Jac Seppascd

EDITOR'S NOTE. Last month in " Magic Go Round " we wrote of the late R. Wood-house Pitman. His is a name little known to present-day conjurers, but throughout the earlier volumes of the " Magician ,J and Naldrett's " Collected " series will be found many contributions under his name. All show original touches and good plot, the trick to be described being no exception. We were fortunate enough to sec it worked by Us originator at the second social of the Magic Circle we attended.—P. IT .

In this effect the performer mysteriously releases a solid metal ring which has been tied on a length of cord, while the ends of the cord are held by two spectators. The release is effected while the ring and knot are within an examined bag, through, wnich the cord passes by means of holes in the sides.

The ring is solid and about six inches in dia* mei:er. One of the single rings of a set of " Chinese Linking Rings " answers the purpose admirably. The cord is of the soft silken kind, about one quarter of an inch thick. Though the details of the experiment take considerable space to describe, the secret may be given in a very few words. Two cords are used; the audience, however, is aware of the existence of one only— a piece five feet in length,—the second (and secretly employed) cord being half that length. The cords are, naturally, of the same material, each being supplied with metal tags at each end, similar to bootlace tags.

For experimental purposes a paper bag can be used, but for . actual performance the writer considers a cloth bag preferable. His own consists of an outer bag twelve inches square, of black satin, and an inner bag or lining of red satin. The bag is kept stiff by means of an interlining of buckram, inserted in the making. In order to conceal the manipulation a stiff-sided bag is necessary. The bag is quite simple in construction; as it is not intended to be turned

Secret cord.balled, metal tag tucKed in

Secret cord.balled, metal tag tucKed in ong Cord

/Metal Ring

.-Bas ong Cord

/Ho\o inside out the lining is kept light in colour so that the interior may be inspected easily. In the centre of each side of the bag a small hole is made to permit the cord being passed from side to side. The holes are only just large enough to allow the cord to be passed through, the metal tags making this easier. To prevent fraying, the eages of the holes are button-hole stitched.

The performer carries in his right-hand trouser pocket a rather large papier mâché key, or a large button-hook with which to eventually withdraw the released ring, as will be seen later.

The shorter cord is wound loosely into a ball, the outer tag end being tucked into a convenient loop to prevent the cord from becoming prematurely unbailed. The ball of cord so formed is placed just inside the mouth of the bag which lies on the table, the mouth being remote from spectators. The longer cord is carelessly looped and laid on the bag with the metal ring on top, so that by inserting the fingers of right hand inside mouth of bag, with thumb on top, the whole of the articles may be picked up together.

The presentation is as follows, the movements being explained as the " story " proceeds.

If you are interested in the solution of problems you will find this quite a knotty one." (Here performer picks up all the articles as above arranged, securing the balled cord against inside of mouth of bag, with the fingers).

I use a metal ring " (transfers it to left hand and gives it to spectator), length of cord" (offers it similarly), "and this cloth bag " (bag is retained while cord is examined).

Please make sure that th? cord* does not undo in the middle—it is a single cord, it has not been spliced at all—thank you." (Receives it from spectator, passes it to right hand and removes bag from right hand, retaining balled cord. The closing of the fingers naturally necessary to hold long cord, makes the concealment of the balled secret cord perfectly easy. Bag is offered with left hand to another spectator).

" The bag, at first glance, looks rather weird, does it not? It does not turn inside out but you will be able to examine it thoroughly in spite of that. The inside is red? Yes, it blushes to think what sometimes happens inside it. The outside " looks black " because it cannot. Do you find any holes in the bag? (Spectator usually says, " Yes, two! " indicating the small holes in the sides). "There are three really, if you count this large one." (Performer indicates mouth of bag. The bag is received in left hand, and as right hand comes over mouth of bag, the balled cord is secretly dropped into it, the tucked-in tag end having previously been disengaged from the loop).

" These holes in the, sides of the bag enable me to pass the cord right through the bag. I place this end through here, into the bag. (Here performer passes end of longer cord through one side of bag—via the hole—and, placing hand inside, draws it half-w >y into bag, dropping the tag end in such a way that he can at once find it again, then, picking up end of balled cord withdraws it from mouth of bag. At this point the bag is held by left hand, fingers outside, thumb inside, the shorter cord being slowly drawn up between the side of the bag and the left thumb, thus unballing the cord. When all but the last six inches have been drawn out, the cord is securely nipped against bag with the left thumb to prevent entire withdrawal-—which act would, of course, ruin everything.

which the ring is tied and which the audience all along presume to be part of the one cord they have seen).

End nipped again at inside of bftg by thumb«

End nipped again at inside of bftg by thumb«

Long cord parsing in hole J>

The end of short cord, outside bag, is dropped, th# appearance to audience being that a long cord has been passed into bag and partly drawn out at the mouth). Turning to spectator holding the ring the performer proceeds :—

" You are still looking for holes in the ring, sir, are you? Do you find any? No? That's queer, there was a large one in the middle when I gave it you!" After the incident of the "mouth of bag," some spectators are wise enough to say the ring has a hole in it, in which case the performer congratulates his assistant on being very observant! " Will you be good enough to tie the ring on to the cord with a single knot? Tie it close up to the bag." (Ring is thus tied on to the short cord, close to one end of it, i.e., the end securely held by left thumb). " I shall now pass the cord back into the bag, and push it out.of this exit on the other side." (Performer puts end of short cord back into bag and picks up tag end of long cord that was left inside bag, and passes it through hole on opposite side of bag. The cord is carefully drawn out, care being taken not to pull so much out that would cause the opposite end to move; enough has to be left withing the bag to account for the twelve inches of cord on which the ring is tied and which the audience all along presume to be part of the one cord they have seen).

" You will not mind, ladies and gentlemen, if I just go over what has actually occured. As this is supposed to be a deep mystery we cannot be too clear on what is being done. A cord has been passed in here, and out here; a ring has been tied on the cord which re-enters the bag and the end, as you see, passes out here. Nothing could be simpler, as you have seen and examined everything. Now for the first time the ring leaves your sight because I drop it into the bag. (This is done, the visible part of short cord going in also). Most of you will agree that it is out of the question for me to remove the ring from the bag without your knowledge. (This remark is made by way of mis-direction as the performer does not intend to try to do so). But to make it quite certain. I will ask you, sir, to hold one end of the cord, and you, sir, the other. (Two spectators seated close together). I will ask you to regard this cord as a sort of communication cord. If you pull the cord without just cause, I shall fine you £5. And you, sir, if you pull your cord, you will stop the 'bus. You have all heard it said that one should not let one's left hand know what one's right hand doeth. That is why I now place my right hand in the bag. (Performer supports bag all this time with left hand, the stiffness of sides of bags, and its size prevents any view of interior on part of the assistants. While continuing the story the performer without looking at the bag, cooly undoes with his right hand the single knot and gathers into his hand the whole of the shorter cord— quite an easy matter in actual performance—when all is collected the support of bag is taken by right hand, shorter cord concealed by fingers against inside of mouth of bag). You have heard of Jack Sheppard, have you not? He was the desparado who flourished about the same time as your great grandfather, sir. He was the champion jail-breaker of the world—I am referring to Jack Sheppard, sir, not to your great grandfather! Well, he boasted that no jail could hold him. At one time they tied him up in a cell just as we have tied this ring. This cord is the chain they tied round his neck and they passed out through holes in the' walls of the cell. The bag is the cell—it is a fearful " sell!" Warders held the ends of the chain; you are one warder, and you are the other. (A nice smile is given to each assistant).

" Yet, in spite of all these precautions, Jack got away. How? Oh, I'll show you how. The authorities overlooked assistance from the outside. I'm outside—outside the cell at any rate— but I've inside knowledge. A key was passed into the cell from outside. (Hgre, performer drops bag or transfers support of it to left hand, and, without any hurry, puts right hand and concealed bunched-up cord into right-hand trouser pocket and withdraws key, leaving cord behind, in pocket).

" They were surprised when Jack came out! (Ring, now loose in bag, is lifted out on ward of key and held out for one of the assistants to take). Of course there was a hue and cry. The warders rushed to the cell, but there was no prisoner; only the chains were left. Will you please draw the cord right clear? And will you,' sir, please examine the cell—and if you discover how Jack got away, you won't tell anyone, will you! Thank you very much for your assistance."

Xote.—The object of entirely withdrawing the cord is : first, to show the cord still intact; second, it has no knot in it; third, that the bag is quite empty, and if the idea of a duplicate ring has occured to anyone—people get these ideas nowadays—it will be proved groundless on examination of bag and without psrformer saying anything about such an idea to the unthinking.

This problem, the author hopes, will be found to be one of those self-contained items capable of being worked anywhere with the minimum of preparation, the essential points being the employment of subtlety and mis-direction rather than difficult sleight-of-hand operations.

Footnote.—This effect was originally published in Percy Naldrett's " More Collected Magic " and is reproduced here by permission of that publisher.

MiddCetian on

" Me ewcae of Satftand "

Most card players at some time or other have heard the Nine of Diamonds referred to as the " curse of Scotland ", but the reason why this very ordinary card should be chosen from the pack of 52 and saddled with such an undignified pseudonym is not so well known.

Authorities on the history of playing cards hold various theories on the subject and since all are equally interesting, some feasible opinions true or otherwise are given below for the benefit of those who may be interested.

1. According to Dr. James Houston in his " Memoirs of his Life Time ", London, 1747, the Jacobite Ladies of Scotland are stated to have nicknamed the Nine of Diamonds " The Justice-Clerk " after the rebellion of 1715 in allusion to Lord Justice-Clerk Ormistone who for his severity in suppressing the rebellion was called the " Curse of Scotland ".

2. Legend has it that the Duke of Cumberland after the Battle of Culloden (1746) used the back of the Nine of Diamonds to write out his bloodthirsty order for the slaughter of the wounded rebels.

3. Some say the name refers to Sir John Dalrymple, first Earl of Stair, who was among those responsible for the massacre of

Glencoe in 1692. The reason being that the Dalrymple coat of arms contains nine lozenges or diamonds.

4. It is suggested that Colonel Packer who was in command of the Parliament army at Dunbar. (1650) had some diamonds or lozenges on his coat of arms, and he also is alleged to have been a curse of Scotland.

5. According to the " Oracle or Resolver of Questions " (1770) the Crown of Scotland had but nine diamonds and the Scots were never able to get more.

Other theories crop up from time to time, but it is hoped that those' given will show how difficult it is to find a true reason why Scotland should be cursed by such an insignificant card as the Nine of Diamonds.

Acknowledgment for the information in this article is given by the writer to the Authors of the following books :—

" The History of Playing Cards ", Rev. Ed. S.

" Playing Card—History of the Pack W.

" The Story of the Playing Card George M.


SleteH, Wxvdack't

Just over eighty years ago, Robert-Houdin described, under the title of " Mene, Tekel, Upharsin " an effect in which a number of cards vanished from one heap and appeared in another. This effect was to alter very little during the thirty years that followed. There were admittedly variations in the method of abstracting and adding the necessary cards, but to the audience the effect remained very much the same. The early part of the present century saw Nate Leipzig introducing a variant and a little later David Devant took the feat and made it into a stage illusion under the title of the " Triangle ". Here note the difference for selected cards were made to leave one heap and appear in another. The accent in this version had been removed from the counting of a number of cards. Mr. Robertson Keene later was to publish a version of the " Triangle " covering every phase. Almost at the same time (perhaps inspired by a description of the " Triangle ") Zens was working on his own well known version of the cards across. For the last twenty years the accent seems to have been on the passing of chosen cards from one heap to another.

The present method was arrived at after an evening's discussion on various methods of the " cards across ". Leipzig's, Adams's, Dexter's, all came under discussion. The present writer even instanced a method by H. St. Clair Elliott, that for far too long has remained printed, un-worked and possibly unread (this appeared in Goldston's "Magazine of Magic" circa 1919). On the way home Francis Haxton and myself still talked about this particular effect.

The present method was a later development ; it is simple and is intended for fairly intimate work.

First of all a spectator is asked to count off two heaps of ten cards on to the table. He is also handed an envelope with a further request to place one set of ten cards inside it. The other heap is ribbon-spread and two cards are taken by a spectator looked at and replaced. This heap of cards is now turned face up and the envelope containing the other set of cards placed on top. At the magician's command the two chosen cards vanish from the lower heap. The envelope is opened and twelve cards are found. Needless to say, the missing two cards are among them.

The preparation is very simple and the only sleight required is the " Curry " Turnover Change (see Paul Curry and Oscar Weigle's " Something Borrowed, Something New ! " and also Hugard's "Card Manipulation" series). Two packs of cards will be required and also a business sized envelope. Shuffle one of the packs and deal off the ten top cards. From the other pack remove a similar ten cards and place on top of their duplicates. These are placed on top of the first pack and ten cards are removed from the bottom so that the reader will now have a pack of fifty-two cards, the top ten cards being followed by a similar set of ten. Two of the ten throwout cards are placed underneath the envelope in such a way that they can be easily picked up with the latter which should in turn 'be placed near to the rear of the table that the magician intends to use. Thus set, the reader is ready for the presentation.

The pack is picked up and given a casual false shuffle that will either leave the top twenty cards undisturbed or bring them back into the same order. Whilst he does this he requests the services of a spectator who is gently shepherded to the right side of the table and is handed the cards and requested to deal on to the table a heap of ten cards. When he has done this ask him to deal another heap of ten. There is a reason for two distinct requests, for many people when asked to deal two heaps will deal as though they were dealing hands at cards and thus the chances of success of the effect would be jeopardised at the outset. The cards at this point will be in two heaps, one to the front and one to the rear of the table (this is the normal expectation as the spectator is standing at the side of the table when he deals). Picking up the envelope and cards as one they are half thrown, half dropped on to the heap furthest from the magician with a request '' Would you mind looking inside the envelope, make quite sure that it is empty, and then place that heap of cards inside ". The sheer audacity of this move is its salient feature, and there should be no suspicion in the spectator's mind that any alteration has taken place in the heap of cards dealt by him. At this stage the other packet of cards is moved to the left and then the remainder of the pack is taken in a casual manner. It is held in the left hand, faces of the cards towards the palm. To the same spectator, he requests as the right hand spreads the remaining heap of cards across the table " I want you, Sir, to remove any two of the cards, look at them, remember them and replace them ". The magician, during this operation, thumb counts eight cards from the top of the pack. (This is an action that calls for little subtlety as the attention of the audience is upon the spectator and the heap of cards), a break at this point being held by the third finger of the left hand (this is in preparation for the Curry move).

The cards having been replaced, the spectator is dismissed and the right hand gathers the

Continued on page 87

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