Destruction Or Vanish

Under this heading it might be well to deal first of all with routines wherein the actual borrowed note is not switched, but placed in some receptacle for destruction or vanish, and, in actual fact, is retained under control by the performer for iater recovery. Let us take the envelope receptacle, first.

With the note duly extracted, unknown of course to the audience, the performer may resort to the most popular method, that of setting fire to the envelope, either deliberately, or as a well-planned accident.

Alternatively the envelope may be torn into very small pieces and the latter handed out to the lender, for him to discover that no parts of the treasury note remain.

It may be given out just as it is to a member of the audience, for him to discover, later, that the envelope contains—just nothing. Or, on opening the envelope he could find a matching piece of paper with the words printed thereon "I.O.U. £1". Alternatively some satirical wording to the effect "You're a fine Treasurer, you are!" So that we have the destruction of the envelope (and supposedly, the note) by fire, the mutilation of the envelope with no trace of the borrowed money and the opening of the envelope to discover the nonexistence of the note, with, or without the discovery of a written message in its place. So much for the envelope.

To get away from "the envelope eternal", we have the method suggested a few paragraphs back where the borrowed and folded note is placed under a handkerchief and the latter held by an obliging spectator. The hank being pulled away and displayed on both sides, effects the vanish.


A method which I used for a long time and which you might care to try out entails the use of a glass phial, or tube. I chanced to come across a toothbrush case which was made of very light celluloid (plastics as we know them today were not invented then). The toothbrush case pulled apart into two sections, and in themselves formed two phials. After a fair amount of search I found a suitable glass phial (it had contained some medicinal tablets) complete with a metal cap. One part of the toothbrush case just fitted snugly into this, and I trimmed away all the surplus celluloid which protruded over the mouth of the glass tube.

This celluloid insert could be easily extracted with the second finger tip. Now you are well on the way to guessing what happened to the borrowed note!

With the note suitably folded, I introduced the glass tube, complete with cap, removed the latter and placed it temporarily on the table to my left. The note was pushed into the tube (actually going into the celluloid insert) and attention was called to the fact that the note never left the sight of the audience. Reaching over to the left for the metal cap, I turned the glass tube end for end and placed the cap on the wrong end! Nothing untoward was noticeable. Holding the glass tube in the left hand between the second finger tip and the thumb, with the right, I covered it with a handkerchief and gave it to someone to hold. Here are the moves.

Immediately the tube was covered the right took hold of it, from outside, through the hanky, and by the centre of the tube. As the right held the tube, the left second finger was placed into the insert, under cover of the hanky, and the insert and the note withdrawn. The left second finger was then bent into the palm. The left hand was withdrawn from under the handkerchief, and immediately took hold of the tube, again from outside the hanky, the first finger and thumb holding the tube by the ends. In this position, it will readily be appreciated that the draping hanky not only covered the glass tube, but almost the whole of the left hand, insert and all, and the set-up could be shown all round with impunity.

Going to a spectator he was asked to hold the tube, and as I was already holding the ends, he had no alternative but to take it by the centre. In leaving it with the spectator, I kept the palm of my hand carefully away from his gaze and ditched the insert in my pocket. I found it relatively easy to extract the note from the insert under cover of my pocket, but, later, as an improvement, I decided to cut away the bottom of the insert. Thus I found it much easier to extract the note by pushing it through the tube (insert) with my little finger, the note falling out into the pocket. So, if you can find for yourself a small plastic tube and a glass tube or phial to go over it, you might like to try this out.

For the vanish, I found it best to take the handkerchief and tube from the spectator, and lay the tube and that part of the hanky, on the right palm. The left lifted up the rest of the hanky, to disclose the empty tube, and taking this in the left hand and discarding the hanky, the cap was pulled off with an exaggerated tug, as though the cap was rather tight, and as the left hand swung outwards slightly with the tube, the latter was again turned end for end. The move is quite deceptive, and the tube and the cap can then be given out for examination. By now, of course, you will have disposed of the note for later discovery, and the vanish is complete.


The above led to another type of vanish, one which I found very effective. In this instance the whole routine will be given, in brief. You will no doubt be able to work out the details for yourself according to your own manner of presentation.

In the first place I had given an envelope out to be examined and sealed, with the assurance that there was absolutely nothing inside it. This I left in the charge of a spectator and I immediately went on with another trick which had nothing whatever to do with the note effect! There was a certain amount of logic in this procedure (I hope!) for had I gone straight on with the note effect, the spectators would have anticipated, too soon, that the note was to be discovered in the envelope.

Later, I borrowed a pound note, and as I had no switching to do whatever, the condition of the note was in no sense any trouble, by which I mean it didn't matter two hoots whether the note was an old or a new one, or what its colour was (in those days, two shades were prevalent). The note was then folded and placed into the end of a bright brass tube, which had been positively shown empty. With the note tucked into the end of the brass tube, the spectator was asked to hold up the envelope which he himself had sealed some time ago.

I aimed at the envelope, gave a decisive blow through the tube, and immediately passed it out for examination. Taking the envelope, I tore off the end and from the inside of the envelope I produced the very note. This was immediately checked and found to be the original one. The effect was very much appreciated by audiences of all types and certainly did cause some comment. Which maybe goes to prove that, the more simple the effect, the more effective is the simple.

The only other accessory which I have not mentioned, but which you might have guessed, was a thumb tip. There you have the secret, coupled with the essential that the thumb tip should fit comfortably into one end of the tube. With the envelope duly examined and sealed (and do please have this done earlier in the programme, so that by the time you come to the note effect the audience will almost have forgotten about the envelope and will be caught on the off beat) you arrive at the time when you borrow the note. Fold this carefully into the necessary size (determined by that of your thumb tip) and hand it to a nearby spectator to hold for a moment. Pick up the brass tube, and having convinced your audience that it is empty (by passing the wand through it, for instance, or even letting a spectator handle it) you place it momentarily into the right hand, while with the left you reach for the borrowed note. As you take the note, the right thumb, which has on it the thumb tip, is busy pushing the thumb tip into the end of the tube. A slight burr, which has been hammered out at the end of the tip will prevent it going right inside.

Holding the tube at your eye level and consequently above that of the audience, the left puts the note inside and the first finger gives it a poke, as though settling the note in the tube, but really pushing it well down into the tip. Turning to the spectator holding the envelope, you reiterate what previously happened with regard to this, and while attention is drawn to the spectator holding the envelope, the right thumb extracts the thumb tip.

"Blow" the note out of the tube, pass this out and take the envelope. Tear off one end, and insert the thumb (with the tip) inside the envelope, draw out the note slowly, letting the spectators see that it does actually come from the envelope. Leave the tip inside the envelope and screw up the latter into a ball, as though of no further value, and carelessly (?) discard it, where of course you can later recover it in secret. If you will only give this a trial, I think you will continue to use it, and, for the time being at any rate, get away from the much overdone burnt envelope stunt.

Well, for this issue at least, that's your lot, as a well known comedian says, but next month I'll return to the subject, dealing with the recovery of the note and concluding the series with some hints, which I hope you will find acceptable.

Please don't forget that we'd like to have your versions of the Note Trick, especially if you have something just a bit different. We're sharing ours with you. How about you sharing yours with us ?

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