by Fred Robinson
KOSCHITZ'S MANUAL of useful information, 48 pages.
THE LITTLE SECRETS by Frank Bonville, 48 pages.
POKER by Hardison, 63 pages.
The three booklets are all published by the Gamblers Book Club in conjunction with Busby Enterprises 113—17th St Oakland CA 94612 USA from whom they can be obtained at Two Dollars each.
All are editions of rare books which the publishers, in the twenty odd years of dealing in books on gambling have never owned any of them and had only seen the Hardison book before. All are true to the originals but have been reset for easier reading, and the title pages have been reproduced to give a flavour of the period in which they were first published.
KOSCHITZ'S MANUAL of information, according to the title page deals with Marks and Stamps, portable and fixed devices, manipulation of cards and other matters of interest to Lovers of Draw, and also that it was published in 1894. In the introduction we are informed that much of the material was obtained in 'actual combat'
by Fred Robinson
with experts and that it is the writer's desire that the information be used only for 'self protection'.
Under the heading 'Marks and Stamps' most of the methods of marking cards are exposed some twenty in all including 'roughening'. Wedges, strippers, humps, and briefs i.e. cards cut wider or shorter than the rest of the pack. The 'long' escapes mention the Portable and Fixed Devices include holdouts, shiners, bugs, goose-neck, eagle's claw, and arrangements of glass, pictures, etc.
The section on manipulation in relation to cheating at cards, the usual and wellknown sleights are mentioned including 'butting-in' wherein two halves of pack were made to inter-lap by pressure and springing one card being made to enter above the other.
There is a list of Stratagems and some General Remarks, the latter contains some gems. Here is one. 'A deformed or one-handed opponent is entitled to the same attention as any of his more physically fortunate rivals'.
For readers seeking definitive instruction for the performance of sleights or information not previously published there is little that will be of interest. Those who enjoy taking a backward step in time if only to find there is little that is really new will derive pleasure from its contents.
Precisely the same can be said of the other titles. That their review is somewhat shorter is not because they are less interesting but due to lack of space.
THE LITTLE SECRETS by Frank Bonville, published in 1904, again repeats the various methods of cheating at poker, but there is additional material explaining how the unwary are parted from their cash. The run-down is given on the methods of. Gold Spectacle, Phoney Jewellry, Watch, Whiskey and Razor grafters and how people are short changed.
Readers conversant with ERDNASE will immediately recognise POKER by Hardison, published in 1914, as a 'rip-off' in the sense that it is divided in two parts, one on cheating and the other card tricks, the inadequate illustrations owe much to M.D. Smith, and the appearance in the text of such phrases as 'bucking the tiger', 'mealy-mouthed sophistry', 'annual crop of suckers' is certainly not coincidental. Nevertheless it does contain at least; a couple of items which did not appear in its respected progenitor, dealing seconds from the bottom, a sleight which has been re-invented by numerous card men, and the 'spread' one of the most valuable accomplishments of the poker cheat.
So what's new? Not much it appears, at the moment. We had plenty to look at on T.V. over the Xmas period magic wise. . .but it was a great pity that several of the more prominent and spectacular items were duplicated. De Kolta's Vanishing Lady was probably never been seen before on British T.V. but there it was, twice on prime time in two days, apart from the fact that it had an airing in a show from the Magic Circle clubroom two or three months back. It's one of those effects which every magician has read about but no-one ever seriously considers doing .. .until someone does.
And whilst we are on the subject (what subject?) I remember a few years ago I devised, produced, invented, rehearsed, an act for a young man, Colin Rose, who, since then has been doing very nicely thank you. It was an act with the central theme of fire. The idea was to produce fire, either from thin air or silks ala Channing Pollock. Since then, I've seen countless acts, professionals at that, lift pieces of the act, and what's more I've seen them do it thousands of miles apart. (Hey, that's the subject. . .copyists).
To get back to T.V. again; besides the De Kolta effect, we had Selbit's Stretching a Lady again at prime time. Don't think I'm knocking the acts, I'm not. . .In the case of the T.V. shows I would say it was probably ninety-five percent pure coincidence. . .1 enjoyed all of them but for me the palm must go to Richiardi for the slickest presentation of an illusion on T.V. I've seen in many years, the D.K.V.L. The Doug Henning doing his thing show was excellent. . .He fooled me. . .no that's not right. . .one of his assistants fooled me. Okay youse guys with the videotape machines, (I know you have them) what happened to the assistant who was standing behind the Houdini Water Torture Tank, wearing a purple robe? Don't write and tell me he ran off with the others, he didn't. Don't suggest that he probably did this or that, he probably didn't.
Don't remind me of D.H. running off to get the axe, I saw that. If you do write, just tell me where the hell the assistant in the purple robe went to I'm worried, he had such an interesting face.
In the current copy of the World's Only Magical Weekly there was a leaflet advertising the formation of a Magic Club which is biased towards close-up work and to promote themselves they're having a close-up convention. I don't have the relevant details before me but I do recall it's based in Swindon. A worthy
effort, which may see a few more afficionados of the rolled up piece of felt on their way to fame and fortune. Mind you, the fact that they are biased towards close-up work doesn't guarantee anything. I know one magical organisation where the main interest is magic, but
Do you want to learn a new coin vanish? One you can perform in the nude? One where the coin really goes? You do? Gee, thanks. Well try this.
Show a coin lying on the right fingers. Hold the left hand up, palm up, alongside the right. Turn the right hand over and apparently drop the coin on to the left hand, actually retaining it in the right finger palm. Now two things happen at one and the same time. The left fingers close over the coin??? and at the same time the right hand travels back towards the left wrist and half throws, half drops, the coin on the left arm just at the crook of the elbow. The left hand, held closed, is raised a little, which helps the coin on its way into the fold of flesh and at the same time traps the coin. The left hand now turns back up and the left elbow points out to the left. The coin is trapped between the left forearm and the bisep. The right fingers tap the back of the left hand and both hands open out fully palms towards spectators and separate slightly to frame the face. Try it, it works. If you decide to try it in the nude and wish to dispose of the coin, use a small one, otherwise you may have to enlarge your portable servant. Patrick Page
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