The Magic Circle

President: Herbert}. Collings, Esq. Vice'President: Francis White, Esq.

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ALTHOUGH my friend, His Honour Ernest Wethered has entitled his contribution " Variation on the Taped Slate'." He has added something more than a variant. It must be nearly three years ago since he demonstrated the means that he describes, and it must be almost as long when I received the manuscript. Although the handling is aligned to my own effect " Taped Slate," the methods can be applied to any similar means where " one ahead " is the rule. The similarity in effect of "Mental Epic" to "Taped Slate" makes this very worthwhile for those who have bought or those who intend to buy.



THE "Taped Slate" was the title given by Peter Warlock to an effect described by him in Patterns for Psychics, pages 17 ff. I considered this effect, when I read the description, to be one of the best effects Warlock had ever invented, and I am still of the same opinion. The performer attempted to predict in advance the choice made by three of his audience and wrote his predictions on a slate, each prediction being covered with a piece of adhesive tape or plaster. The three members of the audience, in due course, made their respective selections and in each case the performer's prediction was found to be correct.

In The Pentagram for January, 1952, Warlock published another routine on similar lines under the title " Gap in the Curtain," which dispensed with the use of a mechanical slate used in his original effect. This latter routine is ingenious but I have not tried it out. The effect which I have been performing now for some time with very considerable success is a variation on the original effect as described in Patterns for Psychics. This version, to my way of thinking, had one weakness. The method of performing it was an adaptation of the " one ahead " principle and it was necessary for the performer to to ascertain from his first two assistants the choice they had made before he made his next prediction. In the routine which I adapted this weakness was eliminated and no questions are asked throughout. As seen by the audience the effect is as follows :—

The performer secures the assistance of three members of his audience and enquires if, for the purpose of this experiment, he may address them respectively as Mr. A. Mr. B and Mr. C (or Mrs. or Miss). He then announces that he will endeavour to predict in advance the choices which they will subsequently make and he proposes to write down these predictions before their choices respectively, are made. For this purpose he uses a slate which he divides with white chalk into three divisions. From a box of chalks he takes a blue chalk and announces that he will write his prediction of the choice which Mr. A. will make, in blue chalk. This he does in the first division on the slate and then covers the prediction with a strip of cardboard coloured blue, three inches in breadth, which he clips to the side of the slate with a bulldog clip. A, is then handed a book and asked to open it where he likes, to run his finger down the right hand page and stop on any word when he feels an impulse so to do, the performer saying that he will attempt to control his choice of the word at which he stops. The assistant does this, is asked to close the book and is handed a slip of paper and a Biro pen. He is asked to write the word clearly and distinctly on the slip, fold it in four and place it in an envelope which the performer hands him for the purpose, seal the envelope and mark it " A." The services of a fourth member of the audience is secured, to be " the holder of the envelopes." This gentleman takes possession of the envelope which is at no time touched by the performer.

The performer then makes his second prediction, with regard to the choice to be made by Mr. B, and writes this in the second division on the slate in pink chalk, which is covered with a second strip of card

board coloured pink. Mr. B. is then asked to think of a number of four figures and having done so, is handed a slip of paper with the request to write the number on the slip, fold it in four, place it in the second envelope which he seals and marks " B." Possession of this envelope is taken by the holder of the envelopes.

The performer then proceeds to make his prediction with regard to the last assistant, if possible a lady, who is addressed as Mrs. or Miss C. This prediction he writes in the third division on the slate in green chalk and covers it with a third strip coloured green. The slate is then placed on an easel on his table. Miss C is seated near another table and the performer shuffles a pack of cards and spreads the cards ribbon-wise across the table requesting her to drop her finger on any card which she chooses. This card she is asked to withdraw from the spread but not to look at it for the moment and to place it in the third envelope which she seals and and marks " C."

The strips of cardboard are in turn taken from the slate and it is found that the performer has predicted correctly the word chosen by A, the number selected by B. and with regard to C, it is stated that the card she will select will be say, the four of Clubs. The holder of the envelopes opens the envelopes in turn and verifies the correctness of the performer's predictions with regard to the choices made by A and B and on opening the envelope marked "C," it is found that the card placed there by Miss C, was the four of Clubs.

That in short, is the effect and now here is the method of performing it.

Reference to Warlock's description in Patterns for Psychics will show that the general lines of the routine are very similar to Mr. Warlock's but that it has been altered in several material respects. The slate used is a mechanical slate as described by Mr. Warlock, that is to say, it has a sliding panel which covers two-thirds of one of its surfaces and accordingly can either cover the lower two thirds or the upper two thirds according to which way it is slid. In the third division on the slate, underneath the panel, is written in green chalk " C = the four of Clubs." The panel is then slid down to cover this prediction and the slate appears to be blank. In order to disguise the presence of the ridge formed by the top of the panel, a white chalk line is placed along this edge. At the start of this experiment this mark is covered by the three strips of cardboard which are held in place by one of the bulldog clips.

The first two strips are removed and the third one is held in place by the performer's left thumb so that the chalk mark is still hidden from the audience. From his box of chalks the performer takes a white chalk and, turning the slate towards himself he removes the green strip and pretends to draw the line across the slate with his chalk in the position where the chalk line is already drawn. The slate can then safely be turned towards the audience as the top of the slide is covered by the white chalk.

The chalk line blankets the edge. A second chalk line is drawn half way between this line and the lower edge of the slate so that the slate is divided into three portions.

Taking a blue chalk from his box, in the first top left hand corner of the slate the performer writes " A = " and states that he proposes to make a prediction of the choice that will later be made by Mr. A. He turns the slate towards himself so that the audience cannot see what he writes and writes anything, it matters not what, in the upper corner of the first division, covers what he has written with the blue strip and fixes this in place with one of the clips. He then hands Mr. A. a book from which he chooses a word.

This book is an ordinary book which must have a good firm cover and it must have its paper jacket on it. Inside the top flap of the jacket is pasted a piece of carbon paper of the most sensitive type available the printing side of the sheet being uppermost. Over this carbon sheet is placed a sheet of paper which is fixed in position with gum or paste. This paper should match the colour of the jacket. The result is to form a sort of pocket inside the jacket which is closed at the top end but open at its lower end. Inside this pocket is slid a sheet of stout typewriting paper of such breadth that it will slide easily in the pocket. When pushed home the sheet must project one inch below the edge of the pocket. The jacket is then replaced on the book, the projecting edge of the typewriting paper is folded back against the inside of the cover, and the flap of the jacket is folded down and covers the whole of the turned up strip of paper except a small portion at the inner side. This description may seem a little complicated but if it is read with a book in hand, which carries a jacket, I think my meaning will become clear. The rough switch annexed may help.

When bent upwards the slip is covered by the flap except at inner end*

This book can be freely handled and even if the cover is opened the turned-in edge of the hidden slip of paper appears, on a casual inspection, to be a portion of the jacket. The pocket is completely hidden between the jacket and the cover.

Mr. A. opens the book, selects his word and then closes the book. He is handed a slip of the thinnest typewriting paper obtainable, which corresponds roughly in size to the hidden slip. It is indicated to him that he could use the cover of the book as a writing pad. This should not be stated in express terms but can be indicated clearly if the performer places the strip of paper on the cover and hands both to Mr. A, as he hands him the pen. He is asked to write the word clearly, preferably to print the letters, as later " It will be necessary for the word to be seen from all parts of the room." Having done this, he is asked to fold it in four. The performer then takes from his table a packet of large size pay envelopes. These are made of brown paper and open at one end and the size which I use are six inches long and four inches broad. The paper of which these envelopes are made must be fairly stout. Placing the paper inside the envelope, Mr. A, seals it and marks it " A," and hands it to the holder of the envelopes. The performer is holding in his hand several slips of paper similar to the one which he handed to Mr. A. One of these will be used by Mr. B, and on it he will write the number selected by him. The performer retrieves the book from A. and places the sheaves of paper on the cover of the book.

He proceeds to explain to Mr. B. that he is going to ask him to think of a number and he will then be required to write it on a strip of paper, fold it in four and seal it up in an envelope in the same way that Mr. A. has sealed his slip. To assist Mr. B, to understand the procedure to be adopted, the performer illustrates what is required by folding one of the strips in his hand into four. As he prepares to do this he slips the second finger of his right hand under the top cover of the book and presses his finger on the edge of the hidden slip, which he pulls free from the pocket and, holding the slip, draws the whole packet of papers off towards himself. In so doing he draws the hidden slip completely out of the pocket in the jacket; the hidden strip concealed under the other papers in his hand. He then draws this slip from under the others and it is with this slip that he demonstrates how Mr. B. should fold his paper in four. On this slip the carbon has recorded the word chosen by Mr. A, and as the performer folds this into four for the edification of Mr. B, it is an easy matter for him to read the chosen word, but he is careful to prevent anyone seeing its presence on the slip. That is the reason why this slip should be made of fairly stout typewriting paper. There is then no chance of the word being seen through the paper as the performer handles it. As he folds the paper in half he folds the word inside and then folds the double paper across, thus folding the slip into four. He then straightens out this slip and then places it with the other papers on the table as he proceeds to make his prediction with regard to Mr. B's choice in pink chalk. The chalk used for this purpose has two ends to it. One end is composed of blue chalk and the other of pink chalk. The method of making double ended chalks for this purpose is described by Warlock in " The Gap in the Curtain " in The Pentagram for January, 1952.

As the performer takes this fake chalk from his box only the pink end is seen by the audience. As soon as he gets this chalk behind the slate he reverses the ends and in the second division of the slate writes " A = chatterbox " (or whatever the word may be which A, has selected). This prediction is then covered with the strip of cardboard coloured pink.

B, is then asked to think of a number of four figures and having done so, is handed one of the slips of paper on the performer's table, together with the Biro pen and asked to write the number on the paper, fold it in four and in due course place it in an envelope which he is to mark " B."

I must now explain the nature of the packet of envelopes used by the performer. This packet consists of about ten envelopes. The top one, which is the one handed to Mr. A., is not prepared, but immediately under this envelope is a faked envelope which consists only of the address side of an envelope matching the others in colour but made of thinner paper, on the inner sur face of which is fixed a sheet of carbon paper which covers the whole of the underneath surface except a band of a quarter of an inch all round. This fake is then attached to the end of another envelope by a strip of paper to form a hinge. This envelope is re-inforced by the insertion of a piece of stiff cardboard to make it a rigid and firm writing surface. The hinge is a slack hinge so as to leave sufficient space between the carbon face and the back of the re-inforced envelope for three envelopes to be inserted. The next sketch will make this arrangement plain.

Re-inforced ~ .Three envelopes.

Faked envelope with, carbon sheet on underside

When the three envelopes are inserted, with their address sides uppermost the fake envelope is folded back on top of them and the whole assembly is then placed on the remaining envelopes in the packet. The whole packet is surrounded by a rubber band,

Paper hinge

Re-inforced ~ .Three envelopes.

Paper hinge

Faked envelope with, carbon sheet on underside which lies, not across the centre of the packet, but across its upper end.

To resume the narrative, when the slip is handed to B to write his number he naturally requires something in the nature of a writing pad to enable him to write. For this purpose he is quietly handed the packet of envelopes and a slip of paper is placed on the top of the packet for him to write. The result is that as soon as he writes the number on the paper, the carbon transfers the number on to the uppermost of the three envelopes placed under the carbon. One reason for anchoring the fake envelope with the carbon side to the re-inforced envelope by means of the hinge is to prevent the fake from inadvertently slipping and disclosing the presence of the carbon. Having written his number Mr. B, then folds his paper in four and the performer reaches for and obtains possession of the packet of envelopes and extracts all three envelopes placed under the carbon fake. To facilitate this it is as well if these three envelopes, when placed in position, are allowed to project three eights of an inch beyond the top edge of the fake. On the uppermost of these envelopes the carbon has written the number selected and the performer is careful to see that in removing the envelopes this fact is not disclosed. The performer places the envelopes on the top of the packet and then hands the lower of the three to Mr. B. with the request that he places the folded paper therein and marks it "B."

The third of the three envelopes he then hands to Miss C. In the meantime, he has noted and memorised the number written on the upper envelope of the three which is placed, number down, on the packet of envelopes which in turn is placed on the table. The performer having noted the chosen number pretends to write his prediction with regard to Miss C's choice in the third division of the slate. He announces he will write this in green chalk. From his box of chalks he takes another double ended chalk which has pink chalk at one end and green at the other. Only the green end is disclosed, but reversing the chalk the performer writes on the third division of the slate " B = 9999 " (or whatever the number may be). Then, by the pressure of his two thumbs, he moves the panel upwards, which

A FEW YEARS ago I needed an effect with a small slate which I could use at the table, without getting rid of a flap. After much experimenting I finally developed the method I am going to describe now, and with which I have always been well covers the top section of the slate and reveals the prediction already written in green on the lower third of the slate. This prediction is covered with the third strip of cardboard coloured green. The slate is then placed on the easel.

The card selected by Miss C. is forced. For the purpose of this force the pack used is one of Ralph Hull's " Nu-idea " forcing packs. This pack consists of 26 cards with 26 duplicates of the four of Clubs arranged in pairs on the back of the indifferent cards, the faces of the fours of clubs and the backs of the indifferent cards being roughened and the opposite surfaces being polished with Simonize car polish. This pack can be freely shuffled or leafed through, so long as gentle pressure is maintained on the backs of the cards, without there being any chance of the duplicate fours of clubs being disclosed. This pack is ribbon-spread across the table and Miss C. is asked to let her hand play across the backs of the cards until she feels an impulse to drop her finger on one of them. When she does this, she is asked to maintain the position of her finger and the performer pushes from the spread the card upon which her finger rests. In doing so, he separates the pair and so pushes out the four of clubs. The cards are left on the table without being disturbed. There is a reason for this which will be explained later. The card so selected by Miss C. is placed in the envelope which she already has, without looking at it, sealed up and the envelope marked" C."

The denouement can then be worked up as the performer thinks fit and in due course it is demonstrated that each of his predictions is correct. As a final touch, going to the table the performer lifts the cards above the place from which Miss C. selected her card to show that if she had stopped one card short she would have cut (say the nine of hearts) or if she had gone one card further on she would have cut (say the five of diamonds). Only where she did cut was the four of clubs.

I hope the reader will be able to follow this description. A good deal of careful preparation is necessary to produce this effect but the trouble taken is well worth while. I have performed this effect now to many audiences of different types and the effect is just terrific.


A spectator is flowed to examine a small sia e, the size of a playing card and is then asked to mark it with a white pencil (the kind they use for photographs). After that the slate is placed in a small

Therefore, let us discover what most impresses an audience, and present those effects with as much intensity, deftness and faultless execution as possible. And remember that in doing so we shall be quite justified in getting the maximum effect with the minimum of labour.

Douglas Dexter — "The Psychology of Deception and its Effect upon Audiences."' 1918



envelope which is sealed and the address side signed by the assisting spectator and, during the time of the experiment, kept in his possession.

Three other spectators write now a numoer on a business card and the numbers are added by a fourth spectator. The result is not yet announced but he keeps a note of the total.

The mentalist then talks about the ghost of Pascal, whom he will try to raise, and if he succeeds in that, the ghost will write the result of the addition on the slate. At the pleasure of the performer the ghost is willing to co-operate (did you expect something else) and when the envelope is opened, on the slate is written with chalk, the total of the numbers.

Of course you are interested how the trick (pardon, experiment) works. Well, I use a principle that is very old, but still not much used with slates, viz. the impression method.

You need a mall slate, the size of a playing card which you can make from a piece of cardboard and some blackboard-paint. A white pencil, a pen (not a ball-point) a blotting pad, and lastly a pay-envelope.

The pay-envelope is carefully dpened on all sides, which is very simple if you place the point of a lead pencil between the glued sides and roll it

Dear Peter Warlock,

I was most interested in the effect entitled " Take a Bow, Jack Avis," which you described in the latest Ganson book Finale. I do not subscribe to Pentagram so have not had a sight the item you attribute to Jack Avis, under the title of " Your Choice," but from your remarks in Finale it would appear that a considerable amount of sleight of hand is required.

Liking the plot of this item I have evolved the following method of working, which has been tested fully and found to be " not-wanting." No sleight of hand, as such, is required nor is there any need for prepared or faked coins. So, thinking that you might be interested in my version, here, then is MY CHOICE.

The effect is exactly as you describe in Finale.

REQUIRED: 2 pennies, 1 half-crown, 1 pencil, 1 full size handkerchief.

PREPARATION : The two pennies are in the left hand trouser pocket. The half-crown in right hand trouser pocket. The handkerchief may be in any pocket. The pencil in the outside breast pocket.

along. On the inside of the address side you write in mirror writing very heavy in chalk the result of the addition (the total of the numbers is of course forced). Then you restore the pay-envelope to its normal form and you are ready for the presentation.

After the spectator has inspected and marked the slate you place it in the envelope which is sealed. On the address side the spectator signs with your pen, his name, and as soon as this has happened you hand him the blotting-pad and ask him to blot it well. By this manoeuvre he himself prints the writing on the slate. Now you see why you cannot use a ballpoint, because you must have a reason for using the blotting pad.

As you have already read that the result of the addition is forced we don't need to go over that, because you can use your own method. After the addition is made, the envelope is cut open and the spectator receives the slate, which slides out of the envelope, and the spectators see that the ghost of Pascal has written the total in a very spooky writing on the slate.

The envelope is then casually placed in the pocket.

Instead of a number you can of course also force a card, design, colour, etc.


(1) Remove the handerchief from the pocket and lay it out flat on the table.

(2) Both hands go to the trouser pockets, the hand lays the half-crown alongside the right hand right hand coming out first with the half-crown (this allowing just that extra fraction of time for the left hand to finger palm one of the pennies) and the right corner of the handkerchief. Meantime the left hand has finger palmed one penny and comes out with the second penny showing at the fingertips.

(3) As the left hand lays down the visible penny at the left hand corner of the handkerchief the right hand goes up to the outside breast pocket and removes the pencil.

(4) Hand the pencil to an onlooker, saying, " Will you be good enough to take this pencil, sir," your left hand picks up the penny and places it on the centre of the handkerchief and, with the fore finger resting on the coin, continue " and be good enough to mark this coin in any way you desire. Make a cross, initial, etc."

(5) The right hand now picks up the half-crown and places it down on the handkerchief near

... the magician's hands, like those of the painter, sculptor or musician are merely the vehicle which conveys to the world the results he has produced by using his brains. Thev display the technique, but the actual result is due to his mental ability. For that reason skill of hand is nothing in comparison to activity of mind.

Douglas Dexter — " The Psychology of Deception and its Effect upon Audiences," 1918


centre as the left hand removes the marked penny and replaces it at left hand corner of handkerchief. The half-crown is also marked.

(6) Take back the pencil in right hand, transfer it to left hand which places it in outside breast pocket, at the same time as the right hand picks up the marked half-crown and replaces it by the right hand corner of the hank.

POSITION : At left hand corner of handkerchief is the marked penny. Marked half crown is at right hand corner of handkerchief. The second penny is finger palmed in left hand. Pencil replaced in outside breast pocket.

(7) Left hand picks up the penny and throws it into the right hand, held palm up ready to receive it. The penny is thrown so that it lands across the base of the second and third fingers. The left hand pick up the half-crown and this also is thrown into the right hand, remarking, " So we have a penny and a half-crown."

(8) The right hand now turns over and apparently deposits the two coins into the left hand which is now seen palm up with the silver and copper coin therein, as you continue, " both of which have been marked." Actually you retained the penny in the right hand finger palm and dropped only the half-crown into the left hand to join the finger palmed coin already there.

POSITION : Right hand back out with marked penny finger palmed. Left hand palm up with duplicate penny and marked half crown in view.

(9) The right hand picks up the handkerchief at left hand corner and drapes it over the left hand. Under cover of the handkerchief the left hand jingles the coins so that all can hear the coins are there, and then the left hand is turned palm down and the hand holds the two coins, pointing down, between thumb and index finger.

(10) The performer asks an onlooker to name one coin (naturally it is "Conjurer's Choice" for the procedure is always the same it being the penny which is taken from under the handkerchief). As the onlooker names his coin, the right hand goes under the handkerchief and immediately puts the marked finger palmed coin from the right hand into the left hand, in the finger palm position, and the left hand thumb pushes the half-crown into the right hand finger palm and the right first finger and thumb take the penny from the left hand and the right hand is withdrawn from handkerchief.

POSITION : Left hand covered with handkerchief and holding the marked penny in finger palm position. The right hand has duplicate penny held in view at fingertips and the half-crown concealed in finger palm.

(11) The right hand puts the penny down on to the table and then takes the handkerchief from the left hand, holding the coin (which the spectators think is the half-crown but which is actually the marked penny) through the folds of the cloth. The left hand holds the corners of the handkerchief which hang down, then the hands are lowered until they are about six inches from the table with the handkerchief stretched between the hand parallel to the table top. The right hand then releases its hold of the coin through the cloth so that the thud of the-coin in the handkerchief is heard as it strikes the table. The right first finger is placed on to the coin through the cloth, on the table, and the onlooker is requested to take hold of the corners of the handkerchief which you are holding in your left hand.

(12) The right hand picks up the penny from the table. It is held with the first and second fingers-on top and thumb underneath and is then thrown into the open palm of the left hand. It lands with an audible smack and the left fingers immediately close on the coin. You say, " I have the penny, here," and you open the left hand showing the penny " and you have the half-crown."

(13) As you remark on the fact that the onlooker has possession of the half-crown, the right hand first and second fingers and thumb removes the penny from the left hand palm by taking it with the fingers on top and thumb underneath; held thus the penny is actually not visible from front when held in this position, being effectively hidden behind these two fingers.

(14) This time when the penny is apparently thrown into the left hand, the penny Is retained in the same position but the third and fourth fingers straighten out so that the half-crown is propelled into the left hand. The left hand fingers immediately close on the coin.

(15) The right hand goes up to the outside breast pocket to remove the pencil, which it does by gripping it with the first and second fingers going behind pencil and the third and fourth fingers in front of the pencil. The finger tips are already in the breast pocket and the coin is dropped into the pocket and the pencil lifted out.

Now the third and fourth fingers press on the pencil so that it pivots round and is held now with first and second fingers to front and third and fourth fingers to rear. The thumb presses on rear of pencil' and holds it firmly.

(16) At this stage the transposition is complete. Tap the left hand with the pencil and open the hand showing the marked half-crown. Tap the handkerchief with the pencil and ask the onlooker to open out the handkerchief and of course he finds the marked penny. Thus all is accomplished and you are left absolutely " clean " at the finish.

Incidentally it may be of interest to note that I do not use the conventional finger palm grip but the coin is retained in the usual position by the pressure of the third finger only instead of the usual second and third fingers. This gives me full use of the first and second fingers and is of course vital in the throw-change in moves (13) and (14).

Hope this is of interest.


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