►OFF THE HANDLE
I met Johnny Ramsay on a couple of occasions but only ever saw him perform one trick (The Four Beans), although he was a very close friend of an old friend of mine, Captain F.W. Collins, whom I believe was a founder member of the Order of the Magi.
The Captain often told me of the time when he put Johnny to bed when he had had too much to drink, so from this you will realise they were very well acquainted.
In my early days in conjuring Captain Collins would say to me, "If you are ever at a Convention and see Johnny, you must go up to him and mention my name, and he will show you all sorts of things." In those days Johnny used to give away thimbles with his name on, and so it came about as I was not very forceful in presenting myself, I would go up to him at a Convention and say "Captain Collins "
whereupon Johnny would say "Och aye you want a thimble," so that eventually I ended up with half a dozen thimbles but never got any further!
Perhaps you would be interested in a trick which was a great favourite with Captain Collins and which he kept very much to himself, and I think it was devised during his association with Johnny Ramsay. It was a simple but cunning idea for the release of a china cup from a ribbon or rope.
The ribbon was threaded through the handle of the cup which was then covered with a handkerchief. The Captain now removed the cup which was left together with the ribbon for the closest examination, no clue of the method being evident.
What he did was to have two handles, one of which was stuck to the cup opposite the true handle by means, I believe, of a mixture of gum arabic and china clay. The cup was held in the hand initially so that the genuine handle went between the fingers and was hidden from sight. Under cover of the handkerchief the fake handle was broken away and according to the Captain, if the adhesive mixture was right, there would be no mark left on the cup (or it could easily be removed before the cup was exposed to view).
I well remember the long search'which Captain Collins made for better adhesives to perform this effect. Nowadays I suppose it would not be too hard. I certainly liked the idea of the genuine handle being hidden at the commencement, although I have never done the effect myself.
I corresponded with Captain Collins for a long while and many times he was a guest in my home, but about 5 years ago I heard that he was in hospital in Manchester, and I never heard from him again. I can only believe that as he was over 95 at the time he had departed this life, and my one possible link with Johnny Ramsay was severed.
The magical transposition of a silver and copper coin was a popular plot with John Ramsay, and he had more than one method for achieving this particular effect.
The one to be described uses a shell half-crown, an old penny, and a shim, this latter being a halfcrown ground or filed down until only the face of the coin remains. It must, of course, be the opposite side of the coin from the one on the shell. An extra penny will also be required.
It will be apparent that if the penny is in the shell and the shim put on top forming a kind of lid, the combination can be shown on both sides as a normal coin.
These two particular coins are now out of circulation, but no doubt readers who are really interested will find them or suitable alternatives.
To perform, have the duplicate penny in the right outside coat pocket, and hold the shell with the penny inside and shim on top in the left hand by its edge, between the tips of the thumb and second finger (Fig.l). The shim side is facing the spectators who can see that the hand is empty except for the 'coin'.
The halfcrown is now placed on the right
The halfcrown is now placed in the right hand at the base of the middle fingers, shim side downwards, thus showing the other side of the halfcrown.
Remarking that you will also require a penny, put the now empty left hand into the left outside jacket pocket, and at the same time tilt the right hand so that the halfcrown is concealed from the spectators view. The right thumb then pushes the shell with penny inside towards the finger tips leaving the shim at the base of the middle fingers. Put the thumb under the edge of shell, and lever it up, with the penny inside, to the tips of the fingers. The 'good' side of the halfcrown will now be facing the audience.
Failing to find the penny in the left side coat pocket, the shell with penny inside is transferred to the left hand which holds them by the edges between the thumb and finger tips (Fig.2). The right hand now goes to the right side coat pocket, leaving the shim behind brings out the duplicate penny and holds it by the edge in the same way as the left hand is holding the 'halfcrown'. At this point the performers hands are seen to be completely empty except for the two coins.
Turn the hands palm upwards and advance the right hand towards a spectator asking him to hold the penny for a moment. At the same time tilt the left hand a little letting the penny drop from the shell into the finger palm (Fig.3). Take a shell from the left hand with the right thumb and forefinger holding so that most of the surface of the coin is exposed. The left hand containing the finger palmed penny now apparently takes the halfcrown (shell), but using the Ramsay Coin Vanish as described in chapter 2 of 'The Ramsay Legend' it is retained in the right hand at the base of the fingers. Take the penny from the spectators with the right thumb and forefinger taking care not to expose the finger palmed shell. The right thumb now pulls this penny down into the shell and the fingers close into a fist.
Bring both closed hands, knuckles uppermost and backs to the audience, about level with the chin. Cross the forearms bringing each fist into the position just vacated by the other, pause a second, uncross the arms and pause again. Open both hands slowly, keeping their backs facing the audience, put the thumbs of both hands at the bottom edges of their respective coins and push them slowly towards the tips of the fingers. Continue this pushing action until the coins are at the extreme finger tips exposing as much as possible of their faces, enabling the audience to appreciate that the transposition has occurred, and to see that the hands are empty except for the penny and the half crown.
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