Birthday Card Trick

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

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The Birthday Card Trick is a splendid effect, and it serves well here as ar. introduction to something that has never before been properly explained in print, . . the Torn Centre.

To the active Magician, there is nothing more useful, more capable of wide application than the Torn Centre, yet until now, no one has described a method whereby the centre of a folded piece of paper can be stolen without at least a little fumbling, or at least some degree of risk.

With this firmly in mind, X will describe the effect and working of the Birthday Card Trick, and then go on to describe fully my own method for the Torn Centre, In addition, I shall describe a most useful gimmick which 1 have employed for years, to supply me quickly and easily, the information written on any torn centre.

Here, first, is the Birthday Card Trick. You require two small plastic calendars, the kind that are abouL playing card size, and usually have a matt surface for writing notes on one side and a full year calendar on the other. Just off centre on one of the calendars, cut a hole about one inch by one and a half inches. You also need some pieces of paper, or better still, a pad of paper, about three and a half inches by two and a half inchesin sizes, and a pencil. To set up for the trick, have both calendars in the right jacket pocket together with the pad, and the pencil in the breast pocket. On the table you should have a lighter and an ash tray.

Choose the time to present this effect. It should not be done right at the beginning of your act, and it is not a closer either; rather than try to sell it as some powerful feat of mental ism, you should understate it, perform it casually. That way, it will rock an audience.

Approach a lady and hand her the pad and pencil. Tell her to write her birthday on a piece of the paper, right in the centre (and you draw a circle to make sure that she does write it in the centre). Walk well away and do not look at her as she writes.

When she has done that, tell the lady to tear off the sheet of paper with her birthday on it, fold it in half, then in quarters, and hand it to you. Take the paper from her without looking at it. Walk to the table and start to tear the paper, pattering about the way in which a person's birthday can be as recognisable to certain sensitive people as can their faces or their voices. Tear the paper as described at the end of the trick, retaining the centre, then set fire to the odd pieces in the ash tray. It helps to have a tiny drop of petrol in the bottom of the ash tray; otherwise, you may have the embarrassment of trying to light bits of paper that just won't burn. It should be abundantly obvious that you barely ever look at the piece of paper at all until you burn it. Do not stare at the burning pieces, either, or there may be some interesting theories about how you watched for fragments of writing as the heat curled the paper!

Reach into your jacket pocket with the right hand, and as the hand enters the pocket, open out the torn centre. This is easily done by pushing the thumb under the edge of one layer of the folded paper and, retaining a grip by pressing on the folded corner with the forefinger, push the thumb right into the fold and it will flatten out. Practice this until you can do it in a second without effort. As the paper flattens, lay it alongside the calendar with the hole in it, in such a way that the side bearing the writing ;s facing the cut-out. All of this. .. placing the hand in the pocket, opening the paper and positioning it. . . .

should only take a couple of seconds at most. When you have done this, grasp the ungimmicked calendar and bring it out at your fingertips. It should appear that you put your hand in your pocket simply to take out this calendar.

Approach another lady, a good distance from the woman who wrote her birthday, and say to her, "Madam, I don't know what your birthday is, but I'm willing to bet that it's printed on this card. What is your birthday, please?" Whatever she says, hand her the calendar and ask her if her birthday is there. She must say "Yes" and she will laugh, as will the rest of the audience as you retrieve the calendar and let them see what it is for a moment, before replacing it in your pocket. Whenyou replace it, make sure that it goes behind the torn centre, so that it forms a cover at the back of the piece of paper; in other words, you have made a sandwich, with the gimmicked calendar on top, the torn centre in the middle with the writing facing through the hole, and the ordinary, unfaked calendar on the bottom.

Go back to the first lady, and say, "Madam, I don't know your birthday, either, do I ? But you did write it down, and we burnt your writing, so your birtli date has been committed to the atmosphere, and if I'm as sensative as I say I am, 1 should be able to get some kind of message. .. do you agree?"

Go to your pocket and remove the 'sandwich', with the cut-out facing you. You have apparently just removed the calendar again. "I could say your birthday is printed on here, " you go on, "and get out of it that way, couldn't I?" You look at the calendar and read her birthday (say the 10th of May) through the cut-out. "Your birthday is printed here, isn't it, Madam?" Pause for a moment, looking thoughtful then slowly say, "It'sprinted right up near the top...

in the month of May it's the tenth of May, am I


The lady will readily agree, and what started uut as a seemi^ly feeble joke has fended ag app^renUy genuine mind - reading! It is quite a nice added tWch M the end ta put the calendars back in your Pocketr Uien, ay if n were an afterthought, hand the Lady the the genuine calendar as a souvenir. You have of course, had the 'sandwich* in you pocket long cnoueh If drop the torn centre and the gimmicked calendar.


The whole idea of the torn centre, briefly stated, is this. A person writes something on the middle of a small sheet of paper. The paper i 5 folded in quarters, is torn up, andburiittd. Despite all this, the apparent fairness and ballot-like secrecy of the proceedings, the- performer, if he perform the torn centre, has retained the porLion of paper with the writing on it, There are 4 few publi shed methods' of doing this. In my own opinion, there is only one fumble-free method, and I am reletisinu it here for the first time.

Take a piece of paper, about inches by z\ inches. Draw a circle, about at: Inch or an inch and a half in diameter in the centre, and write something wiLhin this circle. Now fold the paper in half and in half again This gives you a folded piece measuring inches by if Inches.

1 oliow the test from this point with the paper in hand and refer it) the photographs for clarification. Hold the paper with the folded corner {the centre} between the right thumb and first finger. Tear the folded paper vertically in half (Fig, 1. ) You now have a piece Ln each hand.

-Bring Lhe fight hand piece over and lay it on top of

the left hand pi ¡.: tie, turning both pieces lengthwise between the fingers. Figure 2 shows this clearly. The ■larSi line jndicates the torn edge of the right hand pieces Now, the right hand piece muiit not be laid squai-ely on top of the left handpiece, but must overlap it by a quarter of an inch at Che bottom. This is clearly indicated in Figur'- 2. Still keeping the right thumb over the folded corner, tear the paper vertically again, as in Figure 3. This tear cuts right across the line of the first tear. As the right hand swings out momentarily with its pieces, the right middle and third fingertips turns inwards and clip the protruding piece at the bottom. Due to the overlap, the fingers cannot miss this piece f Fig. 4 ) , The right hand comes back to the left immediately, the fiiigers curling inwards and concealing the clipped centre (Fig. S. | The right hand pieces, now minusthf centre fold, are laid on those in the left hand and thi-y are torn once more, the resulting piei_^s heinjs dropped in the ash tray and burned. The centre is safe and snug in the right hand, and can be opened as described in the working of the Birthday Card Trick,

There is no fumble

1,1 I ¡n 'Kim tnn'p but in of hi-« ii, ilmi it involved in getting hr>ld eft the torn centre by this mr-thod. As a professional J rieed sure, positive n.iithocia, and this pa rticula r method lias serve<$ mc cufhUntiv .md ■-■ ■ - LI. If ,u iy misr.Lii'ectij.'ii tp needed, it is built into rlu- v.-orking of the sleight. The hands separate each time you tear 1Jn■ paper, ami win: n hvo IfahtlE in Opposite directions, the apeclator dues nut take the trouble Lo follow 1S eonionr cu wait until they unite again eves. However, sn sinooLh is this could he performed right under their

A useful ^i :inni ck us u se when you want to read ' f:t *■ i-itini; rjn the torn centre quickly, is a match-jux -.Mtliout a hottn >>t. To prepare this, take the shell rViiii ,-i matchbox and cut away one long side, just leaving a narrow edge all around, like a frame. Take the drawer and carefully cut out the bottom; Stick the bottom in position a quarter of iin inch from the top of the tray, and stick a few matches in position to Conceal the cardboard. A fe w luosi: matches on top of these completes the g iu irnicl-:. Pop the tray into the shell and put the box in your jacket pocket. When you have hold of your torn centre, plunge your hand Into he pocket containing the maLchbox, open the paper ind press the paper into the underside. Srinj? out lie box, remove a match and strike it, at the same

Lime reading the writing on the torn centre. Figure 6 explains the whole thing. The match, of course, is used to burn the other pieces of paper!

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