The Three Shell Game



HERE IS another in the series of George Armstrong's Giant Sized Manuals, uniform in style with John Howie's ROUTINES WITH THE JARDINE ELLIS RING and Peter Warlock's PATTERNS FOR PSYCHICS. Possession of this new manual will open up for you an entirely new field of magic. You need know NOTHING of the subject before purchasing the book, but a few evenings practice will enable you to present some of the most baffling moves and routines ever devised.

THE PRINCIPLES and RUDIMENTS of The Three Shell Game are thoroughly discussed before you learn a single move, and there are even instructions for preparing your own shells, should you prefer the genuine item instead of the present-day plastic variety.

NO LESS THAN 24 MOVES are then described in the minutest detail. Most of these have never seen the light of day before publication of this work and are entirely new to the conjuring profession. No matter what the circumstances might be, there is a move here to deal with it. No matter when or how a spectator may challenge you, he can NEVER win!

IF YOU MASTERED only half of these moves you would be an acknowledged expert at the Three Shell Game, but there is no reason at all why you should not master them all. NOTHING is left to the imagination, for in this section alone there are no less than 60 fine drawings by Jack Lamonte to augment the text.

FRUSTRATING THE CHALLENGER is dealt with in a special chapter, and there are moves and suggestions here that will really tickle your fancy. ROUTINING THE MOVES into a complete act will be easy when you have mastered them, but even this is done for you, with Three completely baffling and completely different styles of routines that are thoroughly described.

THE REGULAR ROUTINE has ten phases of baffling moves, THE RILER is a routine with a different slant and tons of entertainment value; and THE BOOMERANG is probably the most unusual Three Shell Game routine ever devised. You tell an entertaining story and illustrate it wilh baffiing moves as the pea appears and disappears in the most unlikely places. Another 26 fine illustrations by Jack Lamonte make everything is this section quite clear.


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"JO KOLAR must go the credit for originating an effect in which the performer could decide unerringly and without visual aid, which of several keys would open a locked padlock. It took the imagination of Anneman however, in "Book Without a Name" to come up with a title that has stood the test of time, "Seven Keys to Baldpate", and with the title he presented a method which today is still as good as many that have hit the market since that date.

The trick in its accepted form cannot be considered ideal entertainment because of the waste of time involved whilst a number of people, (any number up to seven!) each take a key and one after the other test whether such key will or will not open a padlock presented to them by the performer. Milbourne Christopher was, to the best of my knowledge, the first magician to come up with a presentation that ignored these preliminaries and gave a version of the trick in which a number of spectators were invited to take keys one of which would open a padlocked box containing

a sum of money. Without looking up the actual reference I feel certain that Milbourne advocated the use of Stewart Judah's lovely method, the "Keys Of Judah". Now although the method here is excellent, and up to a certain point, foolproof, I am allergic to reliance on mechanism if it can be avoided. It was with this thought in mind that the following routine and method were devised.

The presentation to be described makes the "Keys to Baldpate" effect into a stage or platform presentation.

Four members of the audience are seated left of the performer. On his table is a simple stand (See illustration 1) to which are clipped five small envelopes. Each envelope bears a different number, the numbers ranging from 1 to 5.

VOLUME 13 No. 11

AUGUST. 1959

The Performer lifts from the table a small transparent plastic box. A length of coloured ribbon (illustration 2) twice encircles the box and through two rings at the ends of the ribbon a padlock keeps them together. Holding the box so that the Committee and the audience can see, the performer points out that locked inside the box is a £5 note. The box is placed on a chair and then the attention of the audience is drawn to the five numbered envelopes clipped to the stand. "Each of these envelopes contains one key . . one of the keys will open the padlock which keeps locked the box which I have shown you. (To the committee). Each one will have a choice of one envelope and the chance of the £5 note. I shall in no way try to influence your choice."

Each spectator in turn is asked to name the envelope that he or she would like and according to their choice the envelope is removed from the stand and handed to them. When four envelopes have been chosen and only one remains clipped to the stand, the spectators holding them are asked to open them, and remove the key contained inside. Each then in turn tries his key in the padlock, but none succeeds in opening it. Taking the final envelope and handling at the fingertips, the performer cuts off one end and allows the key inside to fall onto his palm. Handing this key to one of the Committee, he asks him to try the key in the lock- Needless to say, it is the one key which opens it!

In describing the effect I don't think I have stressed enough the fact there are no suspicious moves and in particular that as each envelope is removed from its clip it is freely shown on both sides. When the spectators remove their keys from the envelopes nothing else is left inside.

1. A padlock together with five keys that will open it and another five that will not.

2. Some pay envelopes measuring 2f inches by 3 inches. I don't think that you'll be able to buy envelopes this actual size. Those I use have been cut down from slightly longer envelopes.

3. A transparent plastic box.

4. A length of ribbon.

5. Two small metal rings.

6. A simple stand to hold the envelopes. It consists of a base twenty inches long with two holes drilled one inch from each end to accommodate respectively two twelve inch lengths of quarter-inch dowel rod. The only other requisite is a length of one-eighth by half-inch strip of wood, which when setting up the stand is attached at each end to the tops of the dowel rods by means of criss-crossed elastic bands-If the woodwork is given a coat of matt flat black paint it looks quite respectable.

7. Five small bulldog clips to hold the envelopes in place.

8. A pair of scissors.


Check the length of ribbon needed to go round the plastic box both ways, then have a ring sewn to each end. Place the £5 note in the case put on the lid, bind the ribbon round both ways and then snap the padlock through both rings so that the only way of opening the box is by unlocking the padlock.

Take five envelopes and the five keys that will not open the lock. Into each envelope place one key. There is a particular position for each key, namely at the flap end lying crosswise across the envelope. Seal the flap of each envelope, but before allowing the glue to set take the keys that will open the padlock and insert them in the flap (as in Illustration 3) Don't allow the gum to set against the key for all you require is a small pocket to hold it in place; there should be easy freedom of movement without the possibility of the key falling to either side. On the face of each envelope is chalked a number with charcoal stick. (Alternatively, numbers from office calendars can be cut out and affixed). The envelopes are then clipped to the upper strip of wood. Illustration four shows the position of the envelopes as seen by the performer.

The stand holding the envelopes is placed on the performer's table which should be almost centre stage. There should be one chair immediately to the left of and slightly in front of the table, and well left of the table, and to the front of the stage or platform are four chairs to accommodate the four helpers from the audience.

The locked box at the commencement is placed upon the table adjacent to the stand. The scissors are dropped into the right hand pocket.


The four helpers are invited upon the stage and seated on the chairs left of the table.

The performer then takes the plastic box from the table and shows that not only is it padlocked but that it also contains a £5 note.

The box is then placed upon the seat of the chair adjacent to the performer's table.

The attention of the four helpers is drawn to the envelopes, and in stating that each envelope contains one key, the performer is perfectly truthful. The first helper is asked to make a choice of the number. We'll suppose that he decides upon number three, the centre envelope. The performer asks him whether he (or she) is quite satisfied with such a choice and allows a last minute change of mind. When the helper has affirmed his or her choice, the left hand of the performer removes the clip whilst the right hand takes hold of the envelope in such a manner that the ball of the thumb rests on and covers completely, the top of the key held in the pocket of the the following verse—

The left hand carries away the clip and drops it into his left hand pocket whilst the right hand turns the envelope over thus allowing both sides to be seen, remarking, "This, then is your choice!" The right hand returns to its original position so that the covered key is nearest to the performer. Now in one continuous action, the right hand thumb slides the key upwards from the pocket, turns the envelope down so that it is parallel to the floor and places it onto the upturned fingers of


the left hand, which in turn takes the key, now separate from the envelope and the envelope itself. The performer moves across to the spectator who chose the envelope and in this action the fingers close over the key in the envelope being held between the thumb and first finger. Illustration six shows the two positions.

The spectator takes the envelope and the performer moves back to the stand. A second spectator is asked to nominate an envelope. The left hand, which remember, has fingerclipped the key stolen from the first envelope, takes hold of the club whilst right hand takes hold of the envelope in the same manner that the first envelope was taken. Now the left hand removes the clip and drops this and the palmed key into his left-hand pocket.

In handing the envelope to the second spectator the procedure adopted is the same as with the first spectator. Carry on in exactly the same way with the third and fourth spectators, so that you are left with just one envelope on the stand, and one key in the left hand. Let the spectators open their envelopes and unsuccessfully try to open the padlock.

Now please pay attention to the handling at this final stage, handling which is very clean and cannot allow any suspicion to arise in the audience's minds that you do more than you appear to do. At this point the left hand still has the odd key taken from the fourth chooser's envelope. Left hand comes up to remove clip whilst right hand takes the fifth envelope as he has taken those before. The clip and key are dropped into the pocket and the envelope shown on both sides.

When however, the hand returns to its original position and the key is nearest to the performer, the left hand comes in and takes the envelope first finger tip on the top edge, thumb against bottom edge (illustration 7).

Quite obviously there is only an envelope and nothing concealed in the hands, though naturally nothing is mentioned regarding this. "This is the envelope you left for me .. (as he says this the right hand comes in and taking it by the lower corner between thumb and first fingertip, holds it up. He then passes it back to the left hand which this time takes it at the position shown in illustration 8. The thumb and finger press on the extreme end of the key in the pocket and also the key inside the envelope. The right hand reaches into the right hand pocket for the pair of scissors comes out and then slices away the end of the envelope opposite to that held by the thumb and forefinger of the left hand. The scissors are dropped onto the table and without comment the right hand is shown empty and brought across under the envelope. The left hand tilts the envelope over shifting the grip of the thumb from the key in the pocket and onto the key inside the envelope. When it is in such a position that the key in the pocket is in a vertical position it will fall behind the envelope and onto the palm of the right hand. To the audience it is exactly as though the envelope were tilted and a key fell from within it. Naturally the pressure of the thumb on the key inside the envelope prevents this falling as well. The left hand places the opened envelope on the table and then advancing to one of the helpers on the stage, the performer asks him to remove the key from his palm and see whether it is the one which opens the padlock. It does!

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