This is a first class example of how a very simple trick can be turned into a spectacular feat by the use of a modicum of showmanship. Barrie has been using this effect for some years now and admits that it has become one of his firm favourites.
Barrie points out that neither the effect nor the method are outstandingly original, however, the routining and presentation combine to produce a piece of mental magic, which is unusual and will be long remembered. It can be used under fairly intimate conditions or before large gatherings. It is not, table top magic but is small enough to work to a group of twelve or more people (anything up to 500 or more). The best way to describe the effect is to give a more or less verbatim account of Barrie's own patter.
"Would several gentlemen please take out their wallets and remove a pound note (being American, Barrie says dollar bill). Carefully fold it in half and in half again, so that the numbers cannot be read.
"Will you each hold up the note and have a good look at it. Can you see through it? No! You cannot! Locked inside each bill are the eight figures and two letters that give every note its own separate identity.
"I would like two ladies to help me. Would you please go around and randomly collect up a few of the notes!
"Drop the notes onto the table, please! It is imperative that I do not get to touch them. I will turn my back and, while I cannot see, would one of the ladies please pick up two notes. Have you done that? Good! Please drop one back onto the table!
"Madam, you are holding just one note. Would you please come and stand on my left hand side. Would the other lady stand on my right. Please place the note onto my open left hand — but keep a hold of it! Move it slowly! Good!
"I will attempt to reveal the first six numbers. As I say each number, I will point to a gentleman and ask him to stand up. As each gentleman stands up, I would like him to remember the number that I assign to him. At the end of the experiment, I will ask each gentleman to sit down, if he hears his number called. Is that understood!
I will try to read the first six numbers by a sense of touch alone. I thing that the first one is a three. Would you sir please stand up and remember the number three! The second may be a four. Could you (another gentleman) stand, sir, and please remember the number four! And you, sir! Could you, also stand and remember the number seven? Would this gentleman be kind enough to stand, as well, and keep in mind the number nought? I would ask you, sir, to stand and memorise the number nine and this gentleman to help by remembering eight.
"I have tried to read the first six digits, using a sense of touch only. Now, you two ladies are going to "do the hard part. You are going to transmit the last two figures, using mental telepathy. Which one of you would like to be the sender? Please take the note, open it, so that you alone can read the number. Look ,at the last two digits, only. I now want you to send the first number, through me, to the lady on my left.
"(The performer takes hold of the hands of the two ladies) I will call off the numbers. 0 . . 1 ..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9. Madam, (to the lady, who is supposedly receiving the 'transmission') please name a figure! Three, she says. Let us now repeat the process. Madam, will you please try to transmit the second digit, (business is repeated and second number is named).
"We now have all of the numbers. I will ask the lady, who has the note, to read the number aloud for the first time. If the first six digits were devined correctly, each of these gentlemen will sit down as a number is called. Madam, would you please begin!"
The lady reads out the numbers and, as each is called, the men sit down, domino fashion. After the first six numbers have been called and the gentlemen are seated, the performer breaks in . . .
"Ladies and Gentlemen, my accomplishment is a modest one. However, if these two ladies correctly transmitted and received the last two figures, they deserve a thunderous applause. The numbers, which the lady said were three and six. Madam, what are the last two figures on the note? Three and six!"
Audience applauds the two ladies and, of course, the performer.
The whole thing hinges on a subtle bill switch. The manner of switching and the way, in which the routine has been put together, represent a marvellous blend of subtlety and misdirection. It is worthy of the closest study, even by those who will never make use of it. The whole thing is an object lesson in simplicity, subtlety, misdirection and showmanship. In many ways, it is reminiscent of the type of magic that the late,.lamented Maurice Fogel built his reputation on. Reading Barrie's manuscript, I could almost visualise the Amazing Fogel presenting it.
The mechanics of the switch were developed by Barrie from an idea by A1 Baker. Some fifty years ago, he described an excellent switch, using a thumb tip. Barrie has adapted this move, in a manner that makes an already good thing into an even better one.
The thumb tip should be a long one and, as it will be worn on the middle finger, rather than the thumb, not too wide.
The bill is folded as in figs 1 to 4. It is then inserted into the tip, which is placed on the middle finger, of the right hand.
Before going any further with the description of the routine, we will describe the actual switch. Later the explanation of how and when it is used, will be given. The move is performed in the following manner:—
1) Lay a folded note on the palm of the left hand as shown in fig 5.
2) The right hand comes over, as shown in fig 6 to apparently take the note away. As it reaches the position, shown in the picture, the left thumb closes inwards, clamping the tip and the folded note against the palm. At the same moment, the right middle finger leaves the tip, drawing the note out.
3) As the note leaves the tip, it springs open (the newer it is, the better it will do this). It is held aloft between the right fingers and thumb.
4) The left hand tilts, palm away from the
4) The left hand tilts, palm away from the audience and finger palms the original note and the tip, to be disposed ot at leisure.
It is very important that the switch be executed on the "off beat", when no particular attention is being paid to the hands. There are no "moves" as such and the whole thing is covered easily and naturally, in the presentation.
The working of the routine should be more or less self evident, at this stage. Start by having the thumb tip loaded with a note, the number of which has been previously committed to memory.
Have the gentlemen produce the notes and the ladies collect them up. Have one chose, in the manner outlined and have it placed onto your left palm. Let the lady on that side keep her finger on it. This is apparently to preclude the note being switched. In fact, it does not matter because you will not be doing the exchange just yet, anyway.
Start to reveal the first six numbers of your memorised note and ask six gentlemen to stand up and remember them. So far, no trickery has taken place.
The switch comes, when you ask the lady, on the right to be the "sender" and transmit the last two numbers to the other assistant. In fact, you say, "... Which one of you would like to be the sender . . ."As you do so, look at the lady, on the right and, without waiting for an answer, apparently hand her the note. This is when you make the switch. You have asked a question. You have directed all attention towards the lady. The misdirection is complete. The other lady may still have her finger on the note but, if as you turn to look at the right hand assistant, you drop the left hand, quickly, she will have to let it go. The switch happens so rapidly that it seems impossible for the bill to have ever left the sight of the audience.
Hand the switched note the lady on the right. Ask her to hold it so that she alone can see the number. While matters are thus arranging themselves, you have ample time to quietly pocket the original note and the thumb tip.
Take a hold of the hands of the two women and slowly raise them to waist height as you count from nought to nine. Keep your attention fixed on the "sender". When you reach the first number that you want "transmitted", simply press your finger into the palm of the lady on the left. Do this, as you say the number.
With a little experience, you will find that the lady always gets the message and will quite happily say the required number. Repeat this device for the second digit.
If the lady refuses to co-operate or just fails to understand what is required, this does not matter. Simply announce the numbers yourself. This will solve the problem but is nothing like as strong as having the assistant do it.
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