The Undying Flame

note is burning and is more concerned with his efforts to beat the candle in its determination to relight.

I have watched many performers present the burnt note in the envelope and many times have I been convinced that the performer must experience great difficulty in finding sufficient reasons to stall until the envelope is almost completely burnt.

Here. I think, is the answer. The complete absorption in the re-lighting candle. Finally in desperation, the performer takes the candle from its stick, turns it upside down and rams it, flame downwards into the stick. Only then does he notice the plight of the borrowed note, and the remainder of the routine is then up to the performer. We will deal with that later.


As you will have guessed a re-lighting wick is used, and for this a "Fairy Light" taper is required. It is obviously best to use an ordinary candle in preference to any imitation type, as being more convincing in appearance. With the candle to hand, cut away, quite close to the wax, the existing wick, and then with a small twist drill or, if you prefer it, a hot knitting needle, make a hole about half an inch deep down the centre of the candle. Into this insert a one-and-a-half inch piece of "Fairy-Light" Taper; light the "wick" and allow it to burn down to a reasonable length and then extinguish the flame. I find it best to nip the wick between two coins, holding them there until the 'glow' has been taken from the wick. You can, if you possess a hard skin, snuff the flame with the finger and thumb, but there is a risk of burning oneself, and the coins are safer.

That deals with the faking of the candle, but one little tip might be useful here. If you wish to obtain an instant flame when applying the match during presentation, touch the wick with a spot or two of petrol just prior to the performance. The 'wick' will then light instantly the match is applied.


The envelope can be prepared by previously inserting a folded piece of paper, of the same size as the folded note will be. in order, later on. to be able to show the 'shadow' of the note. but. for myself, I prefer to show the envelope empty before the note is inserted.

A little extra preparation is necessary, but 1 think it is worth it.

Take an extra envelope and remove the back, this latter part being retained for use. Trim it on its three sides (the fourth side, bear in mind, will have a segment missing, where the flap was intended to fold over) so that it will easily fit inside the envelope, but before inserting it, paint a small rectangle, using Indian Ink, on what was the outside of the paper before you parted it from the front of the envelope, such rectangle to be the same size as a folded note. Paint the rectangle slightly askew to the envelope, and when dry, lightly paste the envelope back at the edges and insert it into the envelope, pressing the pasted edges well down.

Viewed from the inside or outside, you will now have a perfectly normal envelope, but if a light is held behind it, a black rectangle will show to emulate a folded note. The advantage here is that the envelope can be shown empty before inserting the note. So much for the candle and the envelope.


Now comes the most important part of the preparation—the apparent careless positioning of the candle, so that the flame, when it re-appears, will be right under the envelope. The clip for the envelope plays an important part in these arrangements and I suggest that you obtain one of the type used mostly by tobacconists to display pipes. These have a heavy circular base, from which springs a thin stem and mounted on top is an adjustable clip, adjustable to almost any angle.

With this to hand, place an envelope in the clip, and this will give you some idea of the height of the candle in its stick. The 'wick' should be approximately half an inch below the envelope. If you decide you can best work the effect directly on your table top, then in order to position the clip and the candlestick correctly, you can resort to simple expendient of knocking in three small nails or brads in the form of a triangle, so that the envelope clip will always go in the same place. With the candlestick placed directly under the envelope, three more brads are placed, again in the form of a triangle. That is, one at the front of the base, nearest the audience, and one on each side of the base, each brad touching the base of the candlestick.

Thus, if you were to place the candlestick down on the table and slide it towards the brads, these will have the effect of positioning the candlestick in the same place every time.

A much better idea however, is to use a small tray, especially allotted to this effect. That way, you will leave your table top clear for other effects, in addition to the advantage of being able to bring forward all the bits and pieces required, the matches, the envelope, the clip and the candlestick, all ready set, and to clear them just as quickly when the effect is over. Any burnt pieces of envelope which may fall will be caught on the tray, thus avoiding damage to the table top or any other props. I once had the misfortune to badly char a silk handkerchief which was also on the table and from this I realised the importance of a tray for the note effect.


The tray, however (and I am referring of course to a rectangular one) has the added advantage that it allows you to position the envelope clip and the candlestick so easily and without the use of brads. The tray, of course, must have a surrounding bead, as most trays have.

Imagine, with the tray in front of you, you were to place the candlestick down and push it to the front right hand corner, you will agree that, on repeating the action the candlestick will always land in the same place. Good. With the candlestick in that position, set the envelope clip so that the envelope comes directly over the candle, in a position to be burnt. Now with a pencil score round the base of the clip thus giving yourself a sort of 'marker' where to place the clip at each performance. You can, if you prefer, cut a small circular recess in the tray to accommodate the clip base, but I hardly think that is necessary, and you will agree that the arrangement just detailed is simple in the extreme.

The "accident" portion of the routine will now be apparent. Having borrowed the note and folded it to match the black "shadow", it is apparently placed in the envelope (we will deal with that part later on) and the envelope is placed in the clip, at the same time as you ascertain that the clip is positioned inside the marked circle on the tray.

Take up the candle, light it and move it behind the envelope, so that the 'shadow' can be seen, and then deliberately blow out the candle flame, and place the candlestick on the tray, push ing it to the right front corner. The blowing out of the flame will, for a moment or so, upset any anticipations the audience might have had that you were going to set fire to the envelope.

The surprise comes when, you having taken up your position front stage in order to recap on what has been done, the candle relights itself, and eventually sets fire to the envelope, just the very thing you had tried (?) to avoid. Give the envelope a little time to burn before you become aware of what the audience is getting disturbed about, and even then, when you do comprehend go hurriedly to the tray and pick up the candlestick, completely ignoring the burning envelope.

Contemplate the candle flame for a moment, then very deliberately blow it out again. Wait a moment, and when it re-lights, apparently lose your patience and ram it the wrong way up into the candlestick. By now the envelope should be almost destroyed, or the damage should be so far advanced as to make it impossible for you to do anything about it. Thus, I think you will have brought about, not only an "accidental", but a magical, destruction of the envelope. The magical re-lighting of the candle should cause your audience to ponder, maybe not at the time, for they will be too engrossed in the destruction of the note, but later on, maybe yes.


The complete routine of borrowing, burning and restoring a note has many phases and each phase is variable.

(1) The note may be genuinely borrowed or it may be 'planted' with an obliging stooge. In the latter case, the 'planting' may be done, with a view to overcoming any stalling on the part of the audience to part with the required note, in other words, to cut out any delay. Such procedure may not entail the actual giving of a note to the stooge to hand up later, but may merely be that the performer has arranged with the obliging stooge to hand up a note of his own, if there is the slightest delay.

If the performer does resort to actually 'planting' the note with the stooge, then he may take advantage of the fact that the number will be known beforehand and a duplicate can be prepared for di 3 very later on.

One such method is to obtain two notes which are consecutive in number, and with a typewriter eraser rub out the last number on each note.


If you are giving a children's show for an hour or so, you will find it to your advantage if you can allow all of them to let off steam half way through.

I have used the following item for two seasons and have proved its success.

Two gaily coloured tubes are shown, each with a black musical motif as decoration.

Inform the youngsters that you will withdraw pictures from each tube which will represent grand Christmas melodies, "which we are all going to sing".

Hold first tube up for inspection (a la ghost tube). Touch it with wand and withdraw the first Ask them which song it represents and when they have guessed correctly get them started singing it. Not a difficult feat if your first silk is "Jingle Bells". Show second tube empty and carry on as above. When I say "carry on" I mean it. Swing your wand like a conductor's baton and move snappily in what ever space is allotted you. You'll enjoy it as much as the kids !

The Ghost tubes are easily made from two empty canisters with bottoms removed and a couple of "shilling" size ice cream cones. Try different sizes of tins until you get a good fit, apply a suitable adhesive and start decorating. Outside could be red or yellow with bold musical note, tapered inset bright blue inside.

Silks should be white and about 12" square with appropriate paintings on them. These can be copied from music sheet drawings or Christmas cards.

Th£ ones I used were "Jingle Bells" (Xmas card copy), "Good King Wenceslaus". "White Christmas" ("XMAS" on a white silk) and "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer" (music sheet copy). Try it out and give yourself a treat!

Thus you have two perfect duplicates, the one being a duplicate of the other. I have no knowledge of this having been done extensively, indeed I think that most performers would hesitate to use this method with currency notes, for it is well known, or should be, that it is illegal to mutilate currency. It has, I am sure been done with postal order of much lower value than a note, but whether this is illegal, I am not prepared to say.

In the case of a note being genuinely borrowed, again, from there on, the procedure may vary. If it is intended to openly place what appears to be a note inside the envelope, then it will be necessary to:—•

(2) Switch the note. One of the usual billet switches may be employed here, the performer already having the dummy note palmed in readiness. The dummy note is eventually placed, in full view, into the envelope, and the latter and the dummy destroyed.

Or—the switch may occur in the actual process of placing the note in the envelope. The latter already contains a dummy note and the genuine note is either placed inside the envelope and pulled out again through a razor-made slit or the note may never go inside the envelope at all, being actually placed behind the envelope and eventually drawn into the hand holding the latter. With the 'note' safely installed inside there then follows the phase of:—

(3) Burning the envelope. As pointed out above there are various presentations for this. The performer may deliberately fire the envelope, on the grounds that magic may be employed to overcome even such complete destruction as fire. Or— the presentation may take the form of an accident, as previously mentioned. To complete any routine there naturally follows:—

(4) The recovery of the note. The variations of this denoument must run into scores. The eventual recovery may be brought about almost immediately after the destruction, or, the performer may do a certain amount of stalling, as witness Cecil Tebbitt's "Up the Garden Path". It may even be that the performer completely forgets (?) about the note and its recovery comes much later in the act and, we hope, as a complete surprise to the audience.

Regarding all these phases, I hope to deal with each one more fully in future articles. Next month I shall hope to describe a borrowed note effect which I have used for more years than I care to remember, a method which employs no mechanical or ordinary candle, no envelope, indeed none of the usual procedures or accessories, but in which the recovery is startling and unexpected. So—till next month, just try out the "Undying Flame".

Yours magically,

Harpenden, Herts.

Dear Mr. Andrews.

As you know, I bought your Tapers recently. There doesn't seem to be much reason why a Magician should have lighted tapers on the stage with him in the first place and I have thought up the following little idea which you might like to use in your Magazine.

The stage lights are put out just before the performer goes on and he makes his way to the centre with a lighted taper in each hand. A slight pause and the stage lights come on again. He looks up, says, "Ah ! that's better. Sorry about that temporary black-out, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Stage Manager pushed these in my hand and told me, to get on and tell a joke or two. Won't need them now". Blows out first one and then the other. When they relight, he says, "Well, it seems I'd better tell you the story about..." and runs into his routine.

Some magicians might like to use the old gag of having their backs to the audience when the stage lights come on again and turn round with "Oh ! There you are!"

All good wishes.


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