John Howie S Routines With The Jardine Ellis Ring


THE ingenious magical effect known as the Jardine Ellis ring trick was being performed by the originator (whose real name incidentally was Duncan Lome Campbell) as early as 1910. Unfortunately the details of the routine used by Ellis (who died on February 1st, 1923) have not, so far, been published and magicians wishing to use the apparatus have, for the most part, devised their own versions of the basic effect. As a point of interest the original apparatus used by Jardine Ellis (consisting of ring, shell, duplicate split ring and three larger rings) is now in the possession of Dr. O. H. Bowen.

As will be noted from the bibliography given at the end of Part 1, very little was published on the subject of the Ellis ring trick prior to 1952. Since then, however, considerable interest has been shown in this particular effect and several performers have disclosed their own individual treatments of it. This book provides a further series of variations on the basic theme and includes several novel and hitherto unpublished moves with the apparatus.

I have avoided effects requiring the introduction of special rings, e.g. split rings, since most magicians possess the standard apparatus only. In all of the routines described in this book my aim has been towards definite effect with the minimum of preparation and secret manipulation.

I should like to take this opportunity of thanking Jack Potter of Whitley Bay, England and Milton Kort of Detroit, U.S.A., both of whom generously gave me valuable assistance with the bibliographical data in Part 1.

My earnest hope is that each reader will wish to add at least one item from this book to his repertoire of effects with small objects.

JOHN A. M. HOWIE. Darwen, Lancashire, England.




The ring and shell required for the Jardine Ellis ring effect are well-known. Figure 1, gives a diagrammatic view of a section through both ring and shell. The size of the ring is usually about 1J inches in diameter (that used by the author being If inches in outside diameter and 1 and 7/32nds of an inch in inside diameter) but various sizes may be encountered. Thus, the model currently available in greatest numbers in the U.S.A. has an outside diameter of If inches and an inside diameter of 1 inch.

The shell should fit loosely over the solid ring. Should the shell develop a tendency to jam on the ring, as it may do after considerable use, it can usually be freed either by running the forefinger firmly around the inner circumference of the shell whUe it is on the ring or by running the tip of a penknife blade round betwesn the outer circumference of the shell and the ring.

To protect the ring and shell when not in use, and particularly while being carried in the pocket, they should be kept in a small cloth or leather case.


When the shell alone is on view representing the " ring " it should be handled with the same casualness as if it were, in fact, the solid ring. The spectators, not knowing of the existence of the shell, will regard' with suspicion any obviously careful handling of what appears to be a simple ring of steel.

It is quite a simple matter to toss the shell into the air and catch it again without any risk of the wrong side being exposed, thus: hold the shell as in Fig. 2, full face to the spectators. Throw it upwards some 18 inches imparting a slight backward spin to it as it leaves the hand. This will keep the shell spinning in one plane and it can then be caught as it descends. For complete safety, the catch should be made by closing the hand completely around the shell.

an effort to " prove " that the shell is beyond suspicion—no such proof is required.

The Jardine Ellis Ring Howie

FiG 1

Other simple flourishes may be indulged in, e.g. by holding as in Fig. 2, but letting the tips of the forefinger and thumb come together inside the shell, it can be swung round and round within the space formed at the fork of the thumb.

Fid 2

A discreet use of such flourishes assists in dressing up" an effect, but they should not be overdone. Above all it should be remembered that there is no need to perform such flourishes in

One further bit of business, due to Bill Nord, is worthy of note. When it is necessary to free both hands, the shell may be placed in one eye after the fashion of a monocle, until it is required again.


In theory, since the ring and its shell can so easily be shown as one at almost any stage in an effect, there would appear to be no great need for actually disposing of the shell. To achieve the most artistic presentation, however, it is recommended that the shell be disposed of, particularly at the climax of an effect—especially so since the disposal is usually fairly easily accomplished. By so doing the hands are left free to make the most of the properties used. It should not be necessary to point out that such display should be carried out without ostentation and that no comment should be made on the emptiness of the hands.

In each of the effects described in this book the method of disposal considered to be most suited to the particular circumstances has been indicated.

In general the methods of disposing of the shell can be subdivided as follows:


The disposal of the shell in a pocket can be very easily effected under cover of removing an article such as a miniature wand, rabbit's foot, etc., which is alleged by the performer to be necessary in order to help bring about the climax of the effect in hand. This principle applies to any pocket.

Considering specific pockets, disposal can be effected in the side coat pockets and also in the hip pocket by placing the appropriate hand on the side or hip, just above the pocket, as a dramatic stance is taken, then, as the climax of the effect is revealed, the shell can be allowed to slide into the pocket. Another method of disposal in the side pocket is that illustrated in Figure 3 — as the handkerchief is pulled away from the wand (or other article being uncovered) the hand comes above the pocket opening, permitting the shell to be dropped therein.

Disposal in the outer breast pocket can be effected either directly from a thumb palm after the manner of the well-known method of disposing of a coin in this pocket or under cover of a suitable action such as the draping of a handkerchief over the left shoulder.


The " Topit" vanisher obtainable from most magical dealers, is well-known and provides a very clean and subtle method of disposal since the hand concealing the shell does not have to do more than move across the front of the body. This movement should, of course, be made with adequate reason otherwise undesirable attention will be drawn to it.

Ft C 4

This disposal is a complete one and is, therefore, unsuitable in those cases where the shell has to be easily recoverable for subsequent use.


In view of the size and shape of the object concerned, sleeving provides an excellent method of disposal. Various techniques are possible and examples will be found in this book. For complete disposal the shell must be recovered from tfie sleeve and dealt with by methods 1 or 2 above or 6 or 7 below.


This method is limited to those occasions when a vest is worn and, ideally, an elastic tension band, fitted across the top of the trousers and concealed by the edge of the vest, is required to ensure a secure grip on the shell.


This method can only be used when, say, a rope or ribbon is used and can be hung around the neck. Such disposal is, of course, only temporary.


This disposal, again only a temporary one, can only be used when seated at a table.


By this method the shell can be disposed of and regained when required without having to resort to pockets.

The principle is simply to have a spring clip device fixed under the edge of the coat. Fig. 4 shows one possible arrangement—a clip of the Bulldog variety with the finger grips extended by soldering thereto strips of metal as shown. One of these strips is perforated to permit of the clip being sewn to the inside of the coat as shown in Fig. 5. Pressure from the heel of the hand on the outside of the coat opens the clip and allows the shell to be pushed into it by the fingers curling under the edge of the coat.

The same device can, of course, be used to deliver the shell to the hand when required. It is as well to line the jaws of the clip with felt to prevent undue noise during the operation of the device.


This covers such devices as servantes, wells, cr | q etc., and their use depends entirely on prevailing circumstances. In general, this type of disposal will rarely be found to be suitable. To be continued

" It takes years to master an art, be it painting, writing, piano playing or walking across a stage. Too many devotees of diablerie are ' helplessly fascinated ' by magic or their own cleverness. Totally innocent of any of the tricks of stage presence, they insist on exhibiting their alleged proficiency before the public."

Robert Lund. Conjurors' Magazine—Volume 5







I WAS very interested to read your reprint in the current Pentagram of Gambling " Goblin Goblets." I have presented this effect many times before adults and children and it has always gone well. There was one feature in the original presentation which I did not like and that was the use of the wooden box. This I thought clumsy and was confirmed in this view when I saw the effect presented at Cheltenham some years ago. Instead of the box I use a brown paper sugar bag ten inches high by seven deep and nine wide.

In the bottom of the bag was placed a wooden insert made of three ply. This was constructed as shown in the second sketch. It was as you can see, divided into four compartments, A, B, C and D, the walls of A, B and D being three inches high whilst compartment C has walls four and a quarter inches high. The last named is roofed over and open at the rear and the bottom. At the forward side of C a flap is hinged which by its own weight will fall towards the rear and close the bottom of C. A piece of tape however prevents it falling too far. When the structure is placed inside the bag the interior view seen from the top of the bag is shown in sketch 3.

At the back of the bag on the outside a wire ring 2f" in diameter is fixed three ins. from the bottom to the bag backing. This is fitted with a check spring which holds the ring flush with the back of the bag. The ring is so pivoted that it can be pulled down and project at right angles from the bag. The ring is large enough to hold one of the cups made of aluminium which measures 3£" across the mouth and tapering to 2" at the base. Each is 4" high. One of these cups when filled with liquid and placed within the ring holds the latter in place. Directly the cup is lifted the ring flies back flush with the side of the bag.

In my own version I use five instead of the four cups specified by the late John Gambling. This is to provide an alternative for that first offered. I use (for adults) beer and cider. The first assistant however may be an abstainer. If so, lemonade is suggested and the additional cup (No. 3) is used instead of cup 2 which contains beer.

Both cups, 2 and 3 have the fake cups in position covered with confetti. The set-up is as follows:—

In the table is a black art well large enough to take one of the cups. At the back of the table is a bag servante whilst inside the bag, just above compartment C, is fixed a small bag which contains a duplicate of the handkerchief used to produce the first drink. I use the duplicate handkerchief for the production of the second drink as sometimes I found it difficult to easily free the fake from the first one, after it was dropped into the bag.

The use of a duplicate obviates the difficulty and makes for quick and easy working. The bag is placed on the table so that the compartment C is at the side of the well and the ring opposite the bag servante. Cup 1 stands alongside on the table.

Cup 2 is filled with beer and with the fake in position is placed in compartment A. Cup 3 is filled with lemonade and with fake in position is in compartment B. Cup 4 is in the ring and is filled with cider whilst cup 5 filled with cigarettes and matches (or chocolates) is in compartment C with the flap folded back. Compartment D is empty. A liberal quantity of confetti is inside the bag.

The working of the effect differs little from John Gambling's description. Cup No. 1 is shown, filled with confetti, emptied and then whilst refilling is switched inside the bag for cup 2 (or cup 3 as may be necessary). Cup 1 is left in compartment D. The cup with the fake in position is covered with the handkerchief, the fake being removed and the handkerchief gathered up and dropped inside the bag. The beer (or lemonade) in the cup is now poured into one of the glasses, and, as this is raised as if to drink the assistant's health, the left hand holding cup 2 (or 3 is lowered behind the bag, and dropped into the servante and cup 4 is lifted out of the ring, which at once flies back flush with the bag. The duplicate handkerchief is removed from the bag and after covering the cup the second drink is



THERE is always a fascination in taking an old trick and adding one's own improvements to it; the following is such a case, and was brought about by a few pensive thoughts on that old favourite in which a penny and a florin change places whilst held through a handkerchief by two spectators.

This method of performing it excels as close up effect and is remarkably foolproof. The look on the faces of those holding the handkerchief when they realize the change has been made has to be seen to be believed. It is important to study the illustrations in order to ensure that the hands are held correctly.

The preliminaries are few; firstly obtain two gentlemen's large hand-kerchieves which should lay across your table ; secondly place a florin and a penny next to them; lastly a second penny is required, this is affixed to your waistcoat (or jacket inside) in the vicinity of the right armhole, by means of a paper clip and a safety pin (see fig. 1).

Ask a spectator to assist you and indicate he is to stand on your right side. As this is happening bend your right arm up and casually feel inside your jacket with the left hand. This action passes for an adjustment of the waistcoat and in the process slip the coin from its clip down the sleeve on the inside where it falls to the elbow. Remember it must be on the body side of the sleeve otherwise it would fall into the hand when the right arm is dropped to the side.

At the completion of this move the hands are still empty and a point should be made of ensuring —not to obviously—that the spectators are aware of this fact.

Now reach forward with the left hand and take up the handkerchief, transfer it to the right which holds it about shoulder height. The left hand now picks up the florin and hands it to the spectator to examine. As he takes it, the performer's right hand is lowered and the hand catches the penny which drops into the palm. It is concealed behind the held corner of the handkerchief.

The left hand takes the handkerchief and penny between the thumb and first finger—again showing that the right hand is empty! The right hand is held out for the florin and the thumb ensures that this coin is in the centre of the palm.

The right hand now passes palm uppermost beneath the held corner of the handkerchief in order that it may reach the centre. Fig. 2 shows this move being made from which it will be seen that it is comparatively easy to make the vital move, which is to allow the penny to drop on to the fingers of the right hand as it goes into the centre of the handkerchief.

The left hand drops its corner and the 1st finger and thumb take up, through the handkerchief, the penny. The right hand a split second afterwards, pushes up the florin behind the penny— where it is held by the left hand. From fig. 3 it will be noticed that the fold of the handkerchief separates the two coins ; this is most important as it prevents them talking. The extra fold is not noticeable.

The right hand is now withdrawn and shown empty. The performer says " Would you like to see the florin ? " and immediately feels under the handkerchief with his right hand and brings out the florin.

As he does this the left hand is turned over palm uppermost, the penny still being held. A change of hold now takes place; the thumb is removed entirely and the first finger takes its place. The handkerchief appears to be held in so casual a manner that the spectators do not suspect there is anothe coin concealed in it. Fig. 4 shows exactly how this hand is held.

The right hand now returns the florin to the centre of the handkerchief apparently, but as the left hand assumes its original position—the thumb once again holding the penny—the florin is dropped into the left sleeve. If the left hand is held fairly near to the body the folds of the handkerchief fall round the wrist and effectively conceal this sleeving. The right hand is again shown to be empty.

(continued, on page 79)



THE publication of Jack Avis' version of this little effect has prompted me to. give the details of three more simple methods which I have tried out successfully since I wrote my original article. Each of them can be used with the plastic die box which has already been mentioned. The internal dimensions of this particular box are If inch in each direction. The counters are about $ inch in diameter and x/16 inch thick.

The first method is really a development of the original in which the box was divided into four separate compartments by a cardboard or celluloid fake. But the compartments have now been reduced in size until they have become nothing more than a narrow vertical slot at the bottom of each side.

The necessary fake is shown in Figure 1. Mine is about s/16 inch thick (so that the depth of the slots isi about half the diameter of the counters) and is made from the same colour of plastic material as the rest of the box. It could therefore be fastened permanently in position at the bottom of the box with plastic cement, but then the spectators could only be allowed to look into the box from a short distance. I prefer to keep it loose in my pocket and to slip it into the box as I walk away from the table, or as I cover the box with a handkerchief In this case, the fake hasn't to be a very tight fit, but, on the other hand, it shouldn't be too loose. If it is made correctly it will stay in the box when the counters are tipped out, but it can be jerked out smartly t

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and palmed away when required.

As the box is tilted and turned around ths first four counters fall into the slots. If the box is then returned to a normal upright position, the fifth counter falls on top of the fake between them.

The fake should be made so that the slots are as long as possible and about \ inch wide. If they are narrower than this, the counters will not fall nicely into them. You will also find that the box should be tilted at an angle of 40 degrees or more from the vertical.

The method will not prevent you from shaking the counters about before you remove the lid. They will still make plenty of noise without jumping out of the slots if the box is carefully shaken from side to side.

The second new method is merely this development carried to its logical conclusion. In other words, the counters are kept quite separate without using any fake at all, for the box is divided into " compartments " by coating the four interior sides of it with clear gum or mucilage. This will not be easily seen and it will take about half an hour to dry. If the counters are dropped into the box before this happens (and the box is tilted and turned around as before) each of the first four counters will stick to a different side; and if the box is then returned to the normal upright position, the fifth will lie by itself at the bottom.

If the bottom was coated with gum you would find that the counters would not always bounce from the bottom and stick to the sides. You would probably find that more than one of them would be sticking to the bottom.

Unfortunately this method makes it impossible for you to empty the original counters on to your hand when they have been returned to the box. You will therefore need to have a duplicate set of counters concealed in your hand, or in the handkerchief which you use as a cover, to begin with. If the box is not tipped over too quickly the loose counter at the bottom will fall on to one of the sides and stick there instead of falling out on to the duplicate set.

The method also makes it impossible for the counters to be shaken about. But this difficulty could be overcome by shaking the duplicate set of counters between the bottom of the box and the palm of your hand.

The third new method is probably the best method of all. It was the result of trying to find a way of working the effect without having to tilt the box or turn it around. In this method the box can be left on the table and counters dropped into it whilst the performer's back is turned.

All that is needed is a short narrow tube. Mine is a transparent plastic one about an inch long and J inch wide. It came from a French pencil sharpener which I recently bought at Wool-worths. Similar tubes are sometimes used as containers for certain brands of tablets and cake decorations, but, of course, the tube which you use needn't be transparent and it needn't be made of plastic. It is fastened to the bottom of the box immediately below the slot in the lid. This can be done permanently with cement, or temporarily with a dab of soft wax. It needn't come right up to the lid, for if it did it would probably be seen when the lid was removed. But if the distance between the top of the tube and the lid is too great the counters will not always drop into the tube.

The narrowness of the tube causes the counters to fall into a neat pile at the bottom of the box in the same order as that in which they are dropped through the slot. This is shown in Figure 2.

At the beginning of the effect the counters are loose inside the box and can therefore be shaken about quite safely before the lid is removed to tip them out. When they have been collected the performer can see the order in which they are piled as soon as he removes the lid. They can then be tipped out again without bothering how they land. Alternatively the counters can be tipped on to the cupped palm of your hand straightaway and there will not be any need for you to look into the box at all, for if the box is turned straight over they will fall into a pile in the reversed order. This can be seen in the moment before your palm is straightened out and the counters are allowed to slide apart.

In another version of this method the tube is fastened to the lid instead of to the bottom, but the bottom of the tube must be cut off first of all so that the tube is open at both ends. The bottom end of it must then fit flush against the bottom of the box so that the counters cannot slip out of it and into box. It is easily hidden by the fingers of the hand which removes the lid.

The counters can then be shown inside the box at the beginning of the effect. When they are returned they again fall into a neat pile at the bottom. This is shown in Figure 3. If the lid is then removed very carefully the pile will not be disturbed and a glance inside the box will show you the correct order. A slight shake will then upset the pile and the counters can be shown to be loose and separate inside the box before they are again tipped' out.

If the box is shaken carefully the counters can be made to rattle without disturbing their original order.


produced. The contents are now poured into the second glass. Now cup No. 4 is apparently placed behind the bag, but really into the well as the other hand lifts the bag to reveal what is apparently the same cup, but in reallity cup No. 5 standing on the table. At the same time when once the cup is clear of the bag the flap falls

completing the surface at the bottom of the bag. The following sketch gives an idea of the layout prior to the commencement of the effect.

One final note. As sometimes small pieces of confetti are apt to fall into the liquid, I use a coarse strainer when pouring the liquid into the first glass.

CHANGING COINS (from page 77)

The held handkerchief and coin is given to the assisting spectator, who holds it between his finger and thumb. Both your hands are now empty and there is only one coin beneath the handkerchief. The left hand is held up during this time to prevent the florin from making a premature appearance.

A second spectator is now called for and as he comes forward the right hand picks up the second handkerchief, transfers it to the left hand which drops and so secures the florin from the sleeve.

Again the same procedure is followed—the florin and penny being held by the left hand beneath the handkerchief. The performer repeats his question about showing the coin, this time a penny, and re-inserts his right hand under the handkerchief. Strangely enough it is only rarely that a spectator does ask to see the coin on this second occasion so deceptive were the moves on the first occasion; this feint must be made, however.

The right hand merely slips the penny up the left sleeve and comes out empty again. The handkerchief is then handed to the second spectator to hold.

Still holding the hands well up, the necessary magic pass is made and the spectator on the left asked to examine his coin—it proves to be the florin. That on the right is found to be the penny —which puzzles the assisting spectators more than anyone!

It is important that the left hand, or second spectator be asked to show his coin first as it may happen that a mistake has been made on the second switch (it is not likely on the first) in which case you take the penny from him and show it to prove it is a penny, and immediately repeat the move which makes the change correctly.

Here a delicious situation arises, for as soon as the left spectator has received his handkerchief and coin back, you ask the right hand spectator to look at his coin. He finds it is a penny also ! The audience will then clamour to see the other coin—but as . you have changed it—everything proves in order, and a florin is seen.

The left hand's final move is to drop to the side and pocket the second penny.

A few practice runs through will show you how sweet these moves are, in fact the first time they were tried out the effect was as astonishing to myself as to the audience. A word of warning—in case you need it—is, beware of the finger ring. If you wear one either remove it or cover it with a piece of the flesh coloured sticking plaster to be found in most chemists' shops, otherwise you may betray the presence of a coin in the hand when you least expect it.

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