets transpose.

The reader is urged to study the photographs carefully as Steve Young cleverly captured the important features whilst Dai Vernon's hands made the moves.

The thought behind this method of making the pass is an excellent example of how Dai Vernon analyses each move to attain near perfection - this is the "Vernon Touch."

When Dai Vernon was in England we sat with him while he demonstrated several methods of making the Pass. After taking notes of little-known versions we photographed his hands making the moves.

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