FORM A small fourth-finger break at the near right corner, under the two (or more) cards to be lifted. The method used to accomplish this will depend on the circumstances of the effect and will not be directly addressed here.
With the right hand, grasp the cards above the break as a unit in Overhand Grip. The right thumb should be on the near edge, near the right corner, and the fingers at the front edge. The right thumb and second finger will do most of the work.
Lift the cards slightly, more at the back end than at the front, and move them smoothly to the right. At the same time, move the left thumb to the right, as though you were pushing over the top card. On completion of this simulated push, without pause, lift the cards somewhat further 77/
off the deck. I merely bring the front of the cards up so they are at the same level as the back. The distance between the card(s) and the top of the deck is no more than three-eights of an inch, and usually less. Release the double card on the outer right corner of the deck and hold it there, under the left thumb (Figure 117). The pretense is that your left thumb pushed the card to the right, then your right hand took hold of the card to move it forward. (The fake push is a Vernon notion, though our techniques differ.)
NOTE: How for to the right you'll move the card(s) depends on the length of your thumb. You should be able to rest the pad of your left thumb on the middle of the left edge of the card(s) and maintain secure control of them.
(That constitutes Step l of the Two-Step Double Lift)
I believe this initial sequence improves on the rationale behind the original Vernon idea, wherein the only reason for the right hand's presence is that it was going to turn the cards over. In the Vernon method, the grip during the turnover would eventually be at the near right corner, making the early presence of the right hand superfluous and potentially suspect under Rule Two. The reasoning underlying my sequence is that while the left thumb could, and probably would, push the card to the right, it couldn't readily move the card to the diagonal position in which it ultimately rests. It follows that the right hand was present to move the card to that diagonal position. One might ask why the card should be positioned in this way. The position demonstrates the card. The card is isolated in a way that speaks rational volumes. It says that the card came from the top of the deck and, almost as clearly, that it is a single card, all without a word.
Having isolated the card, the right hand releases its grip and moves to the right side, still palm down. It regrips the two cards as one at the right side, near the middle of the long edge. The right first and second fingers should take hold from above, the thumb from below (Figure 118).
When the right hand's grip is secure, release the left thumb's pressure completely but don't move the thumb. Instead, move the right hand to the right and upward slightly as the hand rotates palm up. If the left hand doesn't move out of the way, the card will snap off the front right corner of the deck as the right wrist rotates (Figure 119). This, while optional, helps to convey that the card(s) is a single one.
You can again snap the double card by pushing it under the left thumb and
moving the entire lower right arm upward, from the elbow. As the double card comes out from under the thumb it will snap. Don't overdo this; once or twice is sufficient. It isn't really necessary at all.
NOTES: If you wish to turn the card(s) face down, back onto the deck, bring the left edge of the card(s) to the right edge of the deck. Allow the left fingertips to contact the back of the rear card. This will serve to guide the replacement. Lever the card(s) over book-fashion, with the right edge of the deck as the hinge. Handle this as casually as possible. If you wish to leave the double card face up, you can obviously place it back onto the deck in that condition or return it to whatever position you desire.
This second step can be adapted in a number of ways, depending on the requirements of the effect. If, for example, you need a different grip, as for one of the Mario Changes (see Miracle Card Changes, 1954) or the Collins-Goldin Snap Change (Farelli's Card Magic, Part Two, 1933, page 37; and Collins' Gems of Personal Prestidigitation, 1952, page 15 (not published until 2003 in Edwin Dawes' Stanley Collins: Conjurer, Collector, and Iconoclast), you can retake the card in the requisite grip. The diagonal set position lends itself to nearly any need that might arise. This flexibility is yet another benefit of the Two-Step approach. A handling some will find of considerable interest can be found in my section of Ken Simmons' 1999 reissue of his Guarded Secrets Revealed (page 9).
HISTORICAL NOTE: In Stanley Collins' last book, Gems of Personal Prestidigitation, cited above, Collins claims this Change and having shown it, when in his early twenties, to Goldin, Houdini and Chung Ling Soo, several years before Victor Farelli included it under Goldin's name, in Farelli's Card Magic (1933). While the Goldin attribution has long stood, Collins' story rings true.
The Two-Step Double Lift is not intended to replace every other Double-Lift technique, but it was my principle Double Lift for over twenty-five years. I have never, not once, been called on it by a lay person and, of course, most magicians are too "polite" to do so, even if they see something. (They just mumble to themselves.) This statement is not a testament to the naturalness of the movement. For the reasons cited above, lay people aren't likely to question even unnatural Lifts. It does, however, speak to the reliability of the technique, a factor that needs to be considered. I have seen some otherwise fine techniques that have the disastrous habit of spreading at the worst possible times. Murphy was an optimist.
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