SOME YEARS ago I was impressed by an effect, "The Dishonest Customer" which appeared in one of those excellent books written by Norman Hunter. Unfortunately I found the fake described by the author difficult to make and also in practice the action was not so smooth as it should have been. With the same plot, which seems to have been completely neglected, I applied a little thought and time to the present version which has proved a most successful and popular item in my own programme.
This is the effect: the performer borrows a hat from a member of the audience and suggests that it shall represent a certain tobacconist's shop. A packet of twenty cigarettes is then placed inside to represent the stock. A customer comes along and makes a purchase which results in the cigarettes being removed and covered with a Hand kerchief. The performer continuing his story relates that the tobacconist discovered that the coins he received for the purchase were counterfeit apart from coppers amounting to fourpence. The tobacconist, however, was a magician and when he discovered how he had been tricked he made £ magical pass with the result that the handkerchief is whipped away to show that the customer was left with a box of " Swan " matches (gooc value for the fourpence!) whilst the stock was still in the shop. Here the performer reaches inside the hat and removes the packet of twenty cigarettes. The hat is then returned to its owner.
The requirements are simple and are :
Two packets of "Twenty" "Piccadilly" cigarettes (This sized packet is most suitable).
One of the packets of cigarettes is emptied and faked as follows :—
The tray is first removed and set aside for the time being. Now take the cover and turn it over so that the rear part faces you. The seam where the cardboard is glued together is now loosened by means of a sharp knife. The main idea is to make a shell that will easily fit over the real packet and the breaking of the join at this point allows it to be done easily. ,New creases are now made and sufficient overlap will be found to re-glue at the rear of the shell which is now a nice sliding fit. The fake is completed by glueing a flap to the top.
That is the end of the preparation and to set up for performance, place the packet of "Swan " matches, the bird side facing the audience, on its long side on the table. A white cambric handkerchief is now carelessly bunched in front of it. The packet of cigarettes with the shell over it is now placed in the right hand jacket pocket.
To present, first of all borrow a hat and impress upon the audience that it is empty. The packet of cigarettes is now removed from the pocket, shown at the finger tips and placed inside the hat. In the telling of the story, take the shell from the hat leaving the real packet behind. Care must be taken that the " bottom " of the packet must not be glimpsed. With the left hand pick up the handkerchief and at the same time drop the shell over the box of matches.
The handkerchief is now shown on both sides and placed over the right arm. The left hand now takes the " packet" of cigarettes gripping it tightly so that the matches do not fall out. The packet is now covered with the handkerchief and the performer continues his story. At the point where he tells of the trickery of the customer the handkerchief is whipped away, the fingers holding it gripping the shell which is taken with it, leaving the box of matches in the hand, whilst with the attention of the audience on the matches the handkerchief and shell are dropped onto the table or pushed into the performer's side pocket. All that remains is for the performer to remove the real packet of cigarettes from the hat and hand the latter back to the lender.
" In magic, speed in presentation is a most important point artistically speaking. There are some performers who with half a dozen simple tricks can fill up a two hours entertainment. Others there are who can rattle off a score of tricks in as many minutes. Each class of performer, no doubt, thinks his own method of presentation the best that can be devised. So it may be—for him."
Nevil Maskelyne—" Our Magic
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