G E Arrowsmith

HERE is an original routine with a standard prop which has proved to be effective for a close-up audience.

As seen by the spectator this is what happens. A photo frame that contains the portrait of any well known deceased magician (or, for that matter, of anyone else) is introduced as an article that is endowed with strange magical power—the influence of the former miracle—worker still pervades it, and enables it to do the impossible.

" Don't take my word for this," says the genial performer, "seeing is believing, so let me convince you by a simple little experiment. First of all we will remove the photo from the frame."

He suits the action to the words, and the audience can see that the frame is undeniably empty. He then hands out a dozen or more paper slips and asks each holder to write the name of any animal—the number of letters not to exceed half a dozen. These slips are then folded and placed in the performer's side pocket after someone has removed its contents and satisfied himself that it is empty.

A pack of Lexicon cards is next shown and thoroughly shuffled. Someone draws one of the slips from the performer's pocket, having a perfectly free choice.

Says the Magician, " Obviously I cannot tell what animal is recorded on your paper, you do not know, none of the audience knows, and, what is more, we won't know until you unfold it and read it out. But this frame, owing to the posthumous influence of its former owner (who, you will remember, was a famous magician), this frame, I repeat, does know, and will reveal it to you in a miraculous manner. We will put this pack of Lexicon cards in contact with it, and wrap a silk handkerchief around both, thus. Now we will place the folded slip on the package, and allow a few moments for deep breathing and mental concentration"—pause—"That is sufficient. If our experiment has been successful we will find that the magic frame has drawn from the pack the actual letters which will spell the name of your chosen animal. Please open the slip and read what is on it. The word CAT? Thank you." The handkerchief is removed, and, sure enough, inside the previously empty frame are three letter cards CAT.

The secret is simple—a sand frame (a most useful prop of Prof. Hoffman vintage) but still obtainable from a magical dealer,) and a coat pocket—a side one for preference—that has been converted into a double pocket on the " changing bag" principle. Into one of its divisions a dozen folded slips are loaded each containing the word C A T. A handkerchief, knife, keys, or-what-have you, are put in the other division, and in due course these are emptied out by the volunteer assistant, the performer obligingly holding the pocket open for him, and, by so doing, making it impossible for him to draw from the wrong division. This explains the forcing of the word. Incidentally 1 claim originality for the idea of using a coat pocket as a changing-bag, although I expect my claim will be challenged immediately by a score of other magicians!

As to the sand frame. I have had one of these by me for many years but have seldom used it, for it seemed to me to be an unconvincing prop. The weak part about it is the inability to open the back and so prove its emptiness. But the method employed in the present effect overcomes that difficulty.

To set the frame first insert the photograph and behind it place the three letter cards. With the sand out of sight, and the photo visible, it will appear to be a very ordinary article. To empty the frame the back is turned towards the audience, and, by the same movement, it is reversed so causing the sand to function. The back is opened slightly and the photo removed, leaving the cards in place, but on turning the frame round they will now be invisible owing to the sandscreen. To the audience it will seem that you have removed the photo by opening the frame and then have shown it to be unmistakably empty.

Further explanation is superfluous. The whole success of the effect depends on those two invaluable qualities—showmanship and cheek, and when you come to think of it, those priceless ingredients form the greater part of most magical marvels!

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