THE "GIVE-AWAY" COLLECTING BOX
THE PERFORMER produces a small box with a narrow slot in the lid. The box rattles when it is shaken and the nearest spectator is invited to remove the lid and look inside. The box contains five coloured counters. Apart from these it is quite empty and apparendy free from any trickery.
The performer tips the counters on to the table and turns his back (or walks away from the table) so that each of five spectators can pick one up without the performer knowing which it is. The lid is then replaced, and the performer holds the box behind his back for the spectators to drop their counters through the slot in the lid.
He still cannot know the colour of any counter as it is dropped into the box, but when they arc again tipped on to the table he is able to return the correct counter to each spectator.
The effect can be worked with any one of a number of different boxes, but as the simplest method which I have tried works just as well as the most elaborate, I will only describe the simplest here.
Any box of wood or metal or plastic can be used if it is the right size. You can make a small one from a two ounce mustard tin. This will be two inches long, If inches wide, inches deep. The counters will be ordinary tiddleywinks about f inch across and y16 inch thick; and the slot in the lid should be just large enough to admit one counter at a time. This is most important.
You will also need two pieces of stiff cardboard or celluloid, cut into the shape which is shown in Fig. 2. For a two ounce mustard tin, these will be 2J inches long and 2 inches wide. The slits in them must extend half way across and be as wide as the material from which the pieces are made. Slide each piece into the slit in the other so that you now have a cross-shaped partition which will divide the box into four triangular compartments, as shown in Figure 3, The corners of the pieces are rounded so that they fit snugly to the bottom of the box, and the partition should bs a fairly tight fit so that it will not jump up and down as the box is moved about.
At the Beginning of the effect the partition is folded flat, without being taken apart, and concealed in your waistcoat pocket. It is secretly removed and slipped.into the box when your back is turned and the in picking up the spectators are busily engaged counters. You will not have to remove the lid to do this because the spectator who took it off to see what was in the box should still be holding it. You must replace it as soon as you can when you have turned to the front again.
The box is then held in one hand behind your back so that you can collect the counters without being able to see which is which. But suppose that
they are returned in the following order; blue, green, red, white and yellow.
If the box is always tipped away from you, each counter will drop into the compartment nearest to the spectator who has just returned it, that is, into the compartment which is furthest away from you. If the box is also given a quarter turn in a clockwise direction each time a counter is returned, they will also drop into different compartments. This is represented by the successive views of the box in Figure 1.
The last two counters can be dropped into the same end compartment, and still be identified, because the relative sizes of the counters and the width of the box ensure that the counters overlap, with the fifth on top of the fourth, unless the box has been vigorously shaken about since they were dropped.
Fig. 3 shows what you will expect to see when you remove the lid. All that you need to know is the order in which the spectators returned their counters. Then the first must have had the blue; the second, the green; and so on.
One important point must be emphasised a little more, however. TTiis is that the dimensions of the box depend entirely on the size of the counters which you wish to use. If the box is too large, it will only be possible to work the effect with four counters instead of five, and this might easily suggest the method of working to one of your spectators. If the box is too small, the counters will not always drop into the right compartments. This will be most confusing, and completely spoil the effect.
This also means that the counters must all be the same size. If you wish to use a larger box and use coins instead of counters, you must use five pennies for example (with the head of a different sovereign on each), or five similar foreign coins. This is hardly a disadvantage, however, for, if coins of different sizes could be used it would obviously be easy to tell which was which by the different noises they made when they were dropped.
The depth of the slot in the lid is also critical, and you will be more certain of success in handling the box if it is made of thin wood—such as that from a cigar box. The thickness of the lid then ensures that the coins or counters drop straight down into the box and are not deflected to either side as they are pushed through the slot.
For English pennies, the box should be approximately 3 inches long, 2\ inches wide, and Clinches deep. The slides should be 3f inches long and 2\ inches deep; and the slot in the lid should be 1J inches long and 1/12th of an inch wide.
" A magician has not only to play his part as an actor; but simultaneously, he has to give adequate attention to technical details which involve considerable difficulty as a rule. In addition to these matters, he is often obliged to study his audience, and adapt his procedure to the requirements of the moment." __Nevil Maskelyne—" Our Magic."
A QUICK TURN OVER BOARD
THE FOLLOWING effect is one of those which cannot be included in a purely mental routine, because it uses the rather obvious piece of apparatus shown in the illustrations. But it is quite suitable as a mental " quickie " in an ordinary conjuring act.
The performer has a small board with numbers on both sides of it. This is given to a spectator who stands at the performer's side and holds the board by opposite corners. The performer turns it over several times to show that the numbers are all different and not arranged in any apparent order. Various members of the audience are asked to choose any one of them and to add it to the number which appears in a corresponding position when the board is turned over. Everyone can then see that all the resulting totals are also different.
The performer then produces a sealed envelope and places it in the outside breast pocket of the spectator who is holding the board. Most of It is left projecting from the top of his pocket, however, so that it can be kept in full view.
The performer takes! the board from the spectator and asks him to think of any one of the numbers on the side which is facing him. He turns the board slowly over and asks him to add the number which appears in the same position on the other side, and finally, to announce the total.
When the spectator tears the envelope open, he is quite surprised to find that this total has already been predicted on a small card inside it.
This is the obvious method of presenting it, of course. The performer could blindfold the spectator and let him touch the board with the tip of a wand, or even get him to fire at it with one of those toy guns which shoot a wooden arrow with a rubber suction cup instead of a point.
The secret is very simple, however; it depends once more upon the principle of the well-known " Chinese Compass."
The board which I have illustrated is a regular hexagon with two " rings " of numbers on each side. Theoretically there is no limit to the shape of the board, provided it is regular, or to the number of divisions in each sector, but for simplicity and easy recognition of pairs of corresponding numbers, this particular board is probably the best.
The first illustration shows the obverse side of the board; the second shows the reverse side when the board is rotated about the horizontal axis A-B; and the third shows the reverse side when it is rotated about the axis C-D.
You will see that there are three possible axes of rotation. If the board is turned over about either of the axes A-B or E-F, the pairs of corresponding numbers produce different totals : thus, 37 + 52=89 (about A-B) or 37 + 75 = 112 (about E-F). But if the board is turned over about the axis C-D every pair of corresponding numbers produces the same total : thus, in this particular case, 37 + 60, 59 + 38, 45 + 52, etc., = 97. This is the total which you predict on the card inside the envelope.
At the beginning of the effect you are holding the board by the opposite corners C and D. Your assistant from the audience is then obliged to take it from you by the opposite corners A and B, or E and F, so that the board rotates about one of the axes which produce different totals as long as he is the one who is holding it. (In these illustrations I have assumed that he is standing to your left and that he has taken it by the corners A and B. I have also assumed that each of you holds the board with the actual axis of rotation at that moment parallel to the floor. This could hardly be shown in the illustrations without making them unnecessarily complicated). In taking it back from him, however, you again take hold of it by corners C and D as before. These moves are made quite naturally and should, therefore arouse no comment.
Those of you who try the effect, and like it, may perhaps wonder if it might be possible to arrange the numbers so that a second total could be found by holding the board by the third pair of opposite corners. Unfortunately, however, that is not possible, foT it can easily be proved to be mathematically absurd.
But that should not prevent anyone who is at all interested in mathematical puzzles from getting plenty of amusement out of an easily constructed piece of apparatus.
" When we see a performer, who, with the utmost assurance and self-conceit, starts off to present a new effect in public, we need feel no uncertainty in ' sizing up' his merit as an artist. He cannot possibly realise his true position, nor the nature of his responsibilities. He is confident of success, for the simple reason that he does not understand how serious would be the result of failure."
Nevil Maskelyne—" Our Magic.
A TOTAL MYSTERY
THIS mental item depends upon the use of a confederate in your audience. This will probably be sufficient to have it rejected straightaway by anyone who thinks that there is something unethical about the use of a confederate in mentalism, or by anyone who has found that the methods which do require one are often the clumsiest and most obvious.
This particular method, however, can deceive even the type of spectator who suspects that all mentalism is done with the help of a confederate, for the strict conditions under which it is per formed make it very difficult for anyone to see how a confederate could possibly be of any use to the performer. Even the.confederate himself will not be able to say exactly how he has been able to assist him, because most of the actual trickery is still done by the performer—with the aid of a nail-writer. Nobody is likely to suspect him of this, because the performer is the only person involved who does not appear to do any writing at all, and so there will not appear to be any need for him to do any other secret writing either.
The effect is that you are given four or five numbers by different members of the audience. (This is to avoid the possibility of merely using a number given to you by one spectator who could easily be your confederate). These numbers are added together by another member of the audience and thé total is used to determine a freely chosen page and line of text in a book test, for example. These will not really be freely chosen at all, however, for the total which is obtained is always forced.
Now it is obvious that, if the spectators were allowed to call out their numbers in turn, or write them on the sanae paper or card, the choice of any of them might be influenced by those which had been given already by the others, and it would still be possible for the last person to be a confederate who would merely give you the number which would produce the required total.
To prevent either of these things happening, each spectator is given a small blank card on which to write his number, and his name or initials. This will really make it impossible for any one else to know the number that he has chosen until all the cards have been collected and the numbers added together.
The method of forcing the total, however, is still very simple. One of the spectators is a confederate who has previously been asked to sign or initial the card which he is given but not to write any number on it at all. When the cards have been collected for you face downwards, you begin to call out the numbers for another spectator to write them in a column on a small blackboard so that they can easily be added together. As you are doing this you must add the numbers together yourself in your head, and write the number which is needed to make them up to the required total on your confederate's card with a nailwriter. If the person who is helping you is not accustomed to writing with chalk on a blackboard, you will have ample time to make this calculation and to use the nailwriter whilst the attention of the audience is directed elsewhere.
As each number is read out you ask the person whose card you are holding if that was the number which was written on it. Of course he is obliged to say that it was, and, because you are not asking any one to say whether that was the number that he actually wrote on the card himself, you are not expecting your confederate to assist you further by telling a lie. (I mention this because I find that, although the likely looking person is usually willing to act as my confederate and to keep it a secret afterwards, he is not as willing to lose integrity by telling a deliberate and outspoken lie).
You should also try tq avoid leaving your confederate's card until the last. If possible it should be next to the last, or even the one before that. Even a little point like this will help to direct the attention of the sharpest intelligence in your audience from the possibility of your using a confederate.
" Looking at the matter fairly and squarely, one cannot help feeling that any presentation which leaves an impression of either indistinctness or over-elaboration has a very serious defect from whatever point of view it may be regarded." Nevil Maskelyne—" Our Magic."
THE PERFECT MIRROR ENVELOPE
I HAVE been interested in the development of the window envelope ever since I first read Annemann's original article in Jinx, number 9. It was only natural, therefore, that I should be interested in "The Perfect Window Envelope" described by our editor in Pentagram for November, 1952.
Unfortunately, however, I was still not happy about the actual use of a window envelope in my own routines. In the first place, I could never feel quite justified in using a packet of envelopes when only one of them was required. Even if I used more of them in other effects in the same programme, I could never feel that it looked at all natural to pick up the whole packet of envelopes in order to place a card in one of them, and to keep this envelope on top of the packet until the card had been placed in it. I might say that I have often watched clerks preparing bills and circulars for mailing but I have never
yet seen any of them holding a packet of envelopes and filling them one by one like that. In the second place, it is obvious that, although the envelope which is supposed to contain the card with the spectator's writing on it can be left in the spectator's possession, it is quite impossible to remove his card from this envelope and return it to him, or to anyone else, unless some other method is used to switch them round again. And unless the card can be returned, there is very little point in sealing it in an envelope and keeping it.
At the same time, I have always been interested in the use of a mirror for obtaining information—as distinct from creating an optical illusion. Hewitt and Annemann, for example, described an effect in which a small flat mirror was concealed in a packet of blank visiting cards. This was followed by another effect by Hewitt in which a small piece of tinfoil on the back of a playing card was used to read the v^lue of another card held by a spectator. Then Bruce Elliott (in " Magic as a Hobby ") described a method of reading the value of a playing card by having a shiny convex headed paper fastener stuck in the mouth end of a cigarette; and somebody (whose name I just cannot remember) showed me how it could be done with nothing more than a square of shiny cellotape stuck on hist finger tip.
It was only necessary, therefore, to combine the ideas of the mirror and the perfect window envelope to produce the perfect mirror envelope."
At first I made a complicated device which would slide the mirror surface out of sight into the secret compartment of a double-backed envelope as soon as the message had been read, but I soon discarded that for the following simple arrangement.
All that is really necessary is an oblong piece of tinfoil on the outside of one ordinary envelope. Could anything be simpler than that!
The tinfoil is glued to the back of the address side of the envelope, at the open end, as shown in the accompanying illustration. Any type of envelope will do, if the flap is a big one, for this ensures that the area of tinfoil which can be used as a mirror shall be as large as possible. You will probably find that you can cut away a little more of the back of the envelope to make this area even bigger without running the risk of sticking the flap to the enclosed card when the envelope is sealed.
The tinfoil must be perfectly, smooth and shiny for it to be of any use as a mirror. But even the smoothest tinfoil will produce a distorted image unless it is carefully mounted on smooth paper, so the envelope also> must be of good quality, and fairly thick and heavy. The glue
The shaded area is the tinfoil.
The point (A) of the bottom flap is cut away as far as the curved dotted line.
which you use must be thin and evenly applied to the inside of the envelope. Any air bubbles between the tinfoil and the envelope will also produce distortion. To improve the surface still furthef, the tinfoil may be lightly and carefully polished with cotton wool, or even " Duraglit" wadding.
As with " the perfect window envelope," the size of the card that you use is not important so long as it is big enough to cover the tinfoil. A little point to remember, however, is that the spectator's writing is likely to be found more easily by the mirror on a little card than on a big one.
The envelope is held nearly vertically in your left hand with the address side towards the audience. Your right hand brings the spectator's card, with the writing side towards the audience, into a position above the tinfoil and a little to the right of it, so that you can easily see the reflection of the writing. A little practice will show you what the necessary angles are for you to do this successfully. It would also be advisable for you to be pattering to the audience as you are doing it, to account for any slight delay in getting the card into the envelope.
As soon as the tinfoil is hidden by the card, the envelope can be turned towards the audience so that the card can be shown sliding cleanly into it. The flap should then be moistened with your fingertips instead of turning it back towards you and bringing it to your mouth, because that might make it appear as if you were trying to glimpse the writing on the card as you were licking the flap.
The sealed envelope is handed to the original spectator who looks after it until you have attempted to divine what was on the card. To confirm that you have done this correctly, you take the envelope from him and slit it open along the bottom, edge. You then turn it over, and hold it lightly by the edges, so that another spectator may remove the card. If you do not call attention to what you have just done, no-one is likely to notice that you opened it at the bottom, nor to attach any importance to this even if they do.
As the card is withdrawn, the writing on it will be facing the spectator and this will help to direct his attention away from the envelope; but, in any case, the tinfoil will not be visible from that end of the envelope because it is glued underneath the top side of the envelope at the other end.
The tinfoil mirror is, of course, more suitable for reflecting the bold image given by a simple geometrical design or a familiar word in printed capitals than for any lengthy message in long hand. It is ideally suitable for revealin« the value of a playing card from a borrowed pack, but, as playing cards can be glimpsed in so many more straightforward ways, I would not advise anyone to use them with a mirror envelope.
The empty envelope is finally crumpled up into a ball and dropped into your pocket or your bag.
" It isn't what you do, or even the way you do it, that matters, but what you make your audience think you do." Annemann.
" The man who gives the public plenty of magic, but serves it up in such hot haste that his audience has no time to digest it, merely surfeits the spectators with that particular requirement without satisfying their other expectations. He occupies their attention more than enough, but does not entertain them as they rightly expect to be entertained." Nevil Maskelyne—" Our Magic."
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