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Anyone who has seen a magician perform has almost certainly seen one or more of the tricks explained in this book. For these are great tricks of the magic profession, tricks that have proved perennially spectacular in performances on the stage, on television, or in private audiences. The author explains first the basic scheme of each trick, then discusses the possibilities for variation and expansion as developed by a number of famous magicians. Each of the classic tricks included here is methodically described in detail and illustrated in line drawings; none of them involves expensive or complicated apparatus. From the cups-and-balls tricks dating back at least to the time of the Egyptian pyramids to Houdini's famous needle swallowing feat, these pages are full of invaluable information for magicians, beginners or advanced performers. Illustrated with over sixty full-page line cuts





Illustrated by STANLEY JAKS



Copyright, 1953, Harper & Row, Publishers, Incorporated All rights in this book are reserved. No part of the book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written pemission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. Library of Congress catalog card number: 73-87037 ISBN 0-88365-095-9 Published by arrangement with Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Printed in the United States ofAmerica


The cutest trick I know

Contents 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Preface The Spectator's Card Is Produced! Corncobs Water, Water, Everywhere! The Very Peripatetic Paddle Those Four Aces! The Miser's Dream Come True! The Egg Bag, Well Done The Two Covers, and the Four Objects . . . Billiards, Magic Style Razor Sharp The Ambitious Card! The Eternal Cups and Balls In Conclusion Appendix Glossary Index


ix I 13 19 32 47 70 82 93 109 136 144 159 199 203 207 209

Preface I HAVE many crotchets as the result of twenty-five years of interest in and appreciation of magic. These likes and dislikes have reflected themselves in my choice of material. There has not been space enough to go into the reasons why I chose one trick at the expense of another. It will have to suffice to say that I think there have been cogent reasons involved in my selections. Since magic can be all things to all men, it would be absurd to say that the tricks described here are the only classics of magic. No such claim is made. Two critical judgments were made, however. First, all the tricks described have proved their stature by having lived for years and, second, each trick is one about which I have some personal, specialized knowledge. For instance, there is no doubt that a trick like the die box is a classic. But I have never performed it, and I know nothing mqre about the trick than its actual modus operandi. Therefore, I have not included it in these pages. The same objections have ruled out the many wonderful silk tricks, thimble routines, and the like which are truly classics. What I have attempted to give you are the best, most efficient, and in many cases closely guarded secret methods of performing those classics about which I know most. I have restricted those tricks which demand advance preparation or special apparatus, since I think that by definition the true classics of magic require little of these. In most instances the tricks you will ix



learn here are those which can be performed under the most difficult circumstances, with a minimum of manipulative hazard and a maximum of effect on the audience. Although I have described the various tricks in the course of this book in such wise that the complete beginner should have no trouble in the execution of any of them, it might be wiser if the tricks were learned in ascending order of difficulty. The first, simplest routine for the cups and balls in Chapter 12 is a fine primer of all-around magic, since there are no complexities involved at all. From this simple beginning I would suggest that the student then progress to the chapter on coins called "The Miser's Dream Come True!" Once one has learned how to handle the small balls used in the cups and balls routines and the proper way to manipulate coins, one will be well on the way to a mastery of magic involving small objects. I would then suggest Chapter 11 as a good cornerstone for learning to handle a deck of cards. Once the ambitious card routine has been learned, all card tricks will become easier. From this almost purely sleight-of-hand foundation I would suggest that the reader then learn a routine with the egg bag and the rice bowls, since these are tricks involving some slight preparation (in that a device is employed). The razor blade trick and the pipes that smoke without tobacco or flame (Chapters 10 and 2) should be learned next, as these demand a degree of presentation and a flair for showmanship which should follow hard on the heels of learning the pure mechanics of magic. Once these tricks, or routines rather, are learned, I would suggest that the student proceed to one of the billiard ball routines in Chapter 9. From then on the reader should choose those tricks that appeal to him most. With these as a background any beginning magician will be well



on his way to a mastery of what is to me the most fascinating of all hobbies or professions. The interested reader can explore this subject further in an earlier book of mine called Magic as a Hobby. In those pages he will find a great variety of fine magic, all of which is easy to present and astonishing in effect. There has been but one aim in the over-all plan in The Classic Secrets of Magic. I have tried to make this the kind of book I would like to have read when I first became interested in magic. I hope these pages will save you as much time and work as they would have me had I found such a book a quarter of a century ago. BRUCE ELLIOTT

Neiv York City September, 1952



"Do you like card tricks?" he asked. I said no. He did five. — W . SOMERSET MAUGHAM

1 The Spectators Card Is Produced! G. THOMPSON, JR., a bank president who loves magic very dearly, has said that if a magician knows a hundred ways of locating a card that a spectator has chosen, and only one way of revealing it, the effect to the audience is that the magician knows only one card trick. On the other hand, if the magician knows one way of finding a card and a hundred ways of revealing it, the effect is that he knows a hundred tricks. I am in complete accord with this aphorism. Let me assume that the only way you know to find a card that a spectator has looked at is by means of a key card. A key card can be made as simply, as by "crimping" up the corner of a card. With this crimped, or bentcorner, card on top of the deck, the magician shuffles the deck, bringing the crimped card to the bottom of the deck. The cards are fanned before a spectator, or ribbon-spread on the table, and a card is taken out and looked at by a spectator. The magician brings the deck together, cuts it in the center, and has the spectator replace his card on the top half of the deck. The other half, the bottom half, of the deck is dropped on top of the chosen card. This places the crimped card on top of the spectator's card. To find the spectator's card all the magician need do is to cut at the crimped card, and the card on top of the deck is now the chosen card. JAMES


Index Allan, Don, 189, 191, 193, 196, 197, 198 Baker, Al, 24, 25, 26 Ballantine, Carl, 200 Balls, billiard (color changes), 132, 134 Balls, billiard (productions), 111, 113, 116, 118, 120, 127, 128 Balls, billiard (to silk), 134, 135 Balls, billiard (vanishes), 116, 118, 120, 121, 123, 124, 131, 132 Benson, Roy, 90, 189, 191, 198 Berg, Joe, 182 Blackstone, Harry, 200 Blades, razor (to swallow), 136, 137, 139, 140, 141, 142 Bosco, 200 Bowls, rice (Baker version), 25, 26 Bowls, rice (standard version), 19, 20, 22, 24 Cairy, Clyde F., 100, 102, 108 Card (on ceiling), 8, 9, 10, 12 Card, crimped, 1 Cardini, Richard, 199, 200 Cards (with coins), 93, 95, 96, 98, 100 Cards, double cut, 153, 155, 157 Cards, double lift, 2, 144 Cards (with magazines), 100, 102, 104, 107, 108 Cards, ribbon spread, 1 Cards, transformed, 2 Cards, four aces (sleight of hand), 47, 49, 50, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56 Cards, four aces (slow motion), 60, 61, 63, 64, 67, 69 Cards, four aces (faked cards), 58, 59

Cards, key, 1 Cards, switch, 149, 151 Cards, calling turnover of, 35, 36 Cards through handkerchief, 4, 6, 8 Carlyle, Francis, 35 Chanin, Jack, 118, 131 Coins (dropper), 80 Coins, production of, 71, 72, 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 81 Collins, Stanley, 52, 55 Conradi, 55, 56 Cup and balls, 189 Cups and balls (metal), 159 Cups and balls (Dixie cups), 169 Cups and balls (tea cups), 175 Daley, Dr. Jacob, 59, 96 Dean, Wally, 28, 30, 50, 71, 74, 79, 80 de Biere, Arnold, 86 Devant, David, 12 Dice, turnover with, 36, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46 Downs, T. Nelson, 70 Drilling, James, 95 Egg bag, 82, 83, 84, 86 Egg bag (with thread), 86, 88 Egg bag (use of hollow egg), 88, 90 Egg bag (in reverse), 90, 91, 92 Effects, best liked, in magic, 203, 204 Effects most performed in magic, 204 Ellis, Jardine, 26, 28 Endfield, Cyril, 60, 69 Flosso, Al, 79 Furlong, Ande, 182 Galvin, Wallace, 4 209

210 Genii, 203 Gibson, Walter B., 109, 127 Glossary, 207, 208 Herrmann, Alexander, 8 Hocus Pocus Jr., 159 Hofzinser, Johan Nepomuk, 187, 189 Horowitz, Sam, 59 Houdini, Harry, 136 Keating, Frederick Serrano, 199, 200 Knife, turnover with, 32, 34, 35 Leipzig, Nate, 201 Magic as a Hobby, xi Malini, Max, 8 Marshall, Jay, 10, 200 Match, turnover with, 35 Maugham, W. Somerset, 200, 201 Miller, Charley, 175, 180, 181, 182

INDEX Paddle, wooden, 32 Paul, Johnny, 187 Philadelphia, 200 Phoenix, The, 205 Pipes, clay, 13 Pipes, corn cob, 13, 14 Pipes, magical smoking of, 13, 14, 15, 16 Ramsey, John, 189 Reader's Digest, The, 100 Sack, Dr. Theodore, 39 Scarne, John, 2 Shulien, Matt, 8 Swann, Russell, 200 Tannen, Louis, 46, 205 Tarbell Course, 204 Taylor, Dr. Franklin V., 169 Thompson, James G., Jr., 1

Time, 100

Needles (swallowing of), 136 Noble, Lee, 13, 14, 17, 136, 139, 143

Vernon, Dai, 4, 59, 158

Orben, Robert, 203

Wine glass (production of), 26, 28, 30, 71, 72, 74, 75

Although Bruce Elliott has written widely in other fields, his pre-eminent interest is magic. Besides the present book and his earlier volume, Magic As a Hobby, Mr. Elliott has for ten years edited and published an independent magical trade paper, "The Phoenix," which appears every other week. He has lately become the new editor of the many-volumed Tarbell Course in Magic, a monumental introduction to all the varieties of legerdemain that are currently popular. Mr. Elliott has also edited such standard reference works in the field as Keith Clark's Encyclopedia of Cigarette Tricks, and Stars of Magic, a continuing anthology of the best tricks of the master magicians of our day.

by the same author THE BEST IN MAGIC One of the most popular experts writing on magic today here presents over a hundred brand-new tricks. Subtle, Easy to do, and requiring little or no apparatus, here are card tricks that are almost fool-proof and others that require some skill. Sleights for close-up performing, tricks with paperfolding, tricks with coins and paper money, ropes, rings, and silks, are all included. Mr. Elliott reveals how the "expert" at the card table works, exposes the secrets of "mind-reading," and offers routines that incorporate a series of deceptions useful for the amateur magician who expects sometime to be on stage. Sixty-eight full page drawings illustrate the book.

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Classic secrets of magic  
Classic secrets of magic