Peter Warlock

THOSE who visited the I.B.M. Convention at Hastings in 1952 (it doesn't seem all that time ago) may remember that Russell Swann who was over here at the time had a great deal of fun with the chemical ink which fades. Difficult to get over here for a while, it is now obtainable from dealers. Offering a great number of opportunities for gags, here is a little effect which is suitable for after dinner work.

On the performer's table are a white silk handkerchief, two small bottles of ink, one red and one black, a pen and a pack of cards. A card is selected from the pack and the conjurer tells his audience that he has just found a new way of divining the name of a chosen card. It is done with the aid of coloured ink and even a member of the audience can do it. Therefore the chooser of the card is asked to try this modern method of determining chosen cards. " First of all, however, there is one thing we must know, and that is the colour of the card, whether it is a red or black." The spectator says that it is a black card. "Right," says the performer, "all you have to do is to spread this handkerchief flat on the table (the action is suited to the words) dip this pen in the black ink and shake it on to the handkerchief, something peculiar in the make up of the pen will cause the ink to form into the name of the card you chose."

The victim dips the pen in the ink and shakes it on to the handkerchief the result being no more than two or three blobs of ink. " You don't seem very successful," says the conjurer, " so try again." More ink, more blots !

Taking the bottle of ink with his right hand, the conjurer tips the table towards the audience so that they can see the result of the application of the ink. " Look sir, I don't think that it is due to any deliberation on your part but quite frankly we don't seem to be making progress ; just keep the name of your card in mind and leave the rest to me." At this point where the spectator is dismissed, the performer shows both sides of the handkerchief to the spectators, then closing his left hand into a fist he pushes the inked silk into it with his right hand fingers.

Now sir, just tell me the name of your card ? " Supposing the answer is the "Ten of Spades," the performer withdraws the silk from his hand showing that the blots have disappeared and in their place are written the words, "Ten of Spades."

The working requires little explanation. The necessary bottle of ink duly corked, another bottle containing red ink, two twelve inch white silk handkerchiefs, a handkerchief colour changing fake and a pack of cards.

One of the handkerchiefs is prepared by painting with black paint the name of a black card upon it. We will keep the ten of spades in mind. The best type of paint for this kind of work is sold by Winsor and Newton. It is easy to apply and once on the material will stand up to washing. This silk is now tucked inside the changing tube which is dropped into one of the easily accessible right hand pockets. The other silk is tucked into the breast pocket whilst the bottles of ink, pen and pack of cards are on the table. The pack may be prepared or unprepared according to the individual, but the sober fact remains that the ten of spades has to be forced in the most natural manner.


Force the ten of spades upon the spectator who you intend shall assist you. Let him retain the card of his choice and drop the remainder of the pack into your pocket at the same time getting possession of the colour changing fake on the right hand second finger. The hand comes out of the pocket, the tube being easily concealed. Reach up to the breast pocket and remove the unprepared handkerchief. Place it on the table and have the chooser of the card on your left. Instruct him regarding the ink and after he has told you that the card is black remove the red inkpot from the table.

He now spatters ink over the handkerchief, and holding the black inkpot with the right hand the table is tilted to show the damage. This is a good comedy situation. The table is levelled and the inkpot replaced, the helper taking his seat. With the fake still held on the right hand second finger pick up the handkerchief, the left hand taking one corner so that the damage is visible to the audience. Don't hold it to long in case the fading commences. In running the silk through the left hand fingers release hold of the fake so that it is held in the left fist, and then with the second finger of the right hand commence pushing the damaged silk into the left fist. Don't allow the other silk to expand over the hand, but when the damaged silk is completely in the tube and a steal of the fake has been made with the right hand, ask for the name of the card. As it is given allow the silk held in the left hand to expand and then open it out with both hands, showing how the blobs of ink have formed the name of the chosen card.


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