It’s funny – I’ve never really thought of myself as an ‘old fashioned’ magician, but it’s definitely becoming more and more obvious.
I worked out a trick based on Roy Johnson’s Card In Gum, and sent it to a friend (who also happens to own a successful magic shop). The effect was simple – a torn card is sealed in one envelope (the little pay envelopes), and a stick of chewing gum in another. SHAZAM! They are supposed to change places, but the first envelope is opened, and instead of the card pieces, it contains a stick of gum… the second envelope is opened, and the gum unwrapped, and inside is the restored card (and of course, a corner that the spectator kept fits).
I really like the trick (hence sharing it with a friend) and the method has some clever parts. He responded ‘This is a great trick! Maybe you could make is visual, with some elastic thread or something – that’s what people buy now!’
And he is right. (His magic shop is hugely successful, and makes our efforts at Kaymar seem rather modest!) But the visual, flappy, elastic, ‘this looks better on a low resolution webcam’ kind of magic is just not for me.
The truth is that I am rather old fashioned. I find the best tricks in old books (I’m currently going through Hugard’s Magic Monthly, published in the early 40s) and I find more satisfaction in mastering something old and often overlooked, than I do from buying something online and making it twang, and shouting ‘Ta Da!’.
So here’s another example of that – a card at any number type effect, based on ‘Luck of The Draw‘, but without any of the gimmicks.
You bring out a clear bag, containing fifty raffle tickets. A spectator chooses one from the bag, and keeps hold of it.
Next comes a deck of cards, and you shuffle it, spread them out on a table and have a spectator choose any card, before it is returned back to the centre and the spread squared up. The same spectator cuts the deck a couple of times, and then leaves the pack in the middle of the table.
You turn to the first spectator, and explain that you are going to want them to count down to the number they have chosen, and to deal the card that appears at that number in the middle of the table.
They reveal their number for the first time.
Here’s my favourite bit. Before letting them deal, you ask them if they want to change their mind, drop the ticket in the bag, and take another one. If the first number doesn’t feel right, then they change it.
A final spectator (if you have that many!) takes the pack, deals them face down one at a time, and places the card at the number aside. The card before and after are shown different, and of course, when the tabled one is turned over, it is the selection. SHAZAM!
How’s it done?
Well, there’s two aspects. Firstly, the deck is a Svengali deck. People overlook these (most magicians have one in a draw with a thick layer of dust over it) but the truth is, as long as you don’t handle it with any of the normal moves, you will fool everyone with it, and do tricks that wouldn’t be possible any other way.
So, when you dribble the cards into a spread on the table, the cards fall in pairs. A spectator slides one out, and it’s a force card. (On one occasion, I had a guy poke around and eventually choose a non-force card, as he’d separated them. Here’s my out – have him turn it face up and replace it where it came from. Now offer another spectator a choice of the card above it, or below it – but stress that they don’t turn the card over, they just peek… disaster averted).
Either way, reassemble the deck, have the spectator cut a few times, and job done. The selected card is set to appear at any odd number.
So, over to the bag. The bag is genuine, and contains fifty raffle tickets. But 25 of them are duplicates (luckily, you get a duplicate of each number with every book!) and ALL the numbers are odd. So, they choose one at the beginning, and it’s 27. They change their mind later (if they like) and get, say 35. It doesn’t matter. The card is at the number, and you avoid the whole ‘Your card is the NEXT one’ fiasco.
Spectator deals down, keeps the card AT their number (you can show the one before and after as different, if you like) and then have them reveal. TADA!