IN those early days when I first became a member of The Magic Circle, Douglas Dexter proved at that time that artistry in magic was a personal thing and not just something that went with the trick. Everything he touched had that meticulous thought and care which made the difference between a trick and a feat of magic. In the effect to be described, originally published in one of my friend Percy Naldrett's books, and now reprinted with his permission, Dexter shows the finesse that can come to the handling of a three way forcing pack. The technique used for changing the pack may, in these days of bashing things out, seem to date a little, but it serves to make many of us think how much many modern magicians have slipped back. Whereas, Hoffman writing in * Later Magic' in 1904 was describing the latest positioning of pockets and commenting that " the magician, of the 20th century in this, as in many other directions has improved considerably upon his predecessor of the last generation," it is sad to think that the two generations following, have, in the main made little advance at all. The use of subtle pocket work is to-day the prerogative of a very few, those using it finding what a great aid it becomes in their work. The two changes of packs described by Dexter, one of which was at that time quite standard with many performers, were used by him at times when performing the blindfold card stab, a trick in which he varied the procedure time and time again. With this brief note we'll leave you to enjoy reading and later we hope performing a card trick which is truly a miracle. P.W.
THE results obtained by the use of a forcing pack do not always justify the risks which are incurred by its employment. One has only to refer to the innumerable card effects described in the vast collection of books, pamphlets, and magazines on the subject, to find that the explanation of many of them begin with the words, " A forcing pack is used,—" but no advice is given as to the introduction of such a pack, or the care required for its safe concealment throughout the experiment. To use a forcing pack for concert or drawing-room work in one card effect only, or even the first of several, is simply courting disaster. It must be cunningly substituted for an ordinary pack previously used in one or two effects and handled, if possible, by one or more members of the audience, and it must be as discreetly withdrawn afterwards. An audience is always suspicious of the performer's own pack, innocent though it may be. Unwilling to admit that there is anything they cannot understand, they murmur amongst themselves, "A trick pack, I expect." Some even, from a book, or some bungling performer, have learnt that there is such a thing as a pack with the cards—or most of them all alike! One must be prepared for requests from such people to examine the pack.
The following, however, is an illustration of the correct use of a forcing pack, and, I think, justifies its employment. After exhibiting one or two effects with an obviously innocent pack, the performer, adopting an impressive manner, states that he will attempt an experiment with certain forces over which he has only partial control, and that therefore he cannot guarantee success. He requests a member of the audience who is a card player to shuffle the pack, and, while this is being done, he asks for the willing co-operation and assistance of another member of the audience, such volunteer being invited on to the platform. Having obtained from him the admission that he is in an impartial observer, and that he will not mind doing a little running about for the performer, he is handed pack and requested to deal it out on the table in separate heaps of three cards at a time; as many heaps as he likes, but six or seven is suggested as being enough. He is then requested to pick up—while the performer turns his back upon the table—any heap he likes and to take these three cards down and distribute them among any three members of the audience. Meanwhile the performer collects the rest of the cards from the table and finally, with apologies, turns his back once more on the audience, while he asks those who have the cards to hold them up for all to see. The performer, having faced round again, shows his assistant a number of plain white cards, one of which he is asked to select and initial. This is then dropped into a borrowed hat or large bowl together with a piece of pencil. The spectators holding cards are asked to concentrate on them for a moment, and the assistant is then asked to remove the card from the hat. Scrawled across the non-initialled side are found the names of two of the cards. Professing some disappointment that the experiment is not a complete success, the performer says he will try to finish it another way, this time aided by the transmission of thought. He requests the assistant to blindfold him, then to take down the pack for the cards to be replaced, including the one whose name is still to be discovered, to shuffle thoroughly, and finally to spread out the cards face down all over the table. The performer then moves his wand mysteriously about over them, eventually resting one end lightly upon one card. He then, after a mental effort, " reads " the name, and immediately lifts up the wand with the card adhering to the end and facing the audience, and it is seen to be the one he has named. Whipping off the blindfold he bows to the applause which should surely follow such a feat.
For the working of this effect three packs are required: a forcing pack of three cards, 17 of each, and two ordinary packs to match. To avoid needless repetition I will refer to these packs as A, B and C. The first pack A is quite unprepared and should be used in one or two previous card effects, which should be of such a nature that the cards are freely shown, handled and shuffled. B is the forcing pack consisting of three cards repeated throughout 17 times, e.g. Queen of clubs, six of diamonds, seven of hearts. For this pack a pocket is made consisting of two broad strips of black elastic sewn together in the shape of a T, and with the three ends so formed sewn to the cloth of the left trouser leg midway between the side and back of the thigh, and slightly tilted towards the left. In this the pack is gripped securely, but may be instantly removed. If the right position is obtained for this it should be just opposite, and a trifle higher than the mouth of the left profonde. Pack C has the Queen of clubs, six of diamonds, and seven of hearts removed from it. Of these the first two are discarded entirely, but the seven of hearts has a small mark made on the back of it. This mark should only be just large enough for the performer to distinguish it easily; a slight extra shading by means of ink in some part of the pattern in the four corners is usually sufficient.
Pack C, with the prepared card in it, is tucked into the left waistcoat pocket. A dozen or so plain white cards, large visiting card size, are also required. On one of these is scrawled in pencil, " Queen of Clubs, Six of Diamonds." This card is placed writing down on top of the others, which, together with the pencil and the performer's wand, are placed in readiness on the table. A small pellet of wax on the underside of a waistcoat button, a folded newspaper, a small tray and a hat or large bowl at hand complete the requirements.
Having prefaced the experiment with a few remarks on the lines already suggested, hand out pack A to a member of the audience to be shuffled, and ask for your volunteer assistant. Before he comes up take back the pack in the left hand, and as he reaches the platform stand him on your left and turn slightly towards him while you ask him, first, if he will for the satisfaction of everyone, deny all knowledge of what you are about to do, and, secondly, if he will mind doing a little running about for you. During this conversation the left hand hangs by the side and is thus hidden from the audience, and ample time and cover is afforded for A to be dropped into the profonde and B abstracted. Instantly turning to the table the performer moves it slightly forward and places the pack thereon. He then asks his assistant to cut the pack and to deal out three cards together from the top face down on the table, then to deal the next three in another place, and so on six or seven times. The wand may be used to indicate the different places on the table and also to keep the cards in the assistant's hands held near the table top and face down, so that there is no possibility of them being mixed up, or having their faces disclosed. Having done this the performer takes the rest of the cards from him and then says that he will turn his back towards the table, and that, while so standing, he would like the assistant to pick up one of the heaps of three cards, look at them, and take them down to any three members of the audience he likes. While he is in the audience the performer gathers up the cards from the table and replaces them, packet by packet, on the bulk of the pack held in the left hand. He then offers to turn his back again while the three cards in the audience are held up for all to see. As soon as he has turned round the right hand lifts out pack C from the waistcoat pocket, while the left moves across the front of the body with pack B, towards the right inside breast pocket of the coat, into which B is dropped, while C in the right hand is carried out to the right and held there for a moment at arm's length. By this time the cards in the audience should have been taken down, so the performer faces the audience and quite naturally and unostentatiously lays the pack on the tray. He then picks up the visiting cards and fans them out for one to be selected by the assistant. Immediately closing up the fan he palms off the top card and asks the assistant, having seen that both sides of his card are blank, to replace it on the rest and then to pick up the pencil from the table with which to initial it. Meanwhile the palmed card is replaced in the usual way while squaring up the pack. It is then held out for the assistants initials to be written on. The two top cards are then lifted slightly, but held tightly together as one card, and turned over to show once more the blank side of the intialled (?) card. In turning the two cards back again the under one is slipped back on to the pack by the right finger tips in the manner of the familiar card change, while the top one is moved away, initialled side uppermost, and dropped into the hat, if possible so that it falls reversed, with the writing side uppermost.
The performer then quickly throws in the pencil and covers the hat with the folded newspaper or a borrowed handkerchief. After the necessary concentration, and a slight pause for dramatic effect, the hat is handed to the assistant, who is asked to remove the card and to read out the names. As he does so the spectators holding those cards are asked to acknowledge them.
Finding that only two cards have been named, the conjurer, working up to the climax as impressively as possible, asks the assistant to blindfold him, to hand him the wand, and then to take down the pack on the tray and have all three cards replaced and the pack shuffled. He is then asked to bring back the pack and to spread the cards out, backs up, all over the table. While this is going on the performer transfers the wax pellet to the end of his wand, and, standing behind the table, locates the marked card amongst the others while moving his wand about over them. Then, pressing the waxed end of the wand on to the marked card, he announces the name, and hearing that it is correct—which it must be—he lifts up the card on the end of the wand and shows that he has not only correctly named the card without sight, but has discovered it without touch.
There are one or two points to which I should like to call attention:
1. The changes from pack A to B, and from B to C are made right at the beginning of the experiment, and almost before anything has happened. From this point onward, the conjurer should lay great stress upon the fact that he does not handle the cards at all, but that all the handling and dealing of the cards is carried out by the gentleman who is assisting him. Owing to the lapse of time and the numerous distractions which occur after pack C is put on the table it will be found that the majority of the audience are quite convinced that the performer never touches the pack throughout.
2. The method of having the forcing pack dealt in heaps of three, each of which must consist of the required cards, and then allowing a free choice of any heap, completely negatives any idea of pre-arranged cards, even should such a suspicion arise in the mind of anyone.
3. During the exchange of packs B and C it is extremely unlikely that anyone will look at the performer at all, as all attention is drawn to the cards held up by the three spectators.
4. When the third card, the seven of hearts, is shuffled into pack C, there is, of course, the marked duplicate already there, but the chance f against this being discovered are practically nil.
" Another point in being agreeable is never to offer to show a trick unless you have been requested to do so provided, of course, you are known to the group to be a magician."
John Mulholland ..." Magic for Entertaining "
np HE ADVENT of Charming Pollock at the j[ Palladium has shown magicians in London, that there is no set formula for a truly successful magic act. Twice within a matter of months, we have had the pleasure of seeing two American magicians take big billing at the greatest variety house in the country and prove stars in their own rights. One looks forward to the day when a British act can play the same house in a similar spot with similar success.
A point of interest because ventriloquism is so often allied with magic, is that whilst magicians in this country with very few exceptions have failed to hit the highspots because of their allegiance to tricks, the vents, through a variety of means have established themselves as household favourites.
Until now space, or rather lack of it, has not allowed us to give a full appreciation of the late Victor Farelli. Farelli was a character in magic, a friendly soul and one whose grounding was in the old school which allied skill to tradition. He was a man of strict conventions and he had not reached that easy stage of conversation when everyone is addressed by their Christian names. I can think of very few magicians who addressed him by his Christian name, and he in return kept to this same rule. I can remember how, only a few days before his death he suprised Dai Vernon in this respect. Few magicians in this country had seen him perform, and though I knew him over the course of very many years, I only saw him perform one trick and that was at my own house.
The subject of the 4 Repeater' watch trick had arisen, for it was one that always took my fancy. To my surprise, Farelli produced from his pocket a beautiful repeater watch, and then showed me how he made use of it. Taking a pack of cards he asked one of the company to select one and without looking at it to place it in his pocket. The purpose of this experiment he told the spectator is to make that card leave your pocket without my touching it in any way. The cards were then placed aside and he removed the repeater watch and the chain attached to it from his pocket. He asked the spectator if he had in his possession such a watch, and then proceeded to show him how at each hour of the watch chimed. The watch had other properties; it could find out the name of a chosen card. The spectator was asked to listen and with a coding of one chime for clubs, two for hearts, three for spades and four for diamonds, the watch indicated a suit. The value of the card was then ascertained in a similar way, and supposing the net result was the nine of diamonds, the spectator who had the card in his pocket was asked whether that were correct. Having by this time forgotten that the original proposition was that the card should leave his pocket without the performer touching, he fell into the trap by removing it himself and confirming that the watch had quite correctly indicated the card of his choice. The true climax came of course when Farelli added that he has succeeded in his original intention, namely making the card leave the spectator's pocket without touching it in any way.
One had to admire Farelli for his great thoroughness in his writings, and though, because of his love of detail, many well versed in magic found such meticulousness rather irritating, Farelli did the right thing in assuming that the reader in attempting to follow the description of a trick started from scratch. There was nothing slipshod about Farelli, and his various writings stand as excellent models for other writers on magic.
We should like to draw our readers' attention to the new address of Oscar Oswald. It is 7, Duke Street Hill, London Bridge, S.E.I.
Elizabeth Warlock came back from Amsterdam with the biggest bouquet of flowers we have ever seen. She told us what an " Out of this World " act we had missed in being absent when our good friend Fred Kaps won, for the second time, the Grand Prix. The congratulations of everyone will go to this great Dutch magician who, as we wrote so very many years ago, has every gift that a great conjurer needs, good looks, natural charm and great skill. He deserves all the success that has come to him and we hope it will not be long before we see him once again in this country.
The advance B.B.C. TV programmes show that in the field of popular entertainment that every attempt will be made to compete with the much advertised Commercial programmes which are imminent. Among the many series of programmes planned, it is good to see that every other Friday has been reserved for an all magical
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