N Memexy of a fyteat Magician

cal dog, he had no time, and his remarks concerning such parasites were very caustic. He joined the Magic-Circle in 1907, between that year and 1933 he performed on more than ninety occasions at Socials, Banquets and Seances. He aiso between 1907 and 1921 gave some ten lectures. (It is unfortunate, that of these, only one " The Psychology of Deception, and its effect upon Audiences,' was printed in toto ; this will he found on pages 44, 65 and 94 of volume 12 of the Mtu/ic Circular. The year 1922 saw the production of his act " Studies in Artistic Magic " at Maskelyne's. This was a presentation that will ever ttmain in the memory of those who witnessed it. Artistic in every way, of particular note (in this act) was his version of the " dyeing silks." Large white silks heid at the linger tips and dipped (as one would " dip " silks into a bowl of dye) into an empty ornamental bowl were dyed various colours freely named by the audience (a description of the effect together with the method will be found in David Devant's Secrets of ///// Magic). This effect is typical of the manner in which Dexter was sometimes unorthodox.

In 1926, he became one of the three (¡old Medallists of the Magic Circle and two years later he appeared at Windsor Castle in a Royal Command performance. A result of this was front page pubilicity for him, and his triple card stab, in at least one London paper. He believed, quite rightly, that good magic, properly presented, was good entertainment, and when humour was necessary it should have the semblance of wit. In 1933 he resigned from the Magic Circle. He visited the United States in 1934, and besides winning the American open Epee Championship (he was an expert swordsman and was in the English Olympic team on four occasions) g^ve a memorable performance on the occasion of a special entertainment given in his honour by the Society of American Magicians on May 9th, of that year. J. J. Proskauer and Edward Dart (now Editor of Conjurer'* Magazine) reporting in M.U.M. (the official organ of S.A.M.) wrote : " M■.

Dexter treated the audience to tine of the must retnurl:-ahle demonstration* of magic seen here in year*." Those who had the privilege of his friendship admired the man as well as his magic. (It was a great tragedy that one of his most promising pupils, the late Wilfrid Allan, onlv survived his master by one year). Douglas was one of the few that could instil into the simplest effect the quality of real magic, and with mental and psvchic effects (of which ho was very fond) he exploited this ability to the full. None of those present will ever forget his masterlv exposition at Anderton's Hotel on the 11th May. 1922, when (after the Occult Committee gave their first report) he gave a demonstration of billet reading and slate writing.

It so falls out,

That what we have we prize not to the worth Whiles we enjoy it ; but being lacked and lost Why, then, we reck the value.


Onlv one word could rightfully describe a performance of the late Douglas Dexter, ami that is the adjective " distinguished ": it applied to his appearance his manner and his technique. lie was a student of Magic in the true sense of the word and was always, willing and ready U> pass or. his vast knowledge and experience to those, who, in the service of better magic, needed it. For the magical illiterates, who, so often, in magical societies, become the tail that wags the magi-

" WJiUe-Mandied

EDITOR'S NOTE.—Despite his avowed predilection for the " Rising Cards " (see " Making a Candle Light ") we feel that the effect obtained with this presentation must have at times caused a certain conflict within Douglas Dex-7er's mind as to whether (from the point of view of his own performance) this was not an equal or greater card effect. Whilst such a thing is of little moment artistically, he certainly gained far more pubilicity for this than from any other effect in his repertoire. In 19-31 a Court case was fought around the question of whether his original presentation, of what some would call a standard effect, made it an original effect. Rupert Howard was the plaintiff and Douglas Dexter the defendant. One of the points arising was whether the use of " white-handled knives made the effect different from one in which " white-handled daggers " were used.

Of Douglas Dexter's performance of this effect at the S.A.M. in New York on Utli May, l!K!4, Proskauer and Dart wrote in M.V.M. :—

" Dexter closed to an ovation when he presented an effect which none of the Parent Assembly members had ever seen before.

Twenty of us tried to figure this one ou+, but it is just one of those tricks that ' can't be done.' " Douglas Dexter played with the main theme a great deal, but the version to be described, is, as near as it is possible to judge, his standard presentation, and in all probability the one that he used in New York. The variations allowed for different methods of blindfolding and/or switching. Our old friend Wilfrid Jonson in conversation the other day mentioned a variant previously unknown to ourselves ; in this variant, Dexter offered a choice of one of two packs, each having a different coloured back ; the switch of the pack was then accomplished at the back of the table, as the latter was moved forward, by the performer. Certain early descriptions of the effect will show that darts and not daggers were used.—P. W.

The Effect in Brief.

A new pack of cards encased in its sealed wrapper removed from a table standing centre is handed to a member of the audience with the request that he breaks the seal, removes the wrapper and requests three members of the audience to each remove and note a card (the cards may be marked it" necessary). Whilst this is being-done the performer calls attention to a small case ; the lid of this is lifted to reveal inside three white-handled daggers. As the case, with the 5id still open, is placed on a nearby chair or table, the spectator with the remainder of the pack is requested to return to the stage.

He is handed first a white silk handkerchief and then a length of black felt with taped ends and is requested to blindfold the performer wjth these two pieces of material. This completed, the same spectator is asked to have the selected cards returned to the pack, shuffle the latter and spread the cards lace down on the table (the performer incidentally has taken up his stand behind the table prior to or during the process of the blindfolding). The performer asks that the daggers be taken from their case and handed to him. Holding them in his left hand, he quickly takes them one at a time with the right and stabs certain cards on the table. The first person is asked to reveal to the audience the name of his card ... he does so and the performer lifts one dagger showing that card impaled on its point ; this is successfully repeated with the remaining two cards.


(1) Two new packs of cards. The wrappers of these were first careiully removed by steaming and placed aside. Although apparently identical in back design, Douglas Dexter used at least four methods of distinguishing one pack from the other. One method was to expose the backs of one to the sun, so that a slightly yellow tinge was apparent to the performer. The second was to buy say a gross of packs and choose one pack that had a lighter printing on the back (certain types of American cards have this fault). The third was to use similar types of cards having different finishes, i.e., Air cushion in one pack and " Ivory finish in another ; (the late Ralph Hull made use of this principle for location purposes), indication of difference in this case could be noted by light reflection. The fourth method was a question of a standard mark throughout the pack. The other pack was treated so that it became a " reader " deck with signals that were visible up to five feet. The preparing of this deck apart from gentleness in handling (so that the pack looked new) did not have to be too subtle. At this point it will be seen that if one of the " reader cards " is shuffled into the other pack, it will show up first, not on its reader marking but on account of its general back differentiation. The reader will find that whilst this difference is great to the person knowmg such a difference exists, the spectator assisting will not notice it. (2) One white silk handkerchief. (3) A black (velvet or felt) bandage with tapes. (4) A set of three daggers (the case is of course optional but makes for general effectiveness). (5) A device for switching the packs of cards.

The beauty about Dexter's switch was its cleanness—there was iu hesitancy—no suspicion. Again let it be repeated this was only one method that he used (in our owa opinion it is the best for the reader because it can always be accomplished without detection whilst the performer is surrounded). To accomplish the switch which was performed in the action of removing the handkerchief from the inside pocket, Dexter made use of a special pocket. The illustration will serve the reader better as a guide than a long description. This pocket (really two pockets) consists of one which acts as a receptacle for the unwanted " reader " pack ; and takes a form similar to the pocket that can be found in certain types of letter files. The front and back though made of material similar to a coat lining are reinforced by cardboard. The second pocket, which holds the " non-reader " pack, the handkerchief and the felt bandage, is nothing more or less than a normal pocket acting as an appendage. The depth of this pocket should be slightly greater than the length of a pack of cards, but less than the depth of the receiving pocket. The point about this particular arrangement is that whilst the coat is in a normal position the receptacle pocket remains closed. Directly, however, the performefmakes a move towards the pocket (in such a manner the coat comes away from the body), this pocket, because of the weight of the articles in the appendage, automatically opens becoming ready for the reception of the unwanted pack.

Whilst normally one does not have a pocket in the left part of a jacket or coat, Dexter had his pocket on this side, using the right hand for the switch.


The " reader " pack is first taken and re-sealed inside one of the wrappers previously removed ; it is then placed on the table (w7hich should be centre stage). Adjacent to it is then placed the case containing the daggers (or just the daggers). The black bandage with tapes is then rolled and placed at the bottom of the pocket proper (see illustration), the non-reader pack faces towards the performer's body being placed on top. The white handkerchief, also folded, is placed between the pack and the outer part of the pocket (the position of all three articles is shown in the illustration). The handkerchief should be so folded that two ends protrude.


A spectator is first asked to assist. With his assent, the performer takes the sealed pack from the table, asks him to break the seal and then allow any three members of the audience to take one card each. Whilst this is being done the performer picks up the case containing the daggers, opens the lid, picks up one dagger to point out its merits, replaces it in the case and places the case, lid open, on a table or chair right of the table from which he picked up the sealed pack. By this time the cards will have been taken and the performer asks the assistant to return to the stage. He casually takes the remaining cards from the assistant pointing out that he (the assistant) has opened a new pack and approached three members of the audience with a request that they each take a card. The performer addresses the three selectors asking that they now look at the cards they have taken ; he then turns to the assistant on the platform saying : I would like you to blindfold me in no uncertain manner." At this point the right hand goes to the left pocket, the action of entering the coat allows a full expansion of the extra pocket, and the reader cards are dropped into this as the non-reader pack and the handkerchief are removed as one. The speed of this switch because of that extra pocket is such that it would afterwards be said (should the question arise) that the cards never left the audience's sight. With a normal pocket switch, there is always an impedance caused by the normal compression of the


pocket material. This can't happen here. " This one first," says the performer, as he hands the handkerchief to the assistant. As he does so the performer, who should be just behind the centre table, turns half left ; the assistant takes the handkerchief and commences to blindfold him. The performer in an endeavour to help the spec-

In '¡'he Magic IVand For December, 11)23, 1 described an effect called The " Sharpe Scissors Problem, which soon caught on, several variations being described in magazines and books, and also being put on sale. The procedure was simple and straightforward : An envelope taken from the pocket had the ends slit open, after the flap had been sealed, thus making a paper tube. This was slipped over a handkerchief. While the ends of the handkerchief were being held, the tube was cut through with a pair of scissors, but the handkerchief remained undamaged.

A very simple trick sufficed to produce this pocket version of Sawing Through a Woman. One side of the envelope had previously been cut across the centre (Fig. 1), this side being kept underneath. Round nosed scissors were used, to prevent them catching the handkerchief as they cut through the upper side of the envelope only, the under blade being guided over the top of the handkerchief. A perfect illusion was created, and there was nothing left to find out.

In one of the variations a length of cotton was threaded through a cigarette with a long needle. The cigarette was cut in two without damaging the cotton. The secret here was to use a pair of fairly blunt scissors that were a trifle loose at the rivet. This caused them to press the cotton between the blades without cutting it, though they severed the cigarette.

Douglas Dexter took a fancy to the original effect, and wanted to include it in his programme at Maskelyne's. He decided to do it in a way that would be clear to spectators in a hall, the following being his procedure as described in his own words in a letter to me :

" I pick up a long manuscript envelope in one hand and a very long pair of scissors, just under a foot long to be exact, in the other. 1 then snip off the closed end of the envelope, and lower into it a piece of satin ribbon about 2 feet long and nearly as broad as the envelope, showing both sides of the envelope, so that it may be seen that the ribbon really goes right through. Then, holding the envelope in a horizontal position with the ribbon protruding at either end, I cut it in halves with one slow, deliberate cut, the point of the back leg of the scissors showing below the lower edge of the envelope all the time. The two halves of the envelope are then drawn off and the silk shown uncut."





The underleg of scissors goes between the ribbon and top side of the envelope

This is how it appears to the audience. Actually in the action of placing the envelope between the legs of the scissors, the underleg is slipped between the top part of the envelope and the upper side of the ribbon.

I do not think that Dexter's version has appeared in print before.


As readers will have noticed in last month's issue, we mentioned that this issue would contain fohn Young's "A Matter of Massacre" (a card trick with one of the best plots we have seen). Even bv cutting out book reviews, the three Dexter items took all available space. We are therefore compelled to hold John Young's item oxer until the July issue. In this will appear another card item by Bill Bishop and a very nice "Want Ad" test by James Esler. Reviews of routines and books which should have appeared in this issue were Stuthard's "Bi-Co-Trilby", George Armstrong's "Premonition," Eddie Joseph's "Strictly Magic" and "The Gen, Nos. 1 and 2." All are recommended.

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