In Search Of The Lost Half

There are many methods available for the searching magician who desires to switch a borrowed cigarette for one of his own in order to bring about a successful climax. What I am now about to describe has many points in its favour.

It often becomes necessary during the course of a certain trick to substitute a prepared cigarette for one that had been freely handed to the performer. In my version, about to be explained, you receive a borrowed cigarette on the palm of the left hand which you appear to pick with the fingers of the right and place directly between your lips. This is how you proceed.

You have a prepared cigarette hanging on a bobby pin under the right side of your coat. Stretch out the left hand and ask for a cigarette. When it ¡s dropped on your palm, roll it to the base of the fingers, i.e. the junction of the fingers with the pafm. However, as you bend forward to receive the cigarette, you steal the prepared one from under your coat and retain it pinched flat, between the tips of the first two fingers of right. Fig. 1. depicts the precise manner in which the prepared cigarette is concealed in the right hand.

Move both hands, in unison, towards each other. Place the right hand over the cigarette just given to you and grip it between the tip of the third finger and the cushion parted the palm just under the thumb. Without altering the position of the left hand, which should be still retained at about waist level so that the spectator can have a clear view of the palm, you now begin to move the right hand towards the mouth and at same time lever up the prepared cigarette with the thumb. The prepared cigarette is now placed

Figure 1.

between the lips in exactly the same manner as when naturally placing a cigarette in the mouth for lighting.

The borrowed cigarette remains hidden in the right hand between the tip of the third finger and cushion part of palm. Fig. 2. clearly illustrates how the exchange is affected. The interior of the palm is exposed in our picture merely to clarify instructions.

Having put the cigarette between the lips, the right hand is now lowered to about waist level while the left hand reaches into the trouser pocket in search of a lighter. Not finding the lighter there the left hand emerges from the pocket and removes the cigarette from the mouth between fingers in the traditional smoker's style while the right this time moves into the other pocket and withdraws the lighter. Needless to mention the borrowed cigarette is disposed of in the process.

Figure 2.

This is the simple switch which I am sure you will find of great use when planning the type of trick which necessitates substitution of one cigarette for another. In order to appreciate its finer points just stand in front of a mirror and go over my instructions. You can execute this switch literally under the nose of an observer without any need for hurried actions.

I shall now describe and explain a trick from my personal repertoire employing this switch. It is one of my favourite routines with a borrowed note. I shall first describe the effect as viewed by the spectators and then touch upon the details of the method.

Magician borrows a note. While holding it to view between his hands he enquires if it is marked money. Of course, the answer will be in the negative. So the performer adds . . . "In that case sir, you wouldn't recognise it should you ever see it again". He tears the note into halves. After crumpling one of the two parts into a wad he returns i'r to the lender with the remarks "You had better keep half—you see I am a cautious fellow I would like to reduce my liability should things go wrong".

Magician now wraps his half of the note in a handkerchief and then deposits the bundle in a tumbler. WaFking to the front of the stage with the tumbler he says "I want to borrow again ... I know it's a bad habit but I can't help it . . . it's in my blood. This time I don't want anything of much value

. . . I just want to borrow a gentleman". When the gentleman arrives, the magician hands him the tumbler and cautions that he keeps his eyes on the contents. Turning to the owner of the note he says "While the gentleman is keeping his eyes on the tumbler, you'd better keep yours on him". Performer now offers to send the half of the note in the tumbler to join its counterpart in the hands of the owner. The owner is first told to close his fingers into a fist over his half of the note.

The magician now goes through the gestures of making a pass from the tumbler towards the lender of the note. In due course the gentfeman is asked to open his hand but something seems to have gone wrong for all he has is the first half of the note which the magician handed him. Feigning surprise the magician says "I am afraid money cannot go that far these days". Directing the assistant to remove the other half from the handkerchief, he offers to employ another means of sending it to the owner. When the assistant investigates he finds the second half missing.

"Too bad for the owner" says the magician at this point, "I used only half, the note and hence the trick only worked half way". Addressing the owner the magician remarks, "Did you keep your eyes on this gentfeman" and when he replies he did the magician retorts "The responsibility in that case is yours . . . I wasn't watching him".

Suddenly as though struck by an idea, the magician picks up a paper bag. He ex-p'a'ns that it is a wishing bag and was given to him by an old gipsy. The gipsy said that anything lost would be found inside it if one wished hard enough. Handing the bag to the assistant the magician instructs him to withdraw the missing half and then hand it to the owner. Magician walks away as /the assistant begins to open the bag. The spectators start to laugh as the assistant brings out a banana which he finds in the bag. Magician appears surprised . . . and then he develops another brain storm . . . perhaps the half of the bill is inside the fruit. The assistant is directed to peel the banana but as the note is still not found he is asked to take a bite . . . "May be it's right inside". After the first bite, the volunteer is asked to take another and then another until he is obliged to consume the entire fruit. This interlude cannot miss and raises a great deal of laughter.

The magician now seems frustrated and offers to do another trick to compensate for the one that failed. He now tries to borrow a watch as no one will trust him with one after the last mishap, he compromises for a cigarette. When he is given one, he lights it and continues to enjoy his smoke. Apparently there is something wrong with it for he starts coughing. When the cigarette is burst-open the missing half of the note is found inside which he returns to the owner and all ends happily. That much for the effect and now for the modus operandi.


Tear a note of your own in halves. Roll one half and insert it into a cigarette. You will have to pinch out some tobacco first to accommodate the half note. This is best done with a pair of tweezers. The other half of the note is crumpled into a wad and laid aside. Procure a large banana; put in into a paper sack and then tie the mouth with ribbon. The prepared cigarette ¡s suspended on a bobby pin under the coat. The crumpled wad of half note is placed in an easily accessible place. The bag with the banana and tumbler are on a nearby table.

Have your half of the note palmed in the right hand. Take the borrowed note and tear it in halves. You now display one half in each hand. Start to crumple the piece in the right hand and during this operation you exchange the borrowed half for the one you had concealed in that hand. This is all done with the one hand alone. With the same hand you offer the lender your half of the note . . . apparently the original half from the borrowed note.

At this point you have one crumpled wad concealed in the right hand and the other half which is NOT crumpled on view in the left hand. Take this away in the right hand and start to crumple this as well with the one hand alone. Now comes a piece of NATURAL SUBTLETY. When going through the action of wadding this second half of the note you actually ROLL IT AROUND THE WAD THAT IS CONCEALED IN THE SAME HAND. At the conclusion you are able to show just one crumpled wad which conveys in a tacit manner the most convincing impression that you have only the one half. Actually you have BOTH halves of the SAME note rolled around each other.

Pick up the handkerchief and go through the pretended action of rolling it around the half in your hand. Walk towards the table as you hold the loosely wound cambric in one hand while the wad of the half note is palmed in the other. While placing the hankerchief within the tumbler you get rid of the palmed half note into your pocket on the far side. After placing the handkerchief into the tumbler, you pick up the latter and advance to the front of the stage and ask for a volunteer to come forward. Give him the tumbler to hold in his hand and then you begin the business of passing the half note into the hand of the owner.

In due course when he is asked to withdraw the handkerchief the second half of the note appears to have vanished. From here you work the business with the banana and although in print it does not seem at all funny to be eating a banana, just try it out in public and see the response you get Right here I must say that you must time this banana eating interlude. Allow him to start slowly with little bi tes and then by urging him you get him to speed on.

While the banana episode is in progress you have the most natural form of misdirection at your disposal to get ho'd of the prepared cigarette and retain in the position described in the beginning of this article in readiness for the switch. There is hardly anything further to tell except that you finally borrow a cigarette, effect the switch, find the second half of the note or better still have assistant tear it open and locate the missing part. The two halves you are left with can be exchanged at a bank. What the owner does with the other two halves is his business but if he 'kicks' . . . well you give him a fresh one and then you will have TWO notes to exchange at your bank.


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