The Elmsley Rising Card

Effect: The plot follows that of the centuries-old classic, but in this version several exquisite refinements are offered. A card is freely selected, noted and returned to the deck. The deck is shuffled, then fanned. A magical pass it made over the fanned pack and the selection rises slowly from the center.

Method: The refinements mentioned ar e two: First is the idea of having the card rise from a fanned pack. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Elmsley was the first to perform the card rise in this fashion. The second refinement is the use of the faro shuffle to control the selection and place it neatly into the gimmick that makes this rise possible. Mr. Elmsley devised his car d rise in the early 1960s and word of It quickly spread through the inner circles of card magic. Since that time, a few others have adopted the Idea of a fanned-deck card rise (notably Ted Biet, whose card-rise gimmick is most ingenious). Around 1980 David Britland, unaware of work over fifteen years earlier, and inspired by the Biet card rise, came full circle by reinventing large portions of the Elmsley method, which he published as The Angel Card Rise. There are some interesting points, however, in Mr. Britland's handling that are worthy of study.

The Elmsley method uses a simple gimmick that can be easily added and removed from a pack. In essence, it Is the old Jumping Card gimmick, which has been commonly sold to the public by street and carnival pitchmen since the 1920s. This gimmick—consisting of two playing cards with a length of rubber band strung between them—was peddled as a means to make a card jump from a pack or packet of cards. A few perspicacious magicians of the period recognized that the gimmick also could make a card rise slowly from the pack. An exceptional example of the exploitation of this gimmick is found in "Cardinl's Rising Car ds" (ref. The Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 2, pp. 229-234). Indeed, it was the Cardini trick that inspired Mr. Ehnsley's work with the gimmick. The Elmsley gimmick is essentially that used in the Jumping Card, but it features a construction superior to the original rubber band and staples model used for decades.

The gimmick is made from two playing cards, a length of thin elastic thread and some rubber cement. Mr. Elmsley obtained his elastic thread from flat elastic like that used in waistbands or garters. Each of the little cords that make up such flat elastic bands contains a length of round, thin rubber band. With a little work, these thin rubber cores can be pulled or stripped from their sheaths. In recent years other types of thin elastic thread have become available. In Britain, David Britland discovered an ideal thread for the purpose, called shearing elastic. It is found in sewing supply shops. In the States one must locate a source of knitting machine supplies and ask for elastic thread. This thread is thin and very strong, but any of these types of thread are quite serviceable.

Take one of the two cards and place it face-down on a hard, smooth surface. Using an X-acto knife, you must cut a sort of Irregular oval in one end of the card, roughly a quarter of an inch from the edge. The oval is rounder at the bottom than it is at the top, and a small tab is left projecting inward from the top edge of the hole, near the right. This tab measures approximately a quarter of an inch wide and half an inch tall. Figure 238 will clarify this.

Place the second card face-down on your cutting surface and make a similar hole in it, but with the tab positioned on the left side. (Figure 239.)

You must now carefully split the two pasteboard tabs, so that you can glue the ends of the elastic thread between the layers of card. Neatly coat the ends of the thread—about the width of each tab— with rubber cement. Also apply rubber cement to the inner surfaces

the thread between the layers of each tab, with the thread lying deep inside, traveling parallel with the top of the oval, and with the end of the thread pointing toward the longitudinal center of the card (Figure 240). Press the tab layers together, securely trapping the ends of the thread between them. Then cut off the bottoms of the tabs, leaving a length of roughly three-sixteenths of an inch. (The tabs are initially cut longer than needed to aid in the splitting.)

Figure 241 shows the completed gimmick. Note that, when the cards are held face-down, the left-hand tab is uppermost. This detail is important. If the gimmick were constructed with the right-hand tab at the back, loading a card into the gimmick would create tension in the stretched elastic that would cause the prepared cards to spread and expose themselves during the card rise. Also note that the mild ar ching of the tops of the holes accommodates the slight bulging of the opposing tabs, caused by the glued ends of the thread.

When the two cards are placed together, the loop of elastic thread should hang within the area of the holes. You may have to twist the cards a few times to get the elastic to lie flat, in a neat loop within the holes. The Elmsley gimmick is designed to minimize gapping between the cards by containing the thread within the cut-out portions. You will need to experiment with the length of the thread you have found and the size of the holes necessary to contain it in its unstretched state. The thread must be elastic enough to stretch to the opposite end of the gimmick when a card is inserted into it, and strong enough to make that card rise when pressure is not applied.

Finally, it is a good idea to apply a coat of fanning powder to the inner surfaces of the gimmicked car ds. This aids in producing a slow, smooth card rise.

After a bit of experience, it takes about ten minutes to construct one of these gimmicks, and one of them will last for many performances.

Over the years, Mr. Elmsley has used several methods of faro placement for loading the selection into the gimmick. When working for laymen he prefers the following procedure:

From a normal pack, discard the duplicates of the two cards that make up your gimmick, and place the gimmick, threaded end inward, five cards from the face of the deck.

In performance, spread the pack face-down between your hands and offer a free selection. As you make the spread, smoothly push off five groups of four cards each and form a break or jog under the twentieth card from the top. (Your counting, of course, must not be evident to the audience.) While the selection is being noted, square the cards and cut at your break or jog. Have the selection returned at this point and bury it. It now lies twenty-first from the top.

You can ribbon spread the face-down deck for a moment, as you talk, implicitly showing that no control is being exercised. Then gather the spread and go into a brief overhand shuffle. This consists of shuffling off less than a quarter of the pack and throwing the balance on top. This approximately centers the gimmick in the bottom half of the pack.

Grip the deck in preparation for a faro shuffle, with the threaded end of the gimmick positioned to take part in the weave. Divide the pack at twenty-six and perform an out-weave. When making the weave, apply firm pressure to the packet containing the gimmick, to eliminate any gapping between the two threaded cards. You want only a single card to enter the gimmick. This card will be the spectator's selection.

As you push the halves about an inch or so into each other, let the cards lie loose in the hands, until the end of the selection has moved safely past the cut-out areas of the gimmick. Then square the deck by pushing the cards together. (Do riot spring them, as shown in 242.) The card is fully and automatically loaded into the gimmick, and the pressure of the thumb and fingers at opposite ends of the pack stop the selection from shooting out. The loaded gimmick now lies close to the center of the deck.

With your left hand, grip the pack at one end—the end at which the cutout portion of the gimmick rests—in preparation for a one-handed fan. Make the fan. The pressure normally exerted when performing this flourish should prevent the gimmick from ejecting the selection. However, if the card should slide out a bit, it will

travel down, behind the fingers, and cannot be seen by the audience. Perform the fan in a casual fashion as you talk. This fan is used merely as a delaying tactic, to expend a bit of time, before proceeding to the card rise.

With the right hand, close the fan, bringing the open end of the gimmick uppermost, in position to force the selection from the top end of the pack. Then take the squared deck into the fork of the right thumb, in fanning position. With the left fingers on the face of the deck, and the left thumb on the back, fan the cards in the right hand. During this, maintain a firm steady pressure with your right thumb on the bottom end of the pack, to prevent the card from shooting upward. As you shape the fan, bend in your right thu d finger, so that it passes under the arc formed by the bottom edge of the fan and lies behind the car ds (Figure 243). Extend the other right fingers across the face of the fan. Apply firm pressure with the right thumb and third finger to the back of the fan, restraining the action of the gimmick.

Now, if you gradually ease the right fingers' pressure, the card will rise slowly and mysteriously from the center of the fan. If it begins to tilt to the left while rising, increase the thumb and forefinger's pressure on the cards. Should it begin to tilt to the right, increase pressure between the second, third and fourth fingers. Thanks to the right hand's grip, the rise of the card is under your full control.

As the card rises, turn the right hand and fan slowly, letting the audience view both the edge of the fan and the back. This permits them to see that nothing is occurring behind the fan that could account for the rise of the car d; and from the edge, the sight of the car d rising from the center of the fan is quite eerie.

When the selection has risen about three-quarters of its length from the fan, grip the card by its upper end, left thumb on the back, left fingers on the face, and draw it from the fan, simultaneously twisting the left side of the card outward and the right side inward. This twisting forces apart the two cards of the gimmick and avoids pulling the thread into view.

If you desire to add the gimmick secretly to a deck in use, without extracting two cards, the same faro method can be used with a fifty-four card pack. Just shuffle six cards below the gimmick, rather than five. Proceed as above, having the selection returned twenty-first from the top. Then shuffle about eight to ten cards from top to bottom, and do a perfect out-faro to load the selection into the gimmick. This procedure allows you to add the gimmick to a normal pack, perform the card rise, then remove the gimmick, leaving you again with a full pack.

Having mentioned disposing of the gimmick, here is a method of Mr. Elmsley's for accomplishing that task. Once the car d has risen, lower the right hand, turning the fan face-down. With your left hand, remove the selection from the fan, turn it face-up and reinsert it into the fan, one card above the place it last occupied; that is, directly over the gimmick. Push the card into the fan for roughly a third of its length.

Now separate the fan at the outjogged card and transfer the cards above the selection to the bottom, cutting the fan as you simultaneously close it in the left hand. This leaves the face-up selection outjogged on top of the pack, covering the threaded end of the gimmick. Raise the left hand, directing the face of the pack toward the audience and. with your right hand, remove the selection. Turn it face outward and replace it square on the pack as you lower the hands. Now, as you talk, casually spread the top three cards Just enough to get a left fourth-finger break under the gimmick. Palm off the three cards above the break. Then produce the selection from your right-side pocket, treating this as an added fillip (while you leave the gimmick in the pocket}.

When working for magicians Mr. Elmsley will sometimes employ a variation of his "Late Night Location" (pp. 372-373) to place the selection in the gimmick. In this case, the upper half of the deck consists of twenty-five random cards, and the lower half contains twenty-five duplicates of those cards, arranged in reverse order to their doubles. Between the two banks is placed the rising card gimmick, which occupies positions twenty-six and twenty-seven in the pack.

Hold the deck face-down in left-hand dealing position, threaded end of the gimmick turned toward you, and ask a spectator to cut off a small group of cards. His cut must be confined to the upper half of the pack. Have him look at the card on the face of his packet, then shuffle the packet, losing the selection.

With your right hand, lift a block of cards from the portion left you, cutting just a couple of cards below the gimmick, and ask that the spectator replace his packet on the cards in your left hand. Drop the right hand's packet onto this, burying his cards. The gimmick now lies somewhere in the upper half of the pack, probably about ten cards from the top.

Divide the deck at center and perform one in-faro shuffle. This shuffle loads a duplicate of the selection into the gimmick. You can now fan the deck and make the card rise, as previously explained.

If you are working under close conditions, and fear that spectators may spot duplicate cards in the fan, you can perform the rise with the backs of the cards toward the audience: or you can eliminate the fanning, and do the rise in the traditional manner, from a squared pack.

Before closing the subject of suitable faro controls for this trick, it should be mentioned that the fan and weave control (see pp. 335336) can be adapted to good effect. Position the gimmick on top of the pack, threaded end inward, with one card covering it. Then secretly learn the identity of the twenty-sixth card from the top (or the twenty-seventh if you have added the gimmick to a full pack), using a faro check or any other efficient method. Set the deck facedown before a spectator and ask him to cut off a small packet: roughly a third of the deck. He then notes the card at the face of the packet he has removed, lifts about half of the tabled cards, and sandwiches his initial packet between the two portions.

You now retrieve the deck and give it a fan shuffle: Spot your key card In the fanned upper half of the pack and insert the fanned bottom half two car ds below the key; that is, two cards nearer the face of the right hand's fan. Let the fans collapse into each other, square the deck and cut a few cards from top to bottom. This places the gimmick approximately thirteen from the face. Now do an in-faro shuffle to load the selection into the gimmick; and perform the rise.

All of these methods are excellent, and the rise is astonishing. There are several subtle elements that will worry fellow magicians and intelligent spectators. First, the control of the selection is extremely difficult to fathom. Then there is the question of how it is set for the rise. Finally, the freedom with which the cards are handled, shuffled and fanned seems to negate all the usual rising card methods. These assets, combined with the inherent appeal of the rising card effect, make this as straightforward and baffling a feat of card magic as could be wished.

Chapter Seven:

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