Variation On Le Pauls Cards In The Sealed Envelope


IN Mr. Le Paul's Card. Magic there is contained a description of an effect called " Cards in the Sealed Envelope." It will be found in Chapter 31, page 213. This was an original effect by Mr. Le Paul and I thought it a high light in his book. The version described by Mr. Le Paul was admirably suited for the use for which it was intended, as a close up or informal performance. There were, however, three factors in his description which I thought were capable of improvement if the effect was to be used in the sort of show which I present. The effect in Mr. Le Paul's version is as follows :—

After performing a four aces routine, a spectator is asked to mark each of the four aces. The four marked cards are inserted face up in the centre of the face-down pack which is then spread ribbon fashion across the table, faces up, so that the backs of the four cards inserted can be seen. The performer takes from his inside coat pocket a packet of letters and envelopes from which he extracts an envelope which is stuck down and sealed. One end of the envelope is torn open by the performer and inside the envelope are found the four marked aces. The four reversed cards in the deck are found to be indifferent cards. The three points in this direction which I desired to alter were:—

(1) Taking the sealed envelope from the packet of letters, etc., taken from the performer's pocket.

(2) The fact that only the performer handled the envelope in which the four marked cards were found; and

(3) Finding the four reversed cards to be indifferent cards. This seemed to me to be in the nature of an anti-climax. The logical conclusion would be for the four aces simply to disappear from the pack. I therefore evolved a variation on this effect which I will now describe. The -basic sleight used and the method adopted to get the aces into the envelope are both as described by Mr. Le Paul in his book.

Effect—On the performer's centre table stands a tumbler, a pack of cards and a packet of four business envelopes. These envelopes are made of stout brown paper and open at one end. The envelopes used by me are six inches long and four inches broad. Each of these envelopes is stuck down and sealed with red sealing wax and the whole packet surrounded by an elastic band. Two assistants are required; one is seated on the right of the performer, with a small table near him, the other on the left of the performer. The performer takes up the pack of cards which he shuffles and asks the assistant upon his right to call stop whenever he chooses. He calls " Stop." The performer ceases to shuffle and the two top cards at which the assistant stopped are removed from the pack and placed back upwards in the glass on the table. The same procedure is adopted with the assistant on the performer's left. The four cards are then removed from the tumbler and it is found that the two assistants have' chosen the four aces. The four aces are handed to the assistant on the performer's right, with a Biro pen or pencil, with the request to sign his name across the face of each card. The four cards so signed are then placed reversed in the pack, that is to say when the pack is fanned with the faces of the cards to the audience, the four aces are seen in the pack with their backs outwards. This is done, as the performer explains* so that the presence of the four cards can be seen by everybody even at the back of the room. The pack is closed and placed face outwards in the tumbler on the table. The performer then takes up the packet of envelopes and hands the packet to his assistant on his right. He draws his assistant's attention to ths fact that each envelope is sealed. The elastic band is removed and the four envelopes are shown to be stuck down and sealed. The assistant chooses one and the other three envelopes are discarded. Hie pack is taken from the tumbler and the reversed aces are seen still to be in position. The aces are then commanded to leave the pack and to enter

the selected envelope. The pack is fanned and it is found that the aces have disappeared. The assistant is asked to examine the envelope and satisfy himself that there is no way of getting inside the envelope, not even for a postage stamp. He is then handed a pocket knife to enable him to cut the envelope open which he does, and inside he finds the four signed aces. These are displayed and the performer explains that, of course, signed cards can no longer be used but that with the aid of magic be can get over this difficulty. The aces are touched with his wand and it is then found that all four signatures have disappeared.

MethodsThe sleight for obtaining possession of the four signed aces is as that described by Mr. Le Paul in Card, Magic at page 61. Any similar method for obtaining the same result will prove suitable. It is an improvised method of executing the Diagonal Shift. This leaves the four aces palmed in the performer's left hand. The pack is placed in the glass and the performer picks up the packet of envelopes. The method of preparing the envelopes varies from that described by Mr. Le Paul insofar that the envelope in which the aces are subsequently found is not slit across the upper part of the back for the purpose of inserting the aces as described by Mr. Le Paul. An entirely different method is adopted. The envelope is placed in warm water so as to loosen the flap or turn-over at the base of the envelope which is then unstuck and opened out. The envelope is then dried, for which purpose it is placed between two pieces of blotting paper and ironed with a hot iron. The normal flap is then stuck down and sealed and the small flap, which has been unstuck at the other end, is then coated with rubber solution and a coat of rubber solution is applied to the envelope along that portion of the end on which the small flap will rest when turned back. The rubber solution will not stick to any untreated surface, but the moment the treated surfaces are brought together with slight pressure they adhere and can only be opened with difficulty. In other words, the envelope is treated as if it were a self-sealing envelope. Two other envelopes in the packet are prepared as described by Mr. Le Paul. That is to say, each has a piece of cardboard inside to stiffen it. They are stuck down and sealed, but on the address side of each of these envelopes a semi-circular flap is cut out as illustrated in Mr. Le Paul's book and lettered C and D. These two envelopes and the envelope with the adhesive end are assembled as described by Mr. Le Paul but instead of the flap C of envelope A, in Mr. Le Paul's description, going into a slit in the fake envelope, it goes over the treated portion of the small flap. Envelope B, is then placed on top of these two as described by Mr. Le Paul. That is to say, the flap (marked D) on the address side slip« into the open end of the fake envelope. Placed in this position, the rubber solution will not adhere to the inserted flaps because they are not treated with solution. On top of these three envelopes is placed an envelope which is not prepared. A rubber band then encircles the packet. If the packet is then squeezed between the finger and thumb on its long side it will be found that the stiffened envelopes open out so as to form a sort of tube, leading into the interior of the fake envelope, into which the four aces can be inserted. The four aces are palmed in the left hand and the packet of envelopes is lifted from the table by the right hand with the thumb underneath the lower long edge and the fingers on the upper edge. Slight pressure is exerted to open the tube and the envelope is transferred to the performer's left hand.

As the left hand takes it, the pressure of the left little finger on the palmed cards is released and its place is taken by pressure with the tjjird finger which keeps them in the palm. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers are kept close together and are extended. If this is tried with cards in the hand it will be seen that the lower right hand corners of the cards are now free from the fingers and as the packet of envelopes is placed in the left hand, the rear portion of the tube, that is to say the lower envelope of the packet, passes under the cards which slide into the tube as the packet is taken between the thumb and fingers of


From the J. B. Findlay Collection

the left hand, and the left thumb pushes them home. It is a matter of a split second only to insert the cards. The envelopes are held with the unprepared envelope uppermost and it will be seen that the fake envelope projects about f of an inch from the end of the packet. This envelope is partly drawn out to show that it is sealed. The effect of this movement is to clear the treated flap on the other end from the flaps on envelopes A. and B. The elastic band is then removed and the two envelopes at the rear are moved over and to the front of the packet. This leaves the faked envelope on top of the packet as it faces the performer.

The outermost envelope, the unfaked envelope, is handed to the assistant to examine. As he does so the performer places his thumb on the treated end of the fake envelope and presses it down on the treated surface below. One stroke of the thumb across this end seals it completely. This envelope is next placed on the table, attention being drawn to the fact that it is sealed. Envelopes A. and B., with the sealed sides uppermost, are then placed on the table with the other two, these are not examined, Care being taken that the flaps on the backs of these envelopes in Mr. Le Paul's description marked C. and D. are not disclosed. The fake ei^velope is then forced on the assistant. I use a straight bluff force. The other three envelopes are placed1 aside. The pack of cards is taken from the glass and fanned and it is seen that the four reversed cards are still in place. The reverse side is shown and it is seen that they are in fact the four aces with the assistant's signature (apparently) written across their faces. The pack is closed and the four aces ordered to vanish and transfer themselves to the envelope. The pack is then re-fanned and the four reversed cards are found to have disappeared. This part of the effect is produced by the use of the rough and smooth principle. Four duplicate aces, with a signature of some sort written across the faces, are roughened on both sides with roughening fluid. Two indifferent cards are placed one on the face of the aces and one on the rear. One of these is roughneed on the back which is placed on the face of the aces and one is which is placed on the face of the aces and one is roughened on the face which is placed on the back of the aces. The other two surfaces of these two cards are polished. The four aces can be readily separated when the pack is fanned but when the pack is closed, and slight pressure is applied back and front, the six cards come off as a bunch—as one card. At the commencement of the effect this packet of roughened cards is on the top of the pack but after the diagonal shift has been executed and the four aces extracted, the pack is cut as it is placed in the glass which brings the roughened cards to the middle. After the aces are found to have vanished the pack is still retained in the performer's right hand as attention is drawn to the envelope. On his centre table is a pocket knife. As it is found difficult to open the envelope the performer turns to his right to reach for the pocket knife and in doing so, changes the pack for another pack with four plain apes x>n the top. This change can be effected, if, performing in evening dress, by the use of the pochette and profonde on the right hand side, or, if performing in a morning suit, bv means of a topit vanisher fixed inside of the performer's coat on his left side, the second pack being taken from the vest pocket on that side. The envelope is cut open and the signed aces extracted and displayed. The performer shows them to the audience in his right hand, drawing attention to the signatures. He holds the pack in his left hand. The four duplicate aces on the top of this pack are pushed sliehtly to the side so as to overlap the pack by half an inch. Closing the fan formed by the four aces, he turns to his assistant on the left and places the pack on his centre table. In doing so, he bottom changes the signed aces for the four duplicates without showing the faces of the cards to his assistant. He remarks on the difficulty of playing cards with signed aces, touches them with his wand and the signatures are found to have disappeared.

" Magic is the apparent defiance of natural laws. Before magic can become magic, the audience must know that the thing the magician seems to be doing, is, in actuality, impossible."

John Mulholland—"Quicker than the Eye."

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