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Collected

Worlds of

UT^ 'EhnsCey

Volume II
Written By Stephen 3/iinch

The Collected Works


of Alex Elmsley
Volume II
This second volume continues the
)ageant of scintillating Elmsley magic
>egun in Volume I. It begins with a series
>f five original flourishes, most drawn
rom a youthful Alex Elmsley's compeition, stage, manipulation act. Following
his decorative opening set, the book proceeds immediately to a remarkable
collection of more than 103 exquisitely
conceived, entertaining and unfathomable tricks, ranging from baffling
predictions and feats of mind reading to
glittering coin magic and bewildering
card mysteries.
Established Elmsley classics are here,
such as "Between Your Palms", "Point of
Departure", "Brainweave" and "Diamond
Cut Diamond", along with a generous
assortment of previously unpublished
material, including such sought-after
gems as "The Elmsley Rising Card", the
"Dazzle" packet routine and "En Voyage",
one of Dai Vernon's favorite Elmsley
effects.
One chapter is devoted entirely to
Elmsley tricks using the faro shuffle.
Here can be found Mr. Elmsley's seminal
essay on that shuffle, along with his
exciting Penelope's Principle.
Volume II ends with a detailed description of one of Alex Elmsley's crowning
achievements: his "Cardworks", a brilliant act that baffled and inspired master
magicians throughout England, Monte
Carlo and the U.S.
This volume and its predecessor
chronicle the creations of one of the most
jexceptional minds magic has ever
jenjoyed. Within these pages, indeed, lie
Inarvels of rare and cunning device!

The Collected Works


of
Alex Elmsley
Volume II

I
Elmsley

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
This volume, like the first, was made possible through the help and
generosity of a great many friends and acquaintances. Gordon Bruce of
Glasgow, Scotland, and Milt Kort of Birmingham, Michigan, did immense
amounts of research, unearthing scores of articles in old journals and
scarce booklets. Jack Avis, through his notebooks and correspondence,
is responsible for the preservation of a significant portion of the previously
unpublished magic that appears here.
Those who volunteered to contribute unpublished and rare Elmsley
items and information include Gordon Bruce, Dr. Edward Brown, Roy
Walton, Richard Kaufman, Herb Zarrow, Bruce Cervon, Anthony Brahams,
David Michael Evans, Roger Klause, Simon Aronson, David Solomon, Harry
Riser, John Thompson and Allan Ackerman. Of those who patiently
answered and researched countless historical points, foremost are Milt
Kort and David Michael Evans, ably followed by Peter Warlock, Jack Avis,
Roy Walton, Reinhard Muller, Francis Haxton and Edward Mario.
Supreme Magic of Devon, England kindly granted permission for the
inclusion of "Animal, Vegetable and Mineral", a trick for which they hold
manufacturing rights.
Concerning the material in Chapter Eight, special bouquets are ardently
tossed to Milt Kort, Dr. Gene Matsuura, and Ron and Patty Bauer. It was
Milt Kort who had the foresight to tape record Mr. Elmsley's 1975 "Cardwork" lecture. This recording, supplemented with copious notes provided
by Ron Bauer and Dr. Matsuura, made possible the complete and precise
documentation of this lecture.
For the task of proofreading the manuscript for this volume, I have once
more imposed on three trusted and exceptionally knowledgeable friends,
David Michael Evans, Max Maven and Darwin Ortiz, whose efforts and
suggestions have made this a better book.
Finally, of course, my renewed thanks go to Alexander Elmsley, who first
invented all the wonderful magic, then took valuable time to ferret through
private notes containing unpublished items from decades past, corrected
my text and provided important historical insights.
To all these men I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude.
Stephen Minch
FIRST EDITION
Copyright 1994 by Louis Falanga.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored
in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or any information storage and
retrieval system now known or to be invented, without the permission of
the publishers.
Printed and bound in the United States of America
65432 1

CONTENTS
THE MICROCOSM OF MAGIC

CHAPTER ONE: Flourishes


The Tower Bridge Cut
Little-finger Spinner
The Multiplying Aces
The Rosette
Two-ball Roll

3
7
11
13
19
22

CHAPTER TWO: Hidden Thoughts and Future Deeds


The Fan Prediction
Hidebound Forecast
The Mexican Prediction
Face Your Brothers
A Delicate Balance
It's a Small World
Halfway to Heaven
Verbum Sapienti
Open Intruder
Brownwaves II
Brown waves III
Multiple Mind Reading
Double-cross
Like a Rolling Bone
Failure
Auto-prediction
Divina-sign:
A Card from Cagliostro
Aussi-mental
Animal, Vegetable and Mineral

27
29
33
37
39
45
48
51
53
56
60
64
67
69
73
76
80
83
85
87
89

The Octal Pencil


Verbum Veritas
Pack of Lies

93
97
100

CHAPTER THREE: Exotica


Still Taking Three
Point of Departure
Economy Class Departure
The Fiddle with the Biddle in the Middle
The Red and the Blue
The Shy Chameleon
Turn-about Card
A Small Revelation
Fool's Mate
Jubilee
Separating the Men from the Boys
A Problem with Duplicate Identities
The Imp of the Inverse
Sum Talk of Alexander
Switchy-coo
Half Packed
Second Link
Diamond Cut Diamond
Signing Off
Signature Piece
Shakedown

107
109
118
122
129
133
136
140
144
149
153
161
166
168
171
175
178
183
186
189
192
197

CHAPTER FOUR: Marsupial Favorites


Pocketpick
Pockets Full of Miracles
Reluctant Cards to Pocket
Duplicitous Cards to Pocket
Flight Plan
En Voyage
Processional
Daley Double
Between Your Palms
Only Child
Incommunicado

205
207
211
217
222
228
233
241
243
246
250
254

CHAPTER FIVE: Coinages


Devaluation
Revaluation
Boston Two-step
The Astral Coin Rides Again
Milling a Coin
Sucker Silver
The Spider's Treasury

259
261
264
268
273
280
282
287

CHAPTER SIX: Faro Tapestries


293
Indulgences
295
Deck Preparation for Faro Shuffles
295
Weave Corrections for Miscuts
297
Placing a Key at Twenty-sixth Position
300
The Mathematics of the Weave Shuffle
302
Out- and In-weaves
303
The Odd Pack and Weave
304
Equivalent Odd Pack
304
Returning a Pack to the Same Order
305
Solving the Shuffle Equation
306
Stack Transformations
307
Royal Flush Deal
308
The Constant Stack
309
The Restacking Pack
309
Binary Translocations
311
Double Control
312
Penelope's Principle
313
Penny Wise
315
Prediction by Proxy
317
Tuppence
319
Meet Me on the Road
223
A Woven and Cut Case
325
Autopilot
326
Direct Link (Featuring Bill Reid's "Automatic Discovery") 329
The Custodial Card
333
The Fan and Weave Controls
335
The Fan and Weave Control
335
The Fan and Weave Double Control
337
Brainweave
338

The Obedient Faro


Spell by the Numbers
Paraspell
Collinspell
Arab Roto-pack
What a Party!
Late Night Location
Auto-discovery
The Elmsley Rising Card

346
349
353
357
365
369
372
374
376

CHAPTER SEVEN: Stray Stacks


Computer Dating
Empty and Full
Wedded Ambitions
Topsy-turvy Stay-stack
Parity Failure
Tell Me Three Times
Future Stock
Through Darkest Peirce
Blind Stud
Mental Boxer
Kingfisher
Pursuit of Thought

383
385
387
389
391
392
396
398
401
406
410
414
419

CHAPTER EIGHT: The Dazzle Act


The Dazzle Act
The Properties
Fate's Datebook
Cold Steel
The Tale of the Old Timer
Dazzle
Tour de Force
Notes on Structure

423
425
427
433
440
449
463
471
481

Bibliography of Works by Alex Elmsley

485

THE MICROCOSM OF MAGIC


by

Alexander Elmsley
[This short article was written by a young Alexander Elmsley
(age twenty-three) for the Gamagic Catalogue, New Series No.
5, issued around 1953 by the famous Gamages toy store in
London. It is reproduced here not only for its interest as a rarity
of Elmsleyana, but because the observations it makes on the
world of magicians are as amusingly true today as they were
when first composed.]
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Magic is that it is a
complete little world on its own. It has its own history and literature.
It has its own language, in which magicians talk to each other of
shifts and steals, fekes and foulards. It includes within itself nearly
every other profession and hobby, for every magician who has other
interests applies those other interests to his magic.
There are magical antique dealers, magical journalists, even
magical politicians. There are magical Tories, who insist that what
was good enough for Maskelyne and Cooke is good enough for them.
There is the magical avant-garde, who sit by the hour in cafes remaking the magical world. I have never yet met magical existentialists,
but I am sure that they exist.
Everywhere there are magical societies, where the most different
types of magicians meet, because they cannot bear to be without
someone with whom to talk about their hobby; magical socialites,
whose dream it is to be seen talking to some famous magician, and
to rub shoulders with magical cynics who contend that no magician
who is famous can be any good. In the clubs, a man is judged solely
as a magician, or as an audience. It matters nothing who you may
be outside magic. If a dictator, or the Devil himself, came to a magical

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

society meeting, they would be welcomed with the same words: "Take
a card."
The magical world has its own idea of fame. A man who is a
nobody outside magic may be famous to magicians the world over.
Amateur magicians who are famous in other spheres of life, like
Orson Welles and Douglas Fairbanks today, and Charles Dickens
and Rudyard Kipling in the past, are regarded indulgently. There
is a feeling that if they had time to become famous by other
means, they cannot have given as much attention as they ought
to their magic.
But the magical enthusiast, despite his twisted outlook, and his
capacity to talk magic unceasingly for days, is not really crazy. He
is simply devoted to the most manysided, most catholic hobby in
the world.
Can anyone direct me to a good magical psychiatrist?

Note on Dating
Following the pattern of the first volume, many of the
articles contained here are closed by dates. Dates without brackets indicate the first appearance of that item in
print. Further information on published articles can be
found in the bibliography at the end of this volume. Dates
that appear in brackets signify dates of notebook entries
or letters from which unpublished material was taken.
Mr. Elmsley was never concerned about dates in his own
notes, so not every unpublished item could be dated in
this manner, and for such items no dates are given. Listing the publication dates of many items may in one way
be misleading, as these dates often vary greatly with the
true time of invention. Those items published in the late
1940s and the 1950s generally followed the time of their
invention fairly closely. However, many items that
appeared after this period were actually conceived years,
sometimes decades, earlier.
S.M.

Chapter One:

Flourishes

There hasfor years been a sporadic but intense discussion among


magicians about the use of flourishes. Some contend thatflourishes,
being an open display of skill, diminish the sense of magic and cast
the performer more in the role ofjuggler than magician.
Others defend the intelligent use offlourishes as visual seasoning
to the magic; and as credentials of the performer's expertise, which
otherwise might go unrecognized by much of the public, who, seeing
no evidence of skill, relegate the magician's ability to the use of
gimmicked properties and secret arrangements. Those who work
professionally cannot afford to have their craftsmanship go
unappreciated.
Jamy Ian Swiss has wisely observed that hiding one's skill is
much more difficult than displaying it, and that only a consummate
actor can successfully do so. Therefore, some magicians have
chosen a middle road, one from which they eschew blatant
flourishes but exhibit a professional facility in handling their tools.
In the same sense that one can't be "a little pregnant", it is debatable whether the evidence of such skill is any less harrnful to the
magical quality of the effect than the more flamboyant maneuvers
offlourishes; and in the end one can cite expert, respected and
successful exponents of our craft who subscribe to one or another
of these views on flourishes.
In 1949 Mr. Elmsley summarized his opinion on the subject with
these words: "About the advisability of using flourishes in a presentation of card magic there are at least two points of view.
Manipulators, in any case, may use them without a qualm. It is my
view that audiences like to see a little obvious skill, and if this can
be demonstrated with grace, then so much the better."
Forty-four years have passed since these comments were published. Today he adds this further thought: "Flourishes are a matter
of style and personality. For me to make rules to govern another's
style would be impudence."

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Mr. Elmsley has intelligently made use qfjlourishes over the years
in his performances. Several of his own invention are presented in
this chapter. The first is a pretty flourish cut. Mr. Elmsley observes,
"It's not much, but I remember it sentimentally as the very first thing
I ever got published. I sent it to Abrafrom Austria, where I had been
posted during my military service."

THE TOWER BRIDGE CUT


This is an ornamental cut of the cards. The action is similar to
that of the Charlier one-handed pass, but with both hands
simultaneously working to create a symmetrical formation with the
cards that is pleasant to the eye. Before attempting the cut, first
inspect your pack and remove any bridges in it. Such bends can
cause the edges of the packets to catch on one another as they pass.
To avoid a stumbling cut, the pack should be flat.
Begin with the pack lying vertically on one edge, supported on
the interlaced fingertips of both palm-up hands. The tips of the
second, third and fourth fingers are alternated, right with left; and
the forefingers are curled in, their nails lightly touching the top and
bottom of the pack. The tips of the thumbs lie on the upper edge of
the pack, near its center point, steadying it. Figure 1 depicts the
starting posture.
The thumbs now divide the pack near center, as if opening a book,
until the upper edges of the halves are approximately one and a half
inches apart and the pack has assumed a V-formation (Figure 2).

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

The forefingers straighten to clear a path for packets to drop, and the
thumbs release roughly half their respective cards. These quarter-deck
packets are allowed to fall flat onto their respective fingers (Figure 3).
The thumbs close the two quarters of the pack they still hold,
bringing them together once more in a vertical position; and the
forefingers curl under the fallen packets, where they straighten, forcing
the central sides of these packets to rise toward the thumbs while the
outer sides remain steadied on the palms (Figure 4). When the raised
edges of the packets meet the upper edge of the vertical half deck, the
thumbs bend down slightly, engaging them, and the forefingers
straighten outward.
The thumbs break the vertical half deck at center once more and
allow each of these quarters to drop onto their respective fingers (Figure 5). The thumbs then rise, letting the two quarters of the pack they
control drop flat onto the previously released packets (Figure 6).

FLOURISHES

10

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

The forefingers curl under the two horizontal halves and


straighten, pushing the outer sides of the packets upward (Figure
7). The halves hinge on their adjacent edges until they come flush
together in a vertical position, and the book first opened is now
closed. The thumbs come down on the top edge of the pack,
steadying it. This completes the cut, returning the deck to the same
position in which it began (Figure 1 again).
What this cut accomplishes is the exchange of the top and bottom quarters of the deck for the two central quarters. When smoothly
and neatly executed, it is a pretty maneuver, fascinating to watch.
April 16, 1949

LITTLE-FINGER SPINNER
The act of shooting or spinning single cards suddenly from the deck
is a favorite flourish of stage manipulators and some close-up
performers. The methods most often used (three by Audley Walsh and
one by Richard Himber) appear in the Tarbell Course in Magic, Volume
4 (pp. 124-128). Mr. Elmsley uses Walsh's long distance spinner, but
has also derived a method of his own for certain circumstances. This
original method was discovered while practicing the one-handed top
palm from Hugard's Card Manipulations, No. 1 (p. 2). It is efficient and
will be found easier to learn than the earlier techniques cited.
The little-finger spinner can be performed with the deck held horizontally, to shoot the card straight forward; or with the deck held vertically,
causing the card to fly upward. For this description, the former position
will be assumed, though the action is the same in either case.
Hold the deck face-down at the fingertips of the palm-down right
hand. Station the forefinger at the outer left corner of the pack, with
the second and third fingers lying in file beside it on the outer end. Place
the thumb at the inner left corner; and curl the fourth finger in until
its fleshy tip contacts the back of the top card approximately one inch
behind the outer right corner (Figure 8).
_
_
One detail that is most important to the success of this sleight
is that the nail of the fourth finger
be pared very short. It is the flesh
of the fingertip that grips the card
as it is spun from the deck, and if
the nail contacts the card rather
than the fingertip, the sleight will
be found impossible.
The card is spun from the deck
by a sharp forward thrust of the
fourth finger. Press the fingertip
firmly onto the card, then flick it

12

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

straight outward (Figure 9).


Simultaneously relax or bend in
the thumb slightlyjust enough
to aid the release of the top card
as it is spun smartly from the
pack.
As you shoot the card forward, it must pass around the
tip of the third finger. This
imparts a spin to it as the card
flies from the deck.
Within the context of close-up performance, this flourish can be
used to cause a chosen card, presumed lost in the pack, to shoot
out and toward its owner. If this is done as the deck is brought
sharply down on the table, an odd effect is created.
It also might be used to parody a card force. As you hold out the
deck and say to someone, "Take a card, any card," a card comes
suddenly whirling out at him. This is a welcome variation of the old
gag in which a card is made to jut from a fanned deck and wiggle
around, begging to be chosen.
September 17, 1949

THE MULTIPLYING ACES


Mr. Elmsley presents this as a multiplication of cards at the fingertips. He positions a single ace between the thumb and forefinger of the
left hand. The hand is shown otherwise empty. Suddenly a second ace
appears between the first two fingers. Then a third ace materializes
between the second and third fingers. Now the right hand, which has
been seen clearly empty throughout these productions, becomes active
and plucks the fourth ace from the air. This card is placed in the last
vacant space in the left hand, between the third and fourth fingers. In
the end an ace rests between each pair of fingers, as shown in Figure
10. This card flourish resembles the classic multiplication of billiard
balls between the fingers, or a roll-down with coins. Its immediate
inspiration was a card production of Hans Trixer's (ref. Abracadabra,
Vol. 6, No. 139, Sept. 1948, pp. 131-134) in which aces were produced
in one hand and placed between the fingers of the other.
The idea of displaying or producing cards in this fashion goes back
many years. Injin de siecle Britain and Europe there appeared publicity
photos of magicians posed with
cards between their fingers. The
earliest such photo of which I
am aware was brought to my
attention by Reinhard Muller.
It is of Servais Le Roy, and is
reproduced on page 298 of
Christopher's Illustrated History
of Magic. However, it is not
known if Mr. Le Roy rolled the
cards into position between the
fingers, or simply set them into
place, using the opposite hand,
as he produced them. Manfred
Thumm tells me he remembers
a mechanical set of hinged cards

14

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

being manufactured by a nineteenth century German dealer, but I've


so far been unable to corroborate this.
Therefore, it is unclear if others performed a multiplication or rolldown flourish with cards previous to 1957; but it seems Mr. Elmsley
was the first to describe and teach such a flourish. He featured this
manipulation in his 1957 lecture. Since then, other fingering actions
have been devised; most notably by Christian Stelzel of Austria (ref. The
Magic of Christian, Part 2 lecture notes, 1971; and Genii, Vol. 36, No.
12, Dec. 1972, p. 547) and MahkaTendo of Japan (ref. M.A.J., Vol. 1,
No. 2, Sept. 1986, pp. 6-7; and Vol. 1, No. 3, Oct. 1986, pp. 8-9). Despite
these later developments, the Elmsley technique still merits serious
study by students of manipulation.
Mr. Elmsley initially created this technique to multiply a single card
into a pair, all done in the fingers of one hand. After conquering this
effect, it occurred to him to expand the procedure to produce three cards
in all; andfinallyhe devised a method for multiplying one card into four.
It is suggested that, when learning this manipulative sequence, you
adopt the same progression, working first with only two cards, then
adding a third after you have mastered the splitting of two, and
proceeding to four only after you are completely comfortable with three.
However, for concision, only the four-card sequence (which contains
all the others) will be taught.
The flourish can be done with either hand, but in this explanation
it is assumed that the left is used. To begin, take four cardsMr.
Elmsley uses acessquared as one between the left thumb and forefinger. The suit order is irrelevant in performance, but for learning
purposes stack the aces in clubs-hearts-spades-diamonds sequence
from top to face. Grip the face-up four-card block by its opposite long
edges, somewhere near midpoint, with the cards lying roughly parallel with the thumb and forefinger. Gently bend the cards lengthwise,
bowing the faces outward, as you turn partially to your left and extend
your left arm, turning the back of the hand forward, fingers uppermost.
The face of the block (the ace of diamonds) should be turned toward
the audience. Figure 11 shows this starting position.
Lower the second and third fingers, until you can lightly clip the near
upper corner of the block between them; then lightly increase the
forefinger's pressure, forcing the upper edge of the rear card, the ace
of clubs, to slip awayfromthe packet and spring up between the second
and third fingertips (Figure 12).
With these two fingers, lift the card (Figure 13) until you can engage
its lower edge on the side of the forefinger. Catch the card by its opposite edges between the first and second fingers; then move the third
finger upward and away from the card (Figure 14).

FLOURISHES

15

The production of the next card is quite similar to that just taught,
but the third and fourth fingers do the work. Lower these two fingers
until you can clip the near upper corner of the three-card block between
their tips. Then, with pressure from the forefinger, squeeze the next
card, the ace of hearts, awayfromthe packet. Catch it between the third
and fourth fingertips (Figure 15) and lift the ace away from the packet.

16

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

When Mr. Elmsley catches the third ace to raise it, the card is almost
shot between the fingertips, but the third finger also aids slightly in
separating the card from the packet.
It is normal that, as the third and fourth fingers move to grasp the
ace of hearts, the ace of clubs, between the first and second fingers,
will be momentarily bowed quite severely. The trick is to do this without creasing the card or letting it escape from the fingers. Be certain
you have a secure grip on the ace of clubs before you begin the
production of the third ace.
Raise the ace of hearts until you can catch it between the sides of
the second and third fingers; then relax the fourth finger and separate
itfromthe third. You now have three aces displayed between the fingers
(Figure 16). The card between the forefinger and thumb is a double.
This concludes the one-handed multiplication. The space between
the third and fourth fingers in still unoccupied and awaits the fourth
card, the ace of spades. This card, currently concealed behind the ace
of diamonds, must now be stolen by the right hand. To accomplish this,
first turn your left hand palm outward, displaying it empty but for the
three apparent cards between the fingers. Then bend the left arm
inward, to bring the left hand, palm toward you, to a relaxed position
before your chest. Now display both sides of the empty right hand.
You will next apparently adjust the position of the card between the
left thumb and forefinger, but in doing so the ace of spades is stolen
into the right hand. Bring the right hand to the outer end of the double
card and grasp it lightly, with the right fingers extended over roughly
half of the back of the ace of spades. Lower the hands slightly at this
point, directing the upper end of the double card outward, toward the
audience. This position assures that the steal of the ace cannot be seen
by the spectators.
With your right fingers, contact the back of the double card and
swivel the ace of spades rightward and into the right hand (Figure 17).
As the right fingers curl loosely in, they press the ace into rear palm
(see Volume I, pp. 124-126). Simultaneously move the left hand away
from the right and extend the left arm once more to your left, turning
the back of the hand toward the audience. The right hand remains
stationary in front of your body, fingers now open and relaxed.
You next reach out swiftly but gracefully with the right hand and
pluck the fourth ace from the air. To do this, first bend the fingers in
toward the palm, curling the secondfingeronto the back of the palmed
ace, while the first and third fingers curl over the upper edge of the card
to contact its face (Figure 18). Immediately straighten all four fingers,
carrying the ace away from the palm and into view (Figure 19). If this
is done smartly, the card seems to materialize at the tips of the fingers.

FLOURISHES

17

Place the fourth ace between


the left third and fourth fingers,
completing the display (Figure 10
again).
The magical appearances of the
first two cards between the fingers
can be greatly enhanced if you first
turn the left hand to expose the
palm, showing it empty. You then
maneuver the back card of the
block into position between the
appropriate pair of fingers as you
turn the back of the hand outward
again. That is, the multiplication maneuver is done under cover of the
hand's turn. This, of course, demands that you do the sleight quickly
and surely.
In his manipulation act Mr. Elmsley employed this multiplication
move in a different fashion. He would first produce a double card in
his right hand, handling it as a single ace. This double card was placed
between the left thumb and first finger, in position for the multiplication sleight. He then produced another ace from the right hand. This
he positioned between the first and second fingers. Now he moved his
right hand, as if about to produce a third ace; but just as he began, he
dropped the ace just placed between the left fingers. He looked at the
left hand, then at the fallen card, showing mild dismay at this seeming
accident. Then, after a brief pause, to allow the audience to wonder how
he would recover from this mishap, he performed the multiplication
move, producing an ace matching the one dropped. The final two aces
were produced, one after the other, at the right fingertips and were

18

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

placed between the left fingers, completing the display shown in Figure
10 (page 13).
As is true of most flourishes, this is not an easy maneuver to perform.
It will take practice to achieve speed and smoothness. However, to its
credit, the Elmsley technique is more easily mastered than some of the
more recent fingerings currently used by manipulators.
1957

THE ROSETTE
This is a pretty and impressive extension of the roll-down display, a
standard coin manipulation similar in visual effect to the preceding card
flourish. When the roll-down is normally done, a stack of four coins,
held on edge between the thumb and forefinger, are rolled by the fingers
until one is held between each pair of digits. Mr. Elmsley has added a
fifth coin to the display, which he catches between the thumb and fourth
finger, completing a circle of coins (Figure 20). This manipulation is not
an easy one, even for those who have mastered the standard roll-down.
But it is so fascinating to watch, many will invest the effort necessary
to attain it.
The positioning of the first four coins is done without variation from
the original flourish. However, since there are several systems for rolling the coins down the fingers, let me describe the one Mr. Elmsley uses,
which is the simplest of the lot.
Begin with the stack of five coinshalf-dollar or silver-dollar size is
best for most handspositioned between the thumb and forefinger.
The coins are gripped by their opposite edges and are held broadside
to the audience, as shown in Figure 21. (The illustrations are posed
with the right hand, but either hand may be used.)
The second finger bends upward until it touches the side of the
thumb (Figure 22). The back of the second finger contacts the rim of

20

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

the innermost coin of the stackthe coin nearest the palmand rolls
the coin on edge until it is caught between the sides of the first and
second fingertips (Figure 23).
The third finger bends up to the forefinger (Figure 24), catches the
rim of the single coin and rolls it down until it sits between the second
and third fingers (Figure 25). The fourth finger bends up to the
second finger (Figure 26) and rolls the coin down between itself and
the third finger (Figure 27). The action is much like that used to roll
billiard balls between the fingers, but is somewhat complicated by
the disk-shape of the coins.
The second finger now bends up to the thumb and rolls the second
coin of the stack down between the first and second fingers. The third
finger, without releasing its pressure on the rim of the first coin, moves
beside the first finger (Figure 28) and rolls the second coin down to a
position between the second and third fingers (Figure 29).
The second finger once more bends up to the thumb, without losing
contact with the rim of the second coin, and rolls out the third coin from
the near side of the stack, wheeling it between the first and second
fingers (Figure 30). The standard roll-down flourish ends at this point.
But Mr. Elmsley now rolls the fifth coin of the stack between his fourth
finger and thumb as follows:
The fourth finger moves up beside the first finger and under the
pair of coins still between the first finger and thumb. To do this the
three coins between the other fingers must partially eclipse each
other. This will happen automatically as the fourth finger moves
upward (Figure 31). The fourth finger contacts the lower edge of the
innermost coin of the pair and rolls it outward, in a direction opposite to that the other coins have been rolled, until the coin is caught
between the thumb and fourth finger. This completes the rosette,
as was shown in Figure 20 (page 19).
Here are two tips that will aid in learning the flourish: First, when
initially positioning the stack of five coins between the forefinger and
thumb, set it in far enough from the fingertips to assure that the coin
destined to be held between the first and second fingers (the central
coin of the stack) does not roll on the nail of the first finger, where it
can slip. Second, take care to position this coin particularly straight
between the first and second fingers, so that it does not snap flat and
drop during the rolling out of the last coin.
Mr. Elmsley's rosette can likely be adapted to other styles of the rolldown. A somewhat advanced fingering system can be found on pages
139-140 of The Tarbell Course in Magic, Volume 3; and Arthur Buckley's
excellent flash roll-out method is described in both his own book, Principles and Deceptions (pp. 66-67) and in Bobo's JVeiu Modern Coin Magic

(pp. 204-205). Mr. Elmsley notes that he originally used the Buckley
method when performing the four-coin roll-out, but when he began

FLOURISHES

21

experimenting with the rosette, he found the positioning of the coins


between the fingers, created by Buckley's handling, caused him to drop
coins as he maneuvered the last one between the thumb and fourth
finger. However, he suggests that experimentation with different sized
coins, and with different fingers than his own, might make the Buckley
technique practical for some when performing the rosette.
March 1952

TWO-BALL ROLL
This pleasant piece of jugglery with billiard balls not only entertains
the eye, but also helps to conceal palmed balls as the flourish is
performed. To these assets is added the further enticement that the
maneuver is far easier than it appears. Manipulators unfamiliar with
it will quickly make a place for it in their billiard ball exhibitions.
A billiard ball is displayed in each hand, held between the extended
first and fourth fingers (Figure 32). The flourish consists of moving the
hands in such a fashion that the two balls are simultaneously rotated
around the fingers of both hands in a fascinating manner.
At the beginning of the flourish, the balls are held off-center between
the first and fourth fingers. That in the left hand is positioned slightly
forward, with a greater part of it projecting beyond the back of the hand;
and that in the right hand is held with more of its circumference given
to the palm-side. For ease of description, let us assume that the left
hand's ball is white and the right hand's is red.
Position the right hand just above the left, with the right fourth finger
lightly contacting both the back of the left first finger and the top of the
white ball. Consequently the top edge of the left first finger must touch
the bottom of the red ball (Figure 33). Notice how the initial off-center
positioning of the balls allows thefirstfingersbalanced points of contact
at the axis of the red ball. The fourth fingers are similarly stationed on
the white ball.
Spread the first and fourth fingers of each hand very slightly apart,
easing their opposite pressures on the balls, and shifting pressures so
that the red ball is held between both first fingers, while the white ball
is held between both fourth fingers.
Now, by revolving the hands around one another, moving the left
hand inward and upward, and the right hand outward and downward,
you can make the two balls roll around thefingers,the white ball always
remaining below the red (Figures 34 and 35).
If you continue to circle the hands around each other in this fashion,
the left hand now traveling outward and down while the right hand

FLOURISHES

23

24

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

moves inward and up, the balls roll back to their original positions
(Figures 36 and 33). The flourish consists of a repeated circling of
the hands and simultaneous rotation of the two balls, for as long
as it remains entertaining.
You can conclude the flourish at any time by catching the balls
between the opposite first and fourth fingers of each hand, then
moving the hands apart (Figure 32 again). If this is done while the
right hand is over the left, each ball will be returned to the hand from
which it originally came; and if the hands are separated while the
left is over the right, the positions of the balls will be transposed.
Throughout the flourish, the backs of the hands are constantly
toward the audience. Also, the second and third fingers must always
be curled into the palms. Therefore, you can easily conceal a ball
in either hand, or one in each, as you manipulate the two visible

FLOURISHES

25

balls. The hidden ball can be held in finger palm or pressed securely
to the palm of the hand. The flourish gives the false impression that
the hands could contain nothing but the two balls; and the seemingly
intricate manipulation appears to make any other operation
impossible.
Lewis Ganson, when he described this item in the pages of The
Gen, suggested that one could begin with only the two balls in the
hands, then steal a third ball just as the flourish began. The third ball
is concealed in a metal clip or cloth holder, pinned near the edge of
the left jacket lapel, at chest height. As the two balls in the hands are
positioned between the fingers, it is made clear to the audience that
the hands are otherwise empty. Then, as the hands come together in
front of the chest to begin the flourish, the left second and third
fingers can curl around the edge of the jacket and steal the third ball
from its hiding place.
November 1953

Chapter Two:

Hidden Thoughts and


Future Deeds

THE FAN PREDICTION


Effect: Someone is asked to think of any card in a deck, remove
it and record its name privately on a slip of paper. This slip, the
performer explains, will serve as a prediction. The card is returned
to an unknown position in the pack and the cards are spread for a
selection to be made. A second person is asked to touch any card
in the spread he wishes. There is no question that the choice is a
fair one. The card touched is honestly outjogged in the fan and all
the cards above and below it are turned face-up, leaving the selection
face-down.
The first person is asked to read her prediction aloud. The performer
then turns over the fanned deck to display the face of the reversed
selection. It is indeed the card predicted on the spectator's slip.
Method: Hand someone a slip of paper and a pen or pencil.
Inform her that she is about to make a prediction. Fan the deck and
hold the face of the fan toward her. Ask her to think of any card she
sees and then draw it from the fan. Have her lay the card face-down
on the table and write its name on the slip of paper. While she does
this she is told to protect the identity of the card from everyone else.
When she has written the name, have her fold the slip and leave it
on the table in plain view.
Meanwhile you have closed the fan and are holding the deck facedown in your left hand. Reach out with the right hand and pick up her
face-down card. Do not look at it or expose its face. Instead, place your
hands behind your back, explaining that you will return the card to a
random spot in the deck, unknown to anyone. Actually, you turn the
card face-up and slip it above the bottom card of the pack. Bring the
deck forward again, holding it squared in the left hand.
Point out that the spectator has made a prediction in an unquestionably fair manner and that she is the only person who knows the
forecast card. Have her indicate another member of the group. Turn
to this spectator, spread the deck from left hand to right and ask

30

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

that he touch any card he likes. Do this in a manner that allays any
thoughts of a force. You may wish to invite him to change his mind
if he wishes. Then outjog the card indicated for roughly half its length
in the spread.
Of course, you do not expose the reversed card second from the
bottom as you make the spread. Time the spreading of the pack to
encourage the selection of a centrally located card. This is not difficult. If you should find you have a willful spectator who insists on
a card near the top or bottom of the pack, the problem is easily
resolved by neatly removing his choice and inserting it again,
outjogged, near center.
Now, with your left hand, neatly reverse all the cards that lie below
the jogged selection, taking care not to expose the inverted card;
then, with the right hand, reverse all the cards above the selection.
Perform these actions slowly and deliberately, avoiding any suspicion of trickery. The selection still lies face-down and outjogged in
the center of the deck, but the deck has been turned face-up around
it. Unknown to the audience, the first spectator's selection (the predicted card) rests face-down two cards below the outjogged card.
Square the deck in the left
hand, without disturbing the
projecting selection. Then slowly and openly push this card
into the pack; but angle it leftward, causing the outer left
corner to jut from the left side of
the deck. The diagonal positioning of the card is not hidden.
Rather, it is done in a way that
obviously permits the audience
to keep track of the card. The
outer left corner of the card
should project about half an
inch from the side (Figure 37).
With the palm-down right hand, grasp the deck from above,
thumb at the inner right corner and fingers at the outer end. Then
execute an even pressure fan. The configuration of cards that results
from this is fascinating. Because of its special positioning the
anglejogged card will be more widely exposed in the fanand it will
conceal the more narrowly exposed first selection, two cards below
it (Figure 38).
You now adjust the fan slightly, ostensibly to expose the second
spectator's card more fully. Actually, the adjustment is made to bare

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

31

the index of the first spectator's card


more widely on the underside of the
38
fan. The adjustment is simple: with the
right thumb and fingertips, pinch the
left corners of the visible face-down
\
-22.
card and the two cards that lie directly
beneath it; then pull the three cards a
bit to the right as a unit. If any small
portion of the second face-down card
has been exposed as the fan was
/
formed, this can be repaired during the
adjustment.
/
Have the first spectator open her
written prediction and read it aloud.
When she announces the name of the card, slowly and dramatically
turn the fan over, revealing the face-up card at center. The reversed
card visible from the face of the fan is completely hidden from the
back, and vice versa; and since the two cards are close neighbors,
it is impossible to tell that the face seen belongs to one and the back
to the other.
With the fan held face-down, pinch the exposed face-up card by
its index corner between the right thumb (above) and first fingertip
(below) to draw it from the fan. Also, with the tip of the right second
finger, contact the left corners of the two cards directly below this
card and push them slightly rightward or inward. While this adjustment is not strictly necessary, it ensures that the second reversed
card remains hidden in the fan.
Pull the predicted card from the fan and toss it to the table. Then
close the face-down fan. You are left with a card reversed near the
center of the deck, but this can be righted later or used to advantage in another trick.
The principle of concealing one or more cards in a spread by
sidejogging them was first exploited by Dai Vernon, who used it to
hide four reversed aces in various parts of the pack as it was ribbon
spread. When the pack was gathered, squared and respread the aces
appeared. (Ref. Jacob Daley's Notebooks where, in item 26, a cryptic
description of the idea was recorded.) Edward Mario, in collaboration
with Carmen D'Amico, used the hidden sidejog principle to effect the
change of a face-up card in a face-down ribbon spread (see "Fifth
Method" on p. 4 of their 1956 booklet, Classical Foursome). Mr.
Elmsley developed the fan concealment handling explained above
without knowledge of Vernon's work or the Marlo-D'Amico trick.
During the same period, he applied the principle to the Ultra-mental

fir

-J

32

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

and devised a brilliant method using an unprepared deck (see pp.


338-345). In the May 1962 issue of Ibidem (No. 25, pp. 25-28) Mr.
Mario described several tricks using the Elmsley fan exchange. Then,
in 1968, he contribued a variant handling of the Elmsley sleight to
Alton Sharpe's Expert Card Conjuring (p. 100), and in December of
the same year he cleverly applied the sidejog concealment principle
to Curry's "Open Prediction" plot (ref. Hierophant, No. 1, pp. 10-12).
Other Mario applications and variants, in years following, further
expanded the utility of the principle. It is obviously a valuable idea,
and the pressure fan approach used above is particularly appealing.
September 21, 1957

HIDEBOUND FORECAST
Effect: A shuffled pack is spread face-up to allow a spectator the
fairest possible choice of a card. When one is indicated, the pack is
gathered and put aside. The performer now brings out his wallet and
opens it. From the wallet he draws a single playing cardone with a
back design different from the deck on the table. When the face of this
card is shown, it is seen to be a duplicate of the card just freely selected.
That the wallet is ungimmicked and there is only the one card in it
are elements that will not go unappreciated.
Method: In essence, this is actually a method for loading a chosen
card secretly into a wallet, and it could be presented as a card-towallet effect. However, Mr. Elmsley has added several subtleties to
change the outward appearance to one of precognition, and in doing
so he has created a mystery all the harder to fathom.
The wallet, as stated, is ungimmicked. It must, though, be of a
certain design. It is a breast-pocket model with two main compartments, one on each side, with their openings lying along the fold of
the wallet. These pockets must be deep enough to take a card lengthwise. In them place a few bills and papers, the things that one
normally carries in a wallet. Beneath the items in the left
compartmentwhich will receive the cardyou should place an
envelope, to act as a guide, so that when the card is loaded, it does
not hang up on other articles in the compartment. Close the wallet
and place it in your right, inner, breast pocket.
Also required is a full deck topped with a card from a pack with a
contrasting back. Carry this deck in a case that matches the odd card.
To begin the performance, bring out the pack and remove it from
the case. (An even more elusive procedure would be to perform
several tricks with a normal deck, the back of which matches the
top card of the prepared pack. Then switch decks just before
introducing this effect.) Give the cards a brief face-up shuffle,
retaining the odd card on top, and ribbon spread the face-up pack,
inviting someone to touch any card he wishes. Point out that no freer

34

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

choice could be imagined, and ask if he wants to alter his choice.


When a card has been decided on, push it forward an inch or so,
making its identity clear to everyone. Then smoothly gather the cards
without disturbing the outjogged condition of the selection.
You now perform Mr. Elmsley's center-card rear palm [Volume I,
pp. 130-133) as you push the selection flush and fan the face-up
pack in your left hand.
'You could have thought of any card, but you thought of the..." Here
you name the selection and point with your right forefinger to a card
at the center of the fan. His selection is no longer in the deck, but the
audience isn't given a chance to ascertain this. Miscalling the card in
this fashion, after the steal has been accomplished, is a highly deceptive stratagem, which can take in the most knowledgeable.
Close the fan, either with just the left hand or with the aid of the
right forefingerwithout, of course, exposing the palmed card or the
back of the fan. Then lay the pack face-down on the table.
"In my wallet I have a prediction card from another pack." Having
said this, use your right hand to hold open the right side of your
jacket as your left hand extracts the wallet from the inside pocket.
Bring the wallet into view, holding it just above waist height in front
of you. Flip the right side open, clipping the left edge of the wallet
in the fork of your left thumb while letting the right side hang free
over the left fingertips, broadside to the audience. Elevate the
fingertips slightly, so that the left compartment of the wallet lies
angled backward roughly thirty-degrees from the horizontal; that is,
tipped just beyond the audience's line of sight.
Bring the right hand palm-down over the wallet and insert the tip
of the second finger into the opening of the right compartment,
roughly a third of the way from the left end of the wallet. Let the other
fingers rest outside the compartment.
This posture naturally positions the
inner left corner of the rear-palmed
card at the opening of the left compartment, where it can be slipped easily
inside, beneath the guiding envelope
(Figure 39).
With just your right second finger,
prize open the right compartment and
gaze into it. Seeing that the card is not
there, look up and quietly say, "Sorry,
wrong side." As the audience's eyes
rise to meet yours, several small
actions are neatly executed: the heel of

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

35

the right thumb eases its pressure on the palmed card, releasing it;
and the left hand moves forward several inches with the wallet,
loading the card into the left compartment. The card is butted
against the base of the right fingers as it is pushed into the wallet,
while the right hand exerts a light downward pressure on the card.
N.B. The right hand does not push the card into the wallet, but the
wallet moves forward, around the card. Handled in this manner,
there is no hint of a loading action.
As you move the wallet
under the right hand, also
rotate it clockwise about
ninety degrees, until the left
end is directed forward,
toward the audience. Keep
the right hand stationary
and bring the end of the
wallet to it. Since some portion of the loaded card is
likely to protrude from the
compartment, the right
hand's position helps to prevent any exposure of the card. With the
right hand, grasp the end of the wallet, thumb above and fingers
below (Figure 40). The instant the right hand has a secure grip,
continue turning the wallet clockwise, bringing the end in the right
hand to your right. With your left hand, grasp the left end of the
wallet, thumb above (near the spine) and fingers below (Figure 41).
From this position the thumb can contact the card and finish
_
_ pushing it into the compartment. Outwardly,
all you have done is turn
the wallet one hundred
eighty degrees clockwise, in a horizontal
plane, bringing the
second compartment
forward; but during this
turn you have shielded
the loaded card from
view and completed the
load.
Now grasp the near side of the wallet in the fork of the left thumb,
precisely as was done when the wallet was previously opened (see
Figure 39), and insert the tip of the right second finger into the
forward compartment. With that fingertip, pull the left inner (nonindex) corner of the selection into view. Leave the corner of the card

36

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

protruding from the


compartment as you
now draw the forward
portion of the wallet
inward and under,
folding the wallet
inside out (Figure 42).
This maneuver turns
the card face-down,
allowing for a more
dramatic revelation.
Have the spectator draw the card from the wallet and hold it facedown for a moment. Ask him to remind everyone of the card he freely
selected from the deck. This naturally draws attention to the tabled
pack, and subtly stresses the difference in the backs of the deck and
the prediction card. Then have him display the face of the card from
the wallet, revealing its identity.
Once the full effect has been realized, replace the card in the
wallet, case the deck and put everything away. The top card of the
deck still disguises its true back pattern, and this may suggest that
a color-changing deck effect might be considered. This tempting
course, however, is not advised, as it might jeopardize the method
for the prediction. But Mr. Elmsley has successfully followed this
effect with his "The Red and the Blue" (pp. 133-135), which, thanks
to the introduction of a second deck with a contrasting back,
obscures the situation sufficiently. Whether performed in this
combination, or alone, the prediction effect is as direct and baffling
as you could wish; and the wallet loading technique is obviously of
wider utility (see, for example, "Signature Piece", pp. 192-196, and
"En Voyage", pp. 233-240).
One last thought: In his notebook from the 1950s, where Mr. Elmsley
first recorded "Hidebound Forecast", he considered using a blankbacked deck for the effect. On each blank back was printed: "I predict
that you will think of this card." In the minds of the spectators, the blank
back would likely dissociate the prediction card from the deck even
more effectively than would a different back design.

THE MEXICAN PREDICTION


Effect: The performer runs quickly through the deck and sets two
cards face-down on the table. He explains that these cards, in combination, serve as a duplicate to one card in the deck. One of the
pair predicts the value of the card, the other predicts the suit.
To test the validity of the prediction, someone is asked to push
any card at random out of the spread pack. When the two prediction cards are turned up, they form a precise composite of the
selected card.
Method: This prediction is made possible through an unusual
application of the Mexican turnover, a standard sleight that should
be familiar to the reader. If it is not, it may be learned from any of a
number of basic treatises on card magic (e.g., Erdnase's Expert at
the Card Table, Hugard and Braue's Expert Card Technique, Hay's
Amateur Magician's Handbook).
Begin by spreading through the deck, faces toward yourself.
Locate any two cards of the same value, say the six of clubs and the
six of hearts, and lay them face-down on the table about six inches
apart, remembering the positions of the suits. Do not expose the
faces of these cards to the audience.
As you do this, explain that the two cards constitute a precise
prediction. Since each card in the deck is unique, it is impossible
for you to set an exact duplicate of any card aside as a prediction;
but you can define a card by using two others, one to designate
value, the other suit. And that is just what you have done.
Widely ribbon spread the balance of the deck face-down across
the table, and invite someone to push any card they like from the
spread. Pick this card up from the table by lifting it at its inner end,
and in doing so glimpse its suit. The card must match the suit of
one of your prediction cards (club or heart in our example). Chances
of this occurring are excellent: just a shaving under fifty percent.
If the card is not one of the two suits required, invite someone
else to push another card from the spread. Glimpse the suit of this

38

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

second selection as you add it to the first. Given two opportunities,


it is highly unlikely that the second card will not be useful to you.
However, if luck should prove unusually contrary, continue to have
different spectators choose cards from the spread until you receive
one that you can use. Then have yet another spectator eliminate all
the selections but one; that is, use equivoque (magician's choice) to
force the required card from the group. This course, should it prove
necessary, can be represented as a precautionary procedure, involving several members of the audience to assure that the final choice
of a card is genuinely random.
Now, holding the chosen card face-down in one hand, use it to
tap the card of your prediction pair that matches it in suit, explaining
that this first card predicts the suit of the free selection. As you talk,
use the selection to flip the suit card face-up on the table, executing
the Mexican turnover to switch the two cards. That is, the card now
face-up on the table is the actual selection, while the card you hold
is one of your original prediction cards.
The second card, you explain, represents the value of the chosen
card. Employing actions that closely simulate those of the Mexican
turnover, flip over the second prediction card without switching it.
"A six here and a club there. Together they can represent only one
possible card: the six of clubs." Now dramatically display the face
of the card you hold, showing it to be both the six of clubs and the
conclusion to a successful prediction.

FACE YOUR BROTHERS


Effect: Three cards are removed from the pack by as many spectators. Each person is asked to relax and let his dormant clairvoyant
faculty operate as he replaces his card face-up at a position of his
own choosing in the deck.
Each then removes from the pack his card and the card that faces
it. When these adjacent cards are turned up, each is seen to be the
exact mate to the selection beneath itall which lends support to
the theory of subconscious clairvoyance.
Method: A simple six-card setup is required. Stack any three
cards and their mates in a mirror or palindromic order. For example,
if the eight of clubs, king of hearts and three of spades are used with
their mates, the eight of spades, king of diamonds and three of clubs,
they would be set in this order from top to face: eight of clubs, king
of hearts, three of spades, three of clubs, king of diamonds and eight
of spades. These six cards rest on top of the deck.
The top three cards must now be forced. Mr. Elmsley finds the
venerable cross-the-cut force well suited here. Give the deck a false
shuffle that reserves the top six cards, and place it face-down on
the table. Ask someone across from you to cut the pack in half. When
he has done this, pick up the bottom half and set it at a cross angle
on the top half. This, you explain, marks the cut.
Now ask a person on your left and another on your right if they
too would help with the experiment. This request provides the
element of time misdirection necessary to the success of the force.
For purposes of explanation, we shall refer to the right-hand
helper as Spectator A, the left-hand helper Spectator C and your
central assistant (who just cut the cards) Spectator B.
Return now to the deck and lift the upper half from the lower. Ask
Spectator A to take the top card of the tabled halfa card he should
believe has been randomly cut to by Spectator B. Have Spectator B
take the second card from the packet, and have Spectator C take

40

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

the third. From right to left, the selections read eight of clubs, king
of hearts and three of spades.
Pick up the balance of the tabled half and place it onto the half
you are holding. This brings the three mates of the selections to the
top of the pack. Set the pack back on the table and ask that Spectator A cut off about a third of the cards for himself. The same
request is made of Spectator B. The remaining third is claimed by
Spectator C.
Explain that when you turn your back, each of them is to turn
his chosen card face-up, thrust it anywhere he wishes into his
packet, square the packet and place it face-down on the table before
him. When they have done this, face them again and gather the
packets from right to left. Your three-card stock is once more on top
of the deck.
You will now execute an extension (devised by Mr. Elmsley) of a
Hofzinser spread control technique. Take the deck face-down into
left-hand dealing grip and push the top card to the right. Draw this
card onto the right palm, with the front end lying just behind the
length of the forefinger. Draw the next card from the deck square
onto the first. Take the third card square onto these two. The right
hand's grip on these cards is important: the thumb rests along the
right edge of the packet, barely overlapping the side of the cards;
and the second, third and fourth fingertips lie lightly against left edge
of the packet (Figure 43).

As you deal these three cards quickly into the right hand, you
explain, "Once when I performed this experiment, someone forgot
to turn his card face-up before pushing it into the deck; since that
time I always check to make sure all three cards have been reversed."
Immediately spread the next cards off the deckwithout reversing their orderonto the three right-hand cards. Receive this spread

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

41

slightly forward and leftward of the three-card


packet, outjogged about
three eighths of an inch,
and leftjogged for roughly
the same distance. The
right thumb conceals the
sidewise overlap. To you
the inner end of the packet may be visible under
the spread (Figure 44),
but it is not obvious from
the audience's view. In any event, don't worry about the packet being
perceived by the spectators. Their attention is focused on spotting
the face-up cards in the deck.
You now run quickly through the pack, confirming the presence
of the three reversed cards; and in doing so you secretly load the
mate of each selection just above it. This is accomplished as follows:
As you spread the cards, the right thumb catches the right edge
of the spread, helping to control it, but it does not actually grip the
spread. This permits the thumb freedom to move a bit, which it does.
With a small leftward motion it lightly pushes the top card of the
three-card packet about a quarter of an inch to the left. The right
fingertips assure that just one card moves off the packet.
Spread the cards into the right hand until you reach the first faceup selection. Widen the spread at that point to expose the selection
atop the left-hand portion. Do not break the spread here; rather,
move the left hand's cards to the left just far enough to permit the
right edge of the selection to clear the left edge of its mate: the jogged
card beneath the
spread. Thus, the right
edge of the selection is
slipped under the leftjogged card (Figure 45,
right forefinger moved
to expose the action).
Pause at the first faceup selection as you
ask whose card it is.
Spectator A on your
right will respond.

42

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Utilizing the misdirection this brief exchange provides, with your


right thumb push over the next card of the mate packet, jogging it
about a quarter of an inch leftward under the spread.
Resume spreading the cards from left hand to right, feeding them
above the right hand's two-card packet, until you arrive at the second
selection. Pause again and ask to whom it belongs. As you do this,
move the hands slightly apart to let the right edge of the face-up
selection clear the left edge of the jogged mate. When Spectator B
answers that the card is his, resume spreading and feed the second
selection between the right-hand's remaining two cards.
Continue to spread the cards from left hand to right, until you
reach the third face-up selection. Pause once more and say, "This
must be yours then," addressing Spectator C on your left. And as
before, move the hands slightly apart until the right edge of the
selection clears the left edge of the last right-hand mate and passes
below it. When the spectator confirms your words, close the spread
into the right hand. This places the third selection below its mate.
The work is done.
Notice that the right forefinger, stretched along the front edge of
the spread, conceals the position of the cards reserved beneath.
While spreading through the deck, it is also wise to tilt the front edge
slightly downward. This further hides the arrangement of the cards
and at the same time provides the audience with a better view of the
faces and backs as they go by.
The loading of the mates above the face-up selections is over
quickly. Throughout the effect, strive to minimize your contact with
the deck, giving the impression that everything happens in the hands
of the spectators. Hand the deck to Spectator A and ask that he
remove his card and the face-down card that lies directly above it.
He is then to pass the deck to Spectator B so that he may do likewise. Spectator C follows suit.
When all three hold their selections and the cards that rested
above them, have each in turn turn up his face-down card to discover
that it is the mate to his selection. Obviously their subconscious
clairvoyance is perfectly tuned.
Mr. Elmsley suggests that the mate to the second selection be
made a card of the same value, but of the opposite color; e.g., the
king of hearts and the king of spades. Then, when at the finish
Spectator B turns up his card and finds an imperfect match, explain
to him that the true mate to his selection was most probably not
present in the portion of the deck he held. Therefore, he clairvoyantly located the closest match available.

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

43

The introduction of the near miss is extremely shrewd. It adds


an extra bit of verisimilitude to the effect, while providing an unexpected touch that increases interest and eliminates any element of
anticlimax. Instead of attention dwindling after the revelation of the
second match, it is heightened as the audience waits to see if the
third person matched his selection perfectly or at all.
The under-the-spread loading procedure of the three cards might
seem demanding to those unfamiliar with the techniques. However,
a few trials will prove it is not overly difficult and can be executed
with speed and total deceptiveness. The technique can also be modified to load more or fewer cards.
Here is one small touch that occurred to me (and which has
received Mr. Elmsley's approval): When you initially deal the top
three cards into the right hand, jog the third card roughly a quarter
of an inch to the left as you take it onto the previous two. The right

thumb, stretched along the right side of the packet, conceals the jog
(which is purposely exposed in Figure 46). This eliminates the need
to push over the first card while spreading through the pack, and
makes the handling all the easier.
As mentioned above, the basis of the loading procedure employed
here is Hofzinser's spread control (ref. J.N. Hofzinser's Card Conjuring,
p. 26). The application of Hofzinser's technique to loading a card can
be traced to Gibson's 1927 book, Two Dozen Effective Practical Card
Tricks where, in Gus Bohn's "Face Up Location" (p. 34), a selection that
has been controlled to the top of the pack is secretly introduced above
a card inserted at random and face-up into the deck. Mr. Bohn's trick
was later included (without credit but with a small, interesting variation in the displacement handling) in Paul Clive's 1946 compilation,
Card Tricks Without Skill (p. 53 in the first edition, pp. 77-78 in the third)
under the title "Face Your Neighbour", and this was the inspiration for

44

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Mr. Elmsley's elaboration. The loading maneuver used by Gus Bohn


was almost certainly in circulation long before it appeared in Mr.
Gibson's collection. Indeed, Jon Racherbaumer has unearthed a
description of a closely related forcing procedure (occasionally attributed
to Hofzinser) in the April 15th, 1918 issue of The Magic World (Vol. 2,
No. 1, p. 7). In recent decades, the mechanics of the Hofzinser spread
control have been further exploited, most notably by Edward Mario in
1947 (ref. Mario in Spades, pp. 8-9) and Tony Kardyro in 1966 (ref.
T.K's Simple Simon Move).
January 1950

A DELICATE BALANCE
Effect: A deck is shuffled and spread face-down on the table.
Then, while the performer turns his back on the proceedings, someone is invited to remove any card, hide it, then carefully square the
pack so that no clue can be gained from it.
The performer then takes up the deck, carefully weighs it on his
hand, then announces that the card removed was red. The spectator
brings out the card and checks it. It is red.
The card is returned to the pack and the procedure is repeated;
and again the performer divines the color of the hidden card. The
spectator may even take the deck behind his back, remove a card
at random, then hand the pack to the performer. Still he succeeds
in naming the color. He can even don a blindfold, and yet somehow
he can perceive the colors of the hidden cards.
It is obvious that marked cards or a stacked deck could not help
in these circumstances; yet time after time the performer identifies
the color of the removed card, to the bewilderment of all.
Method: The feat of divining the colors of cards is a challenge that
magicians have returned to many times over the years, and a number of ingenious solutions have been devised. It is an effect that is
signally unimpressive the first time it is done. It must be repeated
at least four or five times before an audience will begin to consider
that something other than luck is operative.
Prearranged decks and marked backs are too obvious to be
considered, as they will be the first things suspected by an audience.
But more subtle marking methods, usually tactile, have been
successfully employed, as have crimps and well-concealed glimpses.
The drawback to these methods is that the card being divined is
handled by the performer. The strength of the method about to be
explained is that the performer doesn't touch the target card. He
doesn't even see it or where it came from the pack. He just weighs
the deck on his hand and immediately knows the color of the missing

46

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

card. Because of these attributes, this may be the best and most
impressive version of the effect yet devised.
The method, when first explained, may strike one as impractical;
but I assure you it is far from it. The secret is a color-segregated deck
and one edge-marked card. Please try this. Divide your deck into
black cards and reds. Edge mark the bottom card of the red group
and place this packet onto the black cards. The edge-marked card
now visibly divides the red and black sections. In performance you
must make the edge mark fairly subtle, as you do not want it
perceived by your audience. Mark only one long edge, and use a
short nail scrape or small nick: something that stands out clearly
to your eye, but will go unnoticed by anyone not looking for it.
If you now remove a card from either half of the pack, that half
will be one card thinner than its counterpart, and this can be
perceived by visually comparing the portions above and below the
marked card. Without having tried it, it sounds fanciful that one can
distinguish a difference in thickness of one card. That is why you
must get a deck and confirm this for yourself.
First remove a card from the red half of the pack. If you now look
at the edge of the deck you will see that the half above the edgemarked card looks slightly thinner than the half beneath it.
Replace the red card on top and remove a black card from the bottom
half. Check the edge of the pack again. Because the edge-marked card
is part of the red section, the eye excludes it from the banks on either
side. Therefore, when a black card is missing, the two banks look equal
in thickness, as the marked card is dead center.
If you have had some experience with estimation or faro shuffles,
you will see the differences in thickness immediately. If you have
never tried this kind of thing, you may have to experiment a bit to
acquire the visual judgment necessary to discriminate between the
relative thicknesses of the sections. The only way to learn this is to
practice with a friend, who will patiently hide cards from you while
you scrutinize the edge of the pack. The knack of successfully judging the thickness of the halves is not difficult to acquire, assuming
one possesses good eyesight.
To present this feat, overhand shuffle the deck casually, while
preserving the red and black separation. A red-black shuffle such
as Laurie Ireland's will serve well here: shuffle off roughly twenty
cards and, as you approach the edge-marked card near center, begin
to run cards singly until you have passed the marked card; then
shuffle off the balance of the pack. Repeat this shuffle to bring the
red bank back to the top (unless you can keep the position of the
banks straight in your mind). Then ribbon spread the pack face-

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

47

down on the table, and explain your assistant's role to him: That,
when you have turned your back, he is to remove any card from the
spread and place it in a pocket or somewhere out of sight. He is then
to square the deck neatly on the table, leaving no clue to where the
card was extracted.
When he has done this, turn around, pick up the pack and, as
you square it, sight the edge mark and determine which bank has
grown thinner. Do this quickly, without obviously staring at the side
of the pack. Then let the cards settle face-down on your open palm
and seem to weigh the deck. With some modest showmanship
announce the color of the missing card and have it brought forth
for verification.
Return the card to the top of the deck if it is red, or to the bottom
if it is black, spread the deck and repeat the trick. You may let the
spectator take the deck behind his back and remove a card, if you
can trust him to do so without accidentally or maliciously disarranging the pack. As mentioned above, you can also perform this feat
blindfolded, peering down your nose to glimpse the side of the deck.
The best has yet to be revealed. If by chance the deck is returned
to you with the edge-marked card missingand you have taken the
wise precaution of memorizing said cardyou can name its color,
suit and value. Upon accomplishing this, abstain from looking as
amazed as your audience and retire gracefully.
Having broached the subject of color divination, it is only natural
that we continue with two diminutive versions of Out of This World.
Both bear the distinctive Elmsley stamp.

IT'S A SMALL WORLD


Effect: The performer openly removes ten cards from the pack
and shuffles them. He then holds the packet behind him and brings
out the top card face-down. This is offered to someone in the audience and she is told she can either accept or reject it. If she decides
to take it, it is laid face-down before her. Otherwise, it is placed on
the bottom of the packet and the next card from the top is offered.
This procedure is continued until the spectator has accepted five
of the ten cards. The balance of the packet is brought forward and
spread face-up. It contains five black cards. Then the spectator turns
up her five. These cards are all red. Seemingly through some sort
of intuitive sense, she has unerringly separated the ten cards into
their colors.
Method: The plot is related to Dr. Daley's "Rouge et Noir" (ref. Phoenix, No. 287, Aug. 14, 1953, pp. 1146, 1148 and 1149) and Hans
Trixer's "Noir et Rouge" (Abracadabra, Vol. 17, No. 419, Feb. 6, 1954,
pp. 36-37): two of the earliest packet versions of Paul Curry's classic,
"Out of This World". While the original Curry trick is still a fine one,
there is much to be said for a packet version when performing commercially, as the power of the effect is achieved in a much shorter time.
Mr. Elmsley's method is simple and delightfully bold.
Begin by removing ten cards from the pack, five red and five black.
The identities of the cards do not matter, but the order of their
removal does. Throw the cards from the pack into a face-up pile as
follows: one red card, one black, one red, two black, two red, two
black, and one last red. Set the balance of the pack aside and gather
up the pile.
Take it face-down into left-hand dealing position and explain to
a spectator of your choice, "I'm going to offer you these cards one
at a time." Here you take the top card from the packet and hold it
out toward her, but in a manner that communicates that the time
to make a choice is not yet.

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

49

"If you don't want the card, I'll just put it back and offer you the
next one." Suit actions to words, slipping the card in your right hand
under the packet and taking the next from the top. "But if you choose
to keep the card, I'll leave it here on the table." Drop the right hand's
card face-down on the table. "Understood?" Take the packet into
your right hand and drop it onto the tabled card. Then pick up all
ten cards and place them back into left-hand dealing grip.
The order of the cards from top to face is now red-black-blackred-red-black-black-red-red-black.
"When you decide to accept or reject a card, don't do so for any conscious reason. Try not to let anything influence you but your own
instinct and the impulse of the moment." While you say this, give the
packet a quick overhand shuffle to this pattern: run three cards and
throw the balance on top; run two cards and throw the balance; run
four and throw; run three and throw. This takes only seconds and will
be over before you finish your instructions. The shuffle has secretly
sorted the reds and blacks: the five reds are now above the blacks.
"So that you're not influenced by the cards themselves, I'll hold
them out of sight." Place your left hand with the packet behind you.
Then reach behind with your right hand and bring forth the top card
of the packet. Hold it out, face-down, toward the spectator and ask,
"Do you want this card?" If she does, drop it onto the table and bring
out the new top card of the packet. If, however, she refuses it, take
it behind you again and make the motions of slipping it to the bottom
of the packet and taking the next card from the top. These motions,
though, are sheer pretense. Study in a mirror how your hands, arms
and shoulders move when doing the genuine actions. Then learn to
mimic them when you really only bring out the same card just
offered. Mr. Elmsley observes that this effect stands or falls mainly
on the "acting ability" of your elbows! Also consider the sounds the
cards make during the honest actions and strive to imitate them as
closely as possible. This is the only skillful act required in the trick,
so practice it. It is not that difficult to master.
Continue to offer the cards until the spectator has accepted five.
These must be thefivered cards, as you have given her no other choice.
It remains only to bring out the five black cards and show them; then
have the spectator turn over the five red cards on the table.
The deception may seem overly bold to some, but remember that
you have created an image in the spectators' minds of your placing
the rejected cards under the packet and taking fresh ones from the
top. The psychology being applied is sound, and since the audience
does not yet know in what direction the trick is progressing, there
should be no suspicion of your actionsunless you have performed

50

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

them in a suspect fashion. The actions, themselves, are well covered,


even from the extreme side angles. Only someone behind you could
detect the swindle. It is almost shameful how much astonishment
can be reaped from such a simple artifice; and that very fact contributes a secret and special satisfaction in your heart each time you
perform it.
June 1974

HALFWAY TO HEAVEN
Effect: Here is another abbreviated Out-of-This-World effect, but
in this presentation the whole deck is in play. The deck is shuffled,
then a red card is turned face-up. Someone is asked to touch a
random card in the face-down pack. Three others are asked to do
the same. These four chosen cards are removed from the deck and
set aside with the face-up red card.
A black card is now turned up, and the four spectators are each
asked to touch another card. These four cards are also taken from
the pack and set on the table with the face-up black card. Now the
two groups of chosen cards are turned face-up to reveal that all those
selected under the influence of the red card are red as well; and all
those picked under the influence of the black card prove to be black.
Method: An extremely deceptive packet switch makes this impressive feat possible. Mr. Elmsley's strip-out addition is the basis of the
switch. This sleight was taught in Volume I on pages 238-240, and
the reader should be familiar with it before proceeding with this
description.
A simple eight-card setup is required: secretly gather any four red
cards at the face of the pack, and position any four black cards
directly above them.
Begin the presentation by giving the deck a casual false shuffle,
reserving the eight-card stock at the bottom. While you shuffle, set the
atmosphere for a psychic test and explain that the cards will be used
in the experiment, but only their colors are important: red and black.
As you mention colors, deal several cards from the top of the pack,
turning them face-up on the table. Stop when you have an example
of each color. Leave one red card and one black face-up on the table,
and return any extra dealt cards face-down to the pack.
Now pick up the red card and insert it, still face-up, several cards
from the top, leaving it outjogged for about half its length. Then ask
someone to touch any card as you spread through the deck. Spread

52

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

slowly through the first eight to ten cards, until the spectator touches
one. Outjog that card and smoothly move to a second person, asking him to touch another card, a little farther down in the pack.
Outjog this card and proceed to a third person, then a fourth, until
four face-down cards have been freely chosen and outjogged. Each
card should be jogged approximately a quarter of an inch farther
than the preceding one. Spread slowly through the pack, so that all
four choices are made before you reach your eight-card stock at the
bottom. After outjogging the fourth selection, continue to spread
through the cards, and injog the last four (the red cards) about a
quarter of an inch. As you do this, say to the four helpers, "Now you
could have touched any of these."
Neatly square the pack into your left hand, without disturbing the
five outjogged cards or the injogged bottom block. With your palmdown right hand, grasp the deck by its sides near the inner end, and
use the step to form a right thumb break above the bottom four
cards. Now, with your palm-up left hand, strip out the outjogged
cards one by one, starting from the bottom and working up as you
say, "But something lead you to take this card, and this one, and
this one, and this one." As your left hand returns to the pack to draw
the face-up red card onto the four selections, secretly add the block
below the thumb's break onto the left hand's packet. In other words,
perform the Elmsley strip-out addition. Neatly slip the left hand's
cards on top of the deck, set it into left-hand dealing position, and
immediately fan over the top five cards (the face-up red card and
four face-down ones). Lay these fanned cards on the table.
All actions should be slow and deliberate, so that no suspicion
of sleight-of-hand taints the effect. The Elmsley strip-out addition,
done properly, will bear this sort of scrutiny.
Now pick up the face-up black card that has been set aside. Insert
it face-up near the top of the deck and repeat the procedure, having
the four spectators touch four more cards. Use the strip-out addition
to switch these indifferent cards for the four black cards on the
bottom of the pack. Then lay the face-up black card with the four
face-down cards below it in a second fan on the table, a short
distance from the first.
All that remains is to turn up the face-down cards, dramatically
revealing that the spectators, acting under the strange influence of
the face-up cards, have managed unerringly to divine the colors of
all eight chosen cards.

VERBUM SAPIENTI
Effect: The performer brings out a pocket dictionary and has
three or four persons choose random words from it. The dictionary
is put away and, without a question asked or a thing written, the
performer accurately divines each person's word.
Method: The choice of words is genuinely random, but the
dictionary is prepared to deliver the chosen words to you instantly.
It is a peek book. The peek book idea goes back to Paul Curry,
though it has been reinvented several times over the years by others,
including Mr. Elmsley. In 1944, Mr. Curry suggested preparing a
telephone directory in much the same manner as Dr. Franklin V.
Taylor's peek deck (ref. Phoenix, No. 53, pp. 216-217). That is, the
number destined to be chosen on one page was written by the
performer in an easily concealed spot on the opposite page. This was
done with every pair of facing pages in the directory. Mr. Curry's
excellent idea has been perfected in recent years with the publication
of special books that have the cue words lodged within their typeset
text. Larry Becker was the first to do this, in a trick titled
"Flashback". The most elaborate peek book to date was created by
Masao Atsukawa, an established author and amateur magician. Mr.
Atsukawa, under the pen name of Tsumao Awasaka, produced a
mystery novel titled The Lucky Book, which was widely sold to the
Japanese public. It read normally, yet cue words were imbedded in
the printed text, thus permitting magicians to pick up the book
wherever it was found and perform a book test.
Mr. Elmsley's dictionary is not typographically sophisticated, but
it does the job intended. It is a simple pocket dictionary, each page
of which bears the first and last words of that page in bold type at
the top (making them easier for the spectator to read). The dictionary is prepared by writing in pencil the word at the top right corner
of each right-hand page on the top left corner of the facing left-hand
page. Pencil is used, rather than pen, to avoid bleeding or showthrough. The preparation is admittedly tedious, but once the
dictionary has been prepared, it need never be done again.

54

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

To have a word selected and


at the same time secretly learn
it, do this: Grasp the dictionary
by its spine in the right hand.
Hold the book with its front
cover facing the spectator,
about eye level. Contact the
upper left corner of the book
with your extended left forefinger and riffle the corners off its
tip until the spectator tells you
to stop. With the forefinger, pull
the book open enough to allow
the spectator a clear view of the
word in bold type on the right
corner of the right-hand page.
This same word is penciled on
the corner exposed to you on
the left-hand page (Figure 47).
Notice how the extended left fingers screen the prepared corner from
anyone on your extreme left. Glimpse the word and immediately turn
your eyes away from the book. When the spectator says he has noted
a word, let the book snap shut.
Repeat this selection process with three persons; then drop the
dictionary into your coat pocket and proceed to divine the words one
by one, in as effective a manner as possible. After divining the first
two words, Mr. Elmsley inserts an entertaining bit of business that
adds humor and surprise to the procedure, while avoiding repetition. Let's say that the third spectator's word is gag, and the fourth
spectator is thinking of down. You turn to your third subject and
begin to work with her:
"You are thinking of a worda short wordonly one syllable. It
starts with a G or a J. I think it's a Ga letter G..."
At this point you pause as an expression of puzzlement passes
over your features. Turn and stare at the fourth person. Then suddenly say to him, "Was you word down?"
If he is not too startled by this abrupt revelation, he will say, "Yes."
"Then don't interrupt!" Turn back to the third spectator, with a
twinkle in your eye, and resume where you left off: "Your word was
GG, AG, A, GGag\"
Some may find the prospect of remembering three or four words
forbidding. Mr. Elmsley uses a mnemonic system to assure recall.
This system can be extremely simple, since only three or four words

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

55

are being memorized. For example, one could use the old rhyming
code:
1 = Gun
2 = Shoe
3 = Tree
4 = Door
You can now memorize the first word by linking it to an image of
a gun. Form a vivid mental picture of word and object in combination. The more outrageous the image, the more surely you will retain
it. All you need do is recall the image with a gun and the word will
be supplied. (For more information on associational mnemonics,
check any of the many works on the subject of memory systems,
such as those by Harry Lorayne.)
While the test could be performed with only one or two chosen
words, the cumulative effect of apparently pulling words from the
minds of three or four persons, without recourse to the dictionary,
is far stronger. This psychological touch by Mr. Elmsley is significant. Also note how he has simplified the method of choosing words,
making the procedure as direct as possible. Any counting of lines
and words by the spectatora process that needlessly slows the
action and increases chance of errorhas been eliminated. And by
using the words that appear in bold type at the top corners of the
pages, rather than the fine type, the spectator's task is made easier
and surer as he reads the necessary word.
Some may feel it desirable to have the dictionary handled by the
spectators, to prove its innocence. This can be done as follows: Carry
a duplicate but unprepared dictionary in the same coat pocket you
will deposit the gimmicked dictionary after the words have been
selected. Have the selections made from the gimmicked dictionary
and drop it into the pocket with the duplicate. Proceed to divine the
first word or two, but then pretend to have trouble in receiving the
next word. Bring the unprepared dictionary from your pocket and
hand it to the spectator whose word you can't get. "Here, it might
help if you look up your word and read its meaning to yourself." Have
him do so, then divine the word or its definition. In this fashion you
have subtly brought the unprepared dictionary into play and had
its commonness confirmed without asking that it be examined.
Through a shrewd choice of means and intelligent routining, Mr.
Elmsley has created here a book test of unsurpassable directness
and impact.
1959

OPEN INTRUDER
Effect: The performer openly adds a blue-backed card to a redbacked deck. The identity of the odd-backed card is not revealed, nor
its location in the deck.
The performer turns the deck face-up and deals the cards into a facedown pile on the table. As he does this, someone is asked to specify
any card he wishes as it appears on the deck. This card is dealt faceup onto the face-down pile. Then the rest of the deck is quickly dealt
face-down.
During the dealing a curious fact is observed: the odd-backed card
is not seen, though every back has been displayed as it was dealt. Every
back but onethe back of the card the spectator singled out. The
performer spreads through the deck until he locates this card. He then
turns it over and, as anticipated, it proves the spectator has in some
curious manner hit on the only blue-backed card in the pack.
Method: The antecedents for this plot are more than a little twisty
to map, but bear with me. Mr. Elmsley's immediate inspiration for this
effect was a trick of Jack Avis', 'The New Intruder", which appeared in
the November 1955 issue of Pentagram (Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 9, 10 and
14). Mr. Avis' trick, in turn, recognized Nelson Hahne's "Blue Intruder"
as its forebear (ref. Smart Magic, p. 26). "Blue Intruder" was Mr. Hahne's
solution to "Brainwave", a Judson Brown trick that Dai Vernon, with
aid from Paul Fox, refined and popularized. At the time Mr. Hahne
published this (1935), Dai Vernon was fooling everyone with
"Brainwave", but his method was not to appear in print until October
of 1938 (ref. The Jinx, No. 49, p. 341 and 343).
Mr. Elmsley also recognizes as an influence on his effect Paul Curry's
"Open Prediction" plot (as it was first presented in Edward Mario's The
Carciician [pp. 152-160]). However, the Elmsley plot formulated from
these sources replicates Theodore Annemann's "Remote Control", and
his method owes much to the Annemann trick. Annemann originally
marketed "Remote Control" in 1931, after which it appeared in a 1933
manuscript, Nine Great Card Tricks (p. 6), and a few years later in

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

57

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks (Hugard edition, p. 121). This, I must


add, is a superficial treatment of this plot's complex and fascinating
history. For those who wish to explore it in depth, I recommend Karl
Fulves' excellent book, A History of the Brainwave Principle.
In the final analysis, what Mr. Elmsley devised was a method for
Annemann's "Remote Control" effect, in which he applied Jack Avis'
spread switch from "The New Intruder". With that said, let's proceed
to the trick.
A double-backed card is required. This is red on one side and blue
on the other. You also will need a full red-backed pack and, preferably, a blue-backed pack as well. Both packs should match the
pattern of the double-backed card.
While the double-backed card can be brought forth on its own and
added as a blue-backed card to the red-backed deck, it is preferable,
from a psychological standpoint, that the double-backer first be openly
removed from a blue-backed deck. Doing so makes the card seem less
special and therefore less suspect. Also, as will be seen, the use of the
second pack permits one to dispose of the gimmicked card at the finish,
without alerting the audience to its absence.
Place the double-backed card, blue side up, on top of the bluebacked deck before you start. Carry the blue deck in your jacket
pocket and use the red deck for other tricks. When you wish to
perform "Open Intruder", set the red deck face-down on the table
and take the blue deck from your pocket. Remove the top card, the
double-backer, and drop the deck back into your pocket.
Keep the red-backed side of the card toward the floor as you state
that no one must know the identity of this card, not even yourself,
until the end of the experiment. With your free hand, pick up the
red deck and place both hands behind your back. Explain that you
are inserting the blue card at an unknown spot in the red deck.
Actually turn the double-backed card red-side up behind you and
lay it on top of the pack.
Bring the deck forward again and turn it face-up. Begin to deal
the cards slowly into a pile on the table, turning each face-down as
you deal it. Ask someone in the group to stop you at any card he
wishes, when it appears on the face of the pack. Meanwhile, everyone
is to watch for the blue-backed card.
When the spectator stops you, deal that card face-up onto the
tabled pile, without exposing its back. Tell the spectator to remember
this card, and at the same time nonchalantly turn the talon facedown. No comment is made about this. It is obvious that, once the
selection has been made, turning the deck down facilitates the
search for the odd-backed card. Quickly deal through the balance,
laying the cards face-down on the pile. The blue back is not found.

58

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Point out as much and ask the spectator to name the card he
designated should remain face-up. Pick up the deck, square it in
the left hand, then spread it from left hand to right until you reach
the face-up selection. The card directly above it is the double-backer,
red surface uppermost.
You will now execute the Avis spread switch, which is a cunning
hybrid of the Mexican turnover and a flip-over switch invented separately by Henry Christ (ref. Inner Secrets of Card Magic, p. 23) and
Tony Kardyro (Conjuror's Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 7, Sept. 1949, p. 11
also Kardyro's Kard Konjuring, pp. 8-9):
Break the spread at the face-up selection, retaining it atop the
left-hand portion while you move the right-hand portion to the right.
Your right fingertips should hold the double-backed card by its right
edge only, under the spread. This card should project about half an
inch to the left of the card above it.
With the left thumb, push the face-up selection approximately an
inch to the right on its packet. Engage the left edge of the right hand's
spread under the right edge of the selection and flip it face-down.
However, the action is not as innocent as it appears. The right edge
of the selection actually moves between the double-backed card and
the card above it (Figure 48, exposed for clarity); and the right fingers

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

59

release the double-backer while flipping it over, with the selection,


onto the left-hand packet (Figure 49). As the cards are turned, the
right hand's spread sweeps leftward over the deck and then back
to the right. The blue side of the double-backer is now exposed.
When done smoothly and casually, the switch is indetectable. With
this action you have shown that the selection, seemingly, is the bluebacked card.
Square the right hand's spread under the left-hand packet and
lift the double-backed card from the deck. Slip the gimmick into the
pocket that holds the blue-backed deck and immediately bring the
deck out, leaving the gimmick behind. It appears as if you have
merely retrieved the deck from your pocket, and added the blue card
to it. Both decks are now clean and can be examined if desired.
One might execute a double lift, to show the face of the selection
once more, before putting the blue card away. Mr. Elmsley doesn't
bother since the deal through the pack implicitly suggests that the
face-up selection must be the odd-backed card, and when it is turned
over to show the back, no further proof is really required.
September 1956

BROWNWAVES II
Effect: Two spectators make mental selections in the following
manner: each cuts off a small packet, counts the cards in it and
remembers the card that falls at that number in the balance of the
pack. The spectators also pocket their packets after counting them,
to leave the performer no clue to their numbers.
The remainder of the pack is handed to one of them and she is asked
to deal the cards into a face-down pile on the table. Suddenly the
performer tells her to stop. She turns up the card last dealt and finds
it to be her mental selection. The cards are then handed to the second
spectator. She also deals the cards face-down until told to stop. When
the last card dealt is turned up it is indeed the second selection.
The performer has no knowledge of the selected numbers or the
cards, nor does he see the face of a single card until the climax.
Method: This double location revolves on the use of a type of key.
However, this key is not a card or cards, but rather a number. The
principle is fascinating.
The deck is unprepared, and may be borrowed, but must contain
its complement of fifty-two. You also must form a break under the
twenty-sixth card from the top. There are several ways one can
obtain this break. After the deck has been shuffled, you can question
whether it is complete. To check this, count the cards into a facedown pile, jogging the twenty-sixth card as it is dealt. Then pick up
the pack and square it, forming a break above the jog. If you wish,
you can do one or two casual overhand shuffles as you talk,
maintaining a break at center. To do this, shuffle off to the existent
break, injog the next card and shuffle off the balance. Then form a
fresh break beneath the jog.
If you don't wish to count the cards openly, you can run through
the deck to make sure there is no joker. As you do this, secretly count
to the twenty-sixth card from the face and downjog it. Then form a
break over the jog as you turn the deck face-down and square it.
To allay suspicion that you have noted cards while looking through

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

61

the pack, you can perform one or two overhand shuffles afterward,
maintaining the separation as previously explained.
Perhaps the most subtle approach though, and the one Mr.
Elmsley prefers, is the faro check: When you receive the shuffled
deck back from the spectator, give it a casual faro shuffle as you
talk. Then split the deck at center for a second shuffle, interlace the
packets in a perfect weave to check the accuracy of the cut, then
apparently change your mind and abandon the shuffle, stripping the
halves apart. Put one half onto the other and catch a break between
them. (It is interesting to note that Mr. Elmsley devised the faro check
in 1956, and suggested it within the context of this trick in November
of that year [ref. Pentagram, Vol. 11, No. 2, p. 12]. In the United
States, Edward Mario independently arrived at the same idea, which
he published in his booklet, The Faro Shuffle [see pp. 11-12] in 1958.
Mr. Elmsley was hardly surprised that this procedure had occurred
to others: "It was a fairly obvious idea that anyone who worked with
faro weaves would likely think of.")
With the break established, hold out the face-down deck and ask
someone to cut off a packet of any size she wishes, up to a third of
the pack. When she has done so, turn to a second spectator and ask
her to do the same, but to try to take a different number of cards
(to "make things more interesting"). However, as you turn, casually
cut the deck at the break and complete the cut, forming a new break
between the transposed packets.
Let the second spectator cut off a packet. Again, this shouldn't exceed
seventeen cards. Ask both spectators to count the cards in their packets
silently, then to put the packets out of sight in their pockets. You turn
aside while they do this, and take the opportu-nity to glance at the
remaining packet in you hand. Note the location of the break in the
packet. Chances are it will be closer to the bottom than the top. If you
find it nearer the top, cut the packet at the break and take a fresh break
between the portions as you complete the cut.
Turn back to the spectators and explain that you wish them to
note the card that falls randomly at their number in your packet.
Display the faces of the cards to them as you count them one by one,
and take each new card under the last to preserve the order. Make
it clear that you cannot see the faces of the cards yourself. When
you reach the break, remember the number of cards you have
counted. This number is the key to locate both selections. (Some
performers may find it more comfortable to use a step instead of a
break when counting. Just convert the break into a fine rightward
step of the upper portion, and keep track of it visually while you
count the cards.)

62

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Continue to display the cards one by one until you have counted
twenty-six. At that point stop and ask if each spectator has a card
in mind. Casually place any uncounted cards on top of the packet
and square it. If you should find you have fewer than twenty-six
cards, casually spread them, form a break under the requisite
number of cards to make up the difference, and cut these cards from
the top to the bottom of the packet. At this point you may give the
packet a false shuffle, retaining its entire order, if you wish.
Earlier you will remember having checked the break in the packet
to see whether it lay nearer the bottom or the top. If it was nearer
the bottom, hand the packet face-down to the first spectator. If it
was nearer the top and you cut the packet to adjust for this, now
hand the packet face-down to the second spectator.
Ask the spectator to deal the cards into a face-down pile on the
table. While she does this, secretly count to your key number. When
you reach it, stop her. Ask her the name of her mental selection. Then
have her turn up the last card dealt; that is, the card that fell at your
key number. It will be hers.
Pause to let the full effect register. Then have her put her card aside
and drop the undealt cards onto the pile. The packet is passed to the
other spectator and she is told to deal them face-down until you call
stop. Again stop her on the key number. The card resting at that position is the second selection. Have her turn it up and conclude.
One fault with the above procedure is that one must count twentysix cards while showing them to the spectators for their selection.
Since both spectators were instructed to take no more than a third
of the pack (seventeen cards), counting to twenty-six seems zealous
on your part, if not illogical. Mr. Elmsley suggests that, when the
mental selections are being made, the procedure can be shortened
as follows: Instead of counting to twenty-six, stop instead at nineteen or twenty and drop the uncounted cards on top of the packet.
Then, as you comment on the impossibility of your knowing which
of the cards the spectators have thought of, casually spread the
packet and form a break under six or seven cardsenough to bring
your count to twenty-six. Close the spread and cut the cards above
the break to the bottom of the packet. You may now continue. This
accelerated handling can be used to equal benefit in "Brownwaves I"
(Volume I, pp. 333-336).
Those unhampered by a phobia for crimps will find that, by installing one in the twenty-sixth card from the top and another in the bottom
card, the crimps will do the work of breaks while allowing for a freer,
more casual handling of the cards throughout the trick. The crimps
can be efficiently put in as follows: Corner crimp the bottom card of

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

63

the deck and do a faro check. Complete the faro check by placing the
bottom half on top, centering the crimped card. Corner crimp the card
now on the bottom of the pack and you are ready to perform.
The effect created is remarkable. The only thing you need do to
locate two mental selections under impressive circumstances is to
remember one number. In the next trick Mr. Elmsley goes a step
further. Rather than locate the cards physically, they are both
divined without a question asked.
November 1956

BROWNWAVES III
Effect: The shuffled pack is divided between two persons, who
each further shuffle the cards. They then cut off packets from their
portions and hand the performer the unwanted remainders. Each
spectator now silently counts the cards he holds and lets no one else
know the total.
The performer proceeds to display a number of the cards in the
balance of the pack, and the two spectators remember the cards that
fall at their numbers.
Though the performer has no idea of the numbers, and has seen
none of the cards displayed, he correctly names both thought-of cards.
Method: No preparation is required, but the pack must contain
fifty-two cards. Have the cards shuffled and take them back. Then
divide the pack in half and present each half to a spectator. The
halves must be exact: twenty-six cards each. You can openly count
off twenty-six cards, but if you choose to do this it is better to push
the cards off in twos and threes when counting, expediting the
process while disguising your precise halving of the deck. However,
subtler methods for splitting the pack, like a faro check, are to be
preferred. Several practical methods are offered in the previous trick,
"Brownwaves II".
Have the spectators shuffle their halves. Then say to one, "Please
cut a packet from your portion. Make it something more than half
the cards." Let him keep this packet while you take the smaller
balance from him.
Turn to the second spectator and tell him, "I want you to cut off
a packet too. But I want you to have an amount different from his,
to make things more interesting. So cut off something less than half
your cards." Take the larger portion from him and slip it under the
first spectator's returned cards. Hold a break between the two
packets when you square them together. (Having the spectators cut
distinctly different amounts is not strictly necessary, but it makes
things a bit easier for you, as will be seen, and the request seems a
reasonable one.)

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

65

"Now I want you both to count your cards quietly and remember
how many you have. Please don't let me know the numbers. In fact,
I'll turn away while you count." Turn to your right and, as they count
their cards, tip the packet you hold onto its left edge in preparation
for an overhand shuffle, transferring the break to the right thumb.
Glance down at the packet and sight the bottom card. Remember
it. It will soon be the second spectator's mental selection.
Look up again and give the packet a brief shuffle, running single
cards and counting them until you reach the break; then throw the
balance, the second spectator's portion, on top as a block. The run
will be short, as it is confined to the small portion from the first
spectator's packet. Remember this number. Execute the shuffle
casually, as if you are merely passing the time while the spectators
count. You need not look at your hands as you shuffle. It can easily
be done by touch alone. Notice that you have turned to the right for
a purpose: in this position the faces of the cards are not exposed to
the spectators as you shuffle.
You now know one card that will be chosen and a number that will
lead you to the other selection. When the spectators have finished counting their cards, turn back to the first person. "I will show you some cards
and I want you to remember the card that lies at your number. For
instance, if you are thinking of one, you would remember this card."
Expose the face of the top card of your packet to him. Then lay it facedown on the table. Show him the next card as you count "two". Place
this face-down on the first. Continue to show cards, reversing their
order, until you have counted twenty-five. At that point say, 'You should
have seen your card by now. Do you remember it?...Good." Pick up
the twenty-five cards and drop them onto any that may remain in your
hand. If you find you hold fewer than twenty-five, you must cut enough
cards from the bottom of the packet to the top to compensate for the
difference. To do this, pick up the packet and casually spread it as you
ask the above question. Catch a break above the desired number of
cards and close the spread. Then nonchalantly cut the cards below the
break to the top.
Turn to the second spectator and ask him to remember the card
that falls at his number. Display the cards in your packet to him as
you count aloud and place them face-down on the table. Don't lay
the cards perfectly square; leave them slightly misaligned. When you
reach the number you have remembered, jog that card to the right
on the pile. This is the first spectator's selection. Continue to display
cards until you have counted about fifteen. Stop at this point and
say, "You chose the smaller number, so you should have seen your
card by now. Do you remember it?"

66

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Pick up the pile and set it onto the undealt balance, without
disturbing the jogged card. Then, as you square the cards, push up
on the jog with the left fourth-finger and form a break beneath it.
"You are both thinking of cards, and the only evidence outside
your minds that might provide a clue to your cards lies in the packets
you still hold. I want no hints, no matter how tiny, so let's bury those
packets in the deck right now." With your right hand, cut off the
cards above the break and hold out the lower portion for the return
of the spectators' packets. When you have received them, use the
backs of your right fingers to tap the inner
end of the left hand's
cards square. At the
same time, glimpse the
card at the face of the
right hand's packet
(Figure 50). This is a
natural and unsuspicious action and the
glimpse is perfectly disguised by it.
Drop the right hand's cards onto the left's and table the deck.
From now on, you treat it as if it didn't exist. The card you just
sighted is the first spectator's mental selection, and you already
know the second selection. The audience believes that you have seen
none of the cards from the beginning, and there seems no possible
way you could have determined the numbers or the selected cards.
All that remains, then, is to name each person's card with as much
drama as you can muster.
While the procedure might seem a bit complex or mentally
demanding on a preliminary reading, there is little to remember: two
cards and, for a short time, a small number. This is little enough to
ask when one considers the effect this trick must have on an
audience. Harry Lorayne is particularly fond of it and asked Mr.
Elmsley for permission to include it in Close-Up Card Magic. There
Mr. Lorayne described some handling ideas of his own that are worth
your consideration (pp. 72-78).
May 1957

MULTIPLE MIND READING


Effect: Four or more spectators are each given packets of cards
from a shuffled deck. They shuffle their packets and remember the
top card. They then gather the packets together, in any order, and
give the combined cards a cut or two before returning them to the
performer. Despite the difficult conditions imposed, on looking
quickly through the cards, the performer is able to identify every
selection made.
Method: The secret of this multiple card divination is cunningly
simple. All you need know is the identity of the top six cards of the
deck when you start. These can be any six cards in a memorized
sequence (such as the Eight Kings or Si Stebbins systems) or any
other cards you wish, like the ace through six of diamonds. Since
only one card of the six will be seen by a spectator, an obvious
grouping will not be discovered. Give the deck a false shuffle,
retaining the top six cards; or palm off the stock, have a spectator
shuffle the pack, and replace the palmed cards when he has finished.
Now hand out four, five or six packets, giving each spectator six
cards. The size of the packets is not mentioned. Just casually push
off the cards in groups and hand them out. The first person, of
course, receives your six memorized cards. Set the unused portion
of the pack aside.
Have each spectator mix his packet and peek at the card he has
shuffled to the top. Then have one of them gather the packets in any
order and give the lot one or two straight cuts before he hands the
cards to you. If you like, you can give the packet a quick false shuffle
at this point. The Charlier false haymow shuffle is well suited to a
small packet, and is particularly convincing.
Spread the packet, faces toward you. Working from the top to the
face, look for one of your memorized cards. This first card is the top
card of the first spectator's packet, -and therefore his selection.
Counting six cards farther in the spread gives you another selection.
Indeed, every sixth card from the first selection is another chosen

68

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

card. When you reach the face of the spread, continue the count from
the face to the top, picturing the packet as an unbroken circle of
cards, until you have located all the selections.
You can now name the first person's card without a question to
him. Unless you were able to remember the order in which the
packets were gathered, you will not be able to identify the owners
of the other selections. However, a little pumping can quickly resolve
the situation. Or you can simply remove all the selections from the
packet, ask each person to name his card, and toss it face-up onto
the table as it is called.
It is wise to reveal the selections in a sequence different from that
in which they are ordered in the packet. This disguises their uniform distribution in the packet, and your counting to locate them.
A final note: In "Verbum Sapienti" there is described an entertaining bit of by-play (p. 54) that Mr. Elmsley uses to avoid any tendency
toward anticlimax as the final selections are dealt with in a series
of mental divinations. This same business can be readily adapted
to "Multiple Mind Reading", and is worth your attention.
September 21, 1957

DOUBLE-CROSS
Effect: Someone is asked to think of any card in the deck, along
with its natural mate; e.g., the seven of spades and the seven of
clubs: the black sevens; or the king of hearts and the king of
diamonds: the red kings.
The performer shows the spectator groups of cards from a shuffled
deck, asking only if he sees one or both of his mental selections in
the group. When a selection is spotted, the performer places that
group in his jacket pocket. He does the same with the second group
containing a selection, placing it in the opposite jacket pocket.
He now dives his hands into the pockets and quickly comes out
with one card in each hand. The spectator is asked to name his
choices for the first time. When the performer displays the faces of
cards in his hands they are the very cards thought of.
Method: This astonishing location of two mental selections is
made possible by the same cross-referencing or "matrixing" concept
explained in "Cross-25" [Volume I, pp. 363-365). In that trick the
deck was subtly stacked or sorted in front of the audience as part
of the presentation. In "Double-cross" the performance procedure
is made swifter and more direct by using a preset secret stack. This
stack may seem a bit complicated at first, but it is quickly learned
and assembled.
First remove the red queens from the pack and place them in your
wallet. The principle on which this method is based requires a fiftycard deck. However, the queens are not without use, as will be seen.
Now sort the remaining fifty cards into two groups: in one, place
all the spades and hearts (the major suits); and in the other, place
the clubs and diamonds (the minor suits). Take either half and, if it
is not already in a reasonably random order, shuffle it. Then arrange
the mates in the other half in precisely the same order. That is, if
the top card of the first half is a three of spades, set the three of clubs
atop the second half; if the second card in the first group is a king

70

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

of hearts, set the king of diamonds second from the top in the second
group; and so on.
Next take up the half containing the minor suits, hold it face-down
and form five piles of five cards each, dealing from left to right in
rotation. Take up the other half pack (containing the major suits)
and remove the top five cards without changing their order. Drop
these onto the first tabled pile (that on your left). Set the next five
cards from the second half onto the second pile, the next five onto
the third pile, and so on.
You now have five ten-card piles in front of you. Starting at your
left, place the first pile onto the second, these onto the third, and
continue in this manner until the deck is reassembled. The stack
is ready for performance.
Ask someone, preferably a card player, to think of any card in the
deck, barring the joker. When he has done so, explain that every card
has a mate, a card that shares the same value and color. The four
of diamonds is the mate to the four of hearts, as they are both red
fours. The king of spades is the mate of the king of clubsblack
kings. Make sure that your helper clearly understands the idea. Then
tell him that you want him to think of two cards: the card he has
just pictured in his mind, and its mate. As you explain this to him,
casually false shuffle the pack, retaining full-deck order.
"I'm going to put the cards in my pockets, then try to find your
cards by touch alone. But it takes too long if I use all the pack. Tell
me, is either of your cards here?" As you ask this, spread the top
ten cards off the pack without making your counting apparent. Hold
up the fan of cards, faces toward the spectator and away from you,
so that he may see if either of his cards is present.
If he says that he sees one, ask him if both of his cards are in
the group. For now, assume that he sees only one of the thought-of
mates. Next ask him if that card is of a major suit or a minor one. If
he is a card player he will likely know the major and minor suits. If
he doesn't, quickly define them for him.
If he tells you the card is a major suit, close the fan and place these
cards into your right-side jacket pocket, faces toward your body.
If he says the card is a minor suit, place the packet in your left-side
jacket pocket, faces away from your body. (Another way to remember
the orientations of the packets is to note that the face of the packet, no
matter which pocket it is in, is always turned to your left.)
If, however, neither selection is sighted in the first ten-card group,
set that group aside and count off another ten cards from the deck.
Show ten-card groups to the spectator until both cards have been spotted, and you have a packet in both your right pocket and your left.

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

71

You must remember only one more simple thing: the number of
the group in each pocket. Since there are only five groups, this is
not difficult.
You now know the positions of both selections. The easiest way
to explain this is through example. Let's say the packet in your right
pocket was the second group shown; and the packet in your left
pocket was the fifth group. This tells you that one of the mates lies
atjifth position in the right-hand packet, counting from the outside
(the top); and the other mate lies at second position in the left-hand
packet, counting from the outside (the face). In other words, the
number of the packet defines the position of the selection in the
opposite packet. If the right-hand packet is group x, the selection
in the left-hand packet rests x cards from the outside; and if the lefthand packet is group y, the selection in the right-hand packet rests
y cards from the outside. (Mr. Elmsley finds that counting cards in
the pocket is easier if done from the outsidethe side farthest from
the bodyso he has arranged the packets to accommodate this.)
After locating the proper cards in each pocket, bring them forth,
backs toward the audience, and ask the spectator to tell everyone
which two cards he is thinking of. Then turn the cards you hold faces
outward, providing overwhelming evidence that your supersensitive
fingers have served you in an extraordinary manner.
The above scenario is the one you will most often encounter. There
are, though, six exceptions that can occur. Having come this far,
don't grow faint-hearted now. Each of these exceptions is even easier
to handle than the procedure just taught.
There are five sets of mates in the deck that will appear in the
same ten-card group; each of the five groups contains one set of
mates. If you are told that both selections are seen in the same
group, split the fan in half, placing the top five (major suit) cards in
your right pocket, faces inward, and the bottom five (minor suit)
cards in your left pocket, faces outward. The number of the group
once more tells you the locations of both cards. If the group is the
third shown, one selection lies at third position from the outside of
each packet. Note that the rules for positioning the cards in the
pockets and the rule for locating the selections are identical to the
previous procedure. There is nothing new to remember.
That coversfiveof the exceptions. But what of the sixth? The sixth
exception arises when the spectator fails to see either of his cards
in the deck. If this occurs, you immediately know that he has thought
of the red queenswhich you have in your wallet. This
circumstance, by the way, will occur far more than one time in
twenty-six; for the red queens are among the most popular cards

72

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

picked when a layman is asked to think of a card. That is why those


cards are placed in the wallet. It is surely unnecessary to explain
your course of action should you find yourself in this enviable
position.

LIKE A ROLLING BONE


Effect: The performer hands someone a die and asks that it be
thrown several times to assure that it is normal. He then turns his
back while he issues the following instructions:
"This time the throw counts. Please shake the die and toss it. I
realize that there are still skeptics who might suspect the die is
loaded in some way to come up with a special number only when I
want it to. You and I both know this is impossible, but to avoid
arguments, I want you to follow some randomizing procedures that
would defeat any type of loaded die conceivable. Don't tell me the
number you've just shaken. However, do do this:
"If that number is odd, tip the die forward, one turn away from
you; but if the number on top is even, tip the die back, one turn
toward you.
"Now turn the die forward oncethen once to the right.
"If the number now on top is odd, tip the die one turn forward;
but if the number on top is even, tip the die backward one turn.
"Turn the die forward oncethen once to the right.
"Now look at the numbers on top and on the side nearest you. If those
numbers are both odd or both even, tip the die one turn forward.
"Note the number now on top of the die. Whatever that number
is, turn the die that many times, alternating the direction of the
turns, first forward, then to the right, then forward, and so on.
"I think everyone will agree that I could have no idea what number
is now up on that die. You shook it, you turned it randomly. I have
had my back to you the entire time and I can have no idea what
numbers were being turned from start to finish. I've asked nothing,
you've told me nothing. Do you see my business card sitting on the
corner of the table? What number is now up on the die? Four? Please
turn over my card."
The spectator does so and finds written on the back of the card
the number four.

74

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Method: The die is


unprepared, you truthfully have no idea what
number is up on the die
until the very last, and
there are no "outs". This
test can actually be done
over the telephone with a
borrowed die.
The number is forced.
If you get out a normal
die of Western configurationthat is, one spotted
as shown in Figure 51and work through the instructions given
above, you must end with the four up. Here is an outline of the
necessary moves:
1) Throw the die.
2) If the top number is odd, turn the die forward once; but if the
top number is even, turn the die backward once.
3) Turn the die once forward, then once rightward.
4) Repeat 2.
5) Repeat 3.
6) If the numbers on the top and near side of the die are both odd
or both even, tip the die one turn forward.
7) Using the number now on top, tip the die alternately forward
and rightward that many turns.
The number now on top is four. Further, the number on the left
side is five and the number on the near side is six. Thus, the numbers on all six sides are known to you at the end of the procedure.
This knowledge may lead to further applications.
Here is an analysis of what takes place: At the end of Step 2 the
far side of the die must bear an odd number. Step 3 moves that odd
number to the left side of the die. With Step 4 the original odd number is maintained at the left side, and a second odd number is
positioned on the far side of the die. Step 5 moves the first odd
number to the top of the die, and the second odd number to the left
side. Step 6 assures that the three odd numbers are positioned at
the top, far and left sides of the die. And from this position the turns
prescribed in Step 7 will always deliver the four to the top.
You can vary the outcome by reversing the directions of the turns
in Steps 2 and 4. That is, if the top number is odd, turn the die

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

75

backward once; but if it is even, turn the die forward once. When
Step 7 is completed, a six will be on top, a four on the left and a five
nearest the spectator.
Mr. Elmsley suggests that if one went to the trouble of obtaining
misspotted dice, on which the positions of the two and three were
transposed, those dice could be handed to other spectators, who would
work through the procedure along with the spectator holding the
correctly spotted die. The misspotted dice will yield different end
numbers, further convincing everyone that the outcome is truly random.
Those who enjoy such ingenious maneuvers as that just explained
will be interested in a related idea by Karl Fulves: "Logic Dice" (ref.
Pallbearers Review, Vol. 10, No. 12, Oct. 1975, p. 1058). And one
last note: David Michael Evans suggests that an effective combination can be routined by first performing Bob Hummer's "Moon Die
Mystery" (ref. Hummer's Three Pets or Fulves' Collected Tricks of Bob
Hummer, pp. 15-17), then "Like a Rolling Bone". Or, if working over
the phone, begin with Henry Christ's "Tele-dice" (ref. Fulves' Closeup Folio No. 11, pp. 11-12), following with the Elmsley trick.

FAILURE
Effect: Someone is handed the pack to shuffle while she thinks of
a number between one and ten. Then, while the performer turns away,
the spectator notes the card that lies at her mentally chosen number.
When she is finished, the performer takes the deck from her and
shuffles it to destroy any possible clue. He then asks the spectator
to concentrate on her number, and while she does this he quickly
removes a card from the deck. This he places face-down on the table.
She now concentrates on her chosen card. Again the performer
removes a card from the pack. The spectator is asked to announce
the number she mentally selected. The performer turns up his first
card. Its valueoftenmatches the spectator's chosen number. She
then names her thought-of card. The performer turns up his second
card. Italwaysis the selection.
If your self-esteem can endure the possibility of a minor failure
to achieve a major success, proceed.
Method: Once the spectator has shuffled the deck, thought of a
number between one and ten, and noted the card at that number,
take the deck from her. Give it a brief false shuffle, retaining the tencard stock intact on top. As you finish the shuffle, glimpse the bottom
card and cut about fifteen cards from the bottom to the top of the
pack. This places the stock just above center in the deck and bestows
a convincing appearance of fairness.
Ask the spectator to concentrate on her number. Counterfeit a
seizure of telepathy and search quickly through the pack for the first
seven you can find, while keeping the faces to yourself. Remove it
and lay it face-down before you on the table. The only caveat here
is to shun any seven lying among the ten cards of the selection bank.
Express some uncertainty about the accuracy of your choice, but
press onward to the more taxing task of divining the card itself.
Square the pack and request that the spectator shift her thoughts
to the card she noted. Run through the pack again, spreading from

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

77

the face. This time locate your key card, which you know lies approximatelyfifteencards from the top. You also know that the selection bank
rests directly in front of it. Having found the key, silently count three
cards backward, toward the face of the pack; that is, count three cards
into the selection stock. Downjog that third card.
Continue to count in the same direction to the seventh card of
the stock and remove it from the deck. Lay this card face-down
beside the first tabled card. Close the spread into the left hand and
turn the deck face-down there. Square it, pressing down with the
right thumb on the injogged card as you push it flush, and form a
left fourth-finger break above it.
You have just committed yourself to a calculated guessa very
sound one. You are gambling that the spectator thought of the number seven, a common choice when one is restricted to numbers
between one and ten. However, should your subject prove stubbornly
independent, you have also prepared a means for salvation.
Cleanly place the second tabled card square onto the deck. Lay
the first card over that. Remind the audience that the card now on
top represents your guess at the mentally chosen number. Ask the
spectator to reveal to everyone the number she selected. If she says
"Seven," turn up the top card, then the next, and join in the general
amazement at your extraordinary fortune.
This is the most pleasant of possible outcomes, and it will occur
far more often than one time in eight. Yet, what course do you take
when a less welcome choice of number has been announced. First,
you gracefully admit your failure to receive the number telepathically. "That's a pity. I got only a vague impression of a number and
I wasn't at all certain it was coming from you."
As you deftly wriggle from your predicament, use the time gained
to adjust your fourth-finger break, if necessary, moving it below the
selection in the deck.
The break has been created just below the second card of the
selection bank. Through the old ruse of asking for a number between
one and ten, you have prevented the spectator from thinking of the
first and tenth cards. If the number chosen was two, the break is
retained without adjustment. If it is something other than two, you
must pull down with the tip of the left fourth finger and riffle off the
necessary number of cards to arrive at the selection. The absolute
worst circumstance is that the number nine is selected, in which case
you must riffle off only six cards. Remember, you have removed the
seventh card of the stock, and therefore must skip seven if you riffle
to the eighth card or the ninth.

78

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Having moved the


break below the selection, you now perform
Bill Simon's cover for
the side steal (ref.
Effective Card Magic,
pp. 112-114): While
steadying the deck
from above with the
right hand, dig the tip
of the left fourth finger
into the break and
push the card above it about an inch to the right. This is the standard preliminary for the side steal. With the left fingertips, push the
card a bit farther to the right (Figure 52, exposed from beneath), until
you can grip it firmly between the tip of the right fourth finger and
the heel of the palm.
With your left thumb, push the top card of the pack about an inch
to the right and grasp it between the right second finger, which is
at the outer end, and the right thumb, which stretches across the
inner end. The top card
_
should lie half under
the right palm and half
exposed (Figure 53).
Move the right hand a
few inches to the right,
carrying the top card
away and stripping the
selection from the center of the pack (Figure
54, left hand moved to
expose the condition of
the cards). This is performed as an indicatory
gesture as you say, "The
top card was my guess
at your number."
Set the card back
onto the deck, while
secretly squaring the
stolen card below it.
Turn up the top card
and display the seven.

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

79

"I got the feeling you were thinking of seven. I was obviously on the
wrong track." Toss the seven aside.
"However, my impressions of the card you were thinking of were
very clear. I had one chance in ten of hitting your number. The odds
of picking your card are one in fifty-two. But people often find it
easier to project an image than they do an abstract concept like a
number. What card did you think of?" This barrage of rationalization is aimed toward the balloon of your failure, with the intention
of bursting it with the more impressive success of having found the
card. Very fairly take the top card of the deck into the right hand
and wait for it to be named. Then dramatically turn it up.
With a little prompting you can be almost invariably assured of
having someone in the group admit they had thought of the number
seven. Suddenly it becomes clear. Their thoughts overwhelmed those
of the spectator and led you on a false path. However, it may be best
to let the matter be, allowing it to sink into the sea of forgetfulness.
Note that Mr. Elmsley cuts the selection bank to a deeper position
in the pack, as explained above, to aid in the execution of the covered
side steal. The sleight is more difficult if the card to be stolen is too
near the top.
June 12, 1953

AUTO-PREDICTION
Effect: Each of three persons is asked to choose a playing card.
To speed the selection process, which is designed to assure random
choices, roughly half the deck is discarded and the remaining half
is used. Each person in turn deals the packet into two piles, peeks
at the top card of either group and drops the other pile on top to
bury the selection.
When all three spectators have chosen a card, the performer
brings another playing card from his pocket. This, he explains, is a
prediction. He turns the card around, exposing its face. Clearly
written there are the names of three cardsthe very three cards just
chosen by chance.
Method: Mr. Elmsley came to devise this trick while contemplating the possibilities of Hofzinser's classic plot, "Remember and
Forget", as a presentational avenue for improving the appearance
of a simple one-out-of-two choice. Nothing of the Austrian genius'
presentation remains in "Auto-prediction", but it was the spark that
fired its creation.
Elect twenty-one cards to serve as your selection bank. They can
be any cards, though they should represent a random selection of
suits and values. The only other restriction is that eight of these
cards must sport a fair amount of blank space at their centers: twos,
fours, sixes and sevens.
Arrange the twenty-one cards into a random-looking order, but place
the eight blank-centered cards at positions six through thirteen from
the top of the packet. Make a list of the order you have settled on. This
serves as a reference when you need to restack the setup.
The white space in the centers of cards six through thirteen serves
as space to write eight different predictions. The names of three cards
from the packet are written in each of these (Figure 55). The
predictions are restricted to the centers of the cards, permitting the

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS


f>

55

6
o
Tl

11
A A9
-i
Card No.
6
7
8

9
10
11
12
13

81

packet to be fanned and displayed


without exposing the writing. Each of
the eight prediction cards bears the
names of cards at particular positions,
and these are listed in a particular
order. The chart at the right shows how
the cards are prepared. The cards in
the first column are the eight
prediction-bearing cards. The three
cards in the second column are written
on the face of the card in the first
column. These are listed in the order
the names must appear. Cards in both
columns are identified by the positions
they hold in the packet, counting from
top to face.

Names Written
21 - 3 - 18
20 - 4 - 19
21 - 1 -20
20 - 2 -21
21 - 3 - 14
20 - 4 - 15
21 - 1 - 16
20 - 2 - 17

Once the eight predictions have been prepared, stack the twentyone cards in the order you have chosen. One last bit of preparation:
make the bottom card of the packet a corner short.
Place this packet on top of the deck and you are ready to perform.
Bring out the deck and give it a casual false shuffle, preserving the top
stock. Then thumb riffle down the corner of the deck to the corner short
and cut off the twenty-one-card setup. Set the rest of the pack aside.
Fan the packet and display it briefly, fronts and backs, as you
explain that you will use only half the deck to speed things up. Close
the fan and hand the packet, face-down, to your first helper. Have
him deal cards alternately into two face-down piles, until the packet
has been divided in half. Then ask him to peek at the top card of
either pile he likes and remember the card. When he has done this,
have him bury his selection by dropping the other packet onto it.
Finally have him hand the reassembled packet to a second person.

82

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

This spectator performs the same actions, dividing the packet into
two piles, noting the top card of one and burying it. The packet is
passed to a third person, who chooses a card in an identical fashion. If you believe the three spectators can carry out your
instructions correctly, you can turn your back as the selections are
made. However, wisdom suggests that you monitor their actions to
avoid errors and misunderstandings.
Only after all three spectators have made their choices do you
touch the packet. Retrieve it and casually cut the top two cards to
the bottom. Do not flash the bottom of the packet before or after the
cut, as one of the prediction cards rests there.
The cut has brought to the bottom of the packet the precise card
that bears the names of the three cards just peeked at, listed in the
order they were chosen. Palm this card from the packet and pretend
to remove it from your pocket, back outward. Explain that the card
carries a prediction you made hours before. Ask each spectator to
name his card, starting with the first and working to the last. Then
turn over the card you hold, and reveal the written names.
The card now on the bottom of the packet is unprepared and its
face can be casually flashed as you place the packet onto the
discarded portion of the pack.
When alone, you can reset the packet without referring to your
written list by following this procedure: Return the prediction card
to either the top or the bottom of the packet. Then deal the cards
alternately into two face-down piles. Set either pile onto the other
and repeat this procedure twice. When you have reassembled the
packet for the third time, cut the corner-shorted card to the bottom
and the packet will be restored to its original order.
In 1982 Phil Goldstein and Stewart James published some interesting ideas based on the principle used in "Auto-Prediction". These
can be found in Mr. Goldstein's booklet, Thunday (see "Cumulative",
pp. 5-6, and "Cuemulat4e", pp. 7-8). In the next trick this principle
is applied to a small packet of design cards.
March 1958

DIVINA-SIGN
Effect: A packet of eight symbol cards is displayed and mixed.
In turn, each of three spectators deals the packet into two face-down
piles, peeks at the top card of either and buries it by dropping the
other pile on top. The performer turns his back throughout the
period of selection.
When all three helpers have a symbol in mind, the performer puts
the packet away and, without a question, successfully tells each of
the three which symbol is being mentally pictured.
Method: Eight design cards must be made. They can be drawn
on index cards, business cards or blank-faced playing-card stock.
The eight designs that Mr. Elmsley uses are these:

In Figure 56, beneath each of the designs is a number. These


numbers do not appear with the designs on the cards. Though the
designs and numbers need not be memorized, should one wish to
do so, designs have been chosen that subtly suggest their corresponding number.
1 = a single zigzag line.
2 = two wavy lines.
3 = a triangle; three lines.
4 = a square; four lines.
5 = a square with a diagonal line through it; five lines.
6 = a figure 2 with lines through it; this suggests the curves of a six.
7 = an arrow; a straight line with a cap, like a 7.
8 = the circle; one half of the figure 8.

84

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

These numeric equivalents of the designs


can be memorized in one or two readings. The
backs of the cards are secretly marked to
indicate their values. The method of marking
will depend on the back design and must be
left to individual preference.
You also will need an envelope in which to
carry the cards. On the back of this envelope,
write the cue chart shown at the right.
For those who wish to work without a cue
chart, the eight sequences can be memorized
with relative ease by converting the designs
to their corresponding numbers, and making a mnemonic phrase
for each, using one of the number-consonant alphabets, such as that
taught by Nikola in his card system (see Encyclopedia of Card Tricks,
Hugard revision, p. 387).
Stack the eight cards from top to face in the order given in Figure
56. Slip the packet into the envelope and your preparation is
complete. When ready to perform, remove the cards from the envelope, without exposing the cue chart on the back, and set it aside.
Display the designs on the cards; then turn the packet face-down
and give it a false shuffle that retains the order. The Charlier false
haymow shuffle serves the purpose well. When the shuffling is
completed, cut the packet to bring the card marked 2 back to the
top. Or, rather than use the Charlier shuffle, you can give the packet
three reverse out-faro shuffles to bring it back to its original order.
That is, spread through the packet, outjogging every other card,
starting with the second; then strip the outjogged cards as a block
from the rest and place them underneath.
Hand the packet to the first spectator and explain what is expected
of him and the others. When you turn your back he is to deal the cards
alternately into two face-down piles. He is then to peek at the top card
of either pile, remember it and bury it by dropping the other pile on
top. The second person is to do the same; then the third.
When they have finished, turn back to them, pick up the facedown packet and slip it into its envelope. As you do this, read the
back of the top card and check that number in the cue chart on the
envelope. The three symbols following the number are the chosen
designs, presented in the order of their selection. Put the envelope
away and divine each person's thoughts, making as dramatic a show
as possible in the process. You can do this either verbally or with
pad and pen.
Here are a few shortcuts for resetting the packet: If Symbol
Number 1 is found on top, all you need do is reverse the order of

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

85

the cards to bring the packet back to its original arrangement. If


Symbol Number 2 is on top, no adjustment is necessary. If Symbol
Number 8 is uppermost, cut the top four cards to the bottom of the
packet to bring it back to its original order.
If you have committed the numeric equivalents of the eight
symbols to memory, you can disguise the cue chart by writing the
numbers instead of the symbols on the envelope, creating eight fourdigit figures. Should anyone get a glimpse of this, the chart would
be meaningless to them. It looks as if you have merely jotted down
some figures on the envelope, or done some calculations.
The marked backs on the cards can be eliminated, if you wish.
Instead of using the back of the top card to cue the chosen designs,
you can glimpse the face of the bottom card. Mr. Elmsley suggests that
an effective method of learning the bottom card would be the old idea
of glimpsing the face through a handkerchief (ref. Roterberg's New Era
Card Tricks, p. 191): When the three selections have been made, turn
around and open a white pocket handkerchief over your palm-up hand.
Have the last spectator place the face-down packet of design cards onto
the center of the handkerchief. Then gather the corners of the
handkerchief around the packet and twist them together, drawing the
center of the handkerchief tightly around the cards. In doing this, you
can easily catch a glimpse of the face of the
packetthe bold black design can be perceived
through the taut cloth. Hand the wrapped
packet to a spectator and proceed to divine the
chosen designs.
Since you are using the bottom card for
information, rather than the top card, your
cue list must be suitably altered, as shown at
the right.
Over time Mr. Elmsley devised many presentations built upon the "Auto-prediction"
principle. Here is another of them, called...

A CARD FROM CAGLIOSTRO


Eight postcards are needed: ones that picture famous locations. You
should be able to identify the pictures easily from a moderate distance.
Construct a cue list equivalent to the first one given in "DMna-sign",
but substitute the eight pictures on your set of cards for the designs.
You will need another eight postcards as well. Their pictures can
be of anything. These will constitute a prediction-card index, each
bearing a handwritten message such as:

86

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

oatfadto hear that


(too/0 h-iends are mob/no, a
toar off
Parope,
(heau/w
U
r
a
the leaning Jocoer dfisa,
the Arc de Triomphe and

oad

Udoon

louieri

These eight cards cover the eight outcomes made possible by the
selection procedure. Arrange them in a known order, in one or
several pockets, so that you can quickly produce any one of them
as required.
The rest is straightforward. Hand the stack of eight selection cards,
pictures uppermost, to someone and explain the procedure for choosing one. Then turn your back while three selections are made. When
you again face the audience, catch a glimpse of the top card on the
stack. This picture tells you which of the eight prediction cards you
must produce to conclude the effect in an impressive manner.
Given the above information, it will be understood that your cue
list, whether written or memorized, can be greatly simplified for this
presentation, as each postcard in the selection set cues the appropriate prediction postcard in your pocket (or pockets), eliminating
the need to list the three chosen locations.

AUSSI-MENTAL
Effect: A packet of cards is cut from the deck and handed to
someone, This person is asked to deal through the packet face-down,
eliminating cards until he holds only two. He peeks at either of these
he likes and adds the two cards to the rest of the packet. He then
hands the packet to someone else.
The second person executes the same elimination and selection
process, and passes the packet to a third party, who repeats the
procedure.
When all three persons have a selection in mind, the performer,
who has not touched the cards from beginning to end, neatly divines
all three cards being thought of.
Method: Here is another variant of "Auto-prediction". "Aussimental" was developed to exploit the special properties of the
Australian deal. The packet employed contains eleven cards. Four
of these must be known to you: the sixth, seventh, eighth and eleventh from the top. The easiest way to manage this is to prearrange
four easily remembered cards, such as the first four cards of a Si
Stebbins stack: ace of clubs, four of hearts, seven of spades, ten of
diamonds. Install a convex bridge at the inner end of the face-down
eleven-card packet and place it on top of the deck.
When ready to perform, give the deck a false shuffle, retaining the
eleven-card stock on top. Then casually cut off the bridged packet
and set the deck aside. Hand the packet to someone and have them
perform an under-down deal (duck the top card, deal the second to
the table, etc.) until he holds only two cards. Invite him to peek at
either card and remember it. Once this has been done, have him lay
the chosen card on top of the tabled pile and slip the rejected card
to the bottom. Ask the spectator to pass the packet to someone else.
Have the second spectator repeat this procedure to select a second
card. When finished, she passes the packet to a third person, who
follows the same course.

88

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

The three selections made in this fashion will be three of the four
cards you have memorized. With the smallest bit of fishing you can
quickly discover which card each spectator is thinking of and reveal
it in an assured manner. If each of the four memorized cards is of a
different suit, as in the Si Stebbins arrangement mentioned above,
you can start by stating that someone is thinking of a club. When
one of the spectators admits to this, you can immediately name the
value. If no one thought of a club, recognize your error. "It is clearer
now. It isn't a club, but a spade." If none is thinking of a club, one
of the three has to have chosen the spade, and the other two the
heart and diamond. Using this system, you need never falter more
than once in your divination of the three cards.
Mr. Elmsley has also performed this trick with a packet of eleven
design cards, choosing for the four memorized designs ones that had
easy mnemonic links to the numbers one through four. (See p. 81
for suitable examples.) Efficient pumping sequences are easily
devised, using the inherent lines, curves and angles in the four
memorized designs.

ANIMAL, VEGETABLE AND


MINERAL
Effect: A pack of children's picture cards is displayed. On them
are simple representations of birds and beasts, plants and famous
structures. These objects, it is pointed out, can be classified as either
animal, vegetable or mineral.
"We are going to play a game of Twenty Questions," announces
the performer, "with variations. In Twenty Questions, one usually
tries to guess one object at a time. I shall attempt to guess three,
all at the same time. That is the first variation. The second variation makes things even more difficult for me: I shall not ask twenty
questions; instead I shall ask only one question for each of the three
objects. Let's try a game."
Three other players are recruited. We shall assume these players
to be Aleister, Leila and Raoul. The picture cards are mixed and
handed to Aleister. The performer then turns his back and keeps it
turned for the balance of the demonstration.
"Aleister, will you please turn the deck over so that everyone can
see the faces of the cards, and will you give the deck a cut. Now deal
the cards into three hands before Leila.
"Leila, please choose one of the three hands and sweep the others
aside. Now cut the cards you have kept and deal them into three
more hands before Raoul.
"Raoul, now it's your turn. Please pick up one of the hands before
you and discard the others. Do you have one? How many cards does
it contain? Three. All right. Please let Aleister choose one of your
cards, then Leila, and keep the last for yourself. Tell me when you
each have a card.
"We're now ready for our game of Twenty Questions. Aleister, is
your object animal, vegetable or mineral? Mineral? Fine. Leila, the
same question: animal, vegetable or mineral? Another mineral?
Good. And Raoul? Animal. Those are the three questions I'm allowed.

90

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Now I must try to guess the object each of you is thinking of. Please
form a vivid picture of your object in your mind.
"I'm getting an image of a noble face, but something is wrong with
the nose. Also, the face is human but the body is that of a beast
a lion. It is not a living creature. It is a massive stone sculpture. Is
one of you thinking of the sphinx at Memphis? That's you, Aleister,
is it? Good. Leila and Raoul, please continue concentrating on your
objects. I'll try Leila first, so Raoul, control your animal thoughts for
a moment.
"Leila, I see many buildings, tall ones, straight-sided and full of
windows. There is much traffic and noise below them and water
nearby; all around, in fact. It's an island with an astonishing number of skyscrapers. Is it New York City you're thinking of? Very good!
"Raoul, your animal now. It walks on land, four footed, or perhaps
I should say hoofed. Raoul, you're thinking of a pig, aren't you?
Thank you, all!"
Method: Underpinning this strong effect is an ingenious application of the Mutus-Nomen-Dedit-Cocis principle. The picture deck
contains twenty-seven cards, nine animals, nine vegetables and nine
minerals. Mr. Elmsley assembled his deck from three separate packs
sold for children's card games: one of animals, one of flowers and,
for minerals, famous landmarks of the world. (A specially printed
set of picture cards has been marketed for this trick, with subjects
selected to introduce added humor to the presentation. As I write,
these sets of cards, complete with instructions, are available from
the Supreme Magic Company in England.)
To teach the trick, I will list the objects in Mr. Elmsley's deck.
However, the twenty-seven objects given are not binding. Any objects
may be used that fall recognizably into the three categories. If
different game decks must be plundered to piece together the
required Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Deck, differing back patterns
need not be a concern, as the cards are handled face-up and, at any
rate, you have your back turned throughout the proceedings. Then,
you could forgo picture cards altogether, and simply write the names
of the objects on blank card stock.
The secret of this triple divination lies in an ingenious organization
of the cards. The objects in the pack consist of nine triplets. Columns
2, 3 and 4 in each row of the chart on the facing page contain one
of the triplets.
To set up the deck for performance, assemble the cards into nine
triplets as shown in the chart. The sequence of the cards in each
triplet is inconsequential. Gather the triplets in any order and deal
the twenty-seven cards into three piles, as if dealing three nine-card

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

91

LAMB

GOOSE

CHICKEN

COWSLIP

ORCHID

EIFFEL TOWER

STATUE OF LIBERTY

TOWER OF LONDON

AAV

DONKEY

GOAT

DAISY

AAM

Cow

DOG

TUT'S TOMB

WA

ROSE

CARNATION

DUCK

DAFFODIL

SUNFLOWER

PARTHENON

MMA

NEW YORK CITY

SPHINX

PIG

1 MMV

TAJ MAHAL

TOWER OF PISA

[ 1
AAA
VW
MMM

WM

VIOLET

WATER LILY

J
4r

hands. Then assemble the three piles in any order. This quick dealing process sets the cards in each triplet nine apart.
To begin the performance, bring out the picture deck and explain
its makeup. The nature of the setup is not jeopardized by straight
cuts. Therefore, after displaying the deck, you can give it a casual
series of cuts, overhand-shuffle style, or a Charlier false shuffle,
which looks haphazard but merely cuts the pack. Straddle faro
shuffles of either the in or out variety also maintain the setup, but
Mr. Elmsley recommends the shuffles first mentioned, as they are
more casual in appearance than faro weaves. Follow the false shuffle
with one or two straight cuts and hand the pack to the first spectator.
Turn your back and give the instructions detailed under effect;
i.e., have him turn the pack face-up, give it a cut and deal it into
three nine-card hands. (The setup, incidentally, operates successfully whether the cards are dealt face-up or face-down, from left to
right or right to left. This ensures that minor errors in dealing
procedure will not abort the effect.) Have the second spectator choose
one of these piles, give it a cut and deal it into three three-card
hands. Then have the third spectator pick up one of the fresh piles
and distribute it among the three of them.
Thanks to the setup, the three cards being held will constitute
one of your original triplets. All you require to identify it are the
categories of the three objects. Each of the triplets is unique in its
construction. One contains three animals, one three vegetables, one
two minerals and one animal, etc. The key to identifying each of the
triplets lies in Column 1 of the above chart. A = Animal, V = Vegetable
and M = Mineral. Therefore, if your spectators tell you they are
thinking of two animals and a vegetable, they must be holding the
donkey, the goat and the daisy, for this is the only triplet that

92

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

contains two animals and a vegetable. Naturally, the order in which


the objects are given to you will vary. For instance, VAA, AAV and
AVA all refer to the same triplet. It is the distribution of categories,
not the order, that is important.
To identify the proper group, you must either memorize the list of
nine triplets (not that hard a task), or you can refer to a crib sheet
bearing the chart. Since your back is turned to everyone, this is easily
done. A little pumping will quickly determine who has which object.
The classifications of animal, vegetable and mineral are particularly good choices, as they are familiar to everyone. However, Mr.
Elmsley's trick is easily adaptable to other subjects. For example,
one might construct an entertaining presentation with cards from
popular adult games such as Trivial Pursuit or Pictionary. Such
variations are rich in possibility.
Phil Goldstein recently published a variant method for "Animal,
Vegetable and Mineral" as clever in its own right as the original. This
appears as "Q&AVM" in Mr. Goldstein's booklet, Thequal (pp. 9-11).
The interested reader will want to study it.
July 1973

THE OCTAL PENCIL


Effect: A spectator is handed a special pencil that has a series
of six numbers printed on each of its eight sides (Figure 57, next
page). These numbers are all different and some are printed in red,
others in black. The spectator is told to choose any one of the sides
of the pencil he wishes and to call out only the colors of the numbers
there. However, as he does so, he is to lie about the color of one of
the six numbers. This number is his choice as well.
The performer turns away from him, making visual cues impossible, and listens to the spectator's recitation of colors. Then, though
no numbers have been mentioned, the performer correctly names
the number at the miscalled color. The feat can be repeated with
unvarying success.
Method: This astonishing effect is based on an ingenious mathematical arrangement that Mr. Elmsley calls a "liar's matrix".
Consider the following eight sequences:

O-O- I - I - I-O
I - O - I - I - I-O
O- I - O - O - I - O
I - I -O - I - O - I
O-O-I-O-O-I
I _ o - I -O - O -I
O- I - O - I - O - I
I . i - o - O - I-O
Examination will show that each of these sequences is unique.
More interesting still, if you transform any single element in any one
of the sequences from an I to an O or vice versa, that sequence
remains unique. Other such matrices can be constructed, but we
will work with the one above.
Next, octal notation must be explained. It is a simple idea. You
will probably have noticed that the sequences shown are built in the

94

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

16

46

12

52

14

54

I
20

Jl
25

45

61

64

10

41

ii

50

21

22

42

00

binary digits of Is and Os. With the age of personal computers fully
arrived, binary mathematics is recognized by a much larger population than it was a few years ago. Hence, the following binary
notation for the numbers 0 through 7 may already be familiar.

000
001

= 0
=1

OIO = 2
Oil = 3

IOO = 4
IOI = 5

IIO = 6
III = 7

If binary notation is new to you, the logical progression of these


eight binary numbers can be quickly understood, and they are easily

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

95

memorized. Now, let's analyze the first of the sequences in our liar's
matrix: O-O-I-I-I-O. These six digits, or "bits", can be split into two
binary numbers: the first three bits, O-O-I; and the last three bits,
I-I-O. O-O-I = 1 and I-I-O = 6. 1-6 = 16. 16 is the octal notation for
this sequence. Octal is nothing more than a simple shorthand for
bit patterns. Here are several more examples:
I-O-I-I-I-O = 56 in octal
O-I-O-O-I-O = 22 in octal
I-I-O-I-O-I = 65 in octal
It is important that you understand the octal system, as this trick
and the two subsequent ones rely on it.
Now to the trick itself. The eight series of numbers the spectator
finds on the pencil handed him are shown in Figure 57.
The outline numbers in italic are printed in red and the solid
numbers in black.
An eight-sided pencil or pen is required to hold all these numbers.
In the States, at least, six-sided pencils are more common, and the
trick can be done with six sequences of numbers, rather than eight.
The reason for placing the numbers on a pencil, aside from novelty,
is that there is an observable pattern in the formation of the numbers
in these sequences. Within each row, the second digit of the first
three numbers is the same; as is the first digit of the last three
numbers. It is unlikely that these regularities would be perceived
unless the spectator were given enough time to examine the
sequences closely. However, by wrapping the sequences around a
pencil, this element of the matrix is made more difficult to discover.
If the preparation of such a pencil is not appealing to you, the eight
number sequences can instead be written one on each side of four
blank cards.
Hand the pencil or cards to someone and ask him to decide on
one of the eight series of numbers, letting no one else know which
it is. He is then to choose one of the six numbers in that series. Turn
your back as he does this and have him recite just the colors of his
chosen numbers, reading from left to right. But as he does this, he
is to lie about the color of his chosen number. "If it is red, say it is
black; if black, say it is red. Don't, however, get carried away and
tell me the number is green or purple. Since everyone knows the
numbers are all either red or black, it would take no special powers
to recognize your lie. Try to make your lie as difficult to detect as
possible." This precaution against a predictable jest is necessary,
as such a fledgling attempt at humor by the spectator can only
diminish the desired effect.

96

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Astonishingly, it is the spectator's lie that identifies the chosen


number for you. As an example, assume he calls out, "Black, red,
red, black, black, red."
Your reply: "Ah, the subtle overtones in your voice tell my trained
ear that you were lying about the number forty-six." How do you
know? Think of black as I and red as O in binary. The sequence
BLACK-RED-RED-BLACK-BLACK-RED just called out translates into
I-O-O-I-I-O. If this is converted to octal, it becomes 46, the very
number he lied about. I-O-O = 4 and I-I-O = 6. Here are several more
examples:
BLACK-RED-BLACK-RED-RED-BLACK = 51
RED-RED-RED-BLACK-RED-BLACK = 5
BLACK-BLACK-BLACK-RED-BLACK-RED = 72
By recording the sequence on your fingers as it is called out, your
mental work will be made easier. Simply use the first three fingers
of the left hand for the first three colors, and the corresponding
fingers of the right hand for the second three colors. Bend the finger
into the palm to signify red, and leave it extended for black. Since
your back is turned, this ticking off of the colors won't be observed.
Concerning the liar's matrix employed in this trick, Mr. Elmsley
comments:
"I consider myself to be a very good programer of the second class.
I keep inventing wonderful techniques, and then discover that someone else has already invented them (but I'm catching up with him).
"Not long after inventing the liar's matrix I discovered that a man
named Hamming had been there first, a long time before. Hamming
codes are widely used in the main stores of computer mainframes
as a sophisticated security mechanism. If a store failure causes a
single-bit error, it cannot only be detected, but corrected in flight
because the erroneous bit can be identified.
"I worked out the liar's matrix by trial and error. Later I read an
article on Hamming codes that gave the mathematical analysis and
a general method for their construction.
"All the same, I invented the liar's matrix all by myself!"
With the method of the "Octal Pencil" understood, a step can be taken
to divorce the presentation from numbers, completely obscuring the
mathematical basis of the method. This is done in the next trick.
1980

VERBUM VERITAS
Effect: The performer hands someone a card bearing forty-eight
words. The words are arranged in eight rows of six words each, with
some words in black ink, others in red. It is explained that these
are words selected by a team of psychologists. The sound, arrangement and colors of the words are designed to produce a reaction in
the subject that makes it impossible for him or her to lie convincingly. However, only a specially trained ear can detect the dishonesty
in the subject's voice.
The spectator is invited to pit her ability as a good liar against
the performer's expertise. She chooses any word on the card she
likes, letting no one else know her choice. She then recites aloud only
the colors of the words in the row occupied by her word. When she
does this, she is told to lie as convincingly as possible about the color
of her word. The performer listens to her reading of the six colors.
He then smiles, shakes his head and, without a question, correctly
names the chosen word.
Method: As promised, this is an extension of the trick "Octal
Pencil". The card the spectator is given looks like this:

Fop Mop Soup Lion Lyre Lad


Lobby Tap Rope Fan Fair Fate
Pan Sun Moon Nap Nose Gnome
Knife Roof Taffy Pail Pet Pear
File Mill Sail Loaf Lamb Lass
Lily Tale Rail Fife Fame Face
Puff Safe Muff Nail Net Norway
Nun Rain Tin Pop Peas Poem
Those words in italic are printed in red, the others in black.
Though it may not be recognizable, this matrix of words corresponds
precisely with the number matrix used in the previous trick. The

98

THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

numbers have simply been converted into words. This has been
accomplished through a common mnemonic system. Since the
Nikola card system is widely known to magicians, it has been
adapted to our purposes. Those familiar with the Nikola system will
recognize that many of the words on the card represent numbers in
the Nikola list.
Each digit is transformed to a consonant that has been chosen
for easy association with the number it represents:
1=1 (one vertical line)
2 = n (two vertical lines)
3 = m (three vertical lines)
4 = r (last letter in four)
5 = f or v (both contained in five)
6 = p or b (related in shape)
7 = t or d (with a stretch of imagination, also related in shape)
8 = sh or ch (link eight with aitch, for sound association)
9 = k or g (again, a strained but helpful similarity in shape)
0 = s or z (think of the initial sound of zero)
Once this associational numeric alphabet is memorized, vowels
are added to the proper consonants to form words. These words then
stand for the numbers represented by their consonants. For
example, 12 = an 1 and an n. Adding vowels to these consonants,
we form the word lion to signify the number 12. Conversely, moon
stands for the number 32: m = 3 and n = 2. The full list of associated
words can be found in Nikola's booklet and in Hugard's Encyclopedia
of Card Tricks (pp. 387-388).
The Nikola list, however, covers only the numbers 1 through 52.
The list must be expanded to include seventeen numbers in our liar's
matrix that lie above 52. These words are:

53
54
55
56
57
60

FaMe
FaiR
FiFe
FoP
FaTe
PeaS

61
62
63
64
65
66

PaiL
PaN
PoeM
PeaR
PuFf
PoP

67
71
72
75
76

PeT
TaLe
TiN

TaFfy
TaP

Four modifications must also be made to the words established


by Nikola for the numbers 1, 2, 5 and 6. Our octal notation needs
two-digit numbers. To satisfy this requisite, a 0 must be added before
these four single-digit numbers, and the associated words must be
changed to reflect this. Therefore...

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS

99

01 = SaiL 05 = SaFe
02 = SuN 06 = SouP
With this information, you can now go back to the word list and
translate these words into two-digit numbers. If all the words are
translated into their proper numbers, the array is identical to the
liar's matrix used in "Octal Pencil" (see Figure 57, p. 94).
When a spectator chooses a word from the card and reads the
color sequence (from left to right) in that row, lying about the color
of her word, all you need do is convert the sequence into its octal
number. That number in turn gives you the thought-of word.
If you make up six or more cards, all containing the word matrix,
but with the eight rows scrambled, the cards will appear different
on casual examination. You can then distribute the cards throughout
the room and have spectators take turns in calling out colors. Once
you are familiar enough with the mnemonic system, you can work
at a pace that will make this test truly impressive.
Since its publication, "Verbum Veritas" has inspired at least one
clever variation. In "Octaliar" (ref. Magigram, Vol. 14, No. 12, pp.
758-759), Phil Goldstein has constructed a liar's matrix of men's and
women's first names.
1980

PACK OF LIES
Effect: A board of miniature playing cards is displayed. The cards
are arranged in eight rows, six to a row. Someone is handed the
board and asked to think of any card he sees. His choice can be
made from almost an entire deck, as only the aces are missing. These
have been eliminated, as they are obvious choices that people too
often favor.
When the person has mentally selected a card, he calls out only
the colors of the six cards in the row where his card residesand
he lies about the color of his card to throw the performer even further
off the track. Nonetheless, the performer somehow detects him in
his lie and names the card thought of. The test can be repeated with
analogous results.
Method: Here the liar's matrix, as explained in "Octal Pencil", is
adapted to playing cards. First a mnemonic procedure will be
explained; one related to that discussed in "Verbum Veritas". Then
two nonmemory approaches will be taught.
The display board of cards is made of black posterboard, on which
are mounted forty-eight cards. To keep the size of the board
manageable, miniature cards are used, or normal cards cut in half
along their width. The cards are arranged in eight rows as in the
chart below:

(KD 4H
JC 10H
8H 2S
8S JS
JD 2D
QS QH
10D 5S

I 98

KS

6S
9C
5H
8D
KC
4C
9D
7H

7C
3C
6D
2C
3H
7D
8C
6H

5C
3C
6C
5D
4D
3D
9H
IOC

KH )
JH
2H
10S
QC
7S
4S

go)

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS 101


For durability, cover the cards with either a sheet of clear plastic
or a clear film laminate. If you plan to perform this on platform or
stage, use a mat-finish plastic to avoid glare.

Mnemonic Method
Again we rely heavily on the Nikola card system. The reader is
free to exchange the positions of any red cards on the board for any
other red cards. The same holds for the black cards. Only the redblack sequences must be maintained. The arrangement shown above
is one Mr. Elmsley derived for his own use, in which he placed the
cards to provide the best mnemonic links. However, each reader may
discover other pairings better suited for him; you are therefore
encouraged to experiment.
The Nikola word system for cards uses the same numberconsonant alphabet for the values two through ten. (It will be recalled
that the aces have been eliminated from the board.) The suits are
designated by the first letter of the link word (C, H, S or D). For
example, 2 = n and spade = S. Therefore, the two of spades is
represented by the word SuN. Conversely, the first letter in the word
CaP indicates a club and the P translates to 6the six of clubs. In
three cases the same link word is used for an octal number and a
card: 02 and 2S both = Sun; 05 and 5S = Safe; and 06 and 6S =
Soup. Mr. Elmsley has avoided any confusion with these three
duplications by pairing the matching numbers and cards together,
as will be seen shortly.
As for the jacks, queens and kings, they are given occupations
linked to their sex and suits: clubs connotes a private club; hearts,
romance; spades, garden work; and diamonds, jewelry.
Here is the complete list of octal numbers, cards and the
mnemonic link words that pair the two.

No.
01
02
05
06
10
11
12
13
14

No. Link:Card Link


Sail: Clubman
Sun:Sun
SaferSafe
Soup:Soup
Lass: Wai tress
Lily:Gardengirl
Lion:Cat
Lamb: Dear
Lyre:Cough

Card
KC
2S
5S
6S
QC
9S
7C
4D
5C

102 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


No.
15
16
17

20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
31
32
35
36
41
42
45
46
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
60
61
62
63
64
65
66

No. Link:Card Link


Loaf: Ham
Lobby:Porter
Lad:Bridegroom
Nose: Cap
Nail: Cash
Nun:Sack
Gnome:Hun
Norway: Sire
Knife:Sash
Nap:Dope
Net:Hog
Mill:Din
Moon:Half
Muff: Dog
Mop: Hair
Rail: Car
Rain: Gardener
Roof: Garden Boy
Rope:Cog
Fuzz: Suit
File:Burglar
Fan: Comb
Fame: Dome
Fair: Sum
Fife:Dot
Fop: Jeweler
Fate:Cupid
Peas: Kiss
Pail:Can
Pan: Hash
Poem:Fashion Model
Pear:Sissy
Puff: Dose
Pop: Hop

Card
3H
JC
KH
6C
8C
9S
2H
4S
8S
6D
9H
2D
5H
9D
4H
4C
KS
JS
9C
7S
JD
3C
3D
3S
7D
KD
JH
IOC
2C
8H
QD
10S
10D
6H

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS 1 0 3

No.
67
71
72
75
76

No. Link:Card Link


Pet: Dove
Tale:Bride
Tin:Hat
Taffy:Dish
Tap:Hiss

Card
5D

9H

7H
8D
10H

Here are a few aids for linking some of the less obvious word pairs.
01SaihClubman: picture the king at a yacht club.
14Lyre:Cough: picture the entire audience having a coughing
fit at a lyre recital.
21NaihCash: recalls the old phrase, "Cash on the nail."
22Nun:Sack: remember the sackcloth of religious penitence;
but perhaps the picture of a nun in a sack is more appealing.
45Roof:Garden Boy: picture the boy climbing the roof of a shed
to pick apples.
53Fame:Dome: think of the Hall of Fame.
55Fife:Dot: the dots are notes in the fife music.
65Puff:Dose: think of asthma medicine.
We now have all the pieces in the chain of reasoning. When the
spectator reads you the list of six colors, and lies about the color of
his chosen card, you are given a binary sequence which you immediately convert to an octal number. This number recalls a mental
picture founded on the link words for that number and the associated card. Viola! It sounds laborious, but if you master the mnemonic
lists and associations, which are designed for quick memorization,
the method is quite practicable. However, for those souls intimidated
by mnemonic systems, here are two nonmemorious approaches.

Marked Deck Method


In this method, a special deck of
cards is used in addition to the display
board. Each of the cards in the deck
excepting the acesare marked with
the corresponding binary code in red
and black ink. The deck, therefore, becomes a cueing device that eliminates
the need for mnemonics or conversions
to octal notation. With red and black
permanent marking pens, mark the face
of each card with six short strokes at
one long edge, as in Figure 58. The six

104 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


lines represent the color sequence that will be called out for that
card. Thus, once you hear the spectator's sequence, all you need do
is locate the card that bears it and remove it from the deck. This will
be the mentally chosen card. To expedite this location, stack the deck
in the same order given in the mnemonic list above.
Since the marks are small and lie only along one side, they can
be easily hidden by the fingertips when the card is held face outward for display. If you arrange all marks at the same edge of the
deck, then set the unprepared aces on the face of the pack, it can
be fanned from the unmarked edge and the face of the fan shown
to the audience. All marks are hidden. Yet, when the deck is fanned
from the opposite edge, the marks are exposed to you. Gaze at the
spectator after he has recited the six colors. Then say, "Yes, I think
I've got it." Spread the cards, faces toward you, and remove the one
bearing the same color sequence called. Display the face of the card
and conclude.
Some readers may wish to explore the possibility of marking the
backs, rather than the faces of the cards, using a less obvious marking system. Doing so would allow you to remove the card from the
pack without looking at the faces, providing a small touch of added
mystery to the effect; and you could then use the same deck for
subsequent tricks. If this thought appeals to you, consult Edward
Mario's binary marked deck, explained under the title "For the Color
Blind" (ref. Kabbala, Vol. 1, No. 6, Feb. 1972, p. 49).

Unmarked Deck Method


In this nonmnemonic method, we dispense with the display board
of cards and instead use a real deck. Stack the deck from top to face
in the order given in the chart on page 100. Then distribute the aces
throughout it.
When ready to perform, bring out the deck and remove the aces,
explaining that they are too distracting, or that they tend to be too
predictable as choices. Discard them. Give the deck a false shuffle,
if you like, retaining its full order. Then casually push off groups of
six cards each, and form eight face-down piles on the table.
Turn away. Then have someone pick up any one of the piles she
wishes and fan it faces toward her, as she would in a game of cards.
Ask that she mentally choose any card in that pile, then call off the
colors of the cards, from left to right, while lying about the color of
her selection. When you hear the color sequence, you locate the
corresponding card on a cue list. Where have you obtained a cue
list? It is pasted to the backs of the four aces, which you have
nonchalantly picked up as you turned your back. Each ace bears
twelve red-black bar codes and the initials of each card coded.

HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND FUTURE DEEDS 105


It is obvious perhaps, but worth noting, that if the spectator does
not alter the sequence of the cards in her selection pile, the eight
piles can be gathered in any order, and the deck is thus reset for
another performance.

Lewry's Platform Presentation


Colin Lewry, a friend of Mr. Elmsley's, developed an excellent
platform presentation for "Pack of Lies", using a large blackboard
and an eight page "scrapbook" to present the cards for selection. Six
cards are mounted in a numbered row on each page. The pages are
also numbered (Figure 59). Each of these six-card rows corresponds,
of course, to a row on the chart given above. It is probably wise to
mount cards only on the
front side of each page.
This allows only one row
of six cards to be viewed
at a time, minimizing the
QSIIC
'
possibility for misunderstanding or error on the
participating spectator's
part during the course of
the trick.

Mr. Lewry's presentation is exceptionally powerful. He asks someone to select any card in the scrapbook. The spectator is then asked
the following questions:
1) On what page is his card located? He is told to lie about this.
2) What position does his card occupy in its row? He is to lie about
this as well.
3) What are the colors of the cards in this row, reading from left
to right? He lies about the color of his card.
4) What is the name of his card? He lies yet again.
Each of his prevaricating answers is written boldly on the blackboard. Mr. Lewry now moves swiftly to a multiple climax:
'You claimed you were thinking of a card on page four; but you were
tying. Your card is on page six. Am I right?" As this is confirmed, he
dramatically crosses out the 4 on the blackboard and writes 6 beside
it. This physical revision is done with each correction as it is made.
"You said your card was fifth in its row; but you lied. It was third.
Right? You said the colors of the row were black, red, red, red, red,
black. You lied. They were black, red, black, red, red, black. Is that
right? Finally you said you were thinking of the jack of diamonds;

106 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


but you lied once more. You are thinking of the four of clubs. Is that
indeed the card in your mind? Yes! Thank you!"
A cue sheet lies hidden in the chalk tray or on the back of the
blackboard. It lists each of the forty-eight possible color sequences,
along with the pertinent page number, position in the row and identity of the chosen card. Mr. Lewry has organized his cue sheet in the
manner of a chessboard. There are eight rows and eight columns.
He converts the spectator's color sequence into octalwhich, by the
way, is effortless with the sequence written on the blackboardand
uses the two digits to locate the proper cell in the cue chart. The first
digit designates the column, the second digit the row (Figure 60).
This takes nearly all the mental work out of the trick, and provides
a cumulative effect that is genuinely stunning.

Terri Rogers has recently devised a presentation for "Pack of Lies"


in which a book of criminal's faces is used. This marketed trick, titled
"Mug Shots", further illustrates how the underlying principle of the
liar's matrix can be entertainingly adapted to items other than
playing cards.
1980

Chapter Three.

Exotica

STILL TAKING THREE


Effect: Three spectators each freely choose a card. Of these three
cards, one is designated, again by a spectator. The other two cards
are turned face-up and the selection is sandwiched face-down
between them. The spectator whose card this is hands half the deck
to the performer and covers the other half with his hand.
The performer buries the three-card sandwich in the center of his
half. He then makes a magical gesture over the packet and spreads
it. The selection has vanished from between the surrounding faceup cards. When the spectator spreads his half deck, the card is found
to have flown there: it rests face-up in the center.
This translocation of a chosen card is based on a Charles T. Jordan plot, "Satan's Prophecy" (ref. Ten New Impromptu Card Tricks,
1920, pp. 2-4; also see "Improved Satan's Prophecy" in Jordan's Four
Full Hands of Card Tricks, 1947, pp. 8-10, and "The Vanishing Pair",
ibid. p. 10). Peter Warlock unwittingly duplicated this Jordan plot
when he created "Three's My Lucky Number" (ref. Plans for Deception, pp. 63-66, 1942). The trick was republished thirteen years later
in a fuller form under the title "Take Three" in Pentagram (Vol. 9,
No. 10, July 1955, pp. 74 and 79). It was there that Mr. Elmsley
discovered it, along with subsequent methods by Francis Haxton and
Stanley Jaks (Vol. 10, No. 2, Nov. 1955, pp. 12-14). The following
year he contributed to that journal two fresh treatments, each with
points to commend it.

First Method
Secretly manage any pair of mates to the top of the pack. In
this explanation, the pair will be the black sixes, club over spade.
However, in performance, the suit order is inconsequential.
Execute a slip cut, taking the six of clubs to the center of the deck,
and catch a left fourth-finger break beneath it. You are now ready
to begin the presentation.
Approach someone and ask him to touch a card in the top portion of the pack. Spread the cards face-down, from hand to hand,

110 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


so that he may do so. Outjog the touched card for half its length and
ask a second person to touch a card in the middle of the pack. Continue spreading the cards for his choice, and force the six of clubs
on him. Outjog it and ask a third person to touch a card as you
spread through the bottom portion. Outjog this third card and close
the spread into the left hand.
With your right hand, strip the three selections together from
the pack and lay them, face-down, on top. As you square them
onto the deck, form a left fourth-finger break under the top two
cards of the triplet.
"Three cards have been chosen from the pack." In accordance
with your words, count off the cards, reversing their order. However, do a block push-off as the first card is dealt, actually taking
a double. (That is, place the left thumb on the outer left edge of
the pack and, with light pressure, push over the two cards above
the break as one card.) Take the next card onto this, and the next
(the six of spades) on top of all. As you make a small gesture with
the right hand's packet, push the top card of the deck over slightly
and form a fourth-finger break beneath it. Then flip the right-hand
cards face-up onto the deck.
Bring the right hand, palm-down, over the pack and quickly
square the cards. Immediately lift off the five cards that lie above
the break, taking them by their opposite ends, and simultaneously
draw the uppermost card, the six of clubs, back onto the pack.
Name the six and draw the next card of the packet onto it. Name
this card and lay the remaining three cards as one onto that, catching a fourth-finger break below them. Name the third cardthat on
the face of the blockand turn to the first spectator.
Ask him if he will remember the card now showing on the pack.
Do a block push-off of the triple card and take it into the palm-up
right hand, framing it with the fingers to assure its alignment. Also
tip the front end downward, bringing the face of the card fully into
view while hiding the thickness.
As you do this, turn to the second spectator and ask that he
remember the card now on top of the pack. Push this card over and
take it onto the right hand's triplet. Then turn to the third spectator
and have him remember the six of clubs. Observe here how attention
is constantly drawn to the card on the deck and away from the cards
in the right hand, further protecting the triple card from notice.
Slip the right hand's cards back onto the deck, over the six of
clubs, and square them. Then lift the upper three cards away, using
the natural bridge of the face-down card fourth from the top as an
aid. This series of actions has efficiently stolen the six of clubs from

EXOTICA

11 1

the packet of displayed cards (it now lies hidden, face-up, under the
top card of the deck), and has substituted for the six of clubs the
six of spades (which is now the lowermost card of the packet).
Lay the face-up packet onto the table and let it spread slightly,
lengthwise. You wish the value of the six of spades, or a portion of
it, to show, but the spade pips must be concealed. The audience
assumes this card to be the six of clubs.
Execute a pass to bring the upper quarter of the deck to the bottom; or openly cut or overhand shuffle it to that position. Then set
the pack face-down on the table.
Gather the three cards, turn them face-down and give them a brief
mix. However, keep track of the six of spades as you do this. Then
lay the cards face-down onto the table, arranging them in a row with
the six of spades in the center.
You will now have a spectator elect one card among the three,
which will be caused to travel; but through a system of equivoque
the six will be forced:
Ask someone to point to one of the three cards. Chances are better
than three to one that she will indicate the center card, the six. If
this occurs, turn the other two cards face-up and sandwich the
center card face-down between them. As you do this, say, "The
chosen card goes reversed in the middle."
However, if she points to one of the end cards instead, pick it
up, turning it face-up, and ask her to point to another. If she
indicates the other end card, turn it up and sandwich the center
card face-down between the two, saying, "The last card goes
reversed in the middle."
If she should select the center card as her second choice, pick it
up and lay it face-down onto the face-up card in your hand. Point
to the card that remains on the table and say, "And this is the last
card, so it goes on top." Turn it face-up and lay it onto the others. "I
.^^^^^^^^..^^^^^^^^^^
have assembled the cards in the
order you prescribed. I want you to
watch the card you chose to rest in
the middle."
Narrowly spread the three cards
lengthwise, so that only the numeral but not the pips of the six will be
exposed. Then briefly display the
underside of the spread, letting the
partial face of the six be seen (Figure 61). You can quickly learn to

11 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


judge how far the cards can be safely spread by using the index of
the lower, face-up card as a gauge.
Turn to the third spectator, as you flash the face of the center
card, and say, "The six of clubs was your card, wasn't it?" When he
confirms this, ask him to cut off about half the cards from the tabled
deck and hand them to you. Take these and have him cover the
remaining half with his hand. This half contains the face-up six of
clubs near its center.
Drop the three-card spread onto your half deck, with the sandwiching cards once more face-up. Square the cards and give the
packet a fair cut, taking the sandwich to the middle. Spread the
cards to display the sandwich once more, and as you close the
spread, catch a left fourth-finger break under the six of spades.
Then, with a squaring action, side steal the six and replace it on
either the top or the bottom of the packet. (Alternatively, one could
execute a one-card middle pass to dispose of the card. See Farelli's
Card Magic, Part Two, p. 33, or The Card Classics of Ken Krenzel,
pp. 212-213, for descriptions of this sleight.)
Command the six to jump from your packet to the spectator's.
Respread your half, showing that the face-down six has vanished
from between the two face-up cards. Then conclude the effect by
having the spectator spread his half pack to discover the six of clubs
reversed in the middle.
Mr. Elmsley notes that one could replace the mates used for the
substitution with pseudo-duplicates like the seven and eight of
clubs. This is an old dodge, with which the reader is undoubtedly
familiar. If such cards are used, rather than forming narrow spreads
to display the center card of the packet, you can withdraw the card
for nearly half its length and display its face while holding it by the
outer right corner, thus covering the exposed index with the right
forefinger (Figure 62).

EXOTICA 1 1 3

Second Method
The first method displays in its approach an interesting facet: a
card (in our example above, the six of clubs) is forced even though
it is not present in the three-card packet at the time of the force, hi
the method to follow, this element is broadened. Here, the force is
eliminated and a freer choice from the packet is allowed. Yet the card
chosen, despite appearances, again is absent from the packet.
The effect remains the same, with one minor change: the three
cards are not selected; instead the jack, queen and king of any suit
are used. Let's assume you have chosen the royal spades. Prepare
for the trick by culling the queen and king of clubs (color mates to
the suit you will openly use) to the bottom of the pack, with the queen
on the face.
Now openly run through the deck, faces toward you, and remove
the jack, queen and king of spades, shuttling them to the face as
you find them. Once all three have been located, arrange them on
the face of the pack in king-queen-jack order, so that, from the face,
the cards read king of spades, queen of spades, jack of spades,
queen of clubs, king of clubs, and the balance of the deck. While
setting the cards in this order, form a left fourth-finger break under
the king of clubs.
Lower the pack, letting the audience see its face, and with the right
hand lift off the five cards above the break. Hold the packet by its
ends, the right fingers concealing the thickness from the audience.
You will now execute a variation of the switching sequence used
in the first handling, exchanging the king and queen of spades for
their club counterparts:
While the right hand holds thefive-cardpacket, use the left thumb
to flip the deck face-down in the left hand. As the deck settles once
more into dealing grip, form a fourth-finger break under the top card.
Bring the face-up packet over the deck, ostensibly to square it
further. In doing so, secretly pick up the top card of the deck facedown under the packet. Then, with the left thumb, cleanly draw the
king of spades face-up onto the deck. "We will use three cards: the
king of spades..." Pull off the queen of spades onto the king. ".. .the
queen of spades..." Lay the right hand's four-card block as one card
square onto the deck. ",.. and the jack of spades." Pick off the top
three cards, using the natural bridge of the face-down fourth card
as an aid, and table the packet, casually spreading it to reveal just
the K and Q of the king and queen (Figure 63).

114 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


The real king and queen of
spades now lie face-up under
the top card of the deck. Form
a break under them and double
cut the top three cards to the
bottom of the pack. In a continuous action, begin a third
cut, but let the top half, held by
its ends in the palm-down right
hand, rest momentarily on the
bottom half, jogged to the right.
With the left fingertips, secretly
push the bottom card of the
pack, the king, rightward until
it is aligned with the top half
(Figure 64). Then separate the
halves, carrying away the king
under the upper section.
(This is the slip cutting
method Mr. Elmsley suggested
when he originally published this trick. Since that time, more refined
methods for executing a bottom slip cut have been devised; e.g.,
Lorayne's HaLo cut [ref. Rim Shots, pp. 132-132]. Obviously, any of
these may be substituted for the above method.)
Set the two sections
side by side on the table
and ask someone to
name one of the three
cards. Since the jack of
spades is openly resting
on the face of the packet,
people's natural inclination is to avoid it and
choose either the king or
the queen. On the unlikely chance the jack is
named, you must resort
to equivoque: "And will you name another? The cards you name are
going to act as guardians for the third card, which I shall reverse
between them."
When either the king or queen has been singled out, through
straight choice or subtle coercion, reach forward to the half deck that
bears that card face-up on its bottom and cut the pile in the

EXOTICA 1 1 5
spectator's direction. Complete the cut, centering the reversed card,
and have him place his hand over that half.
Pick up the three-card packet and turn it face-down. Remove the
king or the queen, whichever has been called for, and turn the other
two cards face-up again. Spread the back card slightly, keeping its
suit concealed, and slip the third card face-down between the two.
Form a narrow lengthwise spread with the sandwich, continuing to
hide the club pips, and expose the underside of the spread, letting
the K or Q of the center card be seen. Return the spread to its former
position (face-up jack uppermost), square it and drop it onto the
remaining half deck.
Cut the half, burying the sandwich; then review the freedom of
the selection of card and its location in the packet. Make some gesture to indicate the magical passage of the chosen card from your
packet to the spectator's. Pick up your half and spread through it
until you arrive at the first face-up card. Push this over and show
the face-up jack of spades beneath. The face-down card between
them has vanished. (There is a discrepancy here, in that the jack
should be the uppermost card of the face-up pair. However, time
misdirection obscures this trifle from notice.) Spread over the jack
and clearly show the absence of the chosen card. Take care, though,
to keep the face-down card below the jack square with the packet,
or the face-up club card will be revealed.
Have the spectator spread his guarded half to find the selection
face-up in its center. As attention is drawn to him, you can easily
right the reversed club card in your packet unobserved.
While any three cards of a suit can be used for this handling, Mr.
Elmsley has chosen the king, queen and jack because he believes
court cards obscure the discrepant transposition of the surrounding
sandwich cards more successfully than spot cards.

Third Method
The two methods just given are those that Mr. Elmsley chose to
publish in 1956. However, he recorded a variation of the second
method in his notes of that period, a variation that avoids the open
cutting of the chosen packet just before the spectator covers it with
his hand. To my mind, the elimination of this cut is desirable, as
there is no outward motivation for the cut, making it somewhat
suspicious. Mr. Elmsley's solution to the problem is typically clever.
First, the face-down deck must carry a convex bridge along its
width. This bridge, in fact, is useful in the previous methods as well
as this one, but here it is even more helpful.

116 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Following the procedure of the second method, the handling
remains unchanged to the point where the deck is about to be
divided in half. The face-up king and queen of spades rest at the
bottom of the pack, and the king is sidejogged in preparation for a
bottom slip cut. Make the cut, but instead of setting down the halves,
complete the cut by placing the top half under the bottom half. This
positions the face-up queen near center while the face-up king is
retained on the bottom. Immediately follow this cut with another,
shuttling the bottom quarter of the pack to the top. This brings the
reversed king to the center of the upper half, and the queen to a
similar position in the lower half.
Table the deck and cut it in half, placing the halves side by side.
You must remember which contains the king and which the queen.
Ask the spectator to choose either half and cover it with his hand.
Since the reversed card in each half is already centered, no further
cut is necessary.
Pick up the jack, queen and king from the table and form the
sandwich exactly as explained in the second method. Then casually lift the top portion of the uncovered half deck, grasping the cards
by their ends and cutting directly below the reversed court card. The
crimp in this card makes the cut an easy task, delivering the court
card to the bottom of the upper packet. Drop the sandwich cards
onto the lower portion of the packet and bury them with the upper
portion. The effect can now be concluded as taught.
Those familiar with Edward Mario's ATFUS handling will readily
understand how its refinements can be applied to the Elmsley
switches in the above methods. Having mentioned ATFUS, some
clarification would seem necessary concerning the history of that
switch and those of Mr. Elmsley's invention.
Students of sleight-of-hand will have noticed that the face-up
switches used in these handlings are obvious forebears of ATFUS;
and therein lies a story of interest only to that group of us who take
pleasure in combing (and often splitting) the hairs on the woolly
beast of magical history. In The OlramFile (Vol. 1, No. 4, April 1991)
there appears a sequence for "The Magic Seven" trick, in which the
underlying principle used in the Elmsley and Mario switches is
employed to steal a face-up card from one packet and to load that
card at a desired position in another packet. Jon Racherbaumer
writes that Mr. Mario worked out this sequence in 1953, but discarded it for reasons of routining when in 1954 he released The
Magic Seven. The sequence went unpublished.
On October 15th, 1956, Mr. Mario recorded in his private notes
a procedure quite similar to the Elmsley switches, offering several

EXOTICA 1 1 7
small but trenchant refinements. This was roughly a month after
"Still Taking Three" appeared in print. He eventually published this
handling, more than eight years later, in the February 1964 issue
of The New Tops (Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 17-18). The following April he
published ATFUS from notes of the same vintage [The New Tops, Vol.
4, No. 4, pp. 33-34). ATFUS was a more flexible variant of the faceup switch sequence. Three months after that Mr. Mario extended the
concept still further by publishing the FUFU switch in the July
number of The New Tops (Vol. 4, No. 7, pp. 4-5). Throughout this
excellent series, no acknowledgment appeared of Mr. Elmsley's previous published work, and this has led recently to some unfortunate
controversy over credits in a few sunless corners of Cardopia. Mr.
Elmsley, it should be noted, was unaware of this obscure dispute
and would never dream of participating in it. This summary of the
matter is mine alone, and is given in the hope of putting the subject
peacefully to rest.
September 1956

POINT OF DEPARTURE
Effect: A card is chosen and sandwiched between the two black
aces, all with the utmost fairness. The three cards are then given to
the person who made the selection.
Despite his certain possession of the cards, his selection vanishes from between the acesand is produced from the
performer's pocket.
This is one of Mr. Elmsley's most appreciated effects. Since its
publication in 1953 it has been widely performed and numerous
variations have been evolved.
Method: Though the effect just described was devised several
years before Mr. Elmsley discovered Warlock's "Take Three" and
began experimenting with it, there is, by sheer coincidence, a close
relationship between the two plots. The cunning use of a doublefaced card contributes importantly to this mystery. It permits an
appearance of extreme fairness in the way the cards are handled.
For this explanation, assume that an ace of clubs and a nine of diamonds are represented on the two sides of the double-faced card.
Before the trick is begun, secretly manage the genuine ace of clubs
to the top of the deck, and the genuine nine of diamonds to the
bottom. In doing this, also make sure that the card second from the
top (under the ace of clubs) is not the ace of spades. The doublefaced card can be anywhere in the middle, nine-side at the back,
but should be either side of center, so that it is not accidentally
exposed when the deck is cut in half early in the trick.
If you deem it expedient, you may begin by false shuffling the
deck, retaining the top and bottom cards, and concealing the doublefaced card. After the shuffle, take the deck face-down into the left
hand and give it a cut near center. Complete the cut, but hold a left
fourth-finger break between the halves.
Now perform a riffle force. That is, ask someone on your left to
call stop anytime, as you riffle through the deck. With the left thumb,
riffle down the outer left corner of the pack, directing its outer end

EXOTICA 1 1 9
toward the spectator's eyes to prevent an accidental flash of the
double-faced card. Stop as he instructs you, lower the deck to a
horizontal position and bring your right hand palm-down over it.
Apparently lift the block of cards released by the thumb from the
deck, but in reality let the thumb's break silently close and simultaneously cut away all the cards above the fourth finger's break.
Transfer the upper section to the bottom, apparently bringing to
the top the card randomly stopped at by the spectator. This card is
of course the ace of clubs.
Explain that you will make use of this random card. However, due
to the nature of the experiment, the identity of the card should be
known to everyone, including yourself. As this is said, use the time
and misdirection gained to prepare for a double turnover. That is,
obtain a left fourth-finger break under the top two cards.
Flip the double card face-up on the pack and display it to everyone, asking that they remember it. Then turn it face-down again and
deal the top card (the ace of clubs) face-down onto the table.
Turn the deck face-up and run quickly through it, as you explain
that you will also require the two black aces. If you come to the ace
of spades first, move it to the face of the pack and continue spreading the cards until you reach the ace of clubs (double-facer). Shift
it also to the face, and onto the ace of spades. On the other hand, if
the ace of clubs appears first in the spread, outjog it. Do the same
with the ace of spades when you come to it. Then strip the two aces
from the pack, taking the spade under the club. In either case, let
the two black aces be seen by everyone; then flip them face-down
onto the face of the pack and carefully square them.
With the right hand, lift off just the ace of spades, but do so with
the care one would use if taking two perfectly squared cards. The
presence of the seemingly unchanged nine of diamonds on the face
of the pack quietly testifies to the removal of both aces.
Lay the pack face-down to one side on the table and transfer
the right hand's card to the palm-up left hand, where it is again
held as if it were two. With the right hand, reach to the table and
pick up the face-down card lying there, which is believed to be
the selection.
With appropriate care, seemingly slip this card between the two
aces held in the left hand. Since this must be pure pretense, it is
most important that it is done convincingly. It must be neither overnor underacted. Seem to have a slight bit of difficultyno more than
one might normally expectintroducing the inner right corner of the
right hand's card between the front edges of the left hand's pair. In
reality, the right inner corner of the right hand's card is slipped below

1 20 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the single card in the left hand, and
the tip of the left forefinger secretly
contacts this corner from beneath
and supports the card by pressing it
up against the face of the upper card
(Figure 65). Release the right hand's
grip on its card momentarily, leaving
it widely canted under the top card.
This brief display further suggests
that the card lies caught between two
others. Then bring the right hand
back to the outer end of the card and
push it flush with the top card. Note
a small but important point here:
always push the protruding card inward when sliding it under the
top card; do not move the top card forward during this squaring
process, or the illusion striven for will be spoiled.
Turn the squared pair face-up and table it before the spectator
who chose the card. Note that the ace of clubs is seen on the face,
as it should be if all actions were honest.
Have the spectator place his hand flat on top of the aces, convinced he is trapping the entire sandwich of cards. As you place the
cards before him and ask him to cover them, make it plain without
saying as much that your hands are empty and there is no chance
for cards to have been palmed.
Pick up the face-down pack and riffle it in the direction of the
palm-pressed pair (taking care not to expose the double-faced card
at the bottom). Then ask the spectator to raise his hand and give
you the selection that rests between the aces. If all has gone well,
he will be extremely surprised to find it gone.
During the strong misdirection his discovery creates, palm the top
card of the deck (the selection) and set the pack down. Then, when
attention returns to you, dramatically produce the selection from
your pocket.
Mr. Elmsley believes the production of the card from the pocket
is improved if it is delayed briefly. He prefers to take the selection
into rear palm (see Volume I, pp. 124-126), which allows full use of
the right fingers. He then sets down the pack, retrieves the aces from
the spectator and displays them fanned in the raised left hand,
showing the audience that there are only the two aces and nothing
more. To emphasize the fact, he snaps each of them with his right
fingers. After this he tosses them face-up to the table, then reaches
into his right pocket and produces the card (Volume I, p. 135).

EXOTICA

121

If you like, the selection can be signed before it is vanished,


assuring the audience that it is the selfsame card that later comes
from your pocket. The production of the card might be further
enhanced by first loading it into a sealed envelope (d la LePaul), a
wallet (d la Ed Balducci or Dick Washington) or into some other
receptacle. However, do experiment before adopting one of these
embellishments, as it may be found that they do not add importantly
to a lay audience's appreciation of the effect.
1953

ECONOMY CLASS DEPARTURE


Effect: Here Mr. Elmsley duplicates as closely as is possible the
effect of his "Point of Departure", without the benefit of a doublefaced card. The search for a no-feke version of this trick has been
taken up by a number of cardmen over the years, and solutions of
varying merit have been published. Below is one of several that Mr.
Elmsley devised in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He comments
that the basic structure is flexible to minor variation. Therefore, it
is not surprising that several cardmen in recent years have explored
similar paths.
Method: In the best of all possible worlds, two identical jokers
should be used in this trick. But if you are residing in less congenial climes, two royal color-mates can be substituted for the jokers;
e.g., the red kings or the black jacks. For this explanation, we will
presume the ideal has been achieved.
Run through the deck and remove the two jokers as you come to
them, tossing them face-down onto the table. Square the deck and
turn it face-down into left-hand dealing position. As you do this,
obtain a left fourth-finger break under the top two cards.
With your right hand, pick up the jokers, turn them face-up and
run the left fingers and thumb along their sides, squaring them
briefly over the deck. In this squaring action, secretly pick up the
two face-down cards above the break. Then, while holding the packet
above the deck, use the tip of the left third finger to pull down the
inner right corner of the bottom card of the packet (Figure 66),
creating a flesh break at the inner end, which the right thumb then
maintains.
You are now prepared to display the two jokers to the audience
and, in the process, steal one of them from the packet. With your
left thumb, draw the top joker onto the deck, outjogged for roughly
an inch. With the two jokers fully displayed, explain to the audience
that these cards will play important roles during the trick.

EXOTICA 1 2 3

Place the right hand's joker (really three cards) square onto the
outjogged joker and apparently pick it up. What really occurs is
that the right hand moves inward in a squaring motion, bringing
all four cards momentarily flush with the pack while keeping their
inner ends slightly elevated. In this action the right thumb
releases the face-down card below the break. Then the right hand
immediately moves forward again, carrying only the top two cards
of the packet: a face-up joker with a face-down indifferent card
beneath it. The second joker lies face-up and hidden below the
top card of the deck. The reader will recognize this switch as a
variant of Edward Mario's ATFUS.
Set the right hand's two cards onto the table, letting them spread
ever so slightly, so that a bit of the white border on the bottom card
can be seen. (This is a Roy Walton subtlety.)
Bring the right hand back to the deck and procure a left fourthfinger break under the top two cards (the reversed joker aids in this).
You will now execute a sleight Mr. Elmsley calls the rollover switch.
Begin by dealing cards from the pack into the right hand,
commencing with a two-card push-off: with the left thumb at the
extreme left side of the pack, push over the two cards above the
break as one, and take the double card into the palm-up right hand.
Deal two or three single cards onto the double card, holding them
all in a loose dealing grip with the forefinger stretched across the
front edges. Now, without pause, begin to spread cards smoothly off
the pack and into the right hand, forming a spread over the packet
of dealt cards (Figure 67, forefinger moved aside to expose the
configuration of the cards). This position is identical to that used
in the spread displacement (p. 40). As you spread through the deck,
ask someone to touch a card. Stop spreading when one is indicated.
Try to time this so that the selection is made somewhere near center.

124 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Break the spread above the selection and, with the right hand's
portion of the spread, flip the selection face-up on the left hand's
cards (Figure 68). Then take the face-up card under the right hand's
spread, with a portion of it still in view at the left (Figure 69). Let
the spread settle onto the extended right fingers.

EXOTICA 1 2 5
The face-up selection appears to rest on the bottom of the spread,
but it actually lies sandwiched between the spread and the small
packet of cards that was initially dealt into the right hand; and on
the bottom of that packet is a face-up joker.
Move the left hand and its portion of the spread away from the
right hand while contracting the right fingers to pull the right hand's
spread of cards partially closed.
The spread must be closed far
enough to allow the right
thumb to reach across the back
of the cards to the left side (Figure 70). Now use the thumb to
close the spread completely and
pull the packet up against the
palm. Simultaneously turn the
right hand palm-up. This action
turns the packet over, exposing
a face-down card, the joker, at
the face. The instant the thumb
has pushed the spread closed,
use it to push the joker to the
left for about half its width (Figure 71). The audience believes
this card to be the selection
seen just an instant earlier. If
these actions are timed properly, the selection never seems
to leave the spectators' sight. It
is an exceedingly deceptive
switch of a card.
Let the face-down card drop from the right hand to the table.
Then flip the right hand's packet face-down onto the left hand's
cards and quickly square the deck. This buries the selection faceup near center.
With your palm-down right hand, pick up the pair of cards (the
face-up joker and the face-down indifferent card) from the table,
grasping them by their ends. Bring the pair casually over the deck
to square the sides of the cards with the tips of the left fingers. As
you move the pair square over the pack for an instant, secretly release the lower card onto the deck, then move the joker forward
again, handling it as if it were both jokers. All this should take only
a few seconds. As you execute this unloading of the indifferent card,
do not draw attention to your actions. Instead, fix your gaze on the

126 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


tabled card thought to be the selection, and make some remark
about it.
Set the deck face-down to one side and place the right hand's joker
into left-hand dealing position. Then, with your right hand, pick up
the face-down card (the second joker) from the table, holding it by
its outer end. Slip the inner right corner of this card under the outer
end of the left hand's joker. In doing so, pretend to insert the card
between the two jokers. As mentioned in "Point of Departure", make
this look realistic, but don't overact. Leave the face-down card caught
for a moment by its corner beneath the face-up joker, as if it were
trapped between two cards, while you actually support it with the
tip of the left forefinger (see Figure 65, p. 120). Then, with the right
fingers, push the face-down card flush with the face-up joker. Do
not move the face-up joker as you do this, or the illusion will suffer.
The two back-to-back cards are now counted as three, using the
actions of a Stanyon count: Having pushed the face-down joker
square with the face-up joker, grasp the pair by its right side in righthand pinch grip. Then, with the palm-up left hand, draw the top
joker from the packet, taking it either at the left fingertips or into
dealing grip. Bring the left hand back to the right, ostensibly to take
the face-down card onto the joker; but instead, the left hand's joker
is slid under the right hand's face-down card and reclaimed between
the right thumb and fingertips, while the left hand simultaneously
carries away the face-down card. In other words, the contents of the
hands are smoothly exchanged. Bring the left hand back to the right
and take the face-up joker onto the face-down card.
Three cards have been counted, and a face-down card (thought
to be the selection) is seen apparently between two face-up jokers.
The disappearance of the selection from between the jokers is
effected now through the agency of Mr. Elmsley's prayer vanish:
With the left hand's packet held in dealing position, place your
right hand over the cards, as if about to palm them. Actually grip
the cards in right-hand classic palm and, while pressing the palms
lightly together, rotate the hands in opposite directions, until they
are aligned in "prayer" position (Figure 72). At this point draw full
attention to the hands. Without pausing, relax the right hand's grip
on the two cards and twist the hands another ninety degrees, each
hand continuing to turn in the same direction as before, until they
lie crosswise to each other (Figure 73). Friction will cause the card
resting against each palm to follow that hand. Both cards are now
in classic palm position in their respective hands. Rotate the palmup right hand palm-down, pivoting it from beneath the left hand,

EXOTICA

127

and contract the fingers of both hands to retain a card in each (Figure 74). Hold the hands side by side about a foot above the table
and suddenly spread the fingers, letting the two jokers fall face-up
(Figure 75).
Show the hands completely empty and rub the jokers briskly back
and forth a few times on the table to prove them single. Then dramatically ribbon spread the deck, exposing the face-up selection in
the middle.

128 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


In circumstances where one is lacking duplicate jokers, and similar court cards, like red kings or blackjacks, have been substituted,
you may wish to eliminate the Stanyon false count. It has been my
experience, however, that even magicians don't notice that the same
card is seen twice during the count. Their attention seems focused
on the face-down card, causing them to overlook the discrepancy.
As mentioned in the beginning, this structure is conducive to
variations in handling. Mr. Elmsley has experimented with quite a
few over the years, before settling on the one just taught. If you check
"Snap Swap" in Volume I (pp. 291-292) you will find another card
switch that can be substituted for the rollover switch above. In fact,
the switch in "Snap Swap" was originally invented for a "Point of
Departure" handling.

THE FIDDLE \MTH THE BIDDLE


IN THE MIDDLE
Effect: A card is freely selected from the pack. Two jokers are
then placed together face-up in the center of the deck. The deck
is dropped onto the chosen card and the card vanishes. When the
deck is spread, the selection is found sandwiched between the
reversed jokers.
The three-card sandwich is removed from the deck and the deck
is given to a spectator to hold. The two jokers and selection are displayedyet, when these cards are pressed between the performer's
palms, the selection disappears, leaving just the jokers. When the
spectator spreads the deck, which he has held the entire time, he
finds his selection reversed in the center of the pack.
Method: This trick was recorded in the notes of Jack Avis on April
9th, 1966. Cy Endfield's fine effect, "Two to Divine", served as the
model for the opening sequence (ref. Cy Endfield's Entertaining Card
Magic, Part One, pp. 10-14). Mr. Endfield also suggested the idea
of getting the deck into the spectator's hands. The economy of action
exercised creates a delightful and straightforward effect, while
providing several magical and surprising moments before the trick
is over.
You will need two duplicate jokers that match the deck in use.
Display the jokers and hold them by their inner ends face-up in your
right hand. Spread the upper joker a bit to the left, so that both cards
are clearly in evidence.
Hold the face-down deck in left-hand dealing grip and riffle your
left thumb down the outer left corner, asking that someone call out
stop at any time. Halt the riffle honestly at the point they designate
and swing the free ends of the jokers into the thumb's break.
Because of the manner in which the jokers are spread, the corner
of the upper joker enters the gap first. The instant it does, release
two cards quietly off the left thumb. Slide the inner ends of the jokers

130 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


farther into the deck, letting the released pair of cards pass between
them. When the jokers are parallel with the pack, but still outjogged
for roughly half their lengths, press down firmly with the right thumb
on the jokers, bowing them somewhat. Then use the jokers like a
pair of forceps to extract the double card from the deck. The double
will remain perfectly aligned between the jokersa most disarming
double lift. (A fuller description of the forceps double lift can be found
in Volume I, pp. 293-294.)
Briefly turn the right hand palm-down to display the face of the
double card. Turn the hand palm-up again and set the right-hand
cards onto the deck, with the face-up jokers lying square with the
pack. The face-down double card still rests between them, outjogged
for about half its length. You can display the face of the double card
a second time if you like, by turning the left hand palm-down with
the deck, then palm-up again.
You will now switch the
selection, using a push-in
change. Bring the palmdown right hand to the outer
end of the double, preparing
to strip it from between the
jokers. Grasp the outer end
of the double and, with the
right fingertips, push the
under card slightly inward.
Simultaneously extend the
left forefinger and contact the outer end of the under card (Figure
76); then secretly push this card (the selection) inward until it is
flush with the jokers and the pack.
Pull the face-down upper card from the deck and, without
exposing its face, lay it before you on the table. Openly cut the
deck, burying the face-up jokers somewhere near center. Then
drop the deck squarely onto the tabled card. Tap the pack, or
make some other magical gesture over it. With the right hand, lift
the deck and revolve it face-up, showing that the selection has
vanished from the bottom.
Take the face-up deck into left-hand dealing position and neatly
spread it from hand to hand, until you reach the face-down jokers
near center. Between them is seen the face-up selection. Ask the
spectator to extend one hand, palm-up. With your right hand, set
all the cards above the sandwich face-up onto his hand.
Spread the three-card sandwich to the right and, with the right
fingertips, flip all three cards over on the left-hand packet, displaying

EXOTICA 131
the faces of the jokers.
You will now execute a
familiar Kardyro-Biddle
steal sequence:
With the palm-down
right hand, grasp the left
hand's packet by the
ends. Then draw the
packet to the right while
maintaining pressure
with the left thumb on
the uppermost joker.
Peel the joker from the
face of the packet onto
the left palm (Figure 77).
Bring the packet back to
the left and repeat this
maneuver, drawing the
face-down selection from
the packet and onto the
left hand's joker. This
card is now stolen back, under the face-up packet, as the second
joker is drawn off. Bring the packet over the left hand's two cards
to draw the second face-up joker into the left hand; however, in this
action, bring the first joker and selection squarely into contact with
the underside of the packet, and with the left thumb and fingers
"milk" just the top and bottom cards from the packet (Figure 78).
These cards are the two face-up jokers. There should be no interruption of rhythm as the steal is made. Casually drop the packet
from the right hand onto the portion in the spectator's hand. This
sandwiches the face-down selection in the middle of the face-up
deck. Have the spectator place his other hand onto the deck, trapping it between his palms.
(This milking variant of the Kardyro-Biddle steal was first clearly
described in Cy Endfield's Entertaining Card Magic, Part One. The
idea of working from a half pack to load the stolen card reversed into
the center of the deck was explained in Elmer Biddle's "Biddle-thru"
[The Gen, Vol. 16, No. 3, July 1960, p. 69]. To the best of my knowledge, this is the earliest description of this half-pack handling.)
Bring your empty right hand over the left hand's packet and
execute a half pass, secretly reversing the lower card of the pair. This
brings the jokers back to back. At the finish of the half pass the cards
are replaced in left-hand dealing position.

132 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Move the right hand back over the left hand's cards, almost as if
you were about to palm them, and squeeze the palms together. Pause
a moment, look up at the audience and smile. "No, it hasn't happened yet." Raise the right hand and expose the packet still in the
left. Transfer the cards from the left palm to right-fingertip pinch grip.
You now perform a two-as-three Stanyon-style false count to
display a face-down card between two face-up jokers. Then proceed
to vanish the selection from between the jokers by performing Mr.
Elmsley's prayer vanish. Both the Stanyon count and the prayer
vanish are described on pages 126-127.
After you have dropped the two jokers face-up onto the table and
rubbed them back and forth to prove the selection is truly gone, ask
the spectator to spread through the deck he has been holding the
entire time. In the middle of the face-up deck he will find a face-down
card. When he turns this card over, it proves to be the selection
concluding a very strong effect.
If duplicate jokers aren't available, you can use court cards of
matching values and colors (e.g., red jacks, black kings) in their
place. This does create a discrepancy when the Stanyon count is
performed. See the comments on page 128 concerning this problem.
March 1992

THE RED AND THE BLUE


Effect: Two decks with contrasting backs are introduced and
a spectator is offered a free choice of either. He removes any card
from his face-up deck and hands the card to the performer. The
performer does the same, handing a card to the spectator. Both
performer and spectator place the foreign card each has been
given into his own deck.
The performer now makes a magical gesture over the decks, causing them to change color. When the spectator examines his deck,
its backs are now the color of the performer's packand the deck
the performer holds is the color originally held by the spectator. Only
one card in each still stands out. The spectator's chosen card has a
different colored back from the rest of the performer's pack, and the
performer's selection is found to be at variance with the spectator's
pack. Both decks are unprepared and can be examined.
Method: The color-changing deck effect first appeared in 1916
with Charles Jordan's marketed trick, "Speaking of Pink Elephants!"
(ref. Jordan's Ten New Prepared Card Tricks, pp. 16-19, or Fulves'
Charles T. Jordan: Collected Tricks, pp. 198-199). Mr. Jordan credited the plot to William McGrew. Arthur Finley and Henry Christ were
other early experimenters with the premise; and in 1944 Paul Curry
and Oscar Weigle developed one of its finest versions, which they
published in a two-trick manuscript titled Sealed Miracles 1.
This trick of Mr. Elmsley's can be presented either as twofold
color-changing packs or as a two-deck transposition. There is no
sleight-of-hand, and only two normal decks are used to achieve an
exceptional piece of magic.
A minor bit of preparation is necessary: place one card from the
first pack on top of the second pack, and the duplicate of that card,
taken from the second pack, on top of the first. For this explanation, assume one deck blue-backed, the other red, and the two cards
exchanged to be queens of hearts.

134 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Introduce the two decks, removing them from the appropriate
colored cases if you like, and set them face-down on the table.
Because the top cards have been secretly traded, the decks are
perceived as contrary to their true colors.
Ask a spectator to name the color of the deck he wishes to use:
red or blue. Let's say he asks for red. "Red? Are you sure you want
the red deck? You can change you mind and take the blue if you
like. Have you any particular reason for choosing red? All right, red
it is." This line of commentary is used not so much to emphasize
his freedom of choice (though that is a secondary benefit of the
stratagem) as it is to stress the apparent color of the deck he will in
a moment be handling. As I had reason to mention in Volume I of
this work, in color-changing deck tricks, one inherent problem is that
of impressing on the audience the color of the pack without prematurely disclosing the impending effect. This is Mr. Elmsley's solution.
Place the indicated deck in front of the spectator, turning it faceup. Take the second deck into left-hand dealing position, holding it
face-up also. "That leaves the blue cards for me." With your right
hand, undercut roughly half the pack, Hindu shuffle fashion, and
briefly turn the hand palm-up, exposing the blue back one last time.
Then drop the right hand's packet face-up onto the left's. This buries
the blue-backed card in the middle. Lay the face-up pack before you
on the table.
"I want you to do exactly as I do. First, spread your cards out
so that you can see them all." In accordance with this request,
pat your own cards, pushing them into a spread, or row. Do not
ribbon spread the cards in the skillful manner we magicians are
accustomed to using. Remember that the spectator must imitate
your example, and if he attempts a ribbon spread, it can cause
unwanted delay and diversion.
"Now choose any card you like and push it from your spread like
this." In illustration, you spot the odd-backed card in your pack, the
queen of hearts, and push it forward toward the spectator. Do not
yet lift it from the table. Let it lie flat.
When the spectator has pushed out one of his cardslet's assume
it the ace of spadesexplain, "I'll take your red ace of spades and
put it on the face of my pack." While saying this, pick up his card
and, as you mention its back color, take a casual glance at it, letting
no one else see the blue back. Having miscalled the color, drop the
card face-up onto the face of your spread.
"Now you put my queen of hearts on your pack; and, remember,
my card is blue, right?" This prompts him to check as he picks up
the card. When he has set it onto his spread, continue, "Square up

EXOTICA 135
your cards on the table..." Push your spread together, in example,
and leave the deck on the table. Wait until he has done likewise.
"... and now cut my card into the middle." Give your pack a straight
cut and let him do the same.
"You chose the red cards. But now watch!" Snap your fingers over
the two decks, or make some other magical gesture. Then turn your
pack face-down on the table, exposing its red back. "Now I have the
red cards and you have the blue."
The spectator should need no more urging than this to turn his
pack over, and most often, when he sees the blue backs, he will begin
to spread the cards. You do the same with your deck, as you say,
"But of course there is still an odd card in each pack: the cards we
exchanged. Your red ace of spades now has a blue back..." Take the
single blue-backed card from your spread and flip it face-up to show
its face. "... and my blue queen of hearts now has a red back!" This
cues the spectator to check the red-backed card in his pack. Climax.
Because one of the decks is in the possession of the spectator
throughout the trick, and because there is obviously no chance for
manipulation, this effect has exceptional impact. Notice, though,
how the packs are kept on the table. This method of handling serves
to stop the spectator from inadvertently exposing the backs of his
cards. Such accidental exposures will happen all too frequently if
the cards are taken into the hands. However, if you are working for
only one person, you can allow him to hold his pack throughout the
trick. If the effect is properly presented, there is no reason he should
wish to turn the cards over before the proper time.
For other ingenious approaches to the color-changing deck effect,
see "A Strange Story" and "Ambitious Stranger" in Volume I (pp. 401404 and pp. 299-305 respectively).
February 1985

THE SHY CHAMELEON


Effect: Having just discussed color-changing deck effects, this
next item seems apropos. The plot, on the surface, is familiar: Half
the deck is turned face-up and shuffled thoroughly into the other
half, which is face-down. The face-up and face-down cards are convincingly shuffled into each other a second and a third time. But
when the deck is spread, all the cards magically right themselves.
The factor that makes this topsy-turvy deck handling stand out
from others is that it serves as a prelude for a color-changing deck
effect. Although backs are constantly seen during the shuffles, the
deck contains only two cards of that back pattern. The balance of
the pack bears a contrasting back design. Nevertheless, you are able
to perform this very convincing series of topsy-turvy shuffles and
conclude with a magically straightened deck, yet have the cards set
for a color-changing deck effect.
Method: In this explanation we will say that the deck is redbacked and the two cover-cards are blue backed. The blue cards are
positioned on top of the pack when you begin. You may eliminate
two red-backed cards from the deck, to compensate for the extra
blue-backed cards; or you can work with a fifty-four card pack. It
makes no difference to the operation of the trick. The requirements
of the tricks you will subsequently perform dictate whether or not
you need to remove the two cards.
Install a concave bridge down the length of the face-down deck
and you are ready to start. Before you draw attention to the pack,
casually make these adjustments to it. While holding the deck facedown in left-hand dealing position, perform a slip cut, moving the
top card to somewhere near center. That is, bring the right hand
palm-down over the pack and grasp the top half by the ends. Move
this half to the right while you retain the bottom half in the left hand
and your left thumb holds back the top card of the pack. As the top
card slips from the right hand's half onto the left's, catch a left fourthfinger break beneath it. Then return the right hand's packet onto

EXOTICA 1 3 7
the left's, completing the cut. If this cut is done neatly and swiftly,
only blue backs are seen.
You must now execute a half pass, reversing all the cards below
the break (see Volume I, p. 70, for a description of this sleight). As
the bottom packet is brought face-up below the top packet, retain
a right thumb break between them at the inner end of the pack.
Then, with the tip of the left fourth finger, pull the blue-backed card
above the break down and onto the lower packet. The transfer is
made easier if the left fourth finger first jogs the blue-backed card
slightly to the right, as if beginning a side steal, then pulls the card
down to the bottom packet. (This refinement is an idea of Edward
Mario's.) Retain a break above the transferred blue card.
With the right hand, move the packet above the break forward
and leave it stepped for about half its length on the bottom packet.
Blue backs are seen atop both portions. Again with the right hand,
grasp the top packet by its outer end and turn the packet end over
end. Replace this packet, now face-up, onto the bottom packet, still
stepped forward for half its length.
Adjust your grip on the cards for a faro shuffle. (None of the three
shuffles in this trick need be perfect, either in the cut or in the weave;
but if you don't do a faro shuffle of any sort, tabled riffle shuffles
can be substituted.) Weave the packets together so that the top card
of the bottom portion becomes the top card of the deck, and the
bottom card of the top (openly face-up) portion becomes the bottom
card of the deck. Since it is unlikely that you have divided the pack
precisely in half, simply offset the packets when starting the weave,
to give the desired results. Do not spring the cards to square them.
This would expose face-up cards in the portion that is supposedly
face-down. Instead, push them into each other.
At this point you have a red-backed, face-up deck sandwiched
between two blue-backed cards. The blue card on top is face-down;
the one on the bottom is face-up.
Turn the pack end over end, showing a blue back on both sides.
Comment, "Backs at both ends." Turn the pack over again, restoring
it to its original position. "We'll find a face." Remove the face-down
top card of the pack, exposing a face-up card, and insert the facedown blue card near center. Push it flush, then turn the deck end
over end again, bringing the second blue-backed card into view.
Thanks to the bridge in the cards, the reversed blue card in the
middle will create a natural break just above it. Divide the deck at
that point, with the face-up blue card on top of the bottom packet.
Weave the two packets together, making sure that the face-down
blue card of the top portion goes directly under the face-up blue card

138 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


of bottom portion. The opposing bridges between the face-up card
and the face-down cards below it aid in placing the face-down blue
card in the necessary spot. Push the packets square.
The red-backed deck is now face-down. One blue-backed card
lies face-up on top, and just beneath it rests the second blue card,
face-down.
Turn the deck end over end, bringing the face of the bottom card
into view. "Faces at both ends." Turn the deck end over end again,
bringing the face of the blue-backed card uppermost. "We'll find a
back." Remove the face-up top card and insert it slightly below
center. In doing so, you can flash the blue back of the card, but don't
make this display a cause. Push the card flush. The second bluebacked card lies face-down on top of the pack.
Turn the deck once more end over end, bringing a face-up card
into view. If you cut at the ends, the natural bridge in the buried
blue card allows you to divide the deck just above it. Momentarily
set the face-up top portion onto the bottom portion, stepped outward
for roughly half its length. A face-down blue card shows atop the
bottom packet.
Regrip the packets for a last faro shuffle. Straddle weave the
face-up top portion into the apparently face-down bottom portion.
By inserting the one blue card slightly below center, you have
ensured that the face-up packet will be smaller than its counterpart. Thus the blue-backed cards are delivered to the top and
bottom of the deck.
The red-backed deck is now face-up, with a blue-backed card
face-down on top, the second face-up on the bottom.
Pick off the top card and wave it over the pack, snapping it faceup as part of the magical action. Slip this card under the pack, then
ribbon spread the cards widely to show that they are all now faceup, having magically righted themselves.
When you gather the deck and turn it face-down, the two bluebacked cards are together on top, putting you in position for any
color-changing deck trick that employs two cover-cards. In particular, see "Ambitious Stranger" in Volume I (pp. 299-305). These two
tricks in combination are particularly potent, as the color change
of the deck is revealed only after several magical effects have been
performed with the pack. Anyone trying to backtrack to the moment
when a deck switch might have occurred will never believe you were
prepared so far in advance.
In recent years several topsy-turvy deck effects have been
published that end with a surprise color-change of the pack. Mr.
Elmsley's approach, developed in the 1950s, is a far subtler use of

EXOTICA 1 3 9
the principle, as the true color of the deck is concealed for a
considerable time before the color-change is effected. By the way, if
you begin a card routine with tricks done with a legitimate bluebacked pack, switch decks on the offbeat, then proceed with "The
Shy Chameleon" and "Ambitious Stranger", even the most astute will
fail to determine when the switch was made.
Delaying a color-changing back effect by performing other tricks
first, while concealing the true composition of the deck, is an exceptionally persuasive strategy. In the late 1950s Ravelli (Ronald Wohl)
did a lengthy and intelligent study of this idea, which was eventually published in the April 1963 issue of Ibidem (see pp. 29-38). In
his examination he praises Mr. Elmsley's unpublished topsy-turvy
deck trick (ibid., p. 30) and describes many other examples. The
article is well worth the reader's study.

TURN-ABOUT CARD
Effect: A known card, held face-down in one hand, turns instantly
face-up when snapped. There is absolutely no hint of the card being
turned or flipped oversince it is not. The visual effect is akin to a
color change and must be seen to be fully appreciated.
Method: The secret to this surprising reversal resides in an
unusual application of the "Hofzinser" top change. Though this topchange handling was inspired by one of J.N. Hofzinser's (Hqfzinser's
Card Conjuring, pp. 47-48), it is more accurately the invention of Cy
Endfield (ref. The Gen, Vol. 8, No. 3, July 1952, pp. 88-89; also Cy
Endfield's Entertaining Card Magic, Part Two, pp. 41-43). In the early
1950s Fred Kaps showed Mr. Elmsley his variant of the Endfield top
change, in which the card to be changed was held between the tips
of the right first and second fingers. While experimenting with the
sleight, Mr. Elmsley devised the surprising reversal just described.
The Elmsley sequence is extremely visual and, from start to finish, consumes roughly ten seconds. Therefore, you will more than
likely wish to integrate it into a longer trick or routine. The card that
will be turned must, in the beginning, be positioned second from the
top of the deck. This can be a chosen card, an "ambitious" card, a
specific card that has been in play previously, or any card at all.
With the deck held face-down in left-hand dealing grip, execute
a double lift and display the face of the double card. Then deposit
it, still face-up, on top of the face-down
deck, sidejogged for half its width.
Extend the left thumb fully across the
deck to hold the double card in place;
and lightly contact the back of the
double with the tips of the left second
and third fingers (Figure 79).
Revolve the left hand palm-down, at
the same time retracting the thumb
and pulling the displayed card square

EXOTICA

141

with the pack (Figure 80). The


second card of the double is
kept stationary by the fingertips. The action is very close to
that of a Downs change.
Grasp the inner right corner
of the projecting card, pinching
it between the right t h u m b
(above) and forefinger (below),
as shown in Figure 81. In the
eyes of the audience, this is the
card they just saw face-up a
moment before.
Move the face-down card to
the right and away from the
deck. As the card leaves the
pack, catch a left fourth-finger
break between the reversed
card and the deck. Immediately
turn the left hand partially
palm-up, but keep the outer
end of the deck tilted slightly
upward, so that the face-up
card on top cannot be seen by
the spectators (Figure 82).
Now, as you stroke
the right hand's card
once, flicking it off the
left thumb, execute the
"Hofzinser" top change,
exchanging the face-up
card from the deck with
the face-down card in
the right hand. Mr.
Elmsley uses the Endfield handling of this sleight, with only a minor alteration: he works
the change from the fourth finger's break, instead of pushing the top
card to the right, which would expose its reversed condition.
First, it is most important that the right hand not move during
the top change. Mr. Endfleld recommends anchoring the right elbow
against your side to ensure this. Hold the right hand and its card
at roughly waist height. The deck rests in left-hand mechanic's grip,
with the thumb angled diagonally across the outer left corner.

142 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Mention the name of the card
that was just shown, and make
a small gesture with the right
hand's card, to affirm its alias.
Move the left hand to the right
and swing the deck up under
the right hand's card, allowing
the card to glide beneath the left
thumb (Figure 83). As the deck
moves square with the right
hand's card, slip the tip of the
right first finger into the fourth
finger's break; that is, permit
the right inner corner of the
face-up card to slide between
the right hand's card and the tip
of the right forefinger.
Immediately pull back with
the right forefinger, drawing the
face-up card diagonally inward
while both thumbs retain the
upper face-down card square
on the deck (Figure 84). When
the face-up card has been
pulled back half an inch or so,
it can be gripped by its inner
right corner between the right
thumb and forefinger; and the
left thumb can bear down on
the outer left corner of the facedown card, clipping it to the
deck.
Now turn the left hand
smartly outward and palmdown with a deft flick of the
wrist (Figure 85). This causes
the face-up card to snap from
the deck, as if it had been
snapped off the left thumb
and the change is done.
Some performers snap the
card off the left thumb once or
twice, using actions that appear

EXOTICA

143

outwardly identical to those of the top change, before actually


executing the change. Others follow the change with one more snap
off the thumb. (Both ideas were originally suggested by Mr. Endfield.)
This, of course, is a matter of style best left to the discretion of the
individual. The action of stroking or stropping the card, by the way,
in the context of such maneuvers, is believed to be an idea of Carmen
D'Amico's (ref. Sharpe's Expert Card Conjuring, p. 44).
The secrets to perfecting this style of top change are smoothness
and sureness of action, combined with a lightness of finger pressures
as the cards are exchanged. Done properly, the change of the facedown card to a face-up one is startling and instantaneous.
One last note: If the left fourth finger catches a break under
the face-down card as the change is made, the sleight can be
immediately repeated, causing the card in the right hand to turn
face-down again.
November 1953

A SMALL REVELATION
Effect: The performer displays a spread of four miniature
cards, all of the same value. The
four cards have been glued permanently into a row, as shown in
Figure 86. The four-card spread
is displayed front and back, then
placed into an ordinary envelope,
which is given someone to hold.
Four matching normal-sized
cards are now brought out.
These are mixed by a spectator
and dealt into a face-down row.
He then picks one of the cards
and turns it face-up.
Next the person holding the envelope opens it and removes the
row of miniatures. Though these small cards are still solidly glued
together, one of them is now reversed in the center of the spread
and this reversed card is the duplicate of the spectator's selection,
which lies face-up in its face-down row on the table.
Method: In the 1950s Joe Stuthard marketed an item called "Klip
Trix". The novel effect just described is partially related in method
to the Stuthard trick, which in turn uses a principle first explored
in print by Tom Sellers (ref. "New Principle Card Trick" in his Twentyone New Card Tricks, p. 8). "A Small Revelation" depends on the
clever construction of a row of miniature cards. You will need five
small cards; those half-size miniatures available in some department
stores and magic shops. These must all share the same value. For
this description, assume these cards to be the four fours and an
extra four of spades.
Take each four of spades and carefully cut a narrow slot in it that
travels from the precise center of one end straight to the center of

EXOTICA 1 4 5

the card (Figure 87). Set aside one of these fours and glue the
remaining four cards together in an overlapping row, with a half inch
of each card exposed to the right of the one above it. In gluing the
cards together, arrange them with the diamond, heart and club faceup, and the spade face-down second from the left (Figure 88). It is
important that, when you fix the spade into place, the slotted end
lies at the top of the spread, and that you apply glue only to the left
side of the slot on the back and the right side of the slot on the face.
When the row is assembled, the slot is completely concealed by the
cards above and below it, but it can still be separated (Figure 89).

Next fashion a small barbless hook from a straight pin. Attach


this with glue and tape to the face of the second four of spades at
its uncut end, near the middle (Figure 87). If you hold this card faceup by the end with the hook and slip the cut end into the slot of the

146 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


face-down four (Figure 90), you will
find that the two slots mesh and
the loose four slides completely
down and over its face-down duplicate, perfectly concealing it on both
sides. With this card in place, the
spread appears to consist of four
face-up fours.
You also need the matching
fours from a normal-sized pack,
and an envelope large enough to
contain the glued spread of miniatures. Pencil dot or otherwise
subtly mark the back of the four of
spades, so that you can identify it
easily.
In performance, bring out the
spread of miniature fours and, hiding the hook between the tips of the
fingers, display the cards front and
back. Explain that you have glued
the little cards together to avoid
losing them. Hand someone the
envelope and have him make sure
it is empty. While he does this and
attention is drawn to him, maneuver the row of face-up cards into a
position roughly parallel to the left
fingers, with the hook lying under
the thumb (Figure 91). The position
of the row of miniatures in the
hand is similar to that of a normal
card when it is about to be classic
palmed.
Turn a bit to your left and drop
your left hand casually to your
side. Hook the gimmick onto your
trousers leg or the tail of your
jacket and move your hand back.
This action causes the gimmicked
card to slip from the spread and
hang from your clothes (Figure 92).
At the same time, extend your right
hand and retrieve the envelope.

EXOTICA 147
Holding the miniature spread in a manner to conceal the reversed
card behind the fingers, slip the spread into the envelope and close
the flap. Hand the envelope to the person who examined it and ask
him to guard it.
Now bring out the four normal cards. Display them, pointing out
that they are duplicates of the glued miniatures. Hand the cards to
a second spectator for mixing. Then have him deal them into a facedown row on the table. You must now force the marked four of
spades on him. As there are only four choices, there is a one-in-four
chance he will pick it straight-away. If however he doesn't, it is a
simple matter to adjust his selection through an equivoque (magician's choice) procedure. At the finish of the selection process,
manage to end with the four of spades reversed in the row, either
face-up among face-down cards, or face-down among face-up cards.
Then have the person holding the envelope open it and remove the
glued miniatures to reveal the mysterious sympathetic change that
has occurred.
During the aftermath of the effect, or earlier, during the forcing
of the cardwhenever attention is not on yousteal the hanging
miniature from your trousers or jacket and drop it into a pocket.
If the idea of hanging the gimmick on your clothes does not appeal
to you, or working conditions make it impractical, another avenue
of action is easily devised. I would suggest that you replace the hook
with a small tab of transparent tape. When ready to steal the loose
four from the row, lay the miniature cards momentarily on the back
of the envelope, catching the tape tab under the right thumb as you
open the flap with the left fingers. Raise the front end of the envelope
slightly, tipping the spread out of the audience's view. Then, with
your left hand, grasp the row and pull it to the left, leaving behind
the gimmick (Figure 93).
Slip the spread into
the envelope and immediately give it to someone
to hold, secretly retaining
the gimmick in the right
hand. A miniature card
should present no problem of concealment.
Drop the. gimmick into
your pocket as you bring
out the four normal
cards, and proceed with
the presentation.

148 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


This trick was marketed in 1962 by Louis Tannen, using the
hooked card. However, Mr. Elmsley never attached a hook to the
slotted card; nor does he remember suggesting the idea. It is likely
that Louis Tannen added the hook either because the original
Elmsley handling had been forgotten, or he thought the hook made
a more interesting prop for sale. Mr. Elmsley's original and preferred
handling uses your pocket handkerchief instead of an envelope.
Proceed in this manner:
Grip the spread of miniatures
face-up in your palm-up right
hand, your thumb contacting
the face of the slotted card.
Tilt the spread to an almost
vertical position, with its far
edge upward, and ask a spectator to grasp it by the outer
index corner of the uppermost
card (Figure 94).
While you continue to hold
the cards as described, with
your free left hand snap open
your handkerchief and drape
it over the spread, the spectator's hand and your own. Under cover of this action, use your right
thumb to slide the slotted card downward for about half its length,
but leave it engaged in the spread. (Of course, the handkerchief you
use must be opaque, so that the cards cannot be seen through it.)
Then bring your right hand from beneath the handkerchief, casually letting it be seen empty. This adjustment can be done smoothly
and quickly, causing no hesitation.
Now have a second person pick a card from the full-sized set,
forcing on him the duplicate of the reversed card in the spread. To
reveal the reversal of the miniature card, grip the downjogged end
of the slotted card through the handkerchief and pull the card free
as you dramatically uncover the spreadstill in the first spectator's
hand. While attention is focused on the reversed card in the glued
spread, you have ample opportunity to place your handkerchief back
in your pocket, with the gimmick in its folds. Done in this fashion,
the effect is greatly enhanced, for the spectator actually holds in his
hand the glued spread of cards as the magical reversal is effected.
1962

FOOL'S MATE
Effect: The performer deals four unknown cards face-down into
a row on the table. He then shuffles the deck, removes one card and
hands it to a spectator, with the request that he place it face-down
in front of any one of the four tabled cards. This pair is set in front
of him.
The performer removes another card from the pack and hands it
to a second person. She is to place this card before any one of the
remaining three cards. This pair is set near her. The procedure is
repeated with two more cards and another pair of spectators, until
eight cards have been freely coupled.
The performer now removes a joker from the pack, explaining that
Cupid is often called a joker. The joker is passed between each of
the pairs of cards on the table and proves to be amazingly effective;
for when each pair is shown, it consists of a king and a queen of
matching suits.
Method: For this unusual approach to the Royal Marriages plot,
a ten-card stack is required. Arrange the four kings on top of the
deck, in any suit order that you can easily remember; e.g., CHaSeD.
Beneath the kings set the queens. The order of the queens is unimportant. Finally, beneath the queens set two identical jokers.
The one-ahead principle is used to assure the mating of the cards,
but the method of rectifying the sequence is ingenious, as the paired
sets are kept separate at all times.
Begin by dealing the kings into a face-down row before you. Do
not reveal the identities of the cards. Simply say, "We will use these
four cards for an experiment."
Give the pack a brief overhand shuffle, undercutting about half
the cards and shuffling them off onto the stock. This positions the
queens and jokers near the center of the deck.
Say to someone nearby, "I'm going to find a card that I think will
suit you." Fan the pack, face toward you, and remove either of the

150 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


jokers. Thankfully, the spectator will never learn of this assessment
of him. Do not show the face of the card. Slide it toward him across
the table. "Don't look at it. I want you to put it in front of any one of
the cards on the table. You have a choice of one out of four."
Wait for him to lay the joker in front of one of the kings. When he
has done so, pick up the selected king and drop it onto the joker,
forming a face-down pair. Slide the pair in front of the spectator.
Since you are familiar with the order of the kings, you immediately
know the suit he has chosen.
From the deck, which you still hold fanned before you, remove
the queen that matches the suit of the chosen king. Place this queen
before a second person, saying, "Here is a card I think fits you. Please
lay it in front of any one of the remaining cards you wish. You have
a choice of one out of three."
Drop the designated king onto the second spectator's card and
slide the pair toward her. Now remove from the deck the queen that
matches this second king. Give this queen to a third person. "Please
do as the other two have done. You have a choice of one out of two."
Pick up the king this person indicates and drop it onto his queen.
Position that pair in front him.
One king is left unchosen. You have two queens still in the pack,
one of which matches the remaining king. Remove it and hand it to
a fourth person. "Your decision is the easiest. You have no choice
really, but I'd like you to go through the motions." When she lays
her card down, place the remaining king on top of it.
Now separate the fanned deck at the remaining queen and cut it
to the top. Turn the deck face-down and perform a double turnover,
showing the joker. "Many people have said Cupid is a joker. Well,
I've got a joker here; and I can prove the joker is a Cupid, and a
marriage broker and the parson, all rolled into one. Watch."
Turn the double card face-down on the deck. Take the top card
into the right hand and set the deck aside. With your freed left hand,
pick up the fourth spectator's pair of cards and hold it squared. This
is the one pair that genuinely matches. Grasping the right hand's
card (the fourth queen) by its outer right corner, insert it between
the left hand's pair at the far end (Figure 95). Then push the card
inward for about half its length.
"Let's see if the joker can bring this pair together." Release the
corner of the outjogged card from the right hand and, with the
left thumb, spread the three cards, showing the outjogged card
really lies between the other two. Pause for only a moment; then
square the spread and push the protruding card flush. Spread
the cards a second time, and with the right forefinger and thumb,

EXOTICA 151

grip the center card by its inner end and draw it from between the
other two (Figure 96).
"You, of course, had only a one in one choice." Flip the pair faceup in the left fingers and display the matching king aiid queen. Lay
the mated pair in front of the fourth spectator and pick up the third
spectator's pair.
"When you put these cards together, you had a choice of one
in two." You now apparently slip the matchmaking joker between
these two cards, as you did with the first pair. However, the mockjoker (really the matching queen to the king of the pair) is actually
passed under the two cards. Pretend to insert it between them,
feigning a little difficulty. Push the card flush with the pair, then
spread the three cards and withdraw the center one. Flip up the
remaining two cards, disclosing another matched set. Lay these
before the third spectator.
Turning to the second spectator, say, "Your choice was harder
still: one in three." Pick up her pair of cards and perform the same
false insertion and withdrawal of the Cupid card. Show that this pair
also matches.
To the first spectator, say, "You had a choice of one in four, the
longest odds of all." Repeat the false insertion and withdrawal; however, this time the third card can be shown when you finish, as it is
at last a real joker.
"Now you see what I mean about the powers of the joker."
One of the great problems in presenting a matching effect of this
sort is that suspense and dramatic tension must dwindle as the
revelation of the final pair is approached. The conclusion is inevitable to everyone at that point. Recognizing this, Mr. Elmsley has
worked to sustain interest by using several presentational ploys.

152 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


First, he maintains curiosity by hiding until the last possible moment
the fact that the cards used are kings and queens. And second,
throughout the denouement he stresses that each spectator had a
greater chance of failing to match cards than the previous person.
When you modify the presentation to suit your style, don't lose sight
of these important considerations.
In the next trick, the royal couples dismiss the matchmaking
services of the joker. Instead they find each other on their own,
in a quite magical fashion. Indeed, it seems impossible to keep
them apart.
February 1973

JUBILEE
Effect: The performer removes the four kings from the deck and
divides them between two spectators, who mix them. He then takes
back any one of the kings, say the king of clubs, and cuts it faceup into the face-down deck. When he next spreads the cards, the
queen of clubs has magically appeared face-up beside her mate. The
two cards are set aside and another of the kings, perhaps the king
of hearts, is cut face-up into the face-down pack. On spreading the
deck, the queen of hearts is found face-up beside her king.
Two kings have not yet located their mates. The performer
proposes a change in procedure. He has a spectator insert the king
of spades and the king of diamonds anywhere in the deck, reversed
and separated. The deck is immediately spread and the matching
queen to each of the two kings now lies face-up beside her mate,
consummating four magical reunions.
Method: This offbeat variant of the Royal Marriages plot is
accomplished with only a four-card setup. The four queens, in a
known suit order, must be managed secretly to the top of the deck.
For this explanation standard CHaSeD order (clubs-hearts-spadesdiamonds) is assumed.
Begin the presentation by casually shuffling the pack while
retaining the queens on top. Following this, run through the deck
and toss the four kings face-up onto the table as you come to them.
After locating the last king, quickly spread to the queens and, while
squaring the face-up pack, secure a left fourth-finger break above
the lower two queens. As you square the deck into left-hand dealing
position, move it inward a bit, until the two queens below the break
lie "deep" in the hand, almost in gambler's cop.
"This trick is based on the sex appeal of the kings," you say,
directing everyone's gaze to those four cards. While attention is
focused on the tabled kings, raise the outer end of the pack slightly
and, with the palm-down right hand, turn the deck sidewise and
face-down in the left hand, while leaving the two queens behind, as

154 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

shown in Figures 97 and 98. (This method for reversing cards


secretly under the pack was first published by Neal Elias and Bert
Fenn in Elias' At the Table, p. 3. An earlier handling of this reverse
appears in Hatton and Plate's Magicians' Tricks: How They are Done,
pp. 70-71.) The queen of spades is now on top of the face-down deck,
followed by the queen of diamonds. The queen of clubs lies face-up
under the pack, with the face-up queen of hearts resting directly
above it.
With your right hand, casually gather the kings, picking them up
in the same suit order applied to the queens (the club at the back,
then the heart, the spade and the diamond). Display the kings
briefly, before you turn them face-down onto the deck. Do this
slowly, so that the fairness of the action is evident, though not overstated. As you square the kings on the pack, catch a left fourth-finger
break under the top two cards; i.e., below the king of hearts.
"For this trick, neither you nor I must know the order of the kings.
I'll mix them face-down." Begin the mixing by slipping the tips of the
right first and second fingers into the break at the inner right corner
of the pack, and bringing the right thumb down on top. Having
securely gripped the double card by its corner in this fashion,

EXOTICA 1 5 5
immediately draw it to the right and away from the pack. With your
left thumb, push over the next card of the deck and take it onto the
right hand's double card. Thumb over the next card and take it under
the right hand's cards. Finally, deal another card onto the previous
ones. In appearance you have dealt the four kings into your right
hand, mixing them in the process. In reality you have dealt off five
cards, which from top to face read: queen of spades, king of spades,
king of clubs, king of hearts, king of diamonds. If this sequence of
actions is done casually and without hesitation, it looks entirely
unpremeditated.
Set the right hand's cards back on the deck as you say, "Better
still, you mix them. Will you mix these?" Address this request to
someone on your right and hand him the top two cards, the queen
and king of spades. "And you mix these." Turn to someone on your
left and hand him the next two cards from the deck, the kings of
clubs and hearts. "Don't let me or anyone else see the faces."
While the spectators mix their cards, you casually give the deck
a cut, setting it for the next phase. This cut, however, is not without guile: Bring the right hand palm-down over the pack and grasp
it by its ends. Under cover of the hand quickly pull down the bottom card of the pack (the face-up queen of clubs) at the inner right
corner, using just the
tip of the left fourth
finger (Figure 99).
Then, with the right
hand, cut off the top
half of the deck and,
while you pull down
with the left fourth
finger to widen the
break, smoothly slip
the top half into it
and above the separated queen (Figure
100). The maneuvering of the bottom card
during the cut should
not be apparent to
the audience. (This
combination of the
pull-down with the
cutting of the pack is
an Edward Mario
idea.)

156 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


As you square the
halves, form a flesh break
between them on the heel
of the left thumb (Figure
101). This break lies below
the face-up queen of hearts
and above the face-down
king and queen of diamonds. The face-up queen
of clubs still rests under
the pack.
Ask the spectator on
your left, "Are you satisfied
that neither of us knows
which of your cards is
which? Then give me either
one you like." With your
right hand, take the card
he offers you and turn it
face-up as you set it on top
of the face-down deck,
outjogged for roughly half
its length. You now cut the
king into the pack, but the
precise method of doing so
hinges on the king you are
given.
If you are handed the
king of clubs, bring your
right hand, palm-down, to
the rear of the deck, grasp
all the cards beneath the
break by the inner corners,
pull this packet toward
you, drawing it from under
the deck (Figure 102), and
place it on top, sandwiching the outjogged king
between the halves. This
positions the face-up queen
of clubs directly above the
corresponding king. With
your left forefinger, slowly
push the king flush.

EXOTICA 157
If you are handed the king of hearts, perform an open slip cut,
drawing the half pack above the break inward while your left thumb
holds the king of hearts stationary (Figure 103). Let the king settle
onto the lower half; then place the right hand's packet onto the left's,
cutting the face-up king of hearts to center. The face-up queen of
hearts is now just above it. With your left forefinger, slowly push the
king flush.
Whichever method of cutting is necessary, it should be done
swiftly and casually. Seem to pay no attention to the cards as you
cut them. Don't look directly at the deck. Instead, catch only a
glimpse of the king as you place it on the pack, and immediately
make the proper cut.
Snap your right fingers over the pack, then spread it between
your hands, revealing the appearance of the king's mate, the
matching face-up queen, lying with him in the middle of the deck.
Separate the spread at the queen and king and drop them together
onto the table.
You will now repeat this procedure with the king remaining to the
spectator on your left. The necessary actions are again governed by
the suit of that king.
If the second king is the heart, reunite the spread and square
the cards into your left hand. The king and queen of diamonds are
now on top of the deck, and the face-up queen of hearts is on the
bottom. With your right hand, take the second king from the spectator. Turn it face-up and place it outjogged on the deck. Then
undercut half the pack, in the same fashion employed above, and
place the undercut portion on top, positioning the king of hearts next
to the face-up queen of hearts. With your left forefinger, push the
king flush. Then snap your right fingers over the pack and spread
it between the hands to expose the face-up queen of hearts beside
her mate. Drop the mated pair onto the table, beside the pair of club
cards, and reassemble the spread, forming a break under the top
two cards of the lower halfthe king and queen of diamondsas
you square the deck into the left hand. Then casually cut at the
break, bringing the diamond mates to the bottom of the pack.
If the second king is the club, reunite the spreadbut as you
do so, form a break under the top two cards of the lower half; that
is, below the queen and king of diamonds (the two cards that rested
directly below the reversed king and queen of hearts before you
tabled them). Square the deck and transfer the break to the heel of
the left thumb. With your right hand, take the king of clubs from
the spectator. Place the king face-up and outjogged on the deck and,
with the palm-down right hand, undercut the pack at the break.

158 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Complete the cut, uniting the face-up queen and king of clubs in
the middle, while sending the king and queen of diamonds to the
bottom. Push the projecting king flush, snap your right fingers over
the deck and spread the cards to reveal the face-up mates. Drop
them onto the table and square the deck into your left hand.
While these handling contingences may seem a bit confusing at
first, they are easily summarized and learned:
1) If the king of hearts is the first card handed you, you must
execute a slip cut when burying it. All other cuts required are
straight undercuts.
2) No matter whether the king of hearts is used first or second,
when you spread the pack to produce the mated heart pair,
you must form a break two cards below these face-up cards
and eventually cut at that break to send the king and queen
of diamonds to the bottom.
At this point the mated club and heart pairs lie face-up on the
table, the diamond mates rest at the face of the pack and the spectator on your right holds the king and queen of spades. Casually
spread the deck between your hands, showing that all cards are facedown. Then square the deck, forming a left fourth-finger break above
the bottom two cards.
Turn to the spectator on your right and say to him, "Will you mix
your cards a bit more. Don't let anybody see them." As attention is
drawn to his actions, perform a half pass, secretly reversing the
bottom two cards of the pack (see Volume I, p. 70, for a description
of this sleight). As you complete the half pass, let the left side of the
pack drop, bringing the deck into position for an overhand shuffle.
This adjustment of the pack provides excellent cover as you conclude
the sleight. Also note that, by turning to the right while addressing
the spectator there, you have compensated for the weak angle on
that side.
Immediately give the cards a brief shuffle to this pattern: shuffle
off to the last few cards and throw them beneath the rest, retaining
the reversed pair at the bottom of the deck; then, without hesitation, run one or two cards from the top and throw the balance of
the pack onto them. This short run should be treated as an extension of the first shuffle, rather than as a second, separate shuffle.
The shuffle places one or two indifferent cards on the face of the
pack, beneath the reversed king and queen of diamonds.
Turn the deck face-up and form a fan in your left hand, keeping
the first few cards at the face of the fan bunched together to hide
the two reversed cards there.

EXOTICA 1 5 9
"Keep your kings face-down and put them wherever you like, but
separated in the face-up pack." Let the spectator do this, guiding
him to leave the two cards projecting from the fan for about half their
length. Then neatly close the fan, retaining the two cards in their
outjogged positions.
"Do you know which king is
which?" As you ask this question,
look up at the spectator, misdirecting away from the pack for a
moment as you make a small adjustment of the cards: With your
right hand, grip the projecting
cards at their outer ends, thumb
above and fingers below. Then, as
you pinch the two cards together,
push them about half an inch farther into the pack. If you ease the
left hand's pressure on the sides of
the deck, the block of cards that
lies between the outjogged pair will
be forced a short distance from the
rear of the pack (Figure 104). This
is the plunger principle at work.
Now move your right hand, palm-down, to the near end of the
deck, grasp the protruding block by its inner corners and draw it
toward you, stripping it from the pack. Then place it square onto
the face-up deck. (Note that all cutting actions in this trick, though
they may differ in function, have been given a consistent appearance.) Do not let the upper portion of the deck drop as you make
this cut. Instead, maintain a separation between the outjogged cards.
Immediately following this cut use the left forefinger to push the
outjogged pair of cards flush and subtly let the upper packet settle
onto the lower portion. This completes a simplified multiple shift in
the Vernon fashion, uniting the two inserted cards (the king and
queen of spades) near the center of the pack.
Slowly turn the deck face-down in the left hand and snap your
fingers twice over it. Conclude by spreading the cards to display the
face-up mates magically paired in the pack.
It is entirely possible to perform "Jubilee" impromptu, without first
arranging the queens on top of the deck. To do this, you would cull
the queens to the top as you run through the deck in search of the
kings. It is, however, difficult to cull the queens in a particular suit
order. Instead, memorize the random order of suits after the queens

160 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


have been culled, and arrange the kings in that same order. Once
that is done you can forget the suit order, but you must remember
the suit of the king second from the top. You then treat this king
just as the king of hearts was treated above, applying the rules of
handling summarized for that card. That is, if the first king handed
you is the one you have memorized, you must bury it with a slip cut.
Otherwise, an undercut is performed. And when the king and queen
of the memorized suit are produced in the center of the pack, a break
must be formed two cards below them, and the cards above this
break must be cut to the bottom of the deck.
Several trials will clarify for you the simple system used to guide
the handling. The reader is urged to make those trials, to appreciate fully the cleverness and baffling effect afforded by the design of
this trick.
We now proceed to another tale of royal romance, but this time,
love is tinged with infidelity.
[November 1972]

SEPARATING THE MEN


FROM THE BOYS
Effect: All twelve court cards are openly removed from the deck
and shown. The four queens are set aside and the face-down jacks
are neatly alternated with the face-up kings. The four queens are
waved over the combined kings and jacks in a magical manner and
with no hint of subterfuge, then are set down again. The held packet
is now fanned, showing four face-down cards still interlaced with
the face-up kingsbut when the fan is turned over, the face-down
cards are seen to be the queens, not the jacks; and the jacks are
found on the table, where the queens were thought to have been.
All this is performed to a tale of innocence, paternal love and an
expose of the evil ways of big-city women. It is also done without
recourse to gaffed or extra cards. Just the twelve court cards are
used. Here Mr. Elmsley once more demonstrates how a potentially
confusing effect can be clarified and enhanced by an entertaining
presentation.
Method: It was the title of this trick that first came to Mr. Elmsley,
after which he invented an effect to fit it. He finds that this inverted
practice of using a phrase or cliche as a springboard for invention
can be a fruitful avenue to creativity. This is certainly borne out here.
To prepare for this excellent trick, openly remove the jacks,
queens and kings from the pack and put the remaining cards away.
Arrange the twelve court cards with the jacks at the face, the queens
on top and the kings in the middle. Suit order does not matter.
Hold the packet face-up in left-hand dealing position and spread
over the first four cards, briefly displaying the jacks. Square the jacks
back onto the packet, then immediately thumb off the foremost jack
onto the palm-up right hand. Continue to deal the jacks, one by one,
from the packet into the right hand as you say:
"These jacks stand for four boys; country boys, but they were
nearly grown up. Likely lads."

162 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

With the right fingers, flip the jacks face-down in the right hand,
square them and slip them honestly under the left hand's packet,
jogging them forward about an inch (Figure 105).
Briefly fan the kings on the packet, then square them again and
deal them, one by one, into the right hand, just as you did the jacks.
"The kings are four men. They were the fathers of the boys, and
one holiday they all took their boys to the Big City to see the sights."
Flip the kings face-down and slip them beneath the jacks, similarly outjogged under the packet. Now fan over the four queens and,
with the aid of the right hanr1 .square them and flip them face-down
and square on top of the packet. As you do so, catch a heel break
between the queens and the packet, as exposed in Figure 106. (This
maneuver is known as an Altman trap.) It is now an easy matter to
transfer this heel break to the tip of the left fourth finger. Simply
press down with the left thumb on the outer left corner of the packet,
levering up the inner right corners of the queens. Then tighten the
fourth fingertip against the edges of the cards, taking the break, as
you relax pressure with the heel of the thumb, permitting the break
to collapse there.
"These queens of course are four ladies."
Immediately, execute a block push-off, dealing the four queens
as one card into the right hand. Without hesitation, deal the next
three cards (jacks), one by one, onto the block of queens, outjogging
them slightly.
"But these ladies were not the wives of the men, and these ladies
were not the mothers of the boys."
Slip the right hand's cards neatly back onto the left hand's packet.
Then turn the right hand palm-down and apparently remove the
queens again from the packet, grasping them by the ends. In reality, only the top three cards, those jogged forward, are removed,

EXOTICA 1 6 3
leaving the queens atop the packet. The act of replacing the queens
on the packet should seem to be done only to allow the right hand
to change its grip. Drop the right hand's cards face-down onto the
table. These are three jacks.
'These were four Wicked Ladies, sitting in a cafe in the Big City,
watching the passers-by."
Flip the left hand's packet face-up and fan over the four kings.
"Now the men were worried about the safety of their boys." Take
the fanned kings into the right hand, letting a jack be seen on the
face of the left hand's packet. Then smoothly flip the left hand's cards
face-down in dealing grip, and set the fanned kings, outjogged for
about half their length, onto the outer right corner of the packet. Clip
the kings in place with the left thumb, as shown in Figure 107. The
face-down cards should be held securely squared in mechanic's grip.

Bring the right hand, palm-up, to the inner right corner of the
face-down packet and, with the right thumb, draw the top card
inward, leaving the rest of the face-down cards perfectly squared
(Figure 108). Grip this card by the corner, thumb above and fingers
beneath, and pull it neatly from the group. Then slip it, still facedown, between the uppermost pair of kings, leaving it outjogged for
roughly an inch.
"So they decided that they would walk arm in arm..." In the same
fashion, remove the next card from the top of the face-down packet,
and slip it between the center pair of kings.
" . . . linked together..." Remove the next face-down card from the
packet and insert it between the lowermost pair of kings.
"... in a chain." With the palm-up right hand, grip the remaining
two face-down cards by their inner right corner and draw them from

164 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


under the fan while pivoting them around the
left fourth finger (Figure
109), turning the double
card end for end. These
two cards should already
be in perfect register, but
if there is any minor misalignment, it can be corrected as the pair is
drawn by the fourth finger. This action has the
added benefit of making
the double card appear
disarmingly single. Place it at the bottom of the fan, outjogged like
the others but slightly more so. To all appearances, you have just
alternated the face-down jacks with the face-up kings.
(Alternatively, rather than pivoting the double card from under
the fan, you can leave it in left-hand mechanic's grip while the right
hand grasps the fan and shifts it inward, bringing the double card
into the desired position under the fan.)
With the palm-up right hand, grip the entire fan and push it closed
against the heel of the left thumb; immediately raise the packet in
the right hand, briefly exposing its underside to the
audience, displaying the face
of a jack at the bottom (Figure 110). Because this card,
actually a double, projects
slightly farther than the
other outjogged cards, there
is no danger of the faces of
the queens being accidentally exposed. Resuming our
story:
"That way they thought everybody would be safe." Lower the
packet back onto the left hand; then bring the right hand over the
packet and push the face-down cards flush. In this action, side slip
the bottom card (the jack) into the right palm.
"But though the men could keep the boys safe, who was going to
keep the men safe?" Delivered with the proper inflection, this
observation should bring a chuckle from the audience. The
misdirective quip is timed to occur as the right hand leaves the

EXOTICA 1 6 5
packet and casually picks up the face-down pile from the table,
adding the palmed card to it.
"The ladies walked up the street past the party from the country.
And then they walked down the street and passed them again." As
you say this, pass the right hand's packet over the left hand's cards,
then under it. Keep the packets far enough apart to assure that no
suspicion of manipulation is aroused. Then set the right hand's
packet down again.
"And I don't really know how it occurred, but a short time later,
there were the four men..." Fan the packet in the left hand, showing
the face-down cards interspersed with the face-up kings.
".. .walking arm in arm with the four ladies..." Raise the left hand,
exposing the underside of the fan and revealing the queens alternated with the kings.
"...while back in the cafe there were the four boys, wondering
what had happened." With your right hand, flip over the tabled pile
and spread it to display the four jacks.
"But you and I know what had happened, because that's what
separates the men from the boys."

A PROBLEM WITH
DUPLICATE IDENTITIES
Effect: Two cards are freely selected and their identities noted
by the group. The selections are then placed face-down on the table.
Two more cards are chosen and, when they are turned up, they are
seen to be identical to the ones just put aside. The two new cards
are buried in the deck and the tabled pair is once more shown. The
two cards are found to be unchanged, verifying their strange
bilocation.
The faces of the cards can be marked by spectators in the beginning if wished, for no duplicates or gimmicks are used.
Method: The curious plot just described is a problem conceived
by Mr. Elmsley in the late 1950s. One restriction made was that
the trick be done with a regulation pack. The problem was aired
at a Saturday afternoon gathering in London, and the following
Sunday Jack Avis recorded it in his notes, along with a provisional
method that Mr. Elmsley demonstrated. This solution is far from
satisfactory in Mr. Elmsley's judgment, but I'm describing it,
nonetheless, as the problem is an interesting one, and though the
solution falls short of the ideal, it is certainly performable and may
trigger other ideas.
An impromptu double-backed card is used; that is, the card
second from the top of the pack is turned face-up. One simple way
of attaining this position is to reverse the bottom card of the deck
secretly, then to double cut two cards from the bottom of the pack
to the top.
It is also helpful for the trick if a mild convex bridge is installed
down the length of the face-down pack before you reverse the card.
Spread the deck, without exposing the reversed card, and have
two selections made. As you display them to everyone, casually rest
the selections on the pack, face-up with the upper card spread to
the right. Bring the right hand palm-up to the right of the cards and

EXOTICA

167

extend the fingers beneath the two selections. At the same time,
press the left thumb down on the outer left corner of the pack.
Thanks to the bridge in the cards, a narrow break will open along
the right edge of the deck, under the reversed card. With the tip of
the right second finger, nip the impromptu double-backer against
the face-up cards; then perform the Zarrow block addition; that is,
draw all four cards as a unit to the right, simultaneously flipping
them over, square onto the pack.
It appears as if you have just turned the two selections face-down
on the deck. Immediately pick off the top two cards and lay them
near you on the table. This is your impromptu double-backer. As
you set the two cards down, let them spread slightly at the outer right
cornerless than the width of a border, since the bottom card is
face-upleaving two cards in evidence.
The two selections are face-down on top of the deck. You must
now force them in some convincing manner. Display their faces to
the group, making certain it is noticed that these two cards are identical to the pair on the table. Then return the two new cards to the
deck and seemingly lose them, but actually control them back to the
top. This control should be as economical in action as possible, as
the loss of the cards is not important to the audience at the moment;
they are eager to see the first two cards again. A false cut pass or
some other straightforward false cut would suit the requirements
here. After bringing the chosen cards to the top, procure a left fourthfinger break beneath them.
With the right hand, pick up the pair from the table, taking care
not to expose the face-up condition of the lower card. Drop these
two cards onto the deck and perform a four-card turnover. Immediately spread the top two cards off the pack and toss them face-up
onto the table for the audience's examination.
The plot of this effect is unusual, and therefore intriguing. As
stated earlier, Mr. Elmsley considers the problem very much a work
in progress. It is offered here as a challenge for which it is hoped
the reader will discover a more elegant solution.

THE IMP OF THE INVERSE


Effect: Here is another intriguing Elmsley experiment, demonstrated by him at a Saturday gathering with Jack Avis and other
friends in the 1960s. The performer riffles through the deck until a
spectator calls stop. The card stopped at is pulled partially from the
pack and shown: the nine of diamonds. The performer slowly and
fairly pushes the selection back into the pack, then gives the cards
to the spectator. In the process he lets his hands be seen empty.
The performer snaps his fingers over the deck and tells the spectator to find his card and place it on the table. The spectator fails
to do so, for the nine of diamonds is no longer in the pack. It is then
produced from the performer's wallet, the closed card case or some
other impossible location.
Method: In the November 1964 Magicana column of Genii magazine (Vol. 29, No. 3, p. 150), William Woodfield published a
fascinating method for vanishing a card from the pack under extraordinary circumstances. Though not mentioned by Mr. Woodfield, this
trick was L'homme Masque's "The Flying Card", from The Art of Magic
(pp. 77-79). In that fine work the authors, Hilliard and Downs,
suggested a more appropriate title might be "The Kinetoscope Card";
and Mr. Woodfield's later title, "Kaleidoscopic Card", an obvious
corruption of kinetoscope, provides a clear clue to his source.
Shortly after reading the Woodfield column, Mr. Elmsley devised
an alternative method for the effect. L'homme Masque's trick
exploited a novel image blurring principle that I've never seen used
elsewhere. The Elmsley solution is as offbeat and clever in its own
right as the original. It is founded on the idea of passing off the six
of diamonds for the nine. This bold but effective swindle was
invented by Edward Mario, and exploited by him in a trick titled "A
Variation to a Sixy Effect" (ref. Ibidem, No. 15, Dec. 1958, pp. 9-10).
Prepare by taking the nine of diamonds from the pack and stowing it wherever you desire to produce it later. There will be a
temptation to place it in some utterly impossible spot, but prudence

EXOTICA 1 6 9
suggests the choice of a believable location, such as the card case,
under the close-up pad, in your pocket or your wallet. If the nine is
produced from some clearly impossible place, spectators will cannily
presume that it could not be the card previously seen in the deck.
Dai Vernon's Too Perfect Theory is very much in force here.
When ready to perform, secretly locate the six of diamonds,
position it a bit above center in the pack and form a left fourthfinger break under it as you settle the face-down deck into
left-hand dealing grip.
Turn toward a spectator on your left and ask him to call stop as
you riffle through the cards. Then perform a timed riffle force, stopping at the six of diamonds in the following manner: With the tip of
your right forefinger, riffle up the outer right corner of the pack and
watch the spectator's lips. When you see them begin to move, adjust
the pace of the riffle to reach the break just as he utters stop.
(Success with the riffle force is more a matter of timing than skill,
and can be quickly learned with a little experience.)
Dig your right fingers into the break, at the same time turning a
bit more to your left and raising the deck to a vertical position, outer
end up and back broadside to the audience. Then pull the six of
diamonds upward, upjogging it for roughly half its length. Say to
the spectator, "I want you to remember the card you stopped me at.
I'll look at it too." Pinching the outer
end of the card between the right
thumb and forefinger, bow it backward
over the end of the deck, until the index
can be seen by you and the spectator
on your left (Figure 111). You will both
be looking at an upside-down index,
and the 6 appears as a 9. "The nine of
diamonds," you say to him, verbally
reinforcing the optical illusion. (Note
that a diamond card is recommended
for this deception as diamonds is the
only suit that has no rightside-up or
upside-down orientation.)
Give him a clear look at the index, but don't prolong it; a second
is a sufficient interval. Let the card spring straight again, bow it
inward briefly to remove any crimp the outward bowing may have
caused, then neatly push it flush with the pack. All actions must
be open and painstakingly honest at this point. Give the deck to the
spectator and let your hands be seen empty.

1 7 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Now make some magical gesture over the deck and tell the spectator to remove his card and set it on the table. Of course he will
not find the nine of diamonds in the deck. It seems to have melted
away. Once he has convinced himself that it is gone, produce it from
its hiding place, manifesting as much drama as is palatable.
On a bare reading, the passing of the six for a nine must seem
perilously audacious. It is unquestionably bold, but it is also
surprisingly deceptive. I have seen Michael Skinner and several other
performers completely fool audiences of magicians and laymen with
a trick of Edward Mario's ("On the Card to Case" in Mario's Magazine,
Volume Four, pp. 14-15) that relies on this very principle. It is not a
pipe dream.
[1965]

SUM TALK OF ALEXANDER


Effect: Someone is asked to write down any number between one
and ten. The performer writes a second digit beside this, forming a
two-digit number. This done, the spectator cuts roughly half the
cards from a shuffled deck. Both spectator and performer shuffle
their halves; then the spectator pulls any card he likes from his half
and lays it face-up on the table.
The performer reunites the halves of the pack and, without
altering the order of the cards, deals onto the table a number of cards
equal to the value of the selection. The last card of the count is turned
up and placed with the spectator's card. Then the value of this new
card is counted off and the last card of the count turned up. This
card is placed with the first two cards, and its value is used to count
down in the pack. The procedure is continued until the entire pack
has been exhausted.
Now the spectator is instructed to add up the values of the random
cards turned up during the deal. That value, strange as it seems,
exactly matches the two-digit number chosen in the beginning.
Method: Mr. Elmsley's title offers a clue to the parentage of this
trick. The Alexander referenced is not he of Macedonia, nor of
Elmsley, but of Kraus. In Ibidem, Nos. 12 and 13, Alexander F. Kraus
contributed a card puzzle with a fascinating mathematical solution.
Further ideas by Tom Ransom and Max Katz were appended to Mr.
Kraus' article. The trick described above is the fruit of Mr. Elmsley's
dalliance with this mathematical oddity and the groundwork in its
application contributed by the puzzling minds of these three men.
A simple setup is responsible for this curious coincidence effect.
You must have a full deck of fifty-two cardsno jokers. Remove a
set often cards, the values of which run from ace through ten. The
suits should be mixed. Arrange these cards in descending order, with
the ace at the face of the packet. Place any nine spot beneath the
ace and place these eleven cards on the bottom of the deck.

172 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


In performance, give the pack a quick overhand shuffle, retaining
the bottom stock. Then set down the cards and hand a pencil and
slip of paper to someone. Ask that she write down any number
between one and ten. If she by chance selects five, have her write
down a second digit after it, creating a random two-digit number.
If, however, her first choice is something other than five, take the
pencil from her and write five before her digit, assuring that a
number from fifty-two to fifty-nine is formed. Mentally subtract the
spectator's chosen digit (i.e., the units digit of the two-digit number)
from ten and remember the result. For example, if the spectator
chose three, and the number fifty-three has been formed, subtract
three from ten, leaving seven. Seven then becomes your key number.
Have the spectator cut off roughly half the pack. Pick up the
bottom half for yourself and ask her to shuffle her cards, indicating
through your own actions an overhand shuffle. Your explanatory
shuffle consists of nothing more than a quick run of a few cards.
Run a number of cards equal to your key number from the top of
the packet to the bottom. Do not disturb the eleven-card setup as
you do this. You can, if you like, follow this shuffle adjustment with
a brief false shuffle, as the spectator shuffles her portion.
When the mixing has been completed, have her remove any card
she wishes from her group and lay it face-up on the table. Retrieve
the balance of her packet from her and set it onto your own.
Point out the value of the random card she has chosen (all court
cards are given a value of ten) and deal that number of cards,
counting them aloud, into a face-down pile. Turn up the last card
of the count and lay it onto hers. Draw attention to the value of this
chance card and count an equal number from the pack, dealing the
cards onto the existing pile on the table. Turn up the last card and
place it with the previous two. Continue counting and turning up
cards in this fashion until you can go no further; that is, until there
are not enough cards left in the talon to count the value of the final
card. That last face-up card, by the way, will always be the nine at
the bottom of your setup.
If you now add the values of all the cards set aside during the
deal, their total will equal the two-digit number constructed at the
beginning of the trick.
You can allow the spectator to do the dealing, thus eliminating
any suspicion of sleight-of-hand on your part. However, if you choose
this course, you must make your instructions extremely clear or
confusion and possible failure will result.
The selection procedure can be handled in another way. Rather
than have the spectator cut off half the pack and shuffle it, simply
give the cards a casual shuffle yourself, transferring the necessary

EXOTICA 1 7 3
number of cards from top to bottom. Then fan out the top half of
the pack for a selection to be made. The card, of course, cannot be
drawn from the setup or from those cards below it. Do not, however,
sell short the impression of fairness lent by the spectator's shuffling
in the original handling. Though she is permitted to shuffle only half
the deck, this counts for more in the audience's perception than your
shuffling of the entire pack.
Since the final card turned up will always be the bottom card of
the setup, some will be tempted to tack on a supplementary effect
in which they predict that card. This is certainly possible, but predicting the card may seem too pat to an audience, and can
undermine the effect as a whole. In this case, as in so many others,
less may well be more.
It will be understood that the spectator's selection is limited to a
number between one and ten as this ensures a single digit other than
one. One is avoided because it requires a shift of nine cards to the
bottom of the pack, which would deny you the option of stopping
at the nine on the face of the setup, thus adding one more card to
the total and upsetting the desired sum. Mr. Elmsley has worked
out two solutions that allow one to be included in the selection range:
1) If one is chosen by the spectator, palm away one or two cards
from the bottom of the pack before you begin to deal through
it. The palmed cards will have to be secretly disposed of in a
pocket or the lap.
2) Make the bottom card of your setup a ten instead of a nine,
and secretly remove two cards from the pack before you begin,
leaving fifty. If you then subtract the chosen digit from nine
instead often, you will arrive at the number of cards you need
to transfer from top to bottom with your shuffling.
Although these alternatives are reasonably efficient, I think most
performers will prefer the original ploy of simply eliminating one from
the selection bank through subtle phrasing.
The setup exploited here automatically forces a total of sixty when
no shuffle displacement is performed. By transferring cards under
the setup, you reduce the total by that number of cards. If you
replace the nine at the bottom of the setup with a card of another
value, the base total is changed.
An ace yields a total of fifty-two;
a two gives fifty-three;
a three gives fifty-four;
a four gives fifty-five;
a five gives fifty-six;

1 7 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


a six gives fifty-seven;
a seven gives fifty-eight;
an eight gives fifty-nine;
and a ten or a court card (counting as ten) yields sixty-one.
One other interesting fact about the construction of this stack
should be mentioned. The descending ten-through-ace sequence that
sits above the final card of the stock need not be strictly adhered
to. Any value in that sequence may be replaced with a lower value
and the stack will still function. For example, a stack reading eightfour-six-seven-two-three-four-two-two-ace from top to bottom will
still deliver the desired eleventh card of the stock. Given this information, you can arrange the stack quite rapidly.
It will be obvious that this setup can be useful for forcing any
number from fifty to sixty-one. Study of this system can, I'm certain,
lead to other interesting uses as well.

SWITCHY-COO
Effect: A card is freely chosen and shuffled back into the deck.
The spectator is asked to name a small number, something between
one and eight. The card at that number is counted to and turned
face-up in place. It is not the selection.
The eight-card packet is ribbon spread face-up on the table. None
of these cards is the selection either. The card that was first turned
up, the card that rested, and still rests, at the chosen number, lies
face-down in the spread. The performer snaps his fingers over this
card and turns it up, showing that it has magically changed to the
chosen card.
Method: Begin by having a card chosen, noted and returned to
the pack. You must now reverse this card and secretly position it
second from the top of the pack. There are several methods of
accomplishing this, but perhaps the simplest is a reversal Dr. Jacob
Daley devised many years ago:
Give the deck a shuffle and control the card to the top. Take the
deck into left-hand dealing position and execute a double turnover,
showing the selection is not on top. Then, tilt the outer end of the
deck upward, angling the top of the pack out of the audience's view.
With the deck in this position, take the top card into the right hand
and turn it face-down, leaving the face-up selection on the deck.
Replace the top card square onto the pack and casually lower the
left hand, bringing the top once more into view. If you are working
in surrounded conditions, where tilting the pack does not provide
sufficient cover, turn the left hand palm-down and lower the deck
away from the left palm to exhibit the bottom card. This is not the
selection either. While the deck is held in this position, with the right
fingers draw the lowermost card from beneath the pack, turn it faceup and slip it under the pack once more. Then turn the left hand
palm-up, bringing the top of the pack into view.
Form a left fourth-finger break under the top two cards as you
ask the spectator to name a number between one and eight. You will

176 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


now count that many cards from the top of the deck into the right
hand, but with one small artifice: begin by pushing off the top two
cards as one, concealing the reversed selection. If the left thumb is
placed at the far left edge of the deck as it begins to push, it is not
difficult to move the pair above the break to the right as one card.
On the count of two, push over the next card from the pack and
take it onto the right hand's double. Continue to count cards into
the right hand, reversing their order, until you reach the chosen
number. Turn up the card that falls at this number and take it,
outjogged for about half its length, onto the right-hand packet. Then
continue to count cards face-down onto the packet until you have
reached eight.
Mentally note how many cards you have counted onto the faceup indifferent card and, as you push off the final card, spread over
that many more cards as well. For example, if five is the number
named, you would count off four cards, turn up the fifth and count
three more cards onto it. As the last card is dealt, spread three
additional cards to the right in the action. Then drop the left hand
and deck casually to your side and form a fourth-finger break under
the spread cards. (If pinkie counting is among your skills, you may
prefer to use this technique to obtain the break.) Meanwhile, draw
attention to the right hand and its packet by naming the face-up card
and asking if it is the selection.
When the spectator tells you the outjogged card is not his, raise
the left hand again and place the right hand's packet on top of the
deck. Bring the right hand palm-down over the deck and, with the
fingertips, contact the far end of the outjogged card. Also contact
the near end of the block above the break with the right thumbtip
(Figure 112). Simultaneously push the packet forward about half an
inch on the deck and push the outjogged card inward until it projects
from the packet for only an eighth of an inch (Figure 113).

EXOTICA 1 7 7
Immediately grasp the packet by it outer end and turn it faceup, end over end, square onto the deck. This brings the jogged
card, now face-down, to the inner end of the pack. Hold no break
under the packet after this turn. Without hesitation, regrasp the
packet by its ends from above, right fingers at the front and thumb
at the back. Press down and in with the thumb on the injogged
card, forming a break over it as it is pushed flush, and lift the
packet above cleanly away.
Ribbon spread the packet from right to left, displaying seven faceup cards and an eighth card, face-down, among them. Unknown to
the audience, this face-down card is not the indifferent card just
displayed, but the selection. It occupies a position in the spread that
seems correct, though it is not. It lies at the proper number, but at
the wrong end of the row. However, this discrepancy goes unnoticed
for several reasons. First, the packet was turned over before it was
spread, which confuses the issue; and second, because the spread
has been made from right to left, and because people normally count
from left to right without thinking, from the audience's perspective,
the card seems properly positioned from their left.
Ask if the selection is one of the other seven cards. The answer,
of course, is no. Remind the spectator that he named any number
he wished. Then snap your fingers over the face-down card and
dramatically turn it up, showing that it has changed to the selection.
A few face-up cards remain hidden under the top card of the pack.
Secretly straighten them when attention is relaxed. You can cut them
to the bottom and right them there with a half pass. Or you might
use the Braue reversal as follows: Form a left fourth-finger break
under the top card. With the right hand, gather the eight tabled cards
and lay them face-down onto the deck. Then grasp the upper portion
of the pack by its ends, taking over the break with the right thumb.
Using the natural bridge between the reversed cards and the pack,
gently lift these cards away from the rest, while maintaining the
thumb's separation between the face-up cards and the face-down
cards above them. With the left hand, flip the deck face-up. Lay the
right hand's packet momentarily onto the face of the deck, releasing
the cards below the break; then turn the remaining face-down packet
face-up over the deck and lay it back onto the face.
The neat switch of a card at a specific position, featured in this
trick, should be studied, as it can undoubtedly be adapted to other
effects as well.
September 1958

HALF PACKED
Effect: As the performer riffles his thumb down the side of the
deck, someone is asked to call stop. The pack is cut at that point
and one half is presented to the spectator. He is asked to choose
any card he wishes from his packet, note it, then thrust it into the
center of the performer's half. Both performer and spectator cut their
cards, mixing them, before the halves are shuffled into each other.
The performer explains that, while it was previously known that
the chosen card was in his half of the pack, after the shuffle it is
impossible to know whether the card lies in the upper portion or in
the lower. He cuts the pack once more and places the lower half in
his pocket.
"Your card may or may not be in this half. What was your
card?" On hearing the name of the card, the performer sandwiches
the half deck between his two hands and suddenly it vanishes
entirely. A moment later, a single card reappears between the
hands: the selection. The rest of the pack is later found in the
performer's pocket.
Method: This trick depends on the cunning use of Paul LePaul's
bluff pass. There is no preparation. The trick can be performed with
a shuffled pack or a borrowed one. Begin by holding the deck facedown in left-hand dealing grip, and ask the person farthest to your
left to call stop as you riffle your thumb down the outer left corner
of the cards. Note that, since the bluff pass will be employed shortly,
your audience must be managed so that no one is positioned at your
extreme left, from which this maneuver is vulnerable to exposure.
If this cannot be arranged, you must face the leftmost individual and
work to him, thus turning the bad side inward, protecting it from
the audience's view.
Tilt the left side of the pack upward, displaying the thumb's action
as you riffle through the cards, and time the riffling so that you are
stopped somewhere near center. With the left thumb, pull open the
pack at the point indicated, forming a generous gap there. Then bring

EXOTICA 1 7 9
the hands together to separate the two portions: move the left hand
somewhat toward the approaching right hand, simultaneously tilting
the outer end of the deck downward to bring the top of the pack fully
into sight while tipping the far edge just beyond the audience's view.
At the same time, bring the right hand palm-down over the deck.
With the right fingers together at the front end, and the right thumb
at the left inner corner, grip the packet above the left thumb's break,
the fingers concealing the front edge entirely. Then lower the left
hand, carrying the bottom portion of the pack away from the upper.
The act of cutting the cards at the point the spectator stipulates is
honest; but the actions are carefully contrived to duplicate those
necessary for the LePaul bluff pass (ref. Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol.
3, pp. 181-183). Indeed, by establishing the actions of this cutting
procedure as described, Mr. Elmsley has often fooled magicians with
this trick, though they were familiar with the bluff pass.
Present the right hand's packet to the spectator who called stop,
and ask that he shuffle it, while you do the same with the cards
remaining to you. When the shuffling has been completed, the
spectator is instructed to remove any card he wishes from his
portion, note it and insert it into your packet. Do not let him push
the selection entirely flush. This task you reserve for yourself, so that
you can secretly secure a fourth-finger break above the card. Ask
the spectator to give his packet several cuts, further mixing the
cards. You do likewise with your packet, actually double cutting the
selection to the top. Then retrieve the spectator's packet.
"I shall shuffle our two packets together... and cut the pack in
two again, so that we don't know which half contains your card."
Do exactly that, riffle shuffling the two portions together, while
retaining the selection on top. Then, as you seemingly divide the pack
in half, actually perform the LePaul bluff pass. That is, as you hold
the deck in left-hand dealing grip, run your left thumb down the
outer left corner as you did previously, stop near center and apparently separate the pack at this point. However, as the right hand
comes over the deck to lift away the top portion, the left hand tilts
the front of the pack downward a bit, and the left thumb gently
relaxes its pressure, allowing the gap it holds to close secretly. The
right hand aids in concealing this subtle motion, and without
hesitation it grasps just the top card of the pack (the selection) by
its ends. While it isn't strictly necessary, Mr. Elmsley recommends
that you secure a left fourth-finger break under the top card before
beginning the bluff pass, to assure that the right hand can grasp
just the top card without hesitation or fumbling.
All four right fingers, aligned across the front edge of the card,
hide its singleness. The left forefinger performs a similar service of

180 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


concealment by stretching across the front of the
pack, as does the thumb,
reposed along the left
edge (Figure 114, situation exposed from the
left). You also should
lower the right side of the
pack somewhat, to aid
the left fingers in covering the thickness there.
The right hand screens
the right side of its card from view, leaving only the left edge to worry
about; and if there is no one on your left, or if you have turned to
face the spectator there, this angle cannot be observed.
Resist a guilty impulse to drop the right hand, with its one card
masquerading as half a pack, to your side; nor should you raise the
left hand over the right to obscure it. Such actions only draw attention to the very thing you are trying to hide. Keep the right hand
stationary and positioned naturally in front of you, angled as taught,
and all will go well.
"This half pack goes into my pocket." Move your left hand, with
the deck, directly to your left coat or trousers pocket and neatly
deposit it there. Bring the hand empty from the pocket and run the
left fingers back and forth along the left edge of the right hand's card
in a squaring action. This further suggests that you hold half the
packbut don't draw attention to this action. Rather, look up at
the spectator as you apparently square the packet, and say, "Your
card may or may not be in this half. What was your card?"
Hearing the name of the
card spoken triggers a quick
succession of visual surprises.
Moving smoothly from the left
hand's squaring action, turn
this hand palm-up under the
right hand's card, as if about
to take it (as a packet) into
dealing grip. Simultaneously
curl the tips of the right second, third and fourth fingers
inward, contacting the face of
the card, and catch it in master palm (Figure 115).

EXOTICA 181
Without hesitation, revolve the left hand palm-down and to the
left of the right hand, the left fingers curled in as if holding a packet
of cards. In the same action, raise the left hand a bit, focusing all
attention on it, while the right third fingertip pushes the hidden card
inward and into rear palm (see Volume I, pp. 124-126, for a full
discussion of this palm).
"If I take this half pack and squeeze it, it vanishes." Work the left
fingers in the venerable magical gesture of crumpling an object into
nothingness; then dramatically reveal the vanish of the half pack.
While displaying the left hand palm-up, casually brush the tip of the
right second finger over the left palm several times, casually emphasizing the apparent emptiness of the hands.
After the final brushing action, the right hand moves inward, over
the left hand again, while the right thumb moves forward to touch
the tip of the right forefinger. This causes the near end of the palmed
card to move away from the right palm and wrist. As this occurs,
simultaneously turn the left hand
palm-down under the right hand
while loosely closing the fingers.
You will find that this combination of actions allows you to introduce the near end of the card
smoothly and secretly into the
fork of the left thumb (Figure
116).
Continue to turn the left hand
palm-down, folding the fingers
around the card as the right hand
releases it from palm grip. However, keep the right hand poised
above the left, covering the projecting end of the card at the near
side of the left fist. As this is done,
say, "One card r e t u r n s . . . and
rises from behind my hand."
Now touch the tips of the right
fingers softly to the back of the
left hand and rub it in small
circles. At the same time, under
the cover provided by this action,
place the tip of the left thumb
against the projecting end of the
card and push it slowly through

182 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the fist, forcing the card into view (Figure 117). Done smoothly and
with grace, this production looks extremely magical.
"And that is your card." Grip the card by its outer end between
your right thumb and forefinger, draw it from the left fist and
display it.
"The rest of the pack is all together in my pocket." With your
obviously empty left hand, reach into your pocket and bring out the
full pack.
The effect created by this sequence is quite amazing, and quite a
bit stronger than it might appear on the page. Over the years it has
remained a favorite in Mr. Elmsley's estimation, which should be
recommendation enough to give it a trial.

SECOND LINK
Effect: Two persons freely choose as many cards. Once they have
been noted, they are lost in the pack. After shuffling the cards, the
performer has one of the spectators name a small number and give
the pack a cut. This spectator then is asked to watch for his selection as the performer deals through the deck.
Starting the dealing at the random point where the spectator cut,
the performer deals cards face-up until the spectator sees his card.
At this time he hands the deck to the second spectator and asks if
he remembers the number his companion chose a few moments ago.
He is instructed to count down to that number, dealing the cards
face-up. Astonishment results when he turns up the last card of the
count and finds it to be his own selection.
Method: To perform this bewildering coincidence effect you must
secretly gain knowledge of the second card from the face of the pack.
There are many ways this can be accomplished. Here is one satisfactory method:
Glimpse the bottom card of the pack. Now, while paying no outward attention to the hands, perform a casual overhand shuffle as
follows: run one card from the top, "milk" off the new top card and
the bottom card together, and shuffle the balance onto these.
Spread the cards face-down between your hands as you ask
someone to take one. As you make the spread, push over groups
of three or four, secretly counting, and injog the fifteenth card
from the top. Have the selection removed and noted. Meanwhile,
you square the pack and form a break over the injogged card while
pushing it flush. Then cut off the fourteen cards above the break
and have the selection returned at that point. Drop the cut-off
packet onto the selection and square the pack, making it clear
that you are holding no breaks or jogs. Then casually cut the top
third of the pack (i.e., a few more cards than fifteen) to the bottom,
catching a break between the two packets.

184 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Spread the cards in a similar fashion for a second spectator to
take one. This time, though, no counting is necessary. Simply make
sure that the second card is removed from the portion of the pack
above the break.
After the spectator has noted his card, cut the pack at the break
and have the card placed on the bottom third. Drop the cut-off
packet onto it, and again make it clear that the card is honestly
buried in the deck.
Now give the cards a quick overhand shuffle that preserves the
order of the bottom half of the pack. The simplest way to accomplish
this is to shuffle off about half the deck, then throw the bottom
portion beneath the shuffled cards.
Set the deck face-down before the second spectator and ask him
to name any number under fifteen. You must then make one small
mental calculation. Subtract his number from fifteen and remember
the remainder; e.g., if he names eight, you subtract eight from fifteen
and remember seven.
Ask the same spectator to cut the deck and complete the cut.
Watch where the cut is made. If he cuts low, into the bottom half of
the pack, you will need to transfer a few cards from the bottom to
the top, to keep your stock intact, with your key card somewhere
near the top. This adjustment can be made by openly cutting the
cards or with a pass. However, chances are good that this will be
unnecessary.
Explain that you will begin dealing the cards face-up at the
random point he has determined by his cut (assuming, of course,
that no open adjustment has been made by you). As you deal, he is
to watch for his card and stop you when he sees it. Begin dealing,
watching for your key card. That key lies two cards above the second
selection. When the key appears, it gives you a grace period of one
card before you must start second dealing.
(A fine basic description of this sleight can be had from Erdnase's
Expert at the Card Table, pp. 58-60. Other particularly good treatments appear in Bill Simon's Effective Card Magic, pp. 71-79, Dai
Vernon's Further Inner Secrets of Card Magic, pp. 48-52, and Edward
Mario's Seconds, Centers, Bottoms.)
When you reach the key, deal it onto the rest, then another card
from the top. Now, without hesitation, start dealing seconds, holding
back the chosen card, as you count silently to the number you have
remembered (in the above example, this was seven). After having
second dealt seven cards, deal the next card honestly from the top.
This is the second spectator's selection, and he will tell you to stop.

EXOTICA 1 8 5
Hand the balance of the pack to the first spectator and ask him
if he remembers the number chosen by his collaborator. Then have
him count down to that number, dealing the cards face-up. The last
card dealt will be his.
In Chapter Six we will return to this plot to explain an approach
using a faro shuffle (see "Direct Link", pp. 329-332); but for now we
proceed to a packet variant, one that over the years many cardmen
have come to recognize as an Elmsley classic.

DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND


Effect: The performer removes the ace through ten of diamonds
from the pack, arranges the ten cards in numerical order, and sets
the packet aside. He then has someone peek at any card in the deck.
The card is not removed, merely glimpsed and remembered by the
spectator.
The diamond packet is dropped onto the deck and the spectator
is asked to name any number from one to ten. The performer deals
the diamond cards into a face-up row, but leaves the card at the
spectator's number face-down. When this card is turned over, it is
found to have changed to the spectator's thought-of card.
If desired, the vanished diamond card can be produced from the
performer's pocket.
Method: Mr. Elmsley points out that this effect is only a variation on an old standard: the production of a selected card at any
number called for. The method relies on the second deal. However,
the embellishment of using ten arranged diamond cards makes the
trick more interesting to watch and, oddly, easier to perform.
Because "Diamond Cut Diamond", like the previous item, relies
heavily on the second deal, a sleight recognized (and rightly so) as
difficult to master, the trick has not shared the wide popularity of
other Elmsley creations. Yet, it has found its way into the repertoires
of many magicians who do possess facility with the requisite sleights,
and it has been bandied from page to page by such players as
Edward Mario, Martin Nash and Frank Garcia, who all recognized
the mystery and entertainment inherent in the effect.
If you are one of the many who is intimidated by the second deal,
but who dream of mastering it, please pay close attention to this
trick. "Diamond Cut Diamond" is an excellent item with which to
gain confidence while perfecting your second dealing skills. Even a
mediocre second deal can pass muster here, as attention is naturally focused on the cards as they are turned up, rather than on your
hands and the deck.

EXOTICA 1 8 7
Now to the trick itself. Begin by removing the ace through ten of
diamonds from the deck. Openly arrange them in ascending order
from top to face. Square the packet and set it face-down to your right,
at the near edge of the table.
Give the balance of the pack a shuffle and have a card peeked at
by a spectator. Catch a left fourth-finger break below the card as
the spectator sights it, and side steal the selection from the deck,
palming it in the right hand. All this is common procedure.
With the right hand, pick up the diamond packet, adding the palmed card to
the top. (The packet was placed near the
edge of the table to facilitate this.)
"Here, you remember, we have the diamonds." Turn the right hand palm-up
and, with the right thumb, partially fan
the packet. Position the right forefinger at
the right edge of the packet to keep the
lower cards blocked together as the fan is
made (Figure 118, an underview). This assures that the selection is not exposed.
Tip the fanned cards face-down onto
the pack, which still lies in the left hand.
Square the cards and ask, "Will you please
give me a number between one and ten?"
Let's assume the spectator specifies five. "Then we shall use the five
of diamonds."
Begin to second deal cards, turning them face-up as you lay them
on the table in an overlapping row. Work from your right to your left
when forming the row, and leave at least half of each card exposed
as the next is laid on it.

119

>

* >
'
-::
8
I

188 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


"As you have already seen, these cards are in order from ace
to ten. The card you named was the five." When you reach the fifth
card, deal from the top and lay the card (the selection) face-down
in the row.
"But you could have chosen any one of these cards." Deal
seconds again, until the ten of diamonds appears. All the diamonds are in order, from ace to ten, and everything appears as
it should (Figure 119).
"Now, what card are you thinking of?" When she names it, snap
your fingers over the face-down card in the row and turn it up. It
is, of course, the selection. The five of diamonds is gone.
You can conclude here, or you can palm the five of diamonds
from the top of the deck and produce it from your pocket. The card
also could be found in a wallet, a sealed envelope, or some other
place; however, the simple pocket production is best. You do not
wish to lose the main effect of the change by overwhelming it at
the last moment with some thoroughly impossible production of
the diamond card. Save that for another time and let each of these
effects survive on its own substantial merits.
November 1954

SIGNING OFF
Effect: A card is chosen and noted. The person who selected it
is invited to take the deck in her own hands, insert her card anywhere she likes and shuffle the cards to assure its loss.
The performer removes a pad of paper from his pocket and jots
down some mental impressions he is receiving. These he hands to
someone else.
The first spectator now tells everyone the card she chose: the four
of clubs. The person holding the performer's note is asked to read
it. "Your card is the four of clubs and it is seventeenth from the top
of the pack." The first spectator deals seventeen cards from the deck
and turns up the last. Just as the performer has perceived it, the
card is hers.
The performer offers the card to her as a souvenir and signs its
face. But before giving the signed card to her, he first waves it over
deck, then turns the deck face-up and spreads it. Every card is now
seen to bear his signature! Indeed an extraordinary occurrence.
Method: Mr. Elmsley summarily comments that the secret to this
mystery is quickly explained: a force and a deck switch. Of course,
it is how these tasks are accomplished that makes the thing interesting, both in method and in the eyes of the audience.
In your left jacket-pocket place a deck of cards, fifty-one of which
you have signed on their faces. The fifty-second card, which can be
any one you wish (let us say the four of clubs), is left unsigned and
is positioned seventeenth from the top of the pack. This pack is a
match for the one you will use for your previous card effects.
In your right jacket-pocket place a note pad; and in the right
breast pocket of your shirt a pen.
You must first perform several card tricks with the normal deck
to establish its ordinary nature. At the end of these tricks the
duplicate to the unsigned card in your pocket must be managed into
position for forcing. It can be controlled throughout the previous

190 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


routine, in preparation for the force; or you may mark or corner short
it, so that it can be quickly located without obvious searching. The
latter course is Mr. Elmsley's preference.
Force this card on someone, using any procedure you wish, so
long as it is direct and convincing. Then hand the pack to the spectator, have her return her card and shuffle it in herself. When she
is done, retrieve the pack from her, taking it face-down into left-hand
dealing position.
Ask that she get a vivid picture of the card in her mind, as you
wish to try an experiment in both telepathy and clairvoyance. For
this test, pen and paper are needed.
Dip both hands into their respective jacket pockets in search of
the pad. With the right hand, grasp the pad and bring it forth. At
the same time, release the deck held by the left hand and take the
signed deck in its place. Bring this deck from the left pocket just as
the right hand is bringing the pad into view.
Set the new deck face-down on the table and go to the right breast
pocket for the pen. If these actions are done with a sense of
unimportance, and if your attention is constantly focused on the pad
and then the pen, a deck switch will never be suspected.
You must now act the part of a telepathist struggling to pull
thoughts from your subject's mind. On the pad write, "Your card is
the four of clubs and it is seventeenth from the top of the pack." Of
course, the card and the position are variables that can be changed
from performance to performance.
Tear off the sheet bearing your impressions and hand it to someone nearby. Ask the first spectator to announce the name of her card.
Then have the person holding your impressions read them to the
group. Next, instruct the first spectator to pick up the deck from the
table and count down to the seventeenth card, dealing the cards facedown into a pile. When she reaches the specified card, have her turn
it up. It is of course her selection.
Let the reaction settle before going on. This effect by itself is very
powerful to a lay audience. When they have relaxed, have your spectator set the balance of the deck onto the pile of dealt cards. Offer
to sign her selection as a souvenir of a successful experiment. Do
so. But before handing it to her, wave it over the deck, then turn
the deck face-up and spread it, revealing that every card now magically carries your signature.
Mr. Elmsley has experimented with the presentation of this effect.
In one variant, he does not sign the selection, but instead turns the
deck up to show that the spectator's card is the only one that does

EXOTICA

191

not bear his signature. This, too, is an odd effect, and it conforms
more closely to a presentation of mental powers.
In a more playful vein, he sometimes attributes the success of all
his tricks to Joey the Joker. When the deck is turned face-up, Joey's
signature is found on all the cards as a sign of farewell.
No matter which of these presentations is used, the trick is strong,
unusual and a fine closing effect to a card routine. Twenty-five years
later, Mr. Elmsley would return to the underlying premise of this
trick to create his remarkable "Tour de Force" (pp. 471-480), with
which he closed his Dazzle Act.
January 7, 1950

SIGNATURE PIECE
Effect: The performer offers to demonstrate a new method of
check forgery used by swindlers. To protect the members of his
audience, he demonstrates this with playing cards rather than bank
checks. Someone chooses a card from a red-backed pack and signs
the face of the selection. The signed card is replaced face-up in the
face-down deck, after which the deck is fanned and placed on the
table, with the face-up selection clearly visible.
A second deck is now brought into play, one with blue backs. This
deck represents the swindler's fraudulent checkbook. The performer
quickly finds the unsigned blue-backed duplicate to the spectator's
signed selection and reverses it in the middle of its deck. The blue
deck is fanned and placed beside the first pack.
The performer makes a mysterious gesture over the two packs,
then asks the spectator to slip her card from the first deck. When
she does, everyone sees that her signature is no longer on the face
of the card. She is then asked to slide the duplicate card from the
second deck, and she finds her signature on its face. This swindler
has gone the forger one better: he hasn't duplicated the victim's
signature; he has stolen it right off her check and placed it onto his
own. Both decks can be examined, as they contain nothing that
explains this magical transfer.
Method: Mr. Elmsley devised this entertaining and novel effect
in the late 1950s, making it the earliest example I've encountered
of a magical migration of a signature on playing cards. The earliest
example of the translocation of a spectator's mark or initials may
well be the ancient potsherd or sugar cube trick, in which the initials
appear mysteriously on the spectator's hand. The adaptation of this
premise to playing cards, however, is more recent.
The plot of making two initialed cards transpose has been around
awhile. It is the effect of Edward Victor's 1937 trick, "Sign, Please!"
(ref. The Magic of the Hands, pp. 27-29). In "Sign, Please!", a spectator initials one card, which is then caused to transpose with

EXOTICA 1 9 3
another. In Theodore Annemann's "Insto-transpo" (ref. The Incorporated Strange Secrets, pp. 3-4) both transposing cards are marked,
one with a spectator's initials, the other with the performer's. But
in these early signed transpositions, the effect was clearly that of
the cards changing places, while the initials remained with the card
or cards on which they were originally written.
The brilliant Paul Curry took signed transpositions in an unexpected direction with his trick "Period of Darkness" (ref. The Phoenix,
No. 86, June 15, 1945, pp. 348-349). Here the performer signs one
side of a slate, and a spectator signs the opposite side. The slate is
placed flat on a table and held there by two spectators while the
lights are briefly extinguished. When the lights are restored, the two
names on the slate have changed places. In Mr. Curry's presentation, the audience is led to believe that the slate has been turned
over in some impossible manner. However, in this trick the transposition of two signatures was an alternative presentation that lay
waiting to be recognized.
In the February 1947 issue of Pentagram (Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 3132) Peter Warlock adapted Annemann's card transposition to slates,
and in doing so, gave the effect an unusual twist. In "Insto Transpo
Slates" the performer and a spectator each take a slate and draw a
geometrical symbol of their choice. Each then initials the opposite
side of his slate. After this precaution is completed, the performer
causes the designs to transpose on the slates while the signatures
remain stationary: the spectator's initialed slate now carries the
performer's design, and the performer's slate bears the spectator's
design. It was a short step from the Curry and Warlock effects to
the idea of making two signatures transpose. Edward Mario seems
to have been the first to take that step, and in doing so returned the
plot to playing cards (ref. The Hierophant, No. 3, 1970, pp. 113-116).
Shortly after this others, such as Peter Kane, Wesley James and Peter
Samelson, began experimenting with the manipulation of a
spectator's signature on cards, developing new effects and variations;
and the experimentation continues to the present day.
Mr. Elmsley's "Signature Piece" stands alone during this early
development, as the only effect in which a spectator's signature
is caused to move without the added complication of the
performer's signature. The Elmsley presentational premise, involving swindlers and forgery, commands attention from an audience
and assures that the effect is clear. You will require two decks with
contrasting backs. For descriptive purposes we will call one redbacked, the other blue-backed.
A simple setup is necessary. Remove one spot card from the blue
pack, say the ten of spades, and place it at the face of the red pack.

194 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Locate the red-backed duplicate to this card and reverse it third or
fourth from the face of the red pack. Carry this prepared pack in
your pocket and perform several tricks with the fifty-one card bluebacked deck. When ready to present "Signature Piece", set the
blue-backed pack face-up before you on the table and remove the
red-backed pack from your pocket as you introduce the demonstration of a cunning swindle used by modern bunco artists to forge
checks. Explain that you will use playing cards in place of bank
checks to protect the person who is to help in the demonstration.
The blue-backed cards that you have been using will be substituted
for the swindler's checkbook; the red-backed deck will replace the
victim's checkbook. Choose a good-natured victim to assist you.
"I'm going to shuffle the pack like this." Perform a Hindu shuffle,
beginning it by stripping out the center section of the face-down red
pack, then shuffling it off in the usual fashion onto the united top
and bottom packets in your left hand. In this manner the bottom
stock is reserved.
"Anytime while I'm shuffling, please say stop." Time this request
to coincide with the finish of the shuffle. Immediately begin a
second Hindu shuffle, this time pulling the first group of cards
from the top alone, in the conventional fashion. Stop when the
spectator commands, and turn the right hand over, exposing the
face of the unshuffled packet. This is, of course, the standard
Hindu shuffle force, and the ten of spades (the original bottom
card of the pack) is thus displayed. With your left thumb and
forefinger, draw the ten off the face of the right hand's packet and
lay the card face-up on the table. Take care that you do not expose
the blue back of this card.
"This, then, will be the check you signa ten dollar check." The
amount of the check is derived from the value of the force card. "Will
you please sign your name across the face of your check." As you
say this, turn your right hand palm-down and slip its face-down
packet under the left hand's cards. Then, with your freed right hand,
give the spectator a pen suitable for writing on playing cards.
When the signature is complete, put away the pen, then pick up
the signed selection and lay it face-up on the face-down deck,
outjogged for roughly an inch. Next, with the palm-down right hand,
grip the lower half of the pack at its rear corners and draw this
portion inward, stripping it from beneath the top half. Place the
bottom portion square onto the top half, sandwiching the outjogged
selection between them.
You now apparently push the face-up selection flush and immediately fan the pack; but actually you execute the center-card rear

EXOTICA 1 9 5
palm (see Volume I, pp. 130-133), stealing the signed selection from
the deck as you fan it. Yet everything looks as it should. The faceup selection is seen in the center of the fan, though this card is
actually the unsigned red-backed duplicate, substituting for the
stolen card.
Turn your left hand palm-down to expose the underside of the
fan, with the red back of the reversed card showing among the faces
of the cards. As attention is momentarily focused on the fan, adjust
the right hand's stolen card from master palm to rear palm. Then
turn the left hand palm-up again and set the fanned deck neatly on
the table, with the selection still visible. "We'll keep your signed check
safe in your checkbook, so that everyone can keep an eye on it."
With your right hand, pick up the face-up blue pack from the table
and set it, still face-up, into left-hand dealing position. "This second
deck is the swindler's checkbook." Bring the right hand over the pack
and, using the right fingertips, riffle the outer ends of the cards. In
this action, tilt the outer end of the deck upward slightly, angling
the face of the pack just beyond the audience's line of sight, and at
the same time add the rear palmed selection to the face of the pack.
Follow through by executing the tap replacement taught in Volume I
(pp. 129-130). The angle of the deck and the position of the right
hand successfully hide the face of the selection during these actions.
"It is easy to keep straight from yours, because he has bluebacked checks." After tapping the deck square on the table, replace
it, face-down, into left-hand dealing position and perform a casual
Hindu shuffle, shuffling off about half the pack and tossing the
balance on top. This centralizes the signed card.
"The swindler must first make out a check in his checkbook that
looks like your ten dollar check." While holding the blue-backed deck
face toward you, run through it until you reach the signed ten of
spades near center.
"He then reverses his bogus check in his checkbook, just as you
have." Openly reverse all the cards behind the selection, turning
them face outward; then take the signed card onto the reversed
group and openly turn all the cards in front of it face outward, leaving
the selection reversed in the middle of the spread, its index clearly
exposed, but the signature concealed. At this point, lower the hands,
allowing the audience to see the face of the reversed ten of spades
in the spread. Then quickly square the pack and fan it, once more
displaying the face-up card. Set the fanned pack several feet to the
left of the fanned red-backed deck.
"He then resorts to an illegal procedure that is as mysterious as
it is underhanded." Make a magical gesture above the two fanned

196 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


packs. Then have the spectator remove her ten of spades from the
red-backed deck to check her signature. The signature has vanished
from the face of the card. Ask her to check the swindler's ten dollar
check. On its face she finds her own signature. "That is your signature on the swindler's check, isn't it? That's the beauty of this new
system: your signature isn't forged, it's actually stolen!"
Both decks are complete, no clues to the mystery remain, and you
can proceed with another effect.
Mr. Elmsley has considered variant handlings, including alternative methods for forcing the odd-backed card. One such
procedure, devised before that just taught, was to set the face-down
red deck before the spectator and have her cut it near center. The
bottom portion was then picked up and the odd-backed bottom card
was secretly displaced to a position second from the top, using Bill
Simon's cover for the side-slip (ref. Simon's Effective Card Magic, pp.
112-114). The displacement was made as the top card of the packet
was momentarily removed, while emphasizing that this card was
randomly arrived at by the spectator's cut. The card (actually two
cards) was then replaced on the pack, after which the odd-backed
force card was dealt face-up onto the table, using a "necktie" second
deal. After much reflection Mr. Elmsley chose the Hindu shuffle force
as the more simple and economical procedure.
If the blue-backed deck is originally set face-down in front of you,
then the palmed card is added face-up to this pack using the tap
replacement, the card can be shown reversed in the center of the
pack, yielding an extra magical effect: that of a prediction, or perhaps
a sympathetic reversal. But it is felt that doing so may be too pat,
and could suggest to sharp spectators the idea of a force. This
suspicion might in turn lend a clue to the main mystery of the
migrating signature. In the end, Mr. Elmsley chose the more subtle
route while avoiding the clutter of extraneous subplots. If you desire
to perform a prediction effect using the techniques above, you would
be better served by learning "Hidebound Forecast" (pp. 33-36). That,
at least, is Mr. Elmsley's analysis of the situation.

SHAKEDOWN
Effect: This is a wonderfully thought-out handling of that old
standard, The Card Through Handkerchief. Mr. Elmsley's treatment is extremely direct and contains elements that will perplex
those who know other methods. In effect, a card is peeked at in
the pack. The deck is immediately wrapped in the center of a
pocket handkerchief in an entirely convincing fashion. The bundle
is shaken, upon which the thought-of card slowly penetrates the
handkerchief, clearly emerging from the center of the pack. Yet,
when the deck is unwrapped, no slits or holes are found in the
handkerchief. All can be examined.
Method: The handkerchief fold used here is not new in principle,
but it is quite different from the original fold for Card Through Handkerchief (first published in 1895 by August Roterberg in New Era
Card Tricks, pp. 57-59). While the original fold has remained popular
with magicians over the years, there is another methoda superior
onethat is relatively little known. The earliest record of it seems
to be "L.W. Card Through Silk" by William Larsen, Sr. and T. Page
Wright (ref. Genii, Vol. 5, No. 1, Sept. 1940, p. 9). However, Larsen
and Wright state, "It is only in the detail of handling that this version
differs from others, but there is sufficient variation to justify us in
offering this description." This appears to suggest that the
fundamental method of folding the handkerchief is not original with
them, though it is conceivable that they might be referring to the
method from Roterberg, or Nate Leipzig's effect. Ten years after the
publication of the "L.W. Card Through Silk", another method for
attaining the same configuration of handkerchief and cards was
explained in Rufus Steele's booklet, Paul Rosini's Magical Gems (p.
27). The Elmsley handling about to be revealed differs considerably
from its predecessors.
In your right pocket have a man's linen handkerchief handy. If
you also install a concave, lengthwise bridge in your face-down deck,
you are ready to begin.

198 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Ask someone to call stop as you riffle through the pack. With the
deck held in standard left-hand peek grip, riffle the upper right
corners off your right second finger until told to stop. Let the
spectator sight the card there. As you lower the pack, silently release
the selection off the tip of the right second finger and take a left
fourth-finger break above it. Momentarily move the right hand away
from the pack to gesture, as you caution the spectator not to forget
his card. Then bring the right hand over the deck to square it, and
in doing so execute a half pass (see Volume I, p. 70), reversing the
packet below the break. This faces the pack and delivers the peeked
card face-up to the bottom. Settle the deck into left-hand dealing
position, but with the front end resting just behind the length of the
forefinger, in preparation for a gambler's cop.
With your right hand, bring the handkerchief from your pocket
and snap it open. Hold it between the hands by two adjacent corners
to display it, while keeping the hands near waist level, so that the
reversed bottom portion of the deck is not accidentally exposed. Now
bend the right third and fourth fingers inward, trapping the right
corner of the handkerchief against the palm. Then clip the top edge
of the handkerchief, near center, between the right first and second
fingers (Figure 120).

Release the left hand's corner and draw the handkerchief back
and over that hand while you take the deck into the right. But in
this action you also secretly steal the bottom card from the deck and
carry it below the handkerchief. Simply use the left fingers to buckle
the card away from the pack and retain it in the left hand. At the
same time, with your right hand, openly grasp the deck by its ends,

EXOTICA 1 9 9

forefinger at the front, thumb at the back, and carry the deck inward
along the line of the left forearm (Figure 121). Fully extend your left
forefinger and let the card drop onto the palm, while using the tips
of the left fingers to support the cloth above it. If this is neglected,
the palmed card may show through the fabric.
As you drape the handkerchief over the left palm,
the hand should rest just
behind center; that is, the
center of the handkerchief
lies nearer the left fingertips.
The inner corner of the
handkerchief should rest on
your left forearm, and the
ends of the palmed card
should be pointed toward
the hanging left and right
corners of the handkerchief
(Figure 122, with handkerchief made transparent).
As soon as the handkerchief is in place, set the deck onto the
covered left hand, directly over the palmed card. Lower the left hand
at the wrist, so that the palm angles downward at roughly a fortyfive degree slope, and the deck on the handkerchief is clearly
displayed to the audience. Curl the left fingers a bit as you do this,
to keep the cards from spilling or separating at the face-to-face juncture. Also extend the left thumb away from the palm, assuring a bit
of slack in the cloth when, in a moment, the left fingers bend inward
(Figure 123).

2 0 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


You must now turn slightly to
your left, as you bring the palmdown right hand to the deck,
apparently to square it. In fact, a
half pass of sorts is executed with
the bottom portion of the pack:
The right hand grasps the facedown half of the deck by its ends,
forefinger at the outer left corner,
thumb at the inner left corner. If
you press the tips of the right
third and fourth fingers down on
the right side of the pack, the
bridged halves will rock against
each other, opening a break between them at the left side. This
aids in making a quick and clean
separation at the face-to-face
juncture. Now, as the right hand
tips the top half of the pack up to
an almost vertical position, packet facing to your left (Figure 124), the left fingers close, turning the
bottom halfand the selection beneath the handkerchiefup onto
their left edge (Figure 125). All cards now face left. Immediately settle
the right hand's half onto the left hand's, trapping the selection
between them in a fold of handkerchief. Figure 126 shows the
configuration of cards and cloth in schematic form. The entire action
takes less than a second, and is completely hidden from the audience
by the back of the right hand.

EXOTICA 2 0 1
Finish this action by running the right
fingers and thumb along the ends of the
deck to square them; then grasp the deck
by the ends while the left hand squares the
sides through the cloth. Release the right
hand's hold while regripping the pack in the
left hand, thumb extended along the upper
edge and the fingers curled completely
around the lower edge. Now turn the left
hand palm-down, letting the handkerchief
fall over the deck (Figure 127).
Move the left thumb onto the face of the
covered pack. The back of the deck should
be toward the audience. With your right
hand, straighten the folds of cloth by tugging the right, then the left corner of the
handkerchiefthose corners hanging off the ends of the deck.
Then draw these same corners forward and gather them on top
of the pack (Figure 128). This conceals the folds around the
trapped card at both ends.

With the right hand, grasp the gathered corners, holding them in
a fist below the deck (Figure 129). Then, with the left hand, give the
deck two turns, twisting the cloth tightly around it while trapping
the pack inside. As you do this, do not pull the cloth so taut that
the selection is forced from the top edge of the bundle.
Turn to your right as you extend the right hand and revolve it so
that the wrapped pack now hangs below it, back still toward the

2 0 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

audience. At this point the spectators should be. convinced that the
deck is securely trapped in the center of the handkerchief. The illusion
is perfect.
Shake the bundle gently to cause the selection to appear slowly
from the bottom edge of the pack (Figure 130). You can turn the right
hand a bit as you shake, allowing the audience to see that the card
is emerging from the center of the wrapped deck. Continue to shake
the bundle until roughly half the card is in view.
(Occasionally when shaking the card out of the wrapped deck, it
will start appearing very slowly; then, as the handkerchief loosens,
the card will fall completely out and onto the floor. This, regrettably, diminishes the effect. If, as you shake the deck, your right fingers
gather in the increasing slack in the handkerchief, this dropout
problem can be greatly reduced if not eliminated entirely.)
You have so far kept the back of the card toward the audience.
Ask the spectator to name the card he sighted in the center of the
deck. When he does so, turn the right hand to expose the face of
the penetrating card. Then, with the left hand, pull the card completely from the pack and display it.
Transfer the selection to the right fingers as you take the wrapped
pack into the left hand, fingers on the face, thumb on the back. The
side of the deck with the fold of cloth trapped in it should rest on
the base of the fingers. Shake the left hand, causing the handkerchief to fall open around the pack. Then let the pack settle face-down
onto the handkerchief-covered palm, holding it loosely in the cupped
left fingers. Tilt the hand down at the wrist, until the deck lies at a
forty-five degree angle, outer side downward and back toward the
audience. Then, with the right fingers, grasp the inner corner of the

EXOTICA 2 0 3
handkerchief and pull it smartly back over the left forearm, tugging
the bight of cloth out of the deck. The pack is left resting on the
middle of the handkerchief, and everything can be examined.
You cannot fully appreciate the economy of motion and the
extraordinary illusion of this trick without trying it with deck and
handkerchief. It is a wonderful effect that never fails to astonish. As
an added benefit, it will baffle those familiar with the original method
for Card Through Handkerchief, making it suitable for audiences of
varying sophistication.

Chapter Four:

Marsupial Favorites

POCKETPICK
Effect: The performer draws a cardfroma shuffled deck and perches
it, back outward and in full view, at the top of his breast pocket.
Someone now chooses any card in the pack, notes it and returns
it to the center of the deck. The deck is set down and the performer
directs everyone's attention to the card sitting prominently in his
breast pocket. He then shows its faceit is the very card just chosen
and buried in the pack!
Method: Explained in the barest terms, the card in the pocket is
switched for the chosen card, which has been stolen from the pack.
Arthur Leroy may have been the first to have suggested setting the
card in the mouth of the performer's breast pocket to effect a switch.
This ploy appeared in his "Self Control", marketed in 1933 (see
Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, Hugard revision, pp. 27-28). In
"Pocketpick" Mr. Elmsley uses an exquisitely refined handling of the
breast-pocket card switch to bring about an extremely direct version
of "the card that wasn't there" plot.
Begin by drawing a card at random from the face-down pack. Do
not expose the face of this card to the audience. However, as you
slip it partially into your outer left breast pocket, glimpse its face
and remember it. Cant the top end of the card to your right as you
position it in the mouth of the pocket, leaving as much of the card
in view as is possible.
Now gather the deck and fan it face-up as you ask someone to
remove any card he likes. If he takes the mate to the card you have
placed in your pocket, the effect immediately becomes one of precognition and nothing more in the way of instruction need be written.
Assuming, however, that the card chosen lies on the other side of
happenstance, you must do something to make the card in your
pocket more presentable.
Have him show his card to everyone in the group. Meanwhile, you
square the deck and turn it face-down. Then have the spectator
insert his selection face-down into the center of the pack. Apply a

2 0 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


subtle pressure with your left thumb on top of the deck to prevent
the card from going completely flush. You then finish squaring it into
the pack, catching a left fourth-finger break above it in the process.
Now casually turn the deck face-up, executing a turnover pass
to bring the selection to the back of the deck (see Volume I, pp. 112113, for a handling of this sleight). On completing the pass, your
right hand should still grasp the deck by its ends from above, as
you perform a casual squaring action. The right fingers are aligned
along the front of the pack, while the right thumb lies on the inner
end, near center.
"It is most peculiar," you now assert, "that, given any card in the
pack, you should pick the six of diamonds." Here you name the
chosen card as you gesture with your left hand toward the person
who made the selection. This leaves the deck for a moment in the
right hand alone. When the left hand returns to reclaim the pack,
its fingertips contact the back of the deck and pivot the outer end
of the rear card rightward and under the right hand, until the end
of the card lodges against the hypothenar of the right palm. The
index corner of this angled card should rest just below the base of
the fourth finger (Figure 131, an underview). This secret action is
similar to that of the standard side slip.

The left hand now grasps the deck in the fork of the thumb and
carries it away from the right hand. In this action the right thumb
swings in a tight arc around the inner end of the deck to a position parallel with the forefinger. In doing so, it stretches across
the inner left corner of the angled card and bends the card
convexly, inward, against the palm. The left fingertips can aid in
the palming action by pressing upward on the back of the card
as the deck is drawn aside. The card now rests securely caught
by its ends between the thumb and the edge of the palm, in a
hybrid of the lateral Tenkai palm and the rear palm (Figure 132).
The angles that need guarding here are very like those of the rear
palm. Because the right hand is conveniently near your body, the
palmed card is well protected from view.

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 0 9

With your left hand, table


the face-up deck, or ribbon
spread it. When doing this,
direct your gaze to the left
hand's activity, misdirecting
from the right hand. Figure
133 shows the audience's
view of the situation.
As the left hand sets down the deck, move your right hand toward
your breast pocket. In this action, curl in the fingers and clip the
palmed card by its upper non-index corner (Figure 134). This frees
the thumb.
As the right hand reaches the pocket, it is an easy matter to insert
the free index corner of the curled card into the top of the pocket,
just in front of the indifferent card that rests there. At the same time,
behind the right hand, the
thumb contacts the top of
the indifferent card and
pushes the card down,
completely into the pocket
(Figure 135). In this action
the thumb can also contact
the face of the palmed card
and push it deeper as well.
Now bend the first two
fingers in and clip the upper
index corner of the palmed
card. In almost the same
motion, turn the hand palm
outward, exposing the back

2 1 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


of the card to the audience.
The switched card is seen to
rest in the same canted position as the card before it
(Figure 136). This substitution is extremely deceptive.
The card is blocked from the
spectators' sight for only an
instant, and the action of the
switch perfectly replicates the
natural action of grasping the
card in the pocket. Of course,
the sleight must be practiced
until it can be done smoothly
and without hesitation.
At this point you should have just finished saying, ".. .you should
pick the six of diamonds..." You now conclude the switch and the
trick by drawing the card from the pocket and dramatically revealing its face as you say, "... for that is the one card I removed from
the deck at the very beginning!" Of course, should they look through
the pack on the table, the selection is no longer there.
If you need a full pack of fifty-two cards for tricks scheduled to
follow "Pocketpick", the card that is initially placed in the pocket and
left there can be a joker, pencil-dotted at opposite diagonal corners
so that you can identify and remove it from the shuffled pack. Doing
this relinquishes the possibility of a lucky hit, but does allow you
to proceed without the card left in the breast pocket.
Of course, Mr. Elmsley's breast-pocket switch has far wider utility, and if the reader experiments with it, his delight in the illusion
it creates should stimulate the creation of further ideas.

POCKETS FULL OF MIRACLES


Effect: Someone selects a card from the pack and notes it. The
performer also peeks at this card and shows it to someone nearby.
The card is then placed face-down on the table.
The person who selected the card is now asked to name it. The
performer and second spectator show surprise on hearing his
response, for each of them saw entirely different cards. When the
card on the table is turned up to verify which of the three is correct,
it is found to be none of their cards. The performer then produces
the three cards previously seen, each from a different pocket. If
desired, the deck may be checked, as none of the three cards is there.
Method: This astonishing and highly entertaining trick is a
variant of The General Card, a classic plot with several centuries
of history behind it. Mr. Elmsley has given this plot a solid and
satisfying resolution by combining it with another classic, Cards
to Pocket.
While the trick can be done with any cards, Mr. Elmsley performs
it with the four aces. The aces are more easily remembered by people,
and when they are produced at the finish, they provide a fuller sense
of design and closure.
The preparation is minimal. Before performing the trick you must
secretly load the ace of clubs into the outer left breast-pocket of your
jacket. Then cull the ace of diamonds to the top of the pack, the ace
of spades to the face, and the ace of hearts just above it.
As you introduce the trick, you can if you wish casually shuffle
the deck, retaining the aces at the top and bottom. Finish by giving
the cards an in-the-hands slip cut that sends the ace of diamonds
to the center. As you complete the cut, catch a left fourth-finger break
above this ace.
Now ask someone in front of you to call stop as you riffle your
left thumb down the side of the pack. Stop when he commands and
execute the riffle force. Here Mr. Elmsley employs an original handling of this force that, over the years, has drawn praise from select

2 1 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


magicians who have been shown it. The idea is simple. Instead of
lifting away the packet above the left fourth finger's break, hold your
right hand palm-up about six inches to the right of the pack. Then,
with the left hand, toss the packet above the fourth finger's break
off the deck and into the right hand. In this action, you simultaneously release the left thumb's break, letting it close. The throwing
of the packet looks quite nonchalant and innocent. Mr. Elmsley
observes that, ironically, an honest toss of the top packet, using only
the thumb's break, is far more difficult to do, but since only a
magician would ever try such a thing, no one thinks of questioning
the fraudulent action. (Though it was devised by Mr. Elmsley in the
1950s, this riffle force handling has remained surprisingly little
known, despite its having been alluded to once or twice in print [e.g.,
Kabbala, Vol. II, No. 6, Feb. 1973, p. 47]. This relative obscurity
accounts in part for the independent invention of the tossing idea
by J.K. Hartman in 1973 [ref. Means and Ends, pp. 4-5], and possibly by others as well.)
Set the top portion of the pack onto the table; then thumb the top
card of the left hand's packet (the ace of diamonds) to the right for
half its width and stare at it, drawing everyone's attention to it.
Addressing the spectator who called stop, explain, "This is the card
you have chosenbut I'm not going to let you see it yet. Instead,
will you remember his card for him?" Here you make eye contact with
someone on your left. Do not remove the card from the packet.
Rather, raise your left hand, turning the face of the sidejogged card
toward this person, so that he can remember it. Several persons near
him also can be allowed to see the card, but it is not displayed to
the audience as a whole.
"Have you got it?" When the spectator says he has, lower the
packet to a face-down position, resting the left thumb naturally
on the sidejogged ace of diamonds, poised to pull it square with
the pack.
"You won't forget it?" While you ask this and look directly at the
spectator, misdirecting from your hands, you execute a variety of
bottom deal, but you alter the dealing action to one of placing the
card into your right hand: The left hand moves a short distance to
the waiting right hand, delivering the card to it. In this action, the
right hand extracts the bottom card of the packet as the left thumb
simultaneously retracts the top card. Throughout this switch of
cards the right hand remains stationary; the left hand moves to it,
then away, making a short gesture toward the spectator you are
addressing. Since you are holding only half the pack, the switch
action is made easier.

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 1 3
Several further details
concerning the switch
need to be mentioned:
Mr. Elmsley, when doing
a bottom deal, holds the
cards with the left forefinger at the outer right
corner of the packet. The
tip of the left second finger lightly buckles the
bottom card, breaking it
loose, then pushes it slightly to the right. At the same time, the
packet is brought to the right hand, the right fingers passing under
the left's, and the right thumb over the left thumb. The right forefinger contacts the face of the bottom card near the outer right
corner, moving into the gap between the left first and second fingers;
and the right fourth finger contacts the face of this card along the
inner end (Figure 137, deck made transparent). While the extraction
of the bottom card is done mainly by the right forefinger, the fourth
finger aids in the action. (The mechanics here somewhat resemble
those of Edward Mario's new bottom stud deal, from his Seconds,
Centers, Bottoms, pp. 21-22. Readers unfamiliar with bottom dealing
techniques are urged to consult that work for details.)
Mr. Elmsley finds the card is easier to extract in this manner, and
the difference in sound between top and bottom deals is reduced.
More importantly, this right-hand taking grip leads perfectly to the
next action:
As a seeming afterthought, say, "Do you mind if I look at the card
myself?" Openly take a peek at the face of the right hand's card by
tipping its inner end upward. The fourth finger, already at this end,
aids this action nicely and makes the mechanics of the switch all
the more deceptive. Perform your peek in an overtly private fashion, holding the card in close to your chest.
After glancing at the card, place it on top of the left hand's packet,
sidejogged exactly as it was moments before. "That's two witnesses.
I think one more.. .will you help?" Look at a spectator on your right,
then back at the card on the packet. Place the sidejogged card again
into the right hand, simulating the actions used for the bottom-deal
switch; this time, though, the right hand legitimately takes the top
card. In other words, you initially misdirect attention from the cards
and hands when you make the switch, then later focus attention on
them when the action is honest.

2 1 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Let the spectator on your right see the face of the card (the ace
of spades), but do not expose it to the rest of the audience. Place
the card face-down on the left hand's packet, again jogged an inch
to the right, and let the left hand assume a relaxed position near
waist height.
"That's three witnesses." Gesture with your empty right hand
toward the spectator who just saw the card, as you say, "You won't
forget the card?" Then turn your gaze to the person on your left. "And
you won't forget the card?" Allow a brief moment to pass while your
gaze and words draw everyone's attention to this spectator. Then,
only at the instant when all attention settles on him, do you gesture toward him with your left hand, using this action to cover
another bottom-deal switch. This time the right hand moves to the
packet and seems to grasp the top card as the left hand moves away
with the rest of the cards. In reality the left thumb draws the top
card, the ace of spades, square and the right fingers exact the bottom card, the ace of hearts. The top card appears to remain
stationary in space as the right hand takes it and the left hand moves
away with the packet. Again the sleight has been done while attention is away from the hands and cards.
Returning your attention to the first spectator, who stands in front
of you and has yet to see his selection, you say, "Now all three of us
know the card you have chosen. So there can be no mistake about
it, I'll set it here on the table." As you say this, set the card in your
right hand face-down on the table.
Turning to the spectator on your left, say, "Now, so that this
gentleman, who hasn't seen his card, isn't left in the dark, will you
tell him what it is."
"The ace of diamonds," answers the spectator.
Register a look of strong surprise, and exchange glances with the
spectator on your right. "Are you sure? The card / saw was the ace
of clubs." Here you name the card that is in your breast pocket. At
this announcement, the person on your right should look doubly
perplexed. "What card did you see?" you ask her.
"The ace of spades," she replies.
"It's a lucky thing that I didn't put the card back into the deck
yet. I won't touch it. Will you please settle this by turning your card
over." Address this to the spectator in front. When he does this he
finds the ace of hearts. During this strong misdirection, palm the
ace of spades from the top of the left hand's packet.
"That explains matters, for you see, I have the ace of spades in
my right pocket here." Reach with your right hand into your right-

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 1 5
side jacket pocket and bring the palmed ace of spades forth, clipped
between your first and second fingertips.
Just as the right hand is coming from its pocket, slip your left
hand into the left-side jacket pocket, while still holding the packet,
and perform the Vernon flourish count inside the pocket. That is,
thumb the top card of the packet to the right and nip it between the
first fingertip, beneath, and second fingertip, above. Then straighten
these two fingers, carrying the ace of diamonds away from the packet
while turning it face-up. (The action is exposed outside the pocket
in Figures 138 and 139.)

"And I have the ace of diamonds in my left pocket here." Just


as the right hand deposits the ace of spades face-up on the table,
beside the ace of hearts, bring the left hand from its pocket, displaying the ace of diamonds at your fingertips. This card-to-pocket
idea is the invention of Jack McMillen (see Hugard and Braue's
Expert Card Technique, pp. 313-315). Used on its own, it might
seem an audacious ruse, though practice has proven it entirely
deceptive. Woven, as it is here, among a series of productions, its
secret is even more secure.
"And the ace of clubs is here in my breast pocket." As the left
hand lays the ace of diamonds face-up beside the ace of hearts,
move your obviously empty right hand to your left breast pocket,
cleanly remove the ace of clubs and conclude.
A curious artifact of this powerful effect is that the audience is
often left with the impression that you have produced all four aces
from your pockets, though the fourth ace never leaves the table.
When this occurs, fight any urge you might suffer to correct the
misconception.
In the nineteenth century, the most common method for performing The General Card employed the top or bottom changes. These
sleights can be substituted for the bottom deals in the above

1
2 1 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY
handling. Mr. Elmsley uses bottom deals, as they better suit his style
of movement when working under close-up conditions. Other
switches than those mentioned above also can be employed. The
details of handling are flexible; it is the entertaining structure that
is most to be admired in this fine effect.

RELUCTANT CARDS TO POCKET


Effect: Cards to Pocket is a classic plot and assuredly a persistent favorite with audiences: cards pass invisibly from a small packet
in the performer's hands to his empty pocket. Over the years Mr.
Elmsley has developed several wonderfully novel approaches to this
plot, the best of which have been gathered in this chapter. Because
of the heavy dependence on palming in Cards to Pocket handlings,
it becomes challenging to perform this trick in close and surrounded
situations. The last card or two can prove to be particularly troublesome to transport without detection. Here is an early Elmsley
treatment of Cards to Pocket, which he developed while serving in
the British army during World War II. Its structure was dictated by
conditions of close-up performance that were among the most challenging one could imagine.
Method: To begin, first empty your right trousers pocket and pull
the pocket itself inside out so that it can be seen empty. You may
have someone confirm this, but understand thatdespite the long
magical tradition behind such requestsasking someone to reach
into your front trousers pocket is both physically and socially awkward, and will be perceived as such in polite company.
Once the pocket has been proven empty, tuck it back into the
trousers, making it clear, as you do so, that your hand is empty
as well.
Present the pack to someone and ask that he count off ten cards
onto your extended palm. When he has done this, have him pocket
the balance of the deck.
Fan the ten cards face-down and have him and two other persons
each take a card and remember it. Then have them return their cards
to the packet in this manner:
Approach the first person as you cut all the cards above the
bottom one from the packet. If the fingers cover the front edges of
the cards as they are cut, and the front ends are tilted down slightly,
it is impossible to tell just where the packet has been divided.

2 1 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


When the spectator returns his selection onto the bottom card,
drop the other six cards over it, burying it. Then approach the second
person for the return of his card. As you do this, obtain a break
under the top three cards and lift them from the packet. Have the
second selection replaced on the packet and lower the three cards
onto it. However, hold a fourth-finger break under the three cards
and, as you approach the third person, cut the packet at the break
and have the last selection placed onto the second. Drop the three
cards onto it and square the packet.
The first selection now lies second from the face of the packet,
the second selection rests fifth from the top, and the third selection
is immediately above it.
Turn back to the first spectator and announce that you will attend
to his card first. Turn the packet face-up into left-hand dealing
position and procure a fourth-finger break under the upper two
cards. This can be done either with a pinkie count or by secretly
lifting the two cards at their inner ends as the right hand squares
the packet.
With the right hand, make a magical pass over the packet. Then
count the cards in the packet from left hand to right, showing that
there are now nine instead often, and that the first spectator's card
has vanished. A block push-off of
the double card above the break
makes this possible. The right
hand takes the double and immediately receives the next eight
cards one by one on top of it. The
order of the cards is reversed as
they are counted into the right
hand and, beginning on the count
of five, the cards are stepped
slightly to the right (Figure 140) in
preparation for the next sleight.
Ask the first person if he saw his card among the nine. He must
admit he has not, as it was hidden behind the first card counted.
Request that he name his card. Using the strong misdirection of
these two questions, turn the right hand palm-down with the packet
and place the face-down cards into the left hand. As you square the
packet into left-hand dealing position, pull down with the left fourth
finger on the stepped cards, forming a break above them.
Now ask the spectator where he thinks his card has gone. If he
is not completely insensitive to dramatic foreshadowing, he should
anticipate the pocket that was pointedly shown empty minutes

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 1 9
before. At the moment of his reply, when all attention is on him,
classic palm the five cards above the break.
If your actions and acting have been adequate, you are now in
an advantageous position. The spectators believe the card is gone
from the packet and is already in your pocket. Therefore, it only
remains for you to show that it is. Reach into the right pocket and
leave behind four of the palmed cards while drawing the fifth card,
that nearest the palm, from the pocket. Display it. It is the first
spectator's selection. Hand it to him.
Wave your right hand over the packet again and make a casting
motion toward the right pocket. Explain that another card has
passed. Reach into your pocket with an obviously empty right hand
and bring forth one of the cards there. Display it and hand it to the
first spectator.
Repeat this sequence of actions twice, causing two more cards
to pass to the pocket. At this point you false count the five cards
you hold as six, to prove that four have passed. The method of false
counting Mr. Elmsley employs is an age-old one; but he provides an
embellishment that improves the appearance of the action:
The packet is held face-down in the left hand, but is slid a bit farther forward than usual, so that the front end projects past the
forefinger. This finger lies beside the other left fingers at the right
side of the packet. The left thumb pushes the top card straight to
the right for the right hand to claim. The right hand does so, grasping the card at its right side, with thumb above and fingers beneath
(Figure 141). The card
^
f?
lies on the outer and
141
middle phalanges of
XvxP!7I
the right fingers, which
are curled somewhat in
under the face of the
h
\
card. The fingertips
\
should rest in single
file near the center of
1/
the cardthat is, they
//
\
are retracted about one
inch from the left edge.
The right hand swings roughly six inches to the right, carrying
the card from the packet as it is counted. The left thumb pushes
the second card to the right and the right hand returns to claim it,
taking it square under the first.

ft im

1' ($&&

The right hand swings again to the right with its two cards, while
the left thumb pushes the third card straight to the right. The right

2 2 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


hand comes back, apparently to take this card as
it did the first two. However, instead of allowing
the right edge of the third
card to slide between the
face of the packet and the
fingers, the right fingertips
butt against the edge of
the card and push it
smartly back onto the lefthand packet (Figure 142,
shown from below) as the
right hand continues its leftward motion. The right hand then recoils
to the right, as it has done twice previously.
The use of the right fingertips to push the card square with the
packet is Mr. Elmsley's addition to the standard action. It relieves
the left thumb of this duty, allowing it to remain extended a moment
longer, after the right hand moves away with its cards. This improves
the deceptiveness of the maneuver, as the motion of the left thumb
is no longer synchronized precisely with the moment the card must
be retracted.
The left thumb pushes the top card again to the right and the right
hand returns to claim it. This time the card is legitimately taken.
The remaining two cards are then honestly received by the right hand
to the count of five and six.
The action of this false count is easily mastered; but like all such
counts, practice must be spent on acquiring a steady rhythm and a
consistent sound. There must be no faltering when the "empty" count
is made.
Wave your right hand again over the packet and toss an invisible card toward the pocket. Reach into the pocket and produce the
remaining card there. Hand it to the spectator.
Count the packet fairly to show that five cards remain. However,
as you count the cards, this time reverse their order, taking each
new card onto the last, and catch a fourth-finger break above the
first two cards. These are the selections of the second and third
spectators.
Bring the right hand over the packet to square it and palm the
three cards above the break.
"There are some people of a naturally suspicious nature who
suppose I might have a stack of cards already in my pocket. Then I
could merely take them out, one at a time, as I pretended to make

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 2 1
them fly there. It is a mean-spirited theory that I assure you is
completely false. My pocket is completely empty before the passage of each and every card." To prove this, place the right hand
into the pocket, quickly tuck the palmed cards into the upper
corner and pull the pocket inside out. In this fashion the pocket
is shown empty (through a dodge of Henry Hardin's that was first
described in 1907 [ref. The Jinx, No. 97, p. 596]), while at the
same time it is loaded. Let the right hand be seen empty and push
the pocket back into the trousers.
You now make three more cards pass from the packet to the
pocket. With the empty right hand, remove each of the three cards
as it is made to pass and hand it to the spectator. Show that only
two cards remain in your hands.
Wave the right hand over the remainder of the packet to make
another card pass. Reach into your pocket and come out empty
handed. Nothing has happened. Show some surprise at this failure.
"That's odd. It should have gone. Let me try the other card."
Wave your hand again over the packet and check the pocket.
Again nothing. Look puzzled. Then turn to the second and third
spectators. "What card did you take?... And what was yours?" Look
at the faces of the two cards in your hands. "Ah, just as I thought.
These are them. No wonder they wouldn't go." Turn the selections
face-up, display them and conclude.
Don't forget to collect the deck from the spectator before moving on.
By shifting the effect from one of magically transporting cards to
the pocket to one of locating the two selections, Mr. Elmsley has
neatly solved the problem of passing the final two cards. By this point
the passage of these cards would have become at best a situation
of challenge between performer and spectators. The climax would
be anticlimactic, as it is clearly foreseen by the audience. On the
other hand, the disclosure of the two selections comes as a surprise
and is therefore the stronger finish. As was noted in the beginning,
passing the last two cards is a difficult if not an impossible task
under close-up and surrounded conditions. This solution extracts
the performer from a tight spot without disappointment or theatrical
compromise.
January 21, 1950

DUPLICITOUS CARDS
TO POCKET
Effect: Here is another method Mr. Elmsley worked out for the
Cards to Pocket; this one dating from sometime in the early 1950s.
It is designed for less challenging performance conditions than those
that inspired the previous method. Here it is assumed that your
audience is more traditionally settled, with no one behind you.
The effect follows the standard: six cards, an ace through six,
travel invisibly, one by one, from the hand to an empty pocket.
Additionally, they do so in order (an embellishment first exercised
by Dr. Jacob Daley; ref. Stars of Magic, p. 101). The action is clean,
rapid and straightforward.
As was discussed in the preceding method, the final two cards
are always the most troublesome to vanish. Pay particular attention
here to Mr. Elmsley's solution to this problem. Even if you have
another handling for this effect with which you are satisfied, you may
quite possibly wish to adopt the concluding sequence offered below.
Method: One thing that is particularly pleasing about this method
is that you need to palm cards only once during the entire piece; and
the palm Mr. Elmsley uses is very nearly automatic. An easier
method is hard to imagine.
Eight cards are required: an ace through six of any suit, and a
duplicate of the five and the six. For best visibility, one of the black
suits is recommended. Set the packet in this order from top to face:
five-six-ace-two-three-four-five-six.
Hold the packet face-down in left-hand dealing grip, and procure
a fourth-finger break under the top three cards. Display the packet
as six cards, in ace to six sequence, as follows:
Insert the right fingers deeply into the break and grip the top three
cards near the inner end, right fingers extended across the face of
the triplet. Lift the three cards as one from the packet and turn the
face of the triple card directly toward the audience, showing it as

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 2 3
an ace. Thumb over the next card of the packet, the two, and take
it onto the face of the triple card, fanned to your left. Then take each
of the remaining four cards similarly onto the face of the fan. The
ace through six are clearly displayed and their order is retained
(Figure 143). Call the name of each card as it is shown.

Now open the left


hand palm-up, fingertips
directed outward, and
close the fan by bringing
its left side against the
left fingertips. Keep the
faces of the cards toward
the audience as the fan
is closed (Figure 144).
Grasp the closed fan by
its opposite long edges
and hold the packet upright, left fingers on the
lower edge, left thumb on
the upper.
Move the right hand in
front of the packet and
square the ends. At the
same time secretly riffle
the back two cards (the
duplicate five and six) off
the right thumb and take
a break between them

2 2 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


and the packet with the left fourth finger (Figure 145). (Alternatively,
you could form the break with a fourth-finger pull-down action.)
While retaining the packet in your left hand, draw attention to
your right trousers pocket, which should be empty. With an obviously empty right hand, turn the pocket inside-out to demonstrate
its depleted state. Make a leftward body turn as you exhibit the
empty pocket, and leave the lining turned out for the moment. You
will stand throughout the rest of the trick with your right side presented to the audience.
You now execute L'Homme Masque's one-handed spring palm; as
noted earlier, the only palm required in the trick. (For the history
and evolution of this palm, see Gaultier's Magic Without Apparatus,
pp. 91-92; then Hugard's Card Manipulations, No. 5, pp. 130-131;
and finally Fred Braue's application to a packet in his "Cards to
Pocket Palm", Hugard and Braue's Miracle Methods No. 4: Tricks and
Sleights, pp. 31-32.) The movements are not difficult, but must be
precisely timed. Words and actions are married for deception:
"We have an ace at the back of the packet..." Insert the tip of the
right second finger into the break and pull the ace to the right for
about half its length (Figure 146). The illusion of the ace being drawn
from the back of the packet is perfect. Push the ace flush with the
packet again.

"... and a six at the front." Tap the face of the six with your right
fingers. Then, with the right hand, grasp the packet by its ends,
transferring the break to the right thumb, which should rest at the
upper right corner of the packet. The packet faces the right palm.
"Remember, an ace at the back..." Swing the right hand outward,
simultaneously turning it palm-up. This presents the back of the
packet to the audience.
" . . . and a six at the front." Reverse the right hand's action,
replacing the packet in the left hand. However, as the swing is made,
press the fingers and thumb inward against the ends of the packet,

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 2 5

forcing it to bow toward the right palm (Figure 147). Then let the
six cards forward of the break snap off the right thumb and into the
palm (Figure 148).
Take the remaining two cards by their opposite sides, holding
them at the left fingertips, in the same position the packet occupied
moments before. Drop the right hand, with the six cards hidden in
classic palm, to a relaxed posture at waist level. Through the agency
of the duplicate six, now visible in the left hand, nothing seems to
have changed, and the action of the display has concealed that of
the palm.
Now say, "Just the six cards and my pocket." Here, glance down
at your pocket and notice that its lining is still out. With the right
hand, tuck it back in, without comment, leaving the palmed cards
behind. The secret actions of the trick are now ninety percent
completed; yet, to the audience, everything is still to happen.
With the right hand, turn the two
cards in the left hand face-down
there, using the same firmness of
action you would use for a packet
of six. Lay the cards parallel with
the left fingers, and bring the left
thumb down on them, trapping
their inner ends in the fork of the
thumb (Figure 149). Then raise the
left hand to your left, turning it
back outward, so that the cards are

2 2 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


completely concealed from the audience. The left fingers are stiffly
extended and the thumb is bent awkwardly onto the palm.
Bring the right hand about six
inches below the left and snap your
fingers (Figure 150). Then reach with
this clearly empty hand into your
trousers pocket and bring forth the
ace, which lies nearest the body. Display the card and toss it aside. Turn
the left hand palm outward to expose
the cards it holds; then turn the back
of the hand again to the audience.
Snap the right fingers again under
the left hand, reach into the pocket
and remove the two.
Repeat this sequence twice more to produce the three and the four
from the pocket, each time turning the left hand briefly to show the
cards there. Of course, you can introduce any by-play you like as
the cards pass, and the pocket can be shown empty between each
flight, using Hardin's top-of-the-pocket ruse (explained in the preceding routine, p. 221).
After the four has been taken from your pocket, turn the left hand
palm-out and separate the two cards it holds. Display the five and
the six, one in each hand. Then lower the hands, so that the backs
of the cards are seen, and slip the five above the six. Lay both cards,
face-down and squared, on the left fingers, just as they were before,
and turn the left hand back outward.
Snap the right fingers below the left hand and turn the left palm
outward. Take the two cards from the left hand, holding them
squared as one, face toward the audience. While grasping them
firmly, give them a sharp fillip with the left forefinger, promoting the
idea of singularity. Only the six seems to remain. Replace the double
card face-down on the left hand, as before, and turn the hand back
outward again. Then let the right hand be seen empty and draw the
five from the pocket. Bring it out very slowly. This is not only for
drama; the action serves an important purpose:
As everyone is fascinated with the slow disclosure of the five, lower
the left hand momentarily to the left side, which is still turned away
from the audience, and drop the two duplicate cards into the leftside jacket pocket. Then casually return this hand to its previous

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 2 7
position. Because the cards have been concealed behind the hand
throughout the trick, their new absence will not be suspected.
Display the five and toss it aside. Snap the right fingers a last time
below the left hand. Then begin to make slow crumpling motions
with the left fingers, as if the last card were gradually vanishing
behind them. Turn the left palm outward, showing the last card gone
and conclude by producing the six, with a flourish, from your trousers pocket.
This is exactly how Mr. Elmsley performs the trick. He has always
found the drawing of the five from the pocket to be sufficient
misdirection for disposing of the left hand's cards. However, for those
who feel insecure with this, the misdirection can be augmented in
the following way:
Place your right hand into the pocket to bring forth the five.
Pretend, though, that you do not find it. Fumble around a bit in the
pocket, palming the five as you do so. Withdraw the hand and stare
at the pocket with an expression of disgust. Move your gaze slowly
down to your right knee; then reach down with the right hand and
produce the five from behind the knee. At this moment, pocket the
left hand's cards. The misdirection is irresistible. The trick is then
completed as explained above.
The construction of this handling is appealingly concise. The few
moves used are shrewdly masked by natural action and strong
misdirection; and the effect is as clear and direct as ever one could wish.
January 8, 1955

FLIGHT PLAN
Effect: The four aces are removed from the pack and the balance
of the cards are put away. The performer squeezes the packet of aces
and one immediately flies to his right-side coat pocket. With a clearly
empty hand, he draws the ace of clubs from the pocket and returns
it to the packet. The four aces are counted, then given another
squeeze. Instantly, the ace of hearts flies to the right-side coat
pocket. Again, with an empty hand, the ace is brought forth,
displayed and returned to the packet.
The performer now offers to explain how the aces are made to
travel. "When you're not looking, I make a magic pass between
the packet and my pocket." He squeezes the packet and brings
his hand away in a suspiciously cramped fashion, moving it to
the right coat pocket.
"That causes the ace of spades to fly to my left coat pocket." His
explanation proves to be only a teasing feint, as he reaches with the
empty left hand into his left-side coat pocket and brings out the third
ace. The four cards are counted once more, then squeezed. This
causes the last ace, the diamond, to pass to the right pocket.
Method: The handling for this packet cards-to-pocket presentation is prettily contrived. Every time an ace is made to pass, the
hand fetching it is seen empty before entering the pocket; and no
duplicate cards are used. In fact, if one wishes, the aces can all be
signed before they travel.
Begin by running through the deck and locating the aces. As you
come to each, openly shift it to the face of the pack. When you have
gathered all four, arrange them in a sequence familiar to you, set
in four-three-two-one order from the face. For example, if you choose
to use CHaSeD order (as we will for this description), the aces would
read diamond-spade-heart-club from face to back. Then shift the
foremost card to the back of the setup, rearranging the suits into
three-two-one-four order: from the face, spade-heart-club-diamond.
This arrangement can, of course, be done in one step. Here it has

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 2 9
been broken into two purely for clarity. The ordering of the suits is
not strictly necessary, but it allows you to name each ace confidently
as it travels to the pocket.
As you arrange the aces, push over the first indifferent card
beneath them and catch a left fourth-finger break below it. When
the aces are in order, bring the right hand palm-down over the
deck and roughly square them. Immediately lift the five cards
above the break from the pack, apparently taking just the aces.
With the left thumb and fingers, revolve the balance of the pack
face-down, adjusting it into dealing grip. In doing this, it is an
easy task to push over the top card slightly and procure a fourthfinger break beneath it.
Since you have left the right hand's packet slightly unsquared,
you now have a reason to bring the packet over the deck, for you
must finish squaring the aces. Move the face-up packet directly over
the deck and run the left thumb and fingertips along the opposite
edges of the packet. In this squaring action, secretly pick up the top
card of the pack, taking it beneath the packet, but maintaining a
right thumb break between it and the cards above.
You will now plainly display the aces and, in the process, steal
one ace from the packet, employing an ATFUS handling. With the
left thumb, draw the uppermost ace, the spade, face-up and square
onto the face-down deck. Name it as you do this. Then, again with
the left thumb, draw the second ace, the heart, over the firstbut
at the same time load the face-down indifferent card over the first
ace as you draw the second onto the pack. Do this by extending the
left fourth finger to the right, under the right hand's packet, and with
its tip engage the inner right corner of the face-down card (Figure
151). Then, as the thumb pulls the second ace square onto the pack,
release the right thumb's pressure on the separated face-down card
and, with the left fourth finger, push it flush with the deck. As you
move the left hand smoothly
to the left with the pack, and
the remaining right-hand
cards slide from beneath the
second ace, press the left
fourth fingertip to the side of
the pack, catching a break
under the ace of hearts.
Continue the display without a pause, by drawing the
third ace onto the deck, and
laying the last aceactually a

2 3 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


double cardonto the
third, but stepped inward for about a quarter
of an inch.
After completing this
display of the aces, bring
the right hand palm-up
to the deck and remove
the packet above the
break by pinching it at
its right edge, right
thumb above and fingertips (entering the break) below (Figure 152). All looks as it should;
however, the ace of spades is hidden face-up beneath the face-down
top card of the deck.
"The aces are the only cards we need for this next trick." With the
left hand, casually deposit the deck in the left-side coat pocket. Then
bring the left hand, empty and palm-down, to the right hand's
packet. Grasp the packet by its opposite edges, left thumb on the
right side, fingertips on the left (Figure 153), and rotate the left hand
palm-up, turning the packet face-down. Bring the right hand palmdown over the packet, ostensibly to adjust the cards to dealing
position. But in this action, you palm the top two aces. The step that
you have maintained makes the palm almost automatic. As you
bring the right hand over the packet, contact the front end of the
forward aces with the fingertips, and the inner left corner of the lower
pair with the thumbtip. If you now press down lightly with right
thumb and fingers, bowing the lower cards downward, the top two
aces will be levered neatly up into the right palm (Figure 154). In a
continuing action, lower the remaining bottom pair of cards into lefthand dealing grip and move the right hand away, aces palmed. (This

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 3 1
palming method is a two-handed variant of the one-handed spring
palm described on page 224-225.)
The palming action is rapid and invisible; yet it should be done
in a casual fashion while you look away from the hands and address
the audience. Almost immediately move the right hand to the rightside coat pocket and drop off the palmed aces as you remove some
object from the pocket that you have thoughtfully left there to provide
the right hand a reason for its action. The spectators should think
you are merely emptying the pocket in preparation for the trick. Set
the removed object aside.
Let's pause a moment to consider the current situation. Though
to the audience you have so far done nothing but remove the aces
from the pack and display them, in an admirably brief time you have
maneuvered three of the aces secretly to your coat pockets, and are
holding one ace and an indifferent card in your left hand. You are
already three steps ahead of your audience.
Bring the right hand palm-down over the left hand's packet and
squeeze the cards between your palms. "That makes the first ace,
the ace of clubs, leave the others and fly to my pocket." Lift the right
hand from the packet and perform a Stanyon-type false count,
counting the two cards you hold as three. That is, adjust the packet
to left-hand pinch grip and draw the top card into right-hand dealing
grip. (The idea of using a right-hand dealing grip for the Stanyon
count was first suggested in print by Edward Mario, ref. M-U-M, Vol.
49, No. 7, Dec. 1959, p. 290, though Mr. Elmsley learned this
handling in 1954 from his friend, Eric de la Mare, who had independently conceived the idea in England.) As the right hand returns
to the packet to take the second card, secretly slip the first card
underneath the packet and reclaim it with the left fingertips while
the right thumb draws the second card onto the right palm. In other
words, the two hands exchange their cards in the guise of a counting
action. Finish the count by taking the left hand's card onto that in
the right hand, counting it as three.
Transfer the packet to the left hand. Then, with an obviously
empty right hand, reach into your right-side coat pocket and bring
out the card nearest your body. This will the first ace of your memorized suit order. Display the ace of clubs and drop it face-down onto
the packet.
Squeeze the packet between the palms again. "That causes the
next ace, the ace of hearts, to fly to my pocket." Legitimately count
the cards in the packet, reversing their order as you simulate the
actions of the Stanyon count just used. Only three cards remain.
Retake the packet into the left hand and, with the empty right hand,

2 3 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


bring forth from the right-side coat pocket the ace of hearts.
Display it and slip it to the bottom of the packet. The cards from
top to face now read: ace of diamonds, indifferent card, ace of
clubs, ace of hearts.
Casually spread the cards between the hands, showing four; then,
as you square them back into the left hand, form a left fourth-finger
break under the top two cards.
"I'll tell you how it's done. When you're not looking, I make a magic
pass between the cards and my pocket..." As this is said, you
perform a bold maneuver, cunningly disguised as a feint:
Bring the right hand over the packet and perform a squeezing
action, similar to those you have previously used. This time, though,
you palm the top two cards. In doing so, purposely hold the hand
in a cramped manner, with the thumb sticking out to the side. You
wish to create an almost comical impression of palming a card, without actually letting the palmed cards be seen.
Move the palsied hand to your right-side coat pocket and deposit
the palmed cards there without hesitation. As you remove the hand
from the pocket, continue your explanation: "... and that makes the
ace of spades fly to my left pocket." Pass the packet from the left
hand to the right, let your left hand be seen empty, then reach into
your left pocket and produce the ace of spades. Since it lies second
from the top of the deck, there should be no fumbling or hesitation
in bringing it out.
At this point, if your acting has been convincing, your crude and
open palming from the packet a moment before will be dismissed
by the audience as a humorous feint and nothing more. As I said,
it is a bold maneuver, but an effective one.
Place the ace of spades face-down on the packet and perform a
Stanyon count, counting the three cards as four. Then squeeze the
packet between your palms and, with the empty right hand, go to
the right pocket and produce the ace of diamonds. It is the farthest
card of the pair from your body. You are left holding just the four
aces, as you should be, and each has in turn flown to a pocket. The
indifferent card that aided their flights rests in the right coat pocket
and can be left there or secretly added to the deck when the
audience's attention has relaxed.

EN VOYAGE
Effect: The ace, two and three of any suit are openly removed from
the pack and laid on the table. The ace is placed into the center of
the pack, shown and pushed flush. Without a false move the
performer reaches into his right-front trousers pocket and withdraws
the ace. He lays it face-up onto the face-down pack and casually cuts
the cards, losing the card.
Next the two is taken from the table and inserted into the pack.
The hand goes to the right-front trousers pocket again, unmistakably empty, and comes forth with the two. This card is also cut
face-up into the deck.
Finally, the three is picked up and pushed into the pack. It, like
its fellows, instantly flies to the trousers pocket; and it too is then
buried face-up in the pack.
The performer points out that when the three cards disappeared from the deck, they traveled to the same trousers pocket.
"This time," he says, "they will each fly to a different pocket
Now!" He slaps the pack, then ribbon spreads it across the table.
The three reversed cards are no longer in the deck. The ace is
brought from the trousers pocket, the two from a coat pocket, and
the three from the inner breast pocket. In assessing this effect,
you should understand that the action is straightforward and that
no duplicate cards are in play. The three traveling cards can, in
fact, be signed by spectators at the start.
Method: Mr. Elmsley developed this masterly piece in the late
1950s and, when Dai Vernon visited England during that period to
work with Lewis Ganson on what was to become a series of classic
books, this was one of the tricks Mr. Elmsley showed him. Mr.
Vernon was so impressed by it, when he gave lessons in 1962 at the
Lou Tannen School of Magic in New York, this was one of the tricks
he taught. (Another was "Brainweave"; see pp. 338-345.) "En Voyage"
soon became an underground favorite in the States, but has never
been explained in print. It is not a trick easily mastered, but it is

2 3 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


one worth every bit of effort necessary, for the result is an entirely
magical sequence that audiences readily appreciate.
Begin by running through the pack in search of the ace, two and
three of any suit. For this description, clubs are used. (You can, by
the way, ask someone to designate the suit.) As you locate these three
cards, also cut or cull to the face of the pack a deuce of the same
color. In our example, this would be the two of spades. Arrange the
ace, two and three of clubs in ascending order on the face of the
pack. From face to back the four cards read: ace of clubs, two of
clubs, three of clubs and two of spades. As you square the face-up
deck into left-hand dealing position, catch a break under the two
of spades.
This ordering of the cards is done casually, with the faces tipped
toward you. Once you have the four cards arranged, lower your
hands and, with the palm-down right hand, lift the four-card packet
from the face of the deck. Then clearly exhibit the ace, two and three
of clubs in this manner:
With the left thumb, draw the ace from the packet onto the face
of the deck, jogging it a bit to the right. With the same thumb, draw
off the two of clubs onto the ace, jogged somewhat farther to the
right. This leaves the three of clubsactually a double card, the two
of spades hidden beneath
in the right hand. Lay the
double onto the deck, forming a spread of the three
club cards (Figure 155). Pin
the spread to the deck with
your left thumb.
You will now steal away
the ace as you remove the
spread from the deck. An
easy and wholly deceptive
switch of Mr. Elmsley's is
used to accomplish this.
Bring the right hand, palmup, to the right side of the
pack and seemingly grasp
the three-card spread as
shown in Figure 156. Actually only grasp the two of
clubs and the double three,
leaving the ace under the
control of the left thumb.
Now separate the hands, at

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 3 5

the same time turning them palms down. During this action, with
the left thumb pull the ace of clubs square with the face of the pack;
and with the right fingers simultaneously spread the double card,
allowing the backs of all three right-hand cards to be seen. (Figure
157 shows an exposed performer's view of the switch in progress).
This switch is imperceptible, even when performed in slow motion.
It should be done in a relaxed, unhurried manner.
Lay the spread of three cards face-down on the table to your near
right. Then adjust the face-down deck into left-hand dealing position and secretly transport the ace from the bottom to the top. This
can be done with a side slip and replacement, a reverse double
undercut or a brisk overhand shuffle.
With your right hand, reach out to the three-card spread and pick
up the top card. Those of the audience who have paid attention
should believe this to be the ace. Indeed, the ace will in a moment
be shown, confirming this assumption, and clarifying the situation
for the less attentive. As everyone's eyes are captured by the right
hand's action, with the left thumb push the top card of the deck
slightly to the right and get a fourth-finger break beneath it.
Lay the right hand's card (the two of clubs), face-down and square
on the pack. Then, using the initial action of Cliff Green's double
lift, push the top two cards as one forward on the deck for about
half their length. That is,
bring the right hand palmdown over the pack and
place the tip of the extended
forefinger on the back of the
top card. At the same time,
bring the tip of the right
thumb onto the inner edge of
the double card above the
break (Figure 158). The natural position of the thumb

2 3 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


accommodates this. Without
hesitation, push the top two
cards forward as one, apparently using the tip of the forefinger, but actually pushing the
double card with the thumb
(Figure 159).
Now, with the right hand still
palm-down, grip the lower half
of the pack at its inner corners,
between the thumb and second
finger, pull this half backward
from beneath the upper portion,
and slap it on top, square with
the other half (Figure 160). This
action is similar to that of a
Hindu shuffle. The double card
now lies outjogged near the center of the pack.
Turn the left hand momentarily palm-down, exposing the
face of the ace protruding from
the deck. Then, with the right
hand, turn over the two cards
on the table and leave them
lying there face-up, the three
resting diagonally across the
two of spades, so that only the
"2" of one index is visible and
the suit pips are concealed (Figure 161). Everything appears as
it should. (The use of the extra
two as a stand-in was suggested to Mr. Elmsley by Cy
Endfield. The crisscross display
ruse was originated by Mr.
Elmsley for this trick, but was also independently conceived in the
States by Brother John Hamman.)
Return the left hand to a palm-up position; then, with the right
hand, push the double card into the pack and palm the two cards
away. There are a variety of side steal and right-hand diagonal palm
shift techniques that may be employed for this purpose. Ones by
Edward Mario, Jerry Andrus and Larry Jennings come immediately

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 3 7
to mind. Mr. Elmsley uses a pinkie clip side steal, which is described
in Volume I of this work (see pp. 130-133). With the two cards palmed
in the right hand, grasp the pack from above while your left hand
undercuts the deck and completes the cut. (While this cut does
nothing, it is necessary to maintain consistency with actions used
later in the routine.)
Reach the right hand into your right-front trousers pocket and
bring out the ace of clubs (which lies farthest from the palm), leaving behind the second card (the two of clubs). Display the card, then
lay it face-up on the deck, catching a break beneath it. Cut the ace
to the center of the pack and retain the break.
With the right hand, turn the two (of
spades) and three (of clubs) face-down
on the table. Pick up the two. (This is
the safest procedure when working
surrounded. However, if there is no
one behind you or on the extreme side
angles, you can instead do this: Dig the
right fingertips under the front end of
the two and draw it forward from
beneath the three, simultaneously
lifting it to a vertical position, back
outward [Figure 162]. Then revolve it
face-down. The right fingers naturally
conceal the face of the card until it is
tipped from the audience's view.)
Place the two face-down on the deck. Then, with the right forefinger, push it forward for half its length, simulating the earlier
double-card handling used with the ace. With the right hand, grasp
the inner end of the deck, strip the top third from beneath the
outjogged two and slap it back on top. This maneuver leaves the
break beneath the ace undisturbed, yet closely resembles the earlier
cut, lending an appearance of conformity to your actions.
With the right hand, slowly and fairly push the protruding two
of spades into the pack, then cut the cards at the break, bringing
the ace to the bottom. Square the pack and execute a pull-down or
a double buckle to obtain a left fourth-finger break above the bottom
two cards. Then, with an obviously empty right hand, reach into the
trousers pocket and bring out the two of clubs.
Display it, lay it face-up on the deck and apparently cut it, in a
deliberate fashion, into the pack, performing a reverse double
undercut to bring the two bottom cards to the top. This places the
face-up ace over the two, and both are covered by a single face-down

2 3 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


indifferent card. In squaring the pack, form a left fourth-finger break
under these three cards (the bridge in the reversed cards should aid
you here).
With the right hand, pick up the three of clubs from the table and
lay it face-up and square onto the deck. Perform a quadruple turnover, apparently turning just the three of clubs face-down. In this
action, carry the four-card block very slightly inward, creating a step
about half the width of a border. In a continuing action smoothly
push the top card forward for half its length. This card is thought
to be the threeit is actually the two of clubs.
Grasp the top portion of the pack at its inner end and draw the
upper half backward, stripping it from beneath the outjogged card.
Slap this half on top, taking care to preserve the step. In a squaring action of the top half, convert the step into a fourth-finger break.
Once again, the handling of the cards appears consistent with the
previous actions. You must now perform two secret tasks at once.
You will push the projecting card flush, forming a break above it,
while you simultaneously palm the top three cards. This is accomplished as follows:
Move the palm-down right hand forward over the deck, in preparation to push the protruding card flush. Begin to do so, but stop
momentarily when approximately an inch of the card still protrudes
from the front of the pack. Move the right hand back several inches
to expose the outjogged card in the center of the pack. Then resume
the action of pushing the card flush and, in doing so, execute Edward
Mario's misdirection palm (ref. The Cardician [first printing], pp. 5253, and the last paragraph of "Repeater Selected Card to Pocket",
p. 55; in subsequent printings, pp. 55-57 and p. 58). That is:
Move the palm-down right hand forward over the deck, in preparation to push the protruding card flush. The instant the right hand
eclipses the pack, move the left fourth-fingertip slightly to the right,
carrying the three cards above the break with it (Figure 163, right

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 3 9
hand withdrawn to expose the action). This mildly cants the packet,
ariglejogging its outer right corner over the front of the deck. The jog
need be no more than an eighth of an inch.
With the tip of the right fourth finger, immediately contact this
corner of the packet and press downward, levering the three cards
up into the right palm (Figure 164).
The instant the palm is completed, use the right fingertips to push
the two into the pack, but angle it slightly to the left, causing its right
inner corner to project from the right edge of the pack. Contact this
corner with the tip of the left fourth finger and pull down on it, forming a break above the two as you push its corner flush.
With the right hand, square the ends of the pack; then, with the
left hand, undercut the cards below the break and complete the cut.
This brings the two of clubs to the top of the pack. Move the right
hand to the right-front trousers pocket and load the palmed cards
as you reach into the pocket. Once the hand is inside the pocket,
turn the three cards around. Then bring out the three of clubs (the
card now nearest the palm), leaving behind the ace and indifferent
card. When you do this, make a leftward body turn and focus all
attention on the card coming from the pocket. While everyone's eyes
are watching the right hand, thumb the top card of the pack, the
two of clubs, into the left-side coat pocket. The misdirection at this
moment is compelling.
Exhibit the three, then place it face-up on the deck and cut
about three-quarters of the pack from the bottom to the top. Turn
the deck face-up in the left hand as you say, "The three cards now
lie reversed and scattered throughout the deck." In support of this
statement, spread the first few cards until you reach the facedown three of clubs.
"These three cards traveled one by one to my trousers pocket
the same pocket each time." Illustrate your words by removing the
face-down card from the pack; then, without showing its face, slip
it briefly into the trousers pocket. During the moment your hand is
in the pocket, desert the three, slipping it behind the two cards
already there (placing it nearest the body), and grasp the indifferent
(outermost) card in its place. This pocket switching dodge is borrowed from Francis Carlyle's "Homing Card" in Stars of Magic (p. 63).
Bring the indifferent card from the pocket, back outward, as you
say, "Watch closely now, for this time all three cards will travel from
the deck, each to a different pocket." Indicate your left-side coat
pocket, breast pocket and right-front trousers pocket by quickly
tapping each with the indifferent card. Then insert it face-down into
the face-up pack and push it flush, executing the pinkie clip side

2 4 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


steal. However, instead of fanning the pack to complete the extraction of the card, instead revolve the deck leftward and face-down in
the left hand. Then, with the card palmed in the right hand, slap
the pack, or riffle it, to imply that you are doing something magical, and load the palmed card on top. Then ribbon spread the cards,
showing that the three face-up clubs have vanished.
Let both hands be seen empty. Then, with your right hand, reach
into the right-front trousers pocket and bring out the ace of clubs
(the outside card) at the fingertips. Toss it face-up onto the table.
Return the right hand to the trousers pocket and palm the three as
you say, "No more from here." (Mr. Elmsley takes the three into a
rear palm position.) Working to a brisk rhythm, place your left hand
into the left-side coat pocket and bring out the two of clubs, as the
right hand, apparently empty, leaves the trousers pocket. Toss the
two face-up with the ace. Finally, reach with the right hand into your
inside left breast pocket and pretend to draw the three of clubs from
there. Toss this card with the rest and take a bow.
As mentioned earlier, the three cards can be signed by spectators. Mr. Elmsley also mentions that the three of clubs can be loaded
into a sealed envelope, d la LePaul, or a card wallet, before it is
brought from the breast pocket; his rear palm wallet-loading method
can be used here (see pp. 34-36). This extra embellishment is only
advisable if the cards are signed. Otherwise, duplicates will certainly
be suspected.
While the method for this trick is demanding, the composition
is delightfully economical, placing you always a step or two or
three ahead of the audience. It will be obvious that there is room
for variation in the sleights employed. Indeed, Dai Vernon, Larry
Jennings, Bruce Cervon, Edward Mario and others have developed
individual handlings over the years to suit their tastes. These
variants, while conserving the basic Elmsley structure, offer some
interesting points. The original, nevertheless, is an exceptional
piece of card magic, which can stand confidently in comparison
beside any of its offspring.
[c. 1957]

PROCESSIONAL
Effect: The aces are inserted at different locations in the pack
and left projecting from it. The performer pushes the first ace
flush, then produces it from his right-front trousers pocket. The
second ace is pushed into the pack and immediately flies to the
pocket. With increasing mystery, the same occurs with the third
ace and the fourth.
Method: Because this is an earlier incarnation of "En Voyage", I
hesitated to include. But each time I examined it, I found its merit
irresistible. Where one must admire the elegance of "En Voyage", in
this less ambitious construction using the four aces, one is
impressed by the economy of its cunning structure coupled with the
persuasiveness of the illusion created.
Begin by openly removing the four aces from the pack and place
them face-up on top. While holding the deck in left-hand dealing
grip, casually fan the aces, also fanning over the three face-down
cards directly beneath them. Then square the cards back onto the
deck, getting a left fourth-finger break under all seven. You now
perform the Braue addition, switching three of the aces for the
three indifferent cards. That is, the palm-down right hand grips
the seven cards above the break by the ends and the left hand
carries the deck to the left. At the same time, the left thumb draws
the uppermost ace onto the deck and the right hand uses its
packet to flip this ace face-down on top. The left thumb then
draws the next ace off the packet and it too is flipped over onto
the deck; as in its turn is the third. The right hand then sets the
remaining four cardswhich are thought by the audience to be
the final ace alonesquare on the pack.
Immediately push the face-up ace to the right, take it into the right
hand and turn it face-down. Insert this ace very near the bottom of
the pack, and leave it outjogged for about two-thirds of its length.
Take the next card from the top of the pack and, without exposing
its face, insert it about ten cards above the protruding ace, leaving

2 4 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


it similarly outjogged. Insert the next two cards in turn into the front
of the pack, separated by roughly ten cards. The fourth card should
lie about thirteen cards from the top.
Now spread the pack from left hand to right, displaying the separation of the four outjogged cards. These are presumed to be the
aces, but only the lowermost of the four has a face to support this
assumption. The other three aces rest atop the deck. As you square
the pack back into the left hand, you must form a left fourth-finger
break under them.
Bring your right hand palm-down over the pack and push the
uppermost projecting card flush. As you do this, execute Mr.
Elmsley's misdirection rear palm {Volume I, pp. 128-129), stealing
the top three aces into the right hand. Move the right hand to your
right-front trousers pocket and bring out one of the palmed aces (see
Volume I, pp. 135-136), leaving the other two behind. After displaying it, toss the ace face-up onto the table.
Bring the right hand over the pack and push in the next outjogged
card. As you move the right hand away from the pack and toward
your pocket, this time let it be seen empty. Bring the second ace from
the pocket and toss it onto the table with the first.
Repeat this sequence again, pushing in the third card and
producing the third ace from your pocket. You now have one card
sticking from the pack. As you prepare the audience for the last
migration, casually turn the left hand and let the face of the
outjogged ace be seen. Then turn the left hand palm-up again and
push the ace home. However, in doing so, perform the Elmsley
center-card rear palm (Volume I, pp. 130-133), stealing the ace from
the deck and into the right hand. After completing the palm and
closing the fanned deck, regrasp the pack in left-hand dealing grip
and move the right hand toward your right pocket. Load the rearpalmed ace into the pocket, then bring it out at your fingertips. Toss
this last ace down with the others, thus completing a brisk and
magical series of transportations.

DALEY DOUBLE
Effect: One black ace, say the ace of clubs, is shown and placed
in the performer's pocket. The second black ace, the ace of spades,
is positioned face-up in the center of the face-down deck. The faceup ace of spades is pushed flush with the pack and the cards are
immediately fanned to reveal that the face-up ace has changed to
the ace of clubs, which was a moment ago in the performer's pocket.
The ace of spades is immediately brought from the pocket.
The performer offers to repeat the transposition in an even more
astonishing fashion: both aces will remain in sight at all times. He
perches the ace of spades, back out, in the top of his outer breast
pocket; and lays the ace of clubs face-down onto the table. With a
magical snap of his fingers he turns over the acesbut instead of
transposing, the two cards have transformed into red aces; and the
black aces are neatly produced, each from a different pocket.
Method: The first phase of this routine is founded on Dr. Jacob
Daley's "Reverse Transfer" (ref. Hugard's More Card Manipulations,
Series 3, pp. 35-37). Mr. Elmsley has modified the handling slightly
for economy of action, then appended the surprising second phase
in which the red aces unexpectedly take the places of the black, while
the black aces fly to the pockets. All this is succinctly accomplished
without the use of gimmicks or duplicates.
Begin with one red ace on top of the pack, the other at the bottom; and the two black aces directly under the top red ace, second
and third from the top. You do not wish the audience to know the
locations of the red aces, but these can be secretly positioned as you
openly search for the black aces and apparently move them to the
top of the pack.
While holding the deck face-down in left-hand dealing position,
perform a double turnover and display the first black ace. Perform
a second double turnover, revolving the ace face-down, and immediately remove the top card (a red ace). Ask the spectators to
remember the identity of the black ace and that it is in your right

2 4 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


pocket. Without exposing the face of the card in your right hand,
slip it into the right-front trousers pocket.
Perform another double turnover, displaying the second black ace
face-up on the pack. As you make the turnover, let the double card
settle into an outjogged position on the deck, projecting forward
about half an inch.
Now, with the palm-down right hand, grip the lower half of the
pack at its inner corners, draw it inward, stripping it from beneath
the top half, and slap it on top, flush with the other packet. This
leaves the face-up double card protruding from the outer end of the
pack, near center. At this point the locations of the aces are: one
red ace in your right pocket; the second red ace lies in the center of
the deck; and directly below it rests the outjogged double card, which
consists of the face-up black aces, the ace first displayed lying
hidden beneath the second.
You now perform the push-in change as you adjust the position
of the visible black ace: With your right hand, grip the double card
by its outer right cornerthumb above, second fingertip below
and slide the upper ace forward, making it possible for the left
forefinger to engage the outer end of the lower ace and secretly push
it flush with the pack. In the same action, pull the upper ace out of
the pack for approximately half its length.
Name this ace and remind the audience that the other black ace
is in your pocket. You now push the projecting ace into the pack,
snap your fingers and immediately fan the deck. However, as you
do this you execute Mr. Elmsley's center-card rear palm (Volume I,
pp. 130-133). That is, you first perform Bill Simon's card control to
push the ace apparently flush. Then, while the palm-down right
hand continues to hold the pack by its ends, snap the fingers of the
free left hand for effect, and immediately fan the deck in the left
hand, completing the Elmsley fan steal.
The perceived effect is that one black ace changes instantly into
the other as the deck is fanned. With your right forefinger, point to
the transformed ace in the fan, using this motion to conceal the
smaller one of adjusting the stolen ace into rear palm with the tip
of the right third finger.
Now, with your right hand, reach into your right-front trousers
pocket and come out with the palmed black ace at the fingertips (see
Volume I, p. 135). This concludes the first phase, but you are already
well prepared for the second.
After displaying the right hand's ace, return it to your trousers
pocket and execute the "Homing Card" pocket dodge, quickly
exchanging the black ace for the red one already there as you offer
to repeat the effect. Immediately bring the hand from the pocket

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 4 5
again, as you seem to have a fresh idea: "No, this time I'll leave
both cards in view." Taking care not to expose the face of the red
ace, set it in the top of your left outer breast pocket with most of
the card in view.
Close the fanned pack, which the left hand has held throughout
the previous actions, and hold it face-down in dealing grip. Bring
the right hand palm-down over the pack and cut at the face-up black
ace, lifting away all the cards above it. If there is a bridge in the
cards, this task is simplified. Otherwise, you can use the left thumb
to riffle down to the face-up ace.
Name the face-up black ace, focusing full attention on it, while
the right hand forms a thumb break above the bottom card of its
packet, in preparation for a tip-over change (see Volume I, pp. 7273, for a description of this maneuver, as well as an explanation of
the tip-over change). Then flip the black ace face-down on the left
hand's packet, secretly loading the red ace from the right hand's
portion onto it. Immediately thumb the top card of the left hand's
packet onto the table, and slip the right hand's cards under the left's.
At this point the audience believes that the card on the table and
that in your breast pocket are the black aces. In reality these are
red aces. One black ace now lies on top of the deck, the other in your
right pocket.
"Now, do you remember which black ace is on the table, and
which is in my pocket?" Pause a moment, to build some suspense.
Then dramatically reveal the two cards to be the red aces.
"As for the black aces, one has gone back to this pocket." Turn
to your left, presenting your right side to the audience; and, with
an obviously empty right hand, reach into the right trousers pocket
and bring out the first black ace. As all attention is on this action,
thumb the top card of the deck (the second black ace) into your leftside coat pocket. This load may seem bold, but the misdirection at
this point is very strong.
Turn to face the audience again, and set the right hand's black
ace face-up on the face-down deck while transferring the deck to the
right hand.
"And the other is over here." With an empty left hand, go to your
left pocket and produce the second black ace. Set it face-up onto
the deck, displaying it there with its mate, and conclude.
Note that Mr. Elmsley deliberately displays the black aces on the
deck, rather than dropping them onto the table. In doing so he subtly
distracts from the fact that the deck is also still in the hands. It is a
valuable psychological point that should not be overlooked, a last
bit of burnishing to a cleverly constructed mystery.

BETWEEN YOUR PALMS


Effect: After the Elmsley count, I would judge this trick as Mr.
Elmsley's best known contribution to card magic. He conceived the
trick after reading John Dickson Carr's analysis of "locked room"
mystery plots. From that he devised this "locked room" mystery with
playing cards. While a number of clever magicians (including the
originator himself) have attempted to improve on its method, many
believe that the original is still the best to date.
The performer removes a card from the deck and, without showing its face, places it between the palms of a spectator. Three cards
are then selected by other members of the audience. One of the
participants signs the face of his selection. All three cards are lost
in the deck after they have been noted.
The pack is riffled and one card flies invisibly from it to the side
pocket of the performer's jacket. This card is shown and slipped
between the first spectator's hands, joining the card already there.
The second selection is produced from the performer's inside
breast pocket. This too is placed between the spectator's palms.
The third selection, the signed one, has yet to be produced. The
performer asks the first spectator to separate his hands and return
the two selections to their owners. This leaves him with one card
the card that was given to him before any selections were made.
When he looks at its face he is shocked to find that this card is the
signed selection. He has apparently been holding it the entire time.
Method: The method about to be explained is that published
in 1952. However, while checking the text for this book, Mr.
Elmsley devised a new story-presentation for the trick, a whimsical tale concerning "The Hermit of Moon Mountain". Therefore,
the following description offers vintage Elmsley with a bright new
label on the bottle.
One "stranger" card (that is, a card from another pack) must be
added secretly to the deck. The handling is structured to avoid
exposing the back of this card throughout the trick. Therefore, the

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 4 7
back pattern needn't match, which leaves you free to use a borrowed
deck, should you wish. Since the deck is rid of the stranger card long
before the finish of the effect, no clue is left and the use of the extra
card is made completely practical.
Load the stranger card onto the bottom of the deck at the outset
of the trick. Turn the deck face toward you and spread through it
(without exposing the back of the stranger card, if it varies with the
pack in use). Look for the mate to the stranger, remove it from the
deck without letting its face be seen and ask someone nearby to
assist you.
"Will you hold your hands palms together, like this?" Get the
spectator to hold one hand palm-up and place the other hand palmdown over it. "Now, if you would, I wish you to hold this card between
your palms." Slip the card face-down between his hands. Placing the
card in this manner permits you to position it so that later it will be
convenient to slide other cards above and below it.
"That card represents the Hermit of Moon Mountain. Sometimes
he was called the Hidden Hermit; for, though people visited him from
time to time, they never saw his face. So will you take care that he
stays hidden?
Til tell you more about the hermit later. But first I must have three
cards chosen."
As you say this, take the deck face-down into left-hand dealing
position and give it a casual cut, moving the stranger card to the
center. Catch a left fourth-finger break below the card as the cut is
completed, in preparation for a riffle force. Approach a second person and ask her to call stop as you riffle your left thumb down the
corner of the pack. Stop as she instructs you and bring your right
hand palm-down over the deck. Apparently lift the block of cards
released by the thumb from the deck, but in reality let the thumb's
break silently close and simultaneously cut away all the cards above
the fourth finger's break.
Tip the face of the right hand's packet toward the spectator and
ask that she remember the card. This is of course the stranger card,
a duplicate of which lies between the first spectator's palms.
As you replace the upper portion on the lower, control the stranger
card to the bottom of the deck with either a pass, a Kelly-Ovette
bottom placement (see Volume I of this work, pp. 261-263; or Tarbell
Course in Magic, Vol. 3, pp. 184-187) or a side steal to the bottom
(Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 3, pp. 183-184).
Ask another person to take part by also choosing a card. Again
riffle your left thumb down the corner of the deck until he stops you.
This time the choice is fair, so make the most of it. Lift off the upper

2 4 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


portion and show the spectator the card he has stopped you at. As
you reassemble the halves, control this selection to the bottom,
under the stranger card.
Fan the face-down deck (keeping hidden the back of the stranger
card second from the face) and have a final selection drawn by a
fourth spectator. Ask that she place her name or initials on the face
of the card before returning it.
While she is doing this, cut the deck to center the two selections.
No break need be held if the back of the stranger card is discrepant. Then fan the deck while tipping it up so that only you can see
the backs. Spot the stranger card and adjust it in the fan so that
its white border alone is exposed. While making this adjustment,
create some small irregularity in the fan just above or below the
stranger card that will allow you to locate it quickly.
By this time the spectator should have completed the signing
of her card. Take it from her, holding it face-down, and insert it
into the fan immediately above the stranger card. Leave the signed
selection protruding for about half its length and close the fan into
the left hand.
Now push the card flush, but also angle it so that the right rear
corner breaks through the right side of the pack. Contact this corner
with the tip of the left fourth finger and pull down on it while pushing
it square. This forms a break just above the three selections. Bring
these to the top with either a pass or a shuffle. The signed selection
is now on top; under it is the stranger card; and under that the
second selection.
As you square the deck, obtain a break under the top two cards.
Then turn to the first spectator and say, "I hope your hands aren't
too tired from holding the hermit all this time. Please keep him safe."
As everyone's attention is directed to the spectator, palm the top two
cards of the deck into the right hand.
Turn now to the person who made the first selectionthe one on
whom you forced the stranger cardand say, "Now, your card, and
yours [this to the person who chose the second card] are going on a
journey. First, your card travels here." Place your right hand in your
right-side jacket pocket. "Will you please name the card you
selected." During her response, release the two palmed cards and
immediately catch the one farthest from the palm (the stranger) at
the fingertips. While it is still in the pocket, turn the face of this card
outward. When the card is named, draw it half from the pocket,
letting enough of its face be seen for it to be clearly identified. Then
lower it back into the pocket and quickly exchange it for the other
card there (the signed selection).

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 4 9
"Then it travels to visit the hermit." Immediately bring the
signed card from your pocket, back outward, letting it be thought
to be the selection just shown. Have the first spectator separate
his hands just enough for you to slip this card face-down beneath
the card already there.
The second selection is waiting on top of the deck for its
appearance. You may reveal it in any manner you wish. Mr. Elmsley
often palms it in his right hand, then produces it from his inside
breast pocket.
"And your card travels here
Then it too travels to visit the
hermit." Having produced the second selection, display the card and
again have the first spectator separate his hands for you to slip the
card between them. Place the card on top of the two already there.
The trick is now accomplished. However, the positions of the three
cards between the spectator's palms are not what he believes them
to be. A little time misdirection is necessary then, to help him forget
the positions of the selections. Our story provides just the thing.
"I must tell you more about the hermit. He lived in a cave on Moon
Mountain, and though he never left his cave, many people came to
him for advice. They were amazed, not just by his wisdom, but by
his knowledge of all that happened in the world.
"Of course, those who visited him could tell him about the world
outside Moon Mountain, but his knowledge went further than that.
Some thought that, though his body never left the cave, his spirit
wandered the world, listening and watching and learning.
"Now you and you have visited the hermit, in the form of your
cards." Here you address the two spectators whose cards have
been produced.
Ask the first spectator to separate his hands, turn up the top card
and give it to the spectator who chose the second card. Then have
him turn up the next card. It is the first selection. Ask that he hand
it to its owner.
Turn to the spectator who signed her card. "But you, miss, have
you ever visited the hermit? Or do you think his wandering spirit
might have visited you?"
The first spectator is still holding a card. That card is believed to
be the one given to him at the very beginning. Turn to him and say,
"For the first time, will you show us the face of the Hermit of Moon
Mountain."
When he turns it up it is seen to be the signed selection. As is
always the case with magic that occurs in a spectator's hands, the
reaction to this discovery is all one could desire.
June 28, 1952

ONLY CHILD
Effect: In the introductory comments to "Between Your Palms"
it was mentioned that Mr. Elmsley had, as have others, tried his
hand at constructing a method for this effect that did not require a
stranger card. Sometime in the early 1960s he devised the following
solution, and in 1965 he added the finishing touches to it. All things
considered, it is unlikely that a method using only an ordinary pack
can ever equal the original, which so brilliantly exploits the addition
a stranger card to the deck; but for those times when you are caught
without an extra cardand, I suppose, for the incurable purists as
wellthis alternative Elmsley method runs its forebear a close
second. The effect remains the same.
Method: No preparation is required. Remove any card from the
pack, without showing its face. Ask someone to hold one hand palmup and place the other hand palm-down over it. Slip the unknown
card face-down between her palms.
Now have someone else freely choose a card from the pack and
sign its face. While she is busy doing that, have two other spectators take cards as well. When the first card has been signed, have
all three selections returned to the pack and secretly bring them
together at an advantageous position for revelation. The revelations
used for the two unsigned cards can be any that you favor. However, they must be plotted to facilitate a switch of one unsigned
selection, once it is produced, for the signed card. Here is a simple,
practical example of such a structure:
Fan the face-down pack and have the three selections inserted
at different spots, managing the return of the signed card between
the two unsigned ones. Close the fan, with the three selections still
outjogged, and execute the D'Amico multiple shift, bringing them to
the bottom. Briefly:
Hold the deck in left-hand dealing grip, selections outjogged for
roughly an inch, and station the left forefinger at their outer end.
Tilt the front of the pack down with a bit of a snap, causing the block

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 5 1
of cards above the upper selection to slide forward and even with
the outjogged cards. The forefinger acts as a stop for the sliding
block. With your palm-down right hand, grip the balance of the deck
by its inner corners and pull it toward you, Hindu-shuffle style, stripping out the selections and leaving them beneath the outjogged top
block. Then complete the cut (and the shift) by slapping the right
hand's packet square onto the left's. The three selections are now
together at the bottom of the deck. (For fuller details, see Mario's
Multiple Shift, p. 31.)
Follow this shift with a quick overhand shuffle, running the last
few cards singly to bring the selections to the top. This reverses their
order, but maintains the signed card between the other two selections. It is now second from the top.
Snap your fingers in a magical fashion over the deck and turn
up the top card, showing that you have made one of the unsigned
selections appear there. Turn the card face-down again on the pack.
(For consistency, the actions used to turn the top card up and then
down on the deck should simulate those used for a double turnover,
for this sleight will be used in a moment to display the second
selection.)
Remove the displayed selection from the pack as you ask, "Which
of you chose this card?" As you look at the three persons who made
selections, casually display the face of the card to them again. This
second display silently establishes the honesty of your actions
though they should not be under suspicionlulling the spectators
into acceptance of them; an acceptance that will be abused during
succeeding actions. Once the owner of the card has identified himself, slip it face-down between the first spectator's hands, below the
unknown card already there.
Snap your fingers a second time over the pack and execute a
double turnover, revealing the other unsigned selection on top.
Turning to the spectator who took this card, say, "This then must
have been your card." As you address him and await his confirmation, use these few moments of misdirection to turn the double card
face-down on the pack and remove the top card (the signed selection). Slip this card below the pair held by the spectator.
At this point the spectator is holding three cards. The top card is
unknown, the card placed there at the beginning of the trick. The
middle card is the first selection produced. And the bottom card is
the signed selection. The second unsigned selection rests on top of
the pack.
Look at the person who signed her card. "That leaves yours. It is
actually the easiest to find, as it has your name on it. Before I find

2 5 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


it, let's recap." Turn to the spectator holding the three cards and ask
that she separate her hands slightly, so that you can remove one of
the cards. With your empty right hand, grasp the top card of the
packet by its right side and draw it slowly and neatly from the
spectator's hands. "I did find your card." Look at the person who
took the second of the unsigned cards produced, and as your gaze
diminishes attention on your hands, place the right hand's card on
top of the pack. However, in doing so you execute an "interrupted
top change":
Your right hand travels with its card, from the spectator's hands
to the deck, which is held in left-hand dealing grip. As the right hand
approaches the left, the left hand moves upward and to the right to
meet it, lifting the front end of the pack and turning the face outward. Simultaneously, with your left thumb, push the top card of
the pack widely to the right, as the right hand places its card
squarely on top of the deck (see Figures 165 and 166).

Done smoothly and without hesitation, a perfect illusion is created


of placing the right hand's card onto the deck in a rightjogged
position. The illusion is further strengthened by the exposure of the
face of the jogged card, showing the second unsigned selection
(Figure 167, audience's view).

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 5 3
The actions of this switch are
simple, direct and deceptive, as a
few trials before a mirror will verify.
Nevertheless, no attention is drawn
to them; they are done nonchalantly as you address the spectators.
The outward motivation for transferring the card to the deck is to
free the right hand for its next task.
If this casual attitude is convincing,
the audience will take for granted
the honesty of your actions. There
must be no sense that you are displaying the card on the deck. It is
merely in view.
Without a pause in your actions, move your right hand back
toward the cards held by the spectator as you say to the person who
chose the first unsigned selection, "And before that I found your
card." Grip the top card of the remaining two and slip it from between
the spectator's palms. Carry this card to the deck and, once there,
clip the jogged card under the right hand's card and separate both
from the pack. This completes the interrupted top change. Toss the
right hand's two cards face-up onto the table. These are the two
unsigned selections.
Through this subtle series of actions you have disposed of the
unknown card that was originally held by the spectator, and have
cunningly substituted the signed selection for it. All that remains
is to emphasize the idea that the first spectator is still holding the
card that was given her before any selections were made or signed.
Then have her turn up the card between her hands, showing it to
be the signed selection.
Of course, more impressive or showy means can be used to
produce the two unsigned cards but, as Mr. Elmsley observes, these
productions are incidental to the main effect: the appearance of the
signed card between the spectator's hands. Consequently, the
preceding productions should be kept swift and uncomplicated.
The construction of this strangerless method is to be admired for
its elegant simplicity and directness. The worth of the interrupted
top change also will be appreciated. Mr. Elmsley recalls inventing
this sleight while practicing the fadeaway card change from Expert
Card Technique (pp. 80-83). Indeed, the arcing, upward sweeping
actions of the hands used in the interrupted top change are exactly
those described by Hugard and Braue for the fadeaway card change.
This deceptive sleight should find ready applicability in many tricks,
extant and forthcoming.

INCOMMUNICADO
Effect: Four spectators each note a random card in the pack.
Then, in rapid succession, the performer names the first selection
and produces it from his pocket, names the second selection and
shows it face-up in the center of the deck, then names the third
selection and brings it from a card case that has sat untouched
throughout the trick.
One card remains to be found. The person who chose that card
indicates any of the three previous selections, which now lie on the
table. She then names her chosen card. The performer rubs the
indicated card on the table and it changes into the last selection.
Method: In structure this trick is closely related to "Between Your
Palms", and was developed during the same period in the early
1950s. It is another of Mr. Elmsley's methods that does not require
a duplicate card. Instead, a centuries-old swindle is brilliantly
exploited: a card that no one has chosen is passed off as one of the
four selections, and each of the spectators assumes this card belongs
to one of his companions. The construction of this trick is so
cunning, it may even deceive you the first time you read through its
explanation.
Only one small bit of preparation is necessary. When you remove
the deck from its case, secretly leave behind one card. This can be
any card, but you must know what it is. Close the case and set it to
one side on the table. You can now proceed with a trick or two that
is not affected by the absence of the card left in the case. When you
are ready to perform "Incommunicado", make sure that the facedown deck carries a convex bridge along its length.
Hold the deck face-down in left-hand dealing grip and ask someone in front of you to call stop as you riffle through the cards. Explain
that four cards will be selected in this way, from four different parts
of the pack. Suggest that he stop you somewhere in the upper portion
of the deck. Riffle your left thumb down the outer left corner of the
pack until you are told to stop. With your palm-down right hand,

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 5 5
neatly lift away the packet above the break and display the card on
its face to the spectator, asking him to remember it. As you replace
the packet on the deck, execute the Kelly-Ovette bottom placement
(see Volume I, pp. 261-263), slipping the selection to the bottom.
Turn to another person in front and ask that she stop you a bit
deeper in the deck. Stop riffling where she commands, show her the
card at that position, and use the bottom placement to control it to
the face of the pack.
Turn now to someone on your far right and ask that he stop you
somewhere in the lower half of the pack. Show him the card he stops
you onbut this time do not execute the bottom placement. Instead,
simply hold a left fourth-finger break between the two packets. (Note
that the bottom placement is most vulnerable to exposure at the left,
and turning to your right presents that weak side to the audience.
Therefore, you use a spectator on your right at the one point in this
selection procedure when the bottom placement is not used.)
Explain that you need one more card chosen and turn to someone on your left. Ask that he stop you somewhere toward the bottom
of the deck. Riffle the cards off your thumb until told to stop. But
this time, instead of cutting honestly at the specified spot, you
execute a riffle force (p. 247), lifting away all the cards above the
fourth finger's break. Show the card at the face of the raised packet
to the fourth spectator and, as you replace the upper packet on the
lower, bring the chosen card to the face with the bottom placement.
(Two things here are worthy of note: first, the riffle force is extremely
deceptive in this context, as the audience has just seen you cut
honestly at random spots during the previous three selections; and
second, the bottom placement is done this last time only when the
angle is best suited to it.)
Four cards have now been chosen; but what your audience
doesn't know is that the third and fourth spectators have noted the
same card, so there are really only three selections for you to deal
with, and all three lie together, in order, at the bottom of the pack.
As you recap, mentioning that four cards have been chosen in four
parts of the deck, spread the pack casually between the hands and,
as you square it again into the left hand, form a left fourth-finger
break above the bottom three cards and reverse them with a half
pass (see Volume I, p. 70). Immediately bottom palm or gambler's
cop the lowermost of the reversed cards and follow through by performing a swing cut with the deck in the left hand. Complete the cut,
burying two of the reversed cards somewhere near center. This cut
is easily done with a card held out in the left hand. While this may
seem like quite a bit of work all at once, the half pass and bottom

2 5 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


palm marry most efficiently, and the whole sequence can be comfortably executed in about five seconds.
As you complete the cut, glance down for an instant at the hands
and glimpse the face of the palmed card. Look up again and say, "If
I'm not mistaken, one of you chose the seven of diamonds. I know
that, because the minute you thought of it, that card flew to my
pocket." While you name the card you have just glimpsed, grasp the
deck by its ends in the palm-down right hand. Then move your left
hand to your left trousers pocket and produce the palmed card from
there. Display its face to everyone and toss the card face-down onto
the table.
As the audience is recovering from this surprise, you will learn
the identity of the third selection by executing a peek devised by
Mr. Elmsley in the late 1950s (the general concept of which is
shared by Edward Mario's square-up glimpse in his Fingertip
Control, pp. 18-19):
Bring the left hand palm-up under the deck and grip it by its
opposite sides, thumb on the left; second, third and fourth fingertips on the right. The forefinger is curled onto the face of the pack,
where it applies light pressure to ensure that any gap caused by the
reversed cards near center is eliminated.
Immediately turn the deck to a vertical position, with its left edge
upward, back to your right. Also raise the outer end of the pack just
enough to tip the upper edge of the cards beyond the audience's line
of sight. While making this adjustment, do not relinquish the right
hand's contact with the ends of the pack, but let the tips of the right
fingers and thumb slide down to the lower corners in a casual squaring motion. Then reverse this motion, sliding the right fingers and
thumb upward over the ends. At the instant the right fingers cover
the entire front end of the
pack, relax the left thumb
on the upper edge of the
cards, and the left forefinger on the face, allowing a
break to open above the
reversed cards at center.
The opposing bridges in
the pack and reversed
cards make this break formation automatic. If you
now glance down at the
upper edge of the pack,
you can look directly into

MARSUPIAL FAVORITES 2 5 7
the narrow break and, at the outer end, sight the index of the
upper reversed card (Figure 168). If the gap isn't broad enough
to allow a clear glimpse of the index, the right fingers and thumb
can widen the break sufficiently for your purpose. Having
glimpsed the card, immediately apply pressure to close the gap
again, and slide the right fingers and thumb down the ends of the
deck to conclude their squaring actions. The right fingers conceal
the outer end of the packand thus the breakjust long enough
to sight the card, and there is no perceptible pause in the right
hand's squaring action as the glimpse is made. Conclude this
series of actions by lowering the deck face-down into left-hand
dealing position.
"The queen of clubs was also chosen." Thus naming the card
you have just sighted, snap your fingers dramatically over the
pack. "If I do this, she turns over in the deck." Spread the cards
neatly from left hand to right, stopping at the face-up selection
when it comes into view. Take care not to expose the second faceup card below the first.
With your right hand, carry away all the face-down cards above
the exposed selection and slip them square beneath the left hand's
packet. Then execute a double turnover, turning down the top two
cards as one, and immediately thumb off the top card, dropping
it with the previously produced selection on the table. This new
card is the second spectator's selection.
"The next card is the four of hearts, and it goes like this." The
card named here is the one you have left behind in the card case.
Riffle the deck toward the closed case. Then set it down and, with
obviously empty hands, pick up the case. Open it and produce
the card inside.
Set the case aside as you display the card. "So far I have found
your card, your card and your card. Right?" You indicate the first,
third and fourth spectators. They must agree, as they have all
seen their cards. What no one understands is that the persons
on your left and right have both chosen the same card; and that
the card just produced from the case belongs to no one, though
each thinks it is another's selection. You do not, of course, give
them time to discuss the matter, or to say anything at all, other
than "Yes." Through this ruse you have achieved a remarkably
clean card-to-case effect.
Toss the bogus selection face-down with the two cards on the
table, and spread out these three cards, positioning the second
card (the one that has been switched) in the center. Turn to the
second spectator and say, "Yours is the only one left to go. Point

2 5 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


to one of these cards." The optimum psychological choice is the
center card of the three, and this will be her choice most of the time.
If she should point to one of the end cards instead, use a quick
equivoque sequence to arrive at the desired card.
Rub the face-down card briskly on the table. Then ask the spectator to name her card. Snap your fingers over it and turn it up to
show the card changed to the final selection.
The entire presentation, from the opening selections to the final
transformation, should be done at a spritely pace. This not only
makes the sequence of productions more impressive, but it is
necessary for the success of the central swindle. You want silent
acquiescence from the spectators as the first three cards are
produced. The last thing you want is a helpful "That's mine" from
the third or fourth spectators, who have chosen the same card. If
you keep things moving briskly (though not rushed), you give no one
time to offer undesired support. For the same underlying reason, you
do not want the spectators discussing this effect among themselves
once the trick is over. Proceed immediately to another piece and keep
things moving. Those with experience in audience management will
quickly see what is required. This series of productions can be
breathtaking if done with assurance and a touch of panache.

Chapter Five.

Coinages

DEVALUATION
Effect: The performer drapes a handkerchief over one hand. In
the other he displays a half dollar and a Chinese coin. The half dollar
is laid in the center of the handkerchief and the hand is closed
around it. The Chinese coin is placed in the performer's pocket. Yet,
when the hand is opened, the Chinese coin is found in the handkerchief and the half dollar is brought from the pocket. The half
dollar is then returned to the pocket and left there.
The performer displays the Chinese coin, as it lies on the handkerchief. He raises one corner of the handkerchief briefly in front
of the coin and immediately lowers it. In this instant, the Chinese
coin changes to a pile of half dollars! The hands are otherwise
empty. The Chinese coin is shown to have returned to the warm
security of the pocket.
Method: This is Mr. Elmsley's routining for Ken Allen's Chinatown
Half. The Chinatown Half coin bears two contradictory faces: on one
side is an American half dollar, on the other a Chinese coin (or replica). It is much like a copper-silver coin gimmick, but the hole in
the center of the Chinese coin makes the old double-face ruse seem
impossible. A small square of
white cloth or paper, mounted in
the hole on the Chinese side of the
gimmick (Figure 169), creates a
"white art" illusion when the coin
is laid on a white handkerchief. It
appears as if the handkerchief can
be seen through the hole in the
coin. These gimmicked coins are
available from magic dealers in
several sizes: quarter, half or silver dollar. The half dollar version
is assumed in this description, but
any of the coins can be used.

2 6 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


You also will need a matching ungimmicked Chinese coin (this
is commonly supplied with the gimmick) and a few normal half
dollars: as many as you can conveniently finger palm. Place the
normal halves in your right-side coat pocket (or the trousers pocket,
if the cut of your trousers permits the hand to enter and withdraw
easily). Carry the Chinese coin and gimmick in some other righthand pocket. Also have a white handkerchief handy.
Begin by opening the handkerchief and draping it over the palmup left hand. In doing so, make it clear that the hands are otherwise
empty. With the right hand, reach into the pocket that contains the
gimmick and the Chinese coin. Bring them out, with the half-dollar
side of the gimmick visible. Lay both coins on the center of the
handkerchief, at the base of your left fingers.
Display the coins, then remove the Chinese coin from the left
hand. Let the half dollar be seen clearly on the handkerchief, then
close the left fingers over it. Display the Chinese coin in your right
hand and place it in your pocket. This is the same pocket that holds
the normal half dollars. Let the Chinese coin settle to the bottom of
the pocket and silently finger palm the halves, gripping them with
the third and fourth fingers. To provide a few extra moments for you
to accomplish this, draw attention again to the draped left hand and
open it, exhibiting the half dollar once more. Tilt the hand downward
slightly to display the coin, letting it slide forward onto the inner
phalanges of the fingers. (As you open thefingers,there is a tendency
for the cloth to be pulled forward by the fingertips. This happens
without effort on your part, and positions the coin automatically for
you.) Let the half dollar be seen briefly, then close the fingers once
more over it. As you do this, the coin will be reversed, bringing the
Chinese surface uppermost inside the folds of the handkerchief.
As you close the left fingers over the coin, remove your right hand
from the pocket, apparently empty. Snap the right fingers in a magical fashion over the closed left hand. (Having finger palmed the coins
in the third and fourth fingers, the first two fingers are free to do
this.) Open the left hand and reveal the gimmick, Chinese side up,
in the center of the handkerchief. Pause a moment to let the transformation register. Then return your right hand to your pocket.
Inside the pocket, quietly slide the outermost palmed half dollar to
your fingertips; then bring the hand from the pocket, exhibiting the
half. The other coins remain hidden in finger palm.
After displaying the half, return it to your pocket. You may
actually drop the coin visibly into the pocket, or you can secretly
slip it back onto the finger-palmed stack. Bring the right hand,
apparently empty, from the pocket.

COINAGES 2 6 3

Focus attention once more on the Chinese coin, which lies on the
inner phalanges of the draped left fingers. With your right first and
second fingers, clip the forward corner of the handkerchief and
slowly raise it, bringing it up and toward you to obscure the Chinese
coin momentarily from the audience's view (Figure 170). Then lower
the corner, letting the coin be seen once more. Again raise the corner
of the handkerchief, but this time do so quickly. Simultaneously,
bend in the left fingers just enough to flip the gimmick over on the
handkerchief, turning the silver side up. At the same time, release
the palmed stack of halves from the right fingers, letting these coins
fall loudly onto the reversed gimmick (Figure 171). Instantly lower
the right hand and its corner, permitting the audience to see the pile
of half dollars in the center of the handkerchief. If these actions are
properly synchronized, and the right hand's rise and drop are kept
to a minimum, a visual illusion is created of the Chinese coin
instantly changing to a pile of silver halves.
Let the right hand be seen empty. Then reach into your pocket
and bring out the ungimmicked Chinese coin. Drop it onto the halves
and conclude.
Don't let the simplicity of method put you off. This is a striking
piece of visual coin magic and it deserves your keenest attention.
September 21, 1957

REVALUATION
(A Reminiscence)
Effect: At the time he published "Devaluation", Mr. Elmsley was
also performing an innovative Okito-box routine, in which he incorporated many of the ideas employed in his Chinatown-half effect.
Sadly, with this routine we encounter a piece of magic that has been
largely lostbut by those who saw it, not forgotten. It was structured in three phases:
The Okito box is opened and shown to contain five coins: four
large British pennies and a Chinese coin of matching size. The four
pennies are replaced in the box, which is then capped. The Chinese
coin is wrapped in a handkerchief, from which it quickly vanishes.
It is found on top of the pennies in the closed box. This comprises
the first phase.
For the second phase all five coins are wrapped in the handkerchief, leaving the box empty. Its lid is put on itthen, one by one
the four pennies are caused to pass magically from the handkerchief
to the box.
The final phase starts with the four pennies freshly arrived in
the box and the Chinese coin left in the handkerchief. Suddenly
these coins transpose: the Chinese coin visibly transforms into
the four pennies, and when the box is opened the Chinese coin
is found inside.
Method: Mr. Elmsley recorded this Okito-box routine once only,
in a letter to Edward Mario. In return for previous favors, he gave
Mr. Mario permission to use the routine in any way he saw fit. No
other copy of the description was made. Mr. Mario in turn presented
the letter to Jay Marshall, who planned to market a line of Elmsley
creations through Magic, Inc. More than thirty years have passed,
and the Elmsley Okito-box routine has never been released. The only
record of itother than scant memories of those who saw Mr.
Elmsley perform itis probably lost somewhere in the overwhelming

COINAGES 2 6 5
Marshall archives. Mr. Elmsley no longer recollects the details, but
at my urging he has recalled the general structure of the routine.
A magnetic lid for the Okito box and a steel-shimmed shell coin
augmented the mystery. Mr. Elmsley was among the first to construct and use a magnetic Okito box, preceding Frank Thompson
and Sam Schwartz in the U.S. He recalls, though, that the idea was
not original with him. In the 1950s a few magicians in England and
Europe were discussing the idea and experimenting with it.
Thin, powerful magnets were not readily obtained in the 1950s,
so Mr. Elmsley took a flat alnico magnet from a set of novelty Kissing Scottie Dogs and ground it down by hand on an oilstone to a
suitable size. "I think," he recollects, "I took more off my fingertips
than off the magnet, but eventually it was small enough." This he
concealed inside a small silver grasshopper, which he cemented to
the lid of his Okito box. The silver insect made the box a charming
prop, and suggested a novel presentation. The work, though, was
far from finished.
To make a steel-shimmed shell coin he glued half a razor blade
inside an English penny shell. But he found that the magnet,
mounted to the box lid, was not strong enough to pick up the shell;
so he then ground down the lid, making it thinner at the place where
the magnet rested, until he had a magnetic lid and shell that worked.
He found he also had to make his own "Chinese" coins. These he
fashioned out of brass tokens from an amusement arcade, filing
them smooth, then beating them with a hammer "to produce
mysterious looking markings". One of these brass coins was made
into a Chinatown gimmick, it being joined to a filed-down English
penny. He also filed the edges of the other brass coin and one of the
normal pennies until they fit the shell closely but didn't jam.
Fortunately, today these or similar coins can be bought readymade in magic shops, and an Okito box with a magnetic lid can also
be had, or a standard one modified with much less work than was
necessary for the construction of Mr. Elmsley's original.
In addition to the magnetic box (which should be capable of holding five coins), the shimmed shell (not an expanded shell, for this
must fit properly into the Okito box), Chinatown penny, matching
Chinese coin and the reduced penny, you will need two normal British pennies and a pocket handkerchief.
One can now only conjecture about the Elmsley handling for this
routine. I will suggest a possible route for the first phase, though it
is unlikely to bare much resemblance to the original. It is offered
only to spark the reader's own creativity.

2 6 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Place the coins into the box in this order: first the Chinatown coin,
penny-side up; then the two normal pennies; onto these lay the
Chinese coin nested in the penny shell, shell-side down; and on top
of all place the reduced penny. Put the lid on the filled box and you
are ready.

First Phase
Set the filled box on the table and bring out the handkerchief.
Open it and spread it across the open left palm, letting the hands
be seen otherwise empty. Then, with the right hand, remove the lid
from the box and set it aside. Let the spectators see that the box is
filled with coins. Then pick it up and invert it over the left hand,
dumping the coins onto the center of the handkerchief. Let them
spread; you particularly want to get the Chinatown coin off the top
of the stack and onto the handkerchief, so that its masked center
hole is properly camouflaged. This done, you can cleanly the display
the coins as four pennies and a Chinese coin. The penny second from
the bottom of the stack is actually the shell, which hides the normal
Chinese coin.
Set the box bottom on the table, then pick up the top penny and
drop it into the box. Do the same with the second penny. Pick up
the third and fourth pennies together but spread, so that two coins
are clearly seen, and drop them into the box. Thus the shelled coin
is on top, with the reduced penny below it. Set the lid onto the box.
Now, with your right hand, pick up the Chinatown gimmick from
the handkerchief as you comment on the Chinese coin. Display it
briefly, covering the hole with a fingertip; then seemingly replace it
in the handkerchief, closing your left fingers over it. Actually,
however, you do a pass, stealing away the coin in the right hand.
The Chinese coin is now made to fly from the handkerchief to the
closed box. All that you need do is reveal the vanish of the coin from
the handkerchief, then lift the lid from the box. The magnet in the
lid will have picked up the shell, leaving the normal Chinese coin
exposed on top of the stack.
Set the lid on the table, taking care neither to expose the shell
nor to dislodge it. Let the handkerchief drop onto the table. Then,
with your left hand, pick up the box of coins and empty it onto the
right hand, letting the palmed Chinatown coin, penny-side up, blend
in with the rest.

Second Phase
Place the right hand's coins onto the table, keeping track of the
positions of the Chinatown gimmick and the reduced penny. While

COINAGES 2 6 7
the left hand retains the empty box bottom, use your right hand
to pick up the lid and place in on the box. Then set the box onto
the table, secretly dislodging the shell so that it falls to the bottom of the box. Using the shell in this way places you in a
one-ahead situation.
Mr. Elmsley can't, at this point, remember the sequence he used
for transporting the four pennies one by one from the handkerchief
to the box. Given the items in playa magnetic shell, a penny to fit
it, and the Okito boxa number of avenues are open, the shell
making possible some very impressive appearances and vanishes.
For now that is all that can be said. The reader is left to work out a
pleasing sequence for himself.

Third Phase
About the final transposition of the Chinese coin and the pennies,
between the box and the handkerchief, all Mr. Elmsley recalls is that
the sequence employed the same principles explained in "Devaluation". Using the box, rather than the pocket, to contain the pennies
required, in his words, "some rather complicated Okito-box handling". The pennies were secretly extracted from the box through a
turnover maneuver, and the ungimmicked Chinese coin was loaded
in, perhaps disguised by the shell. The pennies were palmed in the
right hand while the left hand displayed the Chinatown gimmick,
Chinese side showing, on the handkerchief. Then, using the moves
described in "Devaluation", the Chinatown coin was secretly turned
penny-side up and the palmed pennies were dropped onto it, creating as striking instant change. It would then be only a matter of
revealing the Chinese coin in the box.
Sensing the potential impact of this routine, and knowing Mr.
Elmsley's talent for elegant directness, the loss of handling details
and presentation is most disappointing. It is hoped that one day the
this routine in full, as written for Edward Mario roughly thirty-five
years ago, may eventually surface; or that Mr. Elmsley may be
coerced into reconstructing it. But for now, this patchy description,
drawn from Mr. Elmsley's memory, provides a basic framework on
which the interested reader can hang his own construction. It is a
puzzle worth your efforts. Fortunately, another Elmsley coin-box
routine has been preserved in full

BOSTON TWO-STEP
Effect: A small brass box, just large enough to contain a stack
of half dollars, is brought out and the lid removed. Five half dollars
and a penny fill the box. The performer removes the penny and caps
the box. The penny is dropped into a handkerchief, from which it
vanishes. When the box is opened, the penny is found again resting
on top of the halves.
The lid is replaced on the box. The performer then invisibly draws
the five half dollars from the box and causes them to appear in the
handkerchief. Immediately afterward the penny too is produced from
the handkerchief. When the box is opened, as should be expected,
it is found completely empty.
Method: Needed is a Boston coin box
that is, the Okito box variant (possibly
invented by Walter B. Gibson) that has a
bottom recessed to take a single coin
and enough half dollars to fill the box.
Some boxes take four halves, some five or
six. Also required are two American
pennies, an extra half dollar and a handkerchief. With a bit of wax, fix the extra
half dollar into the recess of the box, and
stick one of the pennies onto the half dollar. The penny should be
affixed somewhat off center, to give the impression that it rests loose
on top (Figure 172).
Place the other half dollars into the box, filling it, and lay the
second penny on top. Then set the lid on the box. Carry the handkerchief in your left jacket or trousers pocket.

Phase One
Begin by bringing out the box. Hold it in your left hand and, with
your right hand, place the lid onto the table. Next remove the penny

COINAGES 2 6 9
from the box, display it and lay it beside the lid. Dump the half
dollars from the box into the right hand, taking care to conceal the
bottom of the box. Then count the halves back into the box and pick
up the lid.
As you replace the lid on the box, secretly turn the box over. There
are several turnover techniques that can be used here, and the
reader likely has a favorite. If not, a study of Bobo's New Modern
Coin Magic or Mohammed Bey's Okito Coin Box Routines will provide
a selection. The method that Mr. Elmsley favors is this:
The box rests at the base of the left fingers. Display the lid mouthup on the fingers of the palm-up right hand, with the thumb inside
the lid. Bring the right hand back, toward the box on the left hand,
and simultaneously turn your right palm toward you, so that the
lid lies behind the fingers and cannot be seen by the audience. In
this motion, grip the opposite edges of the lid between the right first
and fourth fingers, as if you were front palming a coin. This permits
your right thumb to move away from the lid, which it does to contact
the near edge of the box (Figure 173).
As the right hand continues to move inward, the right thumb tips
the box forward and over, inverting it onto the inner phalanges of
the left fingers (Figure 174). The right fingers conceal the turnover
of the box from the audience. Complete the turnover action by

lowering the lid onto the bottom of the inverted box, then move the
right hand away.
Whatever the turnover method employed, finish with the capped
box resting on the inner phalanges of the left second and third
fingers.
"For the first part of the trick, I shall use the penny and a handkerchief." With these words, lift the box from the left fingers, leaving

2 7 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the stack of coins behind. Simultaneously turn the left hand palmdown to hide the coins, finger palming them, and reach into the left
pocket for the handkerchief. Draw the handkerchief from the pocket
and snap it open, while with your right hand you place the box onto
the table.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Open the handkerchief with
both hands and display it. Then
drape it over the left hand, turning the hand palm-up only when
it is under the handkerchief.
Thus, the palmed coins remain
concealed. Spread the left thumb,
first and fourth fingers, while
keeping the coins under control in
the curled second and third fingers. If the first and fourth fingers
are raised slightly, the left hand
appears to be opened flat under
the handkerchief (Figure 175).
With the right hand, pick up the penny from the table and pretend
to place it into the center of the handkerchief. Actually retain it in
the right hand. Any false transfer can be used. Mr. Elmsley finds
the pinch vanish well suited for this situation (ref. Bobo's New
Modern Coin Magic, p. 32). Close the left fingers, bunching the center
of the handkerchief as if clutching the coin there.
Blow on the handkerchief and open the left fingers, first and
fourth again raised slightly, letting the center of the handkerchief
fall open (Figure 175 once more). The coin is seen to have vanished.
While attention is focused on the handkerchief, secretly shift the
penny to right-hand finger palm. Then, with the right hand, lift the
lid from the box on the table, revealing the penny there, resting on
what appears to be the stack of halves.

Phase Two
"The second part of the trick is more difficult. I shall extract the
half dollars from the box and pass them into the handkerchief." Lay
the lid momentarily on the table, freeing the right hand to grasp the
handkerchief at one corner. Give the handkerchief a brisk shake,
while turning the left hand to standard finger-palm position to conceal the palmed half dollars. Then drape the handkerchief once more

COINAGES 2 7 1

over the left hand, resuming the previous position (Figure 175). While
this shaking of the handkerchief is not strictly necessary, it does
emphasize the emptiness of the handkerchief and is recommended.
With the right hand, place the lid onto the inverted base of the
box and leave it on the table. Make a motion with the right fingers
of plucking the coins invisibly from the box and tossing them toward
the handkerchief. Then bring the right hand over the covered left
hand and grip the half dollars through the cloth (Figure 176). Turn
the right hand smartly palm-up, flipping the handkerchief over and
letting it fall open over the right hand. At the same time, fan the stack
of halves between the right thumb and fingers as the coins come into
view in the center of the handkerchief (Figure 177). This is Jack
Chanin's TV surprise production.
Drop the half dollars dramatically into the left hand and deposit
them on the table.
"While I'm at it, I'll extract the penny as well." With the left hand,
pretend to draw the penny from the box on the table and throw it
toward the draped right hand. Then produce the penny from the
center of the handkerchief, using the Chanin production; that is,
with the left fingers and thumb, grip the penny through the cloth
and flip the handkerchief over, letting it fall away from the penny
and over the left hand.
With the right hand, take the penny from the center of the handkerchief and place it on the table. Then pick up the box and let the
bottom fall from the lid, for a distance of three to four inches, onto
the handkerchief and left hand. The weight of the box bottom and
the coins affixed to it will turn the bottom right-side up as it falls.
Gravity may be aided by the tip of the right second finger: with this

2 7 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


fingertip, engage the outer
lip of the inverted base and
let the base trip over the finger as you release it (Figure
178).
Let the box be seen
empty. Then place the half
dollars into it, lay the penny
on top and set the lid over
all. The trick is finished and
you are reset for the next
performance. The magic here
is clear and surprising, the
action concise. There is a sense of economy to the whole, which
makes it as pleasing to perform as it is to watch.
July 1961

THE ASTRAL COIN


RIDES AGAIN
Effect: This is a most puzzling sequence with a coin and two
cards, characterized by an extremely fair looking handling of the
props, in which everything is done at the fingertips.
While seated at a table, the performer exhibits two cards on all
sides, then lays them down together. He takes a quarter or other
small coin from his pocket, displays it, then vanishes it from his
hands. When he raises the two cards, the coin is found under them.
He covers the coin with one of the cards, while placing the other
card some distance away. He then makes the covered coin travel
from the one card to the other.
He next covers the coin with both cards, but it does not remain
there. Instead it passes through the table, to conclude the routine.
Method: Mr. Elmsley's inspiration for this effect was Tan Hock
Chuan's "Astral Coin" (ref. Pentagram, Vol. 7, No. 1, Oct. 1952, pp.
1 and 5). The Elmsley method (which owes something to the old Eggs
from Handkerchief trick) is exceedingly clever; so much so that, after
its publication, at least one dealer marketed a bastardized version
of the trick, without a word regarding its parentage.
Aside from a simple coin vanish, no sleight-of-hand is required.
A gimmick must be constructed. It consists of a quarter or other
small coin attached by a hair to a playing card. The trick was devised
before the ultra-thin threads of today were available. Obviously,
these can be substituted for the hair.
The hair measures approximately two inches in length, and, for
purposes of invisibility, it should be blond. Glue one end of the hair
to one edge of a playing card in the following manner:
With an X-acto knife or razor blade, carefully separate the layers
of pasteboard near the center of one side. This separation is not
large: less than a quarter of an inch long and more shallow than a

2 7 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


border-width (Figure 179).
Squeeze a tiny drop of glue
between the separated layers, and with a pin point
tease one end of the hair into
the slit. Then press the card
flat until the glue is dry. A
knot in the end of the hair
will aid firmer adhesion in
the glue. This procedure requires a steady hand, but is
not difficult.
Glue the free end of the
hair, preferably also knotted, to one side of the coin.
When you are finished, the
hair, when stretched taut
between card and coin,
should measure approximately half the width of the
card (Figure 180).
For practice, you can
merely tape the ends of the
hair to a card and coin.
With the gimmick understood, the actions of the
trick can now be explained.
Besides the card-and-coin
gimmick, you require another playing card and a
duplicate coin. Carry the
latter in your left trousers
or coat pocket.

Phase One
Take the regular card in the left hand and the gimmick in the
right. Hold both hands palms-up, fingers pointed upward, with the
cards displayed vertically, backs toward the audience. The gimmicked card is gripped at the edge with the thread, near its middle,
and the coin is permitted to dangle behind the screen of the right
fingers (Figure 181). Hold the left hand's card in a similar grip.

COINAGES 2 7 5
Now, using the tips of
the thumb and first two
fingers of each hand, rotate
the cards, displaying faces
and backs of both. Keep
the right second, third and
fourth fingers together to
conceal the coin behind
them as you turn the card.
Slip the left hand's card
in front of the gimmick in
the right hand (i.e., the
gimmicked card is situated
nearest your body) and
lower both cards onto the
right hand and over the
coin (Figure 182). Simultaneously open the right
hand flat to receive the
cards. The gimmicked card
should be on top.
With your left hand,
reach into your pocket and
bring out the duplicate
coin. Display it and set it
on the table. Then take the
cards, with the coin hidden below them, into the left handthumb
on top, fingers beneathand lay them in front of you on the table.
You should, by the way, perform this on a tablecloth or a close-up
mat, to prevent the coin from "talking". The side of the gimmicked
card to which the hair is attached must be on the right.
With your right hand, pick up the duplicate coin and execute a
pass, apparently placing it into your left hand. Any convincing pass
will do. Since the coin is small, Mr. Elmsley suggests the pinch vanish as a good choice (see Bobo's New Modern Coin Magic, p. 32).
Make a crumpling action with the left fingers over the cards and,
while all attention is directed there, retract the right hand to the edge
of the table and lap the hidden coin.
Using just the fingertips of the hands, neatly flip the two cards
over to the right, exposing the coin beneath (Figure 183). This vanish
and reproduction of the coin constitute the first phase of the routine.
In the second phase the coin will be caused to travel invisibly from
one card to the other.

2 7 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Phase Two
Flip the two cards leftward
and over the coin again.
Then, with the left hand,
grasp them by their extreme
left cornerssecond fingertip at the outer corner,
thumb at the innerand
raise them about a quarter of
an inch from the table. With
the right hand, grip the inner
right corner of the upper
(gimmicked) card (Figure
184) and carry it eight inches
to the right as you say, "Suppose we only cover the coin
with one card." The hair of
course drags the coin along,
hidden below the gimmicked
card. (Here the cloth surface
is important. Without one,
the coin would be heard as it
moves across the table.)
Drop the right hand's card onto the table without paying it any
attention. Your focus remains on the left-hand card. Your attitude
is one of nonchalance, as you set aside the second card.
Slowly lower the left hand's card onto the table and apparently
onto the coin. Make a magical gesture over this card. Then rub the
card in small circles on the table, as if rubbing away the coin. Flip
the card over, showing the coin is gone. Use this card to flip the
gimmicked card over, to the right, exposing the coin beneath it.

Phase Three
We now come to the final phase of the routine, the penetration of
the coin through the table. To prepare for this, we indulge in a bit
of by-play. You still hold the normal card by its left side in your left
hand, thumb above, fingers below. Lower this card over the coin,
but do not release it.
With the right fingertips, flip the gimmicked card sidewise and
leftward, onto the left hand's card (Figure 185). Immediately slide

COINAGES 2 7 7

the left hand, with its card, eight inches to the left, acting as if you
were rather clumsily stealing the coin beneath it. "Once more we
separate the cards. Now, where do you think the coin is?"
If you have played your part convincingly, the spectators will
strongly suspect the left-hand card. Before they can openly commit
themselves to this error, raise that card and show the coin is not
there.
"Oh no! I did that to see if you were watching. But you are quite
right in thinking the coin isn't here." As you say this you show that
the coin has vanished from beneath both cards:
Transfer the left hand's card to the right hand, taking it between
the thumb and forefinger by its right inner corner. Immediately place
the tip of the left forefinger at the left edge of the tabled gimmick,
bracing it, as you slip the right hand's card under the right edge of
the gimmick and scoop up both card and coin (Figure 186). The hair
makes the scooping of the coin onto the card almost automatic.
Without hesitation, with the right hand pinch the inner right corners of both cards and raise their right sides until the cards are
vertical and their undersides are exposed to the audience (Figure
187). The edge of the gimmick to which the hair is attached should

2 7 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


now be uppermost. Thanks to
the hair, the coin is hidden, suspended between the cards.
Pause for a moment to let the
vanish register. Then transfer
the cards to the left hand, gripping them by their lower left
corners. As you do this, let the
hands be seen otherwise empty.
With the freed right hand, reach
under the table, procuring the
lapped duplicate coin on the way. Snap it loudly to the underside
of the table, suggesting with the noise that you have just now pulled
the coin through. Then bring the coin from beneath the table and
toss it down.
At the same time casually carry the cards to your left pocket and
leave them there as you bring out a few more coins of various
denominations. This action distracts attention from the pocketing
of the cards. With the right hand, pick up the coin from the table,
add it to the others in the left hand and pocket the lot.
No suspicion should be directed at the cards if they are casually
handled. Don't be in too great a hurry to dispose of them; and should
someone ask to see them, merely break the thread and palm away
the coin. It takes only a few minutes to construct another gimmick.
Since only one side of the coin on the gimmick is seen during the
routine, if you have someone mark the opposite side of the duplicate coin, you can have the mark confirmed again at the finish. You
might wish to consider adding this ploy to the presentation.
You may, at first, be overly concerned about the hair being seen.
I can only assure you that it will not be noticed. Mr. Elmsley has
performed this on a white tablecloththe most unaccommodating
of backgroundsand, to make matters worse, for a group of magicians. He succeeded in fooling them all. Afterward several admitted
they had seen the hair, but they failed to recognize it as instrumental
to the method. Today, though, with ultra-fine threads readily
available, nothing need be seen at all.
Other moves are possible with this gimmick. For example, have
the normal card face-down on the table, and hold the gimmicked
card face-down by its hair-free side in the right hand, with the coin
hidden under it. Now apparently flip the tabled card face-up with
the card in your hand, but actually do a Mexican turnover (see The
Expert at the Card Table, pp. 123-124, or any text on Three-card
Monte). The gimmicked card ends up on the table, lying to the left

COINAGES 2 7 9
of the exposed coin, and the normal card is now in your right hand.
Through this maneuver the coin is apparently produced from
beneath the tabled card.
If you experiment with this gimmick, other disarming moves can
be discovered. For additional ideas, see Al Spackman's "Merely a
Beer Matter" in The Gen (Vol. 22, No. 6, October 1966, pp. 160-161)
or Ganson's Art of Close-up Magic, Volume One (pp. 290-292).
May 1953

MILLING A COIN
Effect: The performer shows two large copper coins (perhaps
old English pennies) and places a dime between them. He then
rubs the two large coins together, and within a few seconds silver
dust begins to trickle from between them. When the stream of
silver stops, the two coins are separated to show the dime gone
apparently ground to dust.
Method: Mr. Elmsley created this charming novelty to take
advantage of a coin gimmick devised by a friend, Jack Delvin.
Large English pennies and a sixpence were originally used.
American magicians may wish to translate this into U.S. coinage,
like half dollars and dimes. However, it is suggested that large
copper coins be retained, as their contrast with the silver dust
enhances the visual effect.
^ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The secret is a special shell coin. A
recess large enough to hold a dime is
made in one of the copper coins. This
recess is machined off center, near one
edge of the coin, as shown in Figure 188.
To prepare for the milling effect, fill
the recess in the gimmick with silver glitter (available from craft and hobby
shops). Set an unprepared second copper coin over the gimmick, trapping the glitter in the cavity. Carry
these two coins in a clip to keep them together in your pocket until
needed. Slip them out of the clip as you bring them from the pocket.
Hold the copper coins with the unprepared one uppermost,
grasping them between the thumb and fingertips near the hollowed
edge of the gimmick. You can spread the coins a fair distance without
exposing the recess. This allows you to display them in a reasonably
casual fashion (Figure 189). Do so. Then introduce a dime and slip
it cleanly between the two copper coins at their outer edges; that is,
opposite the area of the recess.

COINAGES 2 8 1
Transfer the coins from hand to hand,
turning them over in the process, and
gripping the coins by the edge opposite
the recess. Hold them between the
thumb and fingertips and slowly begin
to rub them together. Turning the coins
over has spilled the glitter from the
recess, and the rubbing causes a silver
trickle to issue from between the coins.
That same rubbing motion works the
dime gradually forward and into the
empty recess of the gimmick. When most
of the glitter has been produced, and the
dime is safely in the hollow, you can
show that the two copper coins lie perfectly flat against one another.
Separate the coins by sliding the gimmick off the honest coin,
retaining the dime in the recess with a thumb or fingertip. Now
casually display both sides of the copper coins, concealing the dime
and recess with the fingers. Then put them away.
July 8, 1972

SUCKER SILVER.
Effect: The performer explains a magical secret. But first he
places a half dollar into his hand and works it through the tunnel
of the closed fingers. When it emerges from the curled fourth finger
it has become a large British penny (Figure 190).
The hand is opened to show it contains only the copper coin. "Of
course, to do this you need a half dollar." Such a coin is removed
from a pocket and placed into the hand. The hand is closed and the
copper coin is slipped back into the fist. Then the silver coin is
worked through the fist and into view. The performer cautions his
students of several errors that can give away the trick. First, "You
must not open your hand, or people will see the half dollar." He
opens his hand to illustrate
the blunder, but only the
copper coin is there. The
half dollar has vanished.
"Also, you mustn't let the
half dollar appear from the
bottom of the hand before
the penny has been pushed
in." He closes his hand
again, with the penny visible in the curl of the forefinger. With a squeeze of
the closed fingers, the half
dollar appears from the
opposite side of the fist
(Figure 191).
He opens his hand and
shows the two coins. The
hand is closed once more
and the penny is pushed
into the fist and out of

COINAGES 2 8 3
sight. "Another thing to watch is that the coins don't clink together."
He shakes his hand, causing the coins to rattle. "Once you have
pushed the penny into your fist and made the half dollar appear from
the other side, you take it and put it away." He removes the half
dollar from the hand and pockets it.
"But there is the problem of what to do with the penny. I think
the best answer is to change it into a half dollar." He opens his hand
to show that he has done just that. A second half dollar is revealed
and the penny has vanished.
The coins used are ordinary and all sides are seen throughout
the trick.
Method: Needed are two half dollars and a copper coin of like size.
The old British pennies are fine for the purpose. Place all three coins
in the right-front trousers pocket, positioning them so that you can
locate the penny without looking.

Phase One
When ready to begin, reach into the pocket and thumb palm the
copper coin. Grasp one of the silver coins at the fingertips and bring
the hand from the pocket. Briefly show the half dollar and drop it
onto the palm-up left hand, positioning it at the base of the forefinger. Move the left hand from left to right, displaying the coin.
"If you take a half dollar and place it into the left hand..." At this
point the left hand should be held directly in front of you, with the
right hand nearby. Bring the right hand over the left and, with the
right thumb and forefinger, pick up the half dollar. As you do this,
let the thumb-palmed penny
drop onto the inner phalanges
of the left third and fourth
fingers (Figure 192). The hands
are perfectly positioned to
permit this, and the action of
picking up the half dollar
naturally facilitates the release
of the penny.
While the right hand is still
over the left, begin to close the
left fingers loosely, finger palming the penny, and turn the
hand palm-down. Then let the
penny fall from finger palm onto

2 8 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the tips of the third
and fourth fingers.
Deposit the half
dollar in the curl of
the left forefinger,
resting it on the
middle phalanx of
the thumb. You will
now seem to push
the silver coin into
the fist, but it is actually stolen away
by the right hand.
Place the tip of the
right forefinger onto
the center of the
coin and push it into
the left fist. However, just as the coin
moves out of sight,
bend the right forefinger downward,
rotating the coin
around the left thumb (Figure 193, exposed from below). When the
coin reaches a position flat under the left thumb, bring the right
thumb up against it and grip the coin in Frikell-style thumb palm
(a sort offingerpalm done with the thumb). Then straighten the right
forefinger and withdraw it from the fist (Figure 194). As the right
hand moves to the right, straighten the thumb against the side of
the hand, transforming the Frikell palm into a thumb palm. Moving from the one to the other is easy to do. (This steal is based on a
thimble vanish by Edward Proudlock.)
With your extended right forefinger, tap the back of the left hand
as you complete the explanation: "...and if you then squeeze it,
curiously enough it emerges from the other side looking like a
penny." Wiggle the left fingers, working the penny to the left until it
protrudes from the curled left fourth finger (Figure 190 again). Keep
a grip on the coin with the fourth finger; you do not want to drop it.
Turn the left hand over and, while attention is momentarily drawn
there, relax the right thumb and let the half dollar fall from thumb
palm into finger palm. Then grasp the penny, taking it between the
right thumb and fingertips, and remove it from the still closed left
hand. Lay it on the table.

COINAGES 2 8 5
"To do that, besides the penny you need a half dollar." As you say
this, open the left hand, showing it empty. This should surprise the
spectators, who expect to see the half dollar there. Reach into your
right pocket and remove the second half dollar, holding it at the fingertips. Retain the original half dollar in finger palm as you do this.

Phase Two
Show the half dollar and apparently place it into the left hand.
Actually, retain it in the right hand by slipping it into thumb palm.
This is a standard coin vanish:
As the right hand brings the coin into contact with the left palm,
the left fingers bend upward, forming a screen. Behind this cover,
the right forefinger rides the coin smoothly up the length of the right
thumb, until it can be clipped in thumb palm. Then the forefinger
straightens again and withdraws from the left hand as the left fingers
continue to close.
Turn the left fist back upward and, with the right hand, pick up
the penny from the table. Insert the penny into the curl of the left
forefinger and leave it protruding there. "Of course, you must not
open the hand, or people will see the half dollar." Turn the left hand
over and open it, showing that it holds only the penny. The half dollar
has vanished.
With the right hand, pick up the penny from the left palm, loading
the thumb-palmed half dollar onto the left fingers at the same time.
This loading maneuver is identical to that explained in the first phase
of the trick (refer to Figure 192). Turn the left hand palm-down,
forming a fist.
Replace the penny in the curl of the left forefinger, leaving it partly
exposed. "Also, you mustn't let the half dollar appear from the
bottom of the hand before the penny has been pushed in." Wiggle
the left fingers, maneuvering the half dollar leftward until it can be
seen in the curl of the fourth finger (Figure 191 again).
Turn the left hand over and open it.to display the two coins. As
you do this, with the left thumb push the penny onto the left palm.
Also, support the half dollar with the right thumb and forefinger, so
that it does not fall when the left fingers open. Shift the silver coin
onto the inner phalanges of the left second and third fingers.
Pause a moment, to let the situation register in the minds of the
spectators. Then do a utility pass; that is, simultaneously turn the
left hand palm-down and the right hand palm-up under it, letting

2 8 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the penny fall into the right hand, joining the finger-palmed half
dollar, while you retain the second half dollar in left finger palm. The
illusion created is that both coins from the left hand are tossed into
the right.

Phase Three
"Once the audience realizes that you have two coins, you might
as well quit." Close the palm-down left hand into a fist and insert
the right hand's half dollar into the curl of the left fourth finger. Then
set the penny into the curl of the left forefinger. Thus you have
returned to the pose in Figure 191.
"Before pushing out the half dollar, you must push in the penny."
Using the right forefinger, apparently push the penny into the left
fist. However, actually rotate the coin around the left thumb and
steal it away with the right thumb, as was done in the first phase
(Figures 193 and 194).
"Another thing to watch is that the coins don't clink together."
Shake the left fist, letting the finger-palmed half dollar strike the
partly visible one.
"Once you have pushed the penny into your fist and made the
half dollar appear from the other side, you take it and put it away."
Turn the left fist over and remove the protruding half dollar. Briefly
show this coin at the right fingertips, then put it away in the trousers pocket, leaving the palmed penny behind as well.
"That still leaves the problem of what to do with the penny. I think
the best answer is to change it into a half dollar." Slowly open the
left hand and reveal the half dollar there. End of another expose.
The title of this trick, by the way, contains a reference that may
be obscure to many readers. It is a play on "Sucker Silk", a title
popular in the 1950s for the color-changing silk effect with sucker
explanation.
February 1959

THE SPIDER'S TREASURY


Effect: Manipulators have always been fond of multiplying
various objects in the hands (see "The Multiplying Aces", pp. 13-18).
Billiard balls, coins, thimbles, cards, cigarettes and pipes are among
the items one sees between their fingers. Here is a coin sequence,
constructed by Mr. Elmsley for stage performance. In it four coins
are produced from the air in a quite bewildering manner, particularly
since the hands are seen empty at various times throughout the
productions.
Method: In the many sequences that have been devised to
produce four coins in the empty hands, the idea of holding several
coins in a stack, as if they were one, has frequently been exploited.
Coins from the stack are then stolen for later production in the
opposite hand. In most of these sequences, the stack has to be
momentarily hidden from view as each coin is palmed away. Mr.
Elmsley chose to avoid this sort of maneuver in structuring his
sequence. What he devised was a most progressive handling in its
time (1952). It remains as artistically satisfying today as it was then.
Begin with three coins finger palmed in the left hand and a fourth
back clipped in the right (i.e., its edge nipped between the tips of
the first and second fingers). Turn toward your right and display the
empty front of the right
hand. Then turn the hand to
display its back, concealing
the back-clipped coin when
you do. Rather than revolving the coin to the front of
the fingers while the hand is
turned, as is usually done,
instead adjust the coin to
back-palm grip, using the
side of the fourth fingertip to
catch the coin by its lower

2 8 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


edge and pull it flat against the backs of the second and third fingers.
Then curl the right fingers loosely in toward the palm, while
maintaining the coin in back palm (Figure 195, exposed view). The
spectators see the back of the hand, but the fingers are curled in
just enough to hide the coin from view. This is easier and less angle
prone than the conventional back-palm-to-front-palm maneuver;
and, if done with a nonchalant air, is perfectly convincing. (Here Mr.
Elmsley has taken a Paul Fox card sleight, the simplified back and
front hand palm [ref. The Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 2, pp. 161161], and adapted it for use with coins.)
Turn the front of the hand
back toward the audience,
simultaneously straightening
the fingers so that the coin
remains hidden. Reach out with
the right hand and produce the
coin, as if plucking it from the
air, by bending in the fingers
enough to allow the thumb to
contact the coin and pull it
quickly to the fronts of the
fingers. Pinch it at its lower edge
between the tip of the thumb
and the side of the curled
forefinger (Figure 196).
Turn to the left and, in that
turn, momentarily bring the
hands together, the palm-up left
hand below the curled right
fingers. This puts the fingerpalmed stack into perfect
position to be taken by the right
fingers into back palm (Figure
197). The transfer is not difficult
and the three coins need only be held in back palm for a moment
as they are transported to left-hand edge grip.
In a continuous action, turn the right hand palm-up. Because the
right fingers are loosely closed, the back-palmed coins are brought
to a horizontal position at the backs of the fingers: visible to you,
but hidden from the audience by the coin held vertically between
the thumb and forefinger (Figure 198).
Catch the visible coin between the tips of the left forefinger and
thumb, holding it by its opposite edges, broadside to the audience.

COINAGES 2 8 9
Simultaneously take the
stack from back palm, gripping it by its edges between
the left thumb and middle
phalanx of the forefinger
(Figure 199). While the stack
is held horizontally, it is perfectly concealed by the left
fingers and by the openly
held coin.
Gesture with the right
hand, letting it be seen
empty. Then return it, palmup, to the left hand and
adjust the position of the
visible coin there. Under this
pretext, a coin is loaded into
the right hand. Relax the left
thumb and forefinger a bit,
letting the bottom coin of the
stack fall into right-hand
finger palm (Figure 200).
Move the right hand away
from the left, gaze out into
space, as if trying to spot the
next coin; then, after a few
moments' delay, reach out
with the right hand and produce the coin by pushing it
to the fingertips.
Grasping the new coin between the right thumb and
forefinger, in the same manner the last coin was held
(Figure 196 again), carry it
to the left hand and place it
between the left first and
second fingers, positioned
broadside to the audience.
At the same time, bring the
curled right fingers under
the stack and drop the next
coin into them (Figure 201).

2 9 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Again reach out with the
right hand and produce its
coin at the fingertips. Display the coin, then set it
between the left second and
third fingers, in a similar
position to those above it.
Let the right hand be seen
empty and point with the
right forefinger to each of the
visible coins in turn. When
the last coin (that between
the second and third fingers)
is indicated, let the last
hidden coin drop from the
left thumb and forefinger
into the curled and waiting
right fingers (Figure 202).
From stage, even if this coin
openly falls several inches,
because it is falling horizontally, its moving edge is
not visible to the audience at
such a distance.
Produce the fourth coin
from the air and place it
between the left third and
fourth fingers, completing
the display (Figure 203).
For those who enjoy a
challenge, and have among
their accomplishments the
mastery of the four-coin rolldown (see "The Rosette", pp.
19-21), Mr. Elmsley has
extended this production
sequence to accommodate
eight coins. Thin palming
coins must be used to make
the size of this stack manageable.
Begin with a stack of
seven coins in left-hand

COINAGES 2 9 1
finger palm and the eighth coin back palmed in the right hand.
Proceed with the four-coin production, manipulating the seven coins
in the same fashion as that described for the smaller stack. At the
end of the production you will have a stack of four coins still hidden
in left-hand edge grip.
Let the right hand be seen empty. Then bring it back to the left,
overtly to adjust the visible coins there. During this action the edgegripped stack is stolen into the right hand. Mr. Elmsley's rule of not
covering the coins must be broken this
one time. As the right hand, back
toward the audience, adjusts the coin
between the left thumb and forefinger,
the right fingers momentarily obscure
the coin from sight. Reach with the
right thumb under and behind the
vertical coin, until the thumbtip can
contact the inner edge of the stack.
Push up on that edge, pivoting the
stack to a vertical or near vertical
position between the left thumb and
forefinger. Then stretch the right
thumb around the stack and grip it by
its opposite edges in Frikell-style
thumb palm; that is, in the crook of the
first phalanx and thenar (Figure 204).
With the stack secured in this new position, turn to your right.
During this turn, move the right hand away from the left, curl its
fingers into the palm, and back palm the stack of four coins. The
Frikell thumb palm positions the coins nicely for transfer to back
palm, as a trial will prove.
Exhibit the front of the right hand. Then reach out and produce
the whole stack, holding it squared and broadside to the audience,
so that it appears to be a single coin. Maneuver the stack, without
exposing its nature, to a vertical position between the right thumb
and forefinger. Then perform the roll-down flourish, multiplying the
one coin to four. This leaves you with both hands filled, coins
between all ten digits: an extremely striking and skillful pose.
To appreciate the effectiveness of this production, you must try
it several times before a mirror. There seems to be nowhere the coins
can be hiddenyet they keep appearing, seemingly from thin air.
July 12, 1952

Chapter Six:

Faro Tapestries

INDULGENCES
Deck Preparation for Faro Shuffles
While talking one day with Harry Riser, the topic of this book
arose, and he related to me a fascinating Elmsley anecdote. One
evening in 1959, when Mr. Elmsley was in the States for his first
lecture tour, he and Mr. Riser met for dinner and, of course, to
discuss magic. Mr. Riser asked if he had any tips on improving the
accuracy of the faro weave. At this Mr. Elmsley just smiled and
offered him his deck. Immediately comprehending the meaning
behind the gesture, Mr. Riser gave the deck a faro shuffle. He was
astonished when he felt the cards "practically weave themselves."
What was the secret? Mr. Elmsley explained that he prepared the
cards to weave more easily by sanding their corners to a rounded
or wedge shape.
At the first opportunity I asked Mr. Elmsley about this, and he
confirmed that he did sand the corners of his decks to prepare them
for faroing. He did so because the edges and quality of British cards
demanded this for dependable faro work. The edges are roughly cut
at the factory and impede an even weave. To make matters worse,
the center layer of pasteboard in British cards is softer and tends
to compress and split when the cards are woven. Consequently, tiny
troughs form along the corners, and these hinder the weave, as Figure 205 makes clear. Mr. Elmsley sands the corners of each new
deck to remove the roughness and to contour the edges slightly. The
rounded edges of the cards slip neatly by one another, aiding in
creating a perfect weave (Figure 206). The sanding is quickly and
easily done:

205

206

2 9 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Tap the end of your deck perfectly square on the table and bevel
it evenly in either direction, swaying the cards along one diagonal.
Then run a piece of fine sandpaper or emery board over the upper
edge of the beveled corner (Figure 207) until the corner is smooth.
Now reverse the direction of the bevel (Figure 208) and sand the
opposite side of this corner. Treat all four corners in the same way.
Light sanding will both smooth the edges and round them slightly.
Playing cards in the United States have, in the past, been of better
quality than British cards, and this preparation of the corners failed
to improve the weaving of the cards as dramatically. However, with
the quality of U.S. cards becoming increasingly undependable, this
tip may be more valuable now than it was in the past. (Jerry Andrus,
when he was a boy, also sanded the corners of his cards to facilitate
the faro weave. In 1973 he passed on the idea in his book, Kurious
Kards [pp. 9-10]. Mr. Andrus says that many years later he
discovered that this tip was known to a very few other cardmen, who
kept the secret very close.)

FARO TAPESTRIES 2 9 7
Mr. Elmsley mentioned one further preparation that he believes
to be helpful to all faro shufflers, no matter what quality of cards
they use. He finds that a light application of fanning powder to the
corners of the cards makes weaving surer and easier. Those who
regularly perform faro tricks will want to experiment with these two
simple preparations.

Weave Corrections for Miscuts


After gaining the knack for getting the cards to weave together,
the two greatest obstacles to the mastery of the faro shuffle are learning to cut the pack precisely in half, and obtaining a perfect
alternation of the cards. For most students, perfecting the estimate
cut may elude them long after they have achieved confidence with
the flawless interlace. It is not particularly difficult to estimate the
cut within a card, one way or the other; but the problem of being
one card off perpetually haunts the faro shuffler.
The most common method for correcting miscuts, once they
become evident in the weave, is to strip the interlaced corners apart,
replace the top half over the bottom half, make the required adjustment and weave the cards again. This process makes the faro
shufflealready an inherently studied procedureall the more
labored; and the possibility of having the shuffle perceived as an
uncalculated activity becomes hopeless.
In the 1950s Mr. Elmsley contrived simple and unobtrusive procedures for correcting a miscut, when a perfect in- or out-weave is
required. The first four adjustments apply to a pack with an even
number of cards. Since a fifty-two card pack is the standard, this
is assumed in the following descriptions.
Out-weave Correctionlower portion contains twenty-Jive
cards, upper portion contains twenty-seven: You have cut one
card too deep. The
situation should become obvious to you
the instant you align
the ends of the packets for the weave.
Seeing that the upper
portion is too large,
perform a straddleweave, with just the
bottom card of the
upper portion woven
below the bottom card
of the lower portion.

2 9 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Consequently, two cards from the upper portion will lie above the
top card of the lower portion (Figure 209). Push or spring the cards
flush, concluding the shuffle. Immediately perform a brief overhand
shuffle that consists of "milking" off the top and bottom cards
together and throwing the balance of the pack beneath the pair. The
cards are now ordered just as they would have been had the cut been
accurate and an out-weave made. A rule easily remembered is that,
with this adjustment and the next, the milked pair of cards always
goes to the end of the deck where the two unwoven cards lay after
the weave.
Out-weave Correctionlower portion
contains
twentyseven cards, upper
portion
contains
twenty-five: You have
cut one card shallow.
Seeing that the upper
portion is too small,
perform a straddleweave, with two cards
from the lower portion
going below the bottom
card of the upper portion. One card from the lower portion will then
lie above the top card of the upper portion (Figure 210). Push or
spring the cards flush, then perform an overhand shuffle that
consists of milking off the top and bottom cards and throwing the
balance of the pack onto the pair. The cards are now arranged
exactly as if a perfect out-weave had been made.
This will probably seem a bit complicated atfirst. Mr. Elmsley has
conceived of a simple way of thinking about these procedures that
aids in remembering them. He imagines that each half of the deck has
its own "center of gravity". When executing an out-weave, the center
of gravity for the lower packet must always lie below the center of
gravity for the upper packet. This holds true with both miscutsjust
described. If the lower portion is a card short, it is straddle-woven into
the upper portion with its center of gravity lower; that is, two cards
from the upper portion lie above it. But if the lower portion is greater
by one card, the upper portion is straddle-woven into it, again with
the center of gravity of the lower portion resting below that of the
upper portion; that is, two cards from the lower portion rest below the
upper portion.
In-weave Correctionlower portion contains
twenty-five
cards, upper portion contains twenty-seven: You have cut one

FARO TAPESTRIES 2 9 9
card too deep. Straddleweave the lower portion
into the upper, so that
two cards from the upper
portion lie below the bottom card of the lower
portion, and one card
from the upper portion
lies above the top card of
the lower portion (Figure
211). Square the interlaced packets into each
other, then run one card
from the bottom of the deck to the top. A reverse double undercut
also can be used to transfer this card. The arrangement of the deck
is now identical to that created by a perfect in-weave.
In-weave Correctionlower portion contains twenty-seven
cards, upper portion contains twenty-five: You have cut one card
^^^^^_^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^_^
shallow. Straddle-weave
the upper portion into the
lower, placing one card
from the lower portion
below the bottom card of
the upper portion, and
two cards from the lower
portion above the top card
of the upper portion (Figure 212). Square the
cards together and run
the top card to the bottom; or transfer it there
with a double undercut.
Using Mr. Elmsley's concept ofcenter ofgravity, remembering these
two corrections can also be simplified. When making an in-weave, the
center of gravity of the lower packet must lie above that of the upper
packet Thus, if the lower portion is short one card, it is straddlewoven into the upper portion with one card from the upper portion
going above it, and two going below; and if the lower portion is one
card greater, the upper portion is straddle-woven into it, placing two
cards from the lower portion above the upper portion.
It also should be noted that, if the purpose of the weave is simply to bring together cards that originally rest twenty-six apart in
the deck, unless the cards of interest lie at the top or bottom of the

3 0 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


woven pack, the final overhand-shuffle corrections of the end cards
are unnecessary.
The same correction technique can be applied to a pack with an
odd number of cards. Take, for example, a deck of fifty-three.
Straddle-weave Cor- _
rectionlower portion
contains twenty-Jive
cards, upper portion
contains twenty-eight:
You have cut one card too
deep. Straddle-weave the
lower portion into the upper, placing two cards
from the upper portion
under the lower portion,
and two cards above it
(Figure 213). Square the
packets, milk off the top card with the bottom card, and throw the
balance of the deck beneath this pair.
Straddle-weave Correctionlower portion
contains
twenty-eight
cards, upper portion
contains
twenty-five:
You have cut one card
shallow. Straddle-weave
the upper portion into the
lower, placing two cards
from the lower portion
under the upper portion,
and two cards above it
(Figure 214). Square the
packets, milk off the top card with the bottom card, and throw the
balance of the deck onto this pair.

Placing a Key at Twenty-sixth Position

There are a number of excellent tricks (with faro shuffles and


without) that make use of a known card twenty-sixth from the top
of the pack. (See, for example, "Buried Treasure I" in Volume I [pp.
340-3421, and in this volume, "Tuppence" [pp. 219-221], "A Woven
and Cut Case" [p. 325], "Autopilot" [pp. 326-328], and "The Custodial Card" [pp. 333-334].) A problem, however, arises in such tricks.
How do you secretly learn the identity of the twenty-sixth card?

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 0 1
Hugard and Braue gave one practical answer to this problem. In
Expert Card Technique (pp. 397-398) they suggested that the card
be noted or placed into position as another trick was performed, one
with a procedure that accommodated this ulterior motive.
The most common solution to this problem, as practiced by faro
shufflers, is the faro check, a procedure originally suggested by Mr.
Elmsley in the November 1956 issue of Pentagram (Vol. 11, No. 2,
p. 12). That is, the deck is split at center and the corners interlaced
to assure that the cut is accurate. During the weave, the bottom card
of the top half is clearly visible to the performer, who memorizes it.
Seeing that the cut is correct, he then pretends that he has changed
his mind and he abandons the shuffle. He strips the halves apart
and replaces the top half on the bottom half. The card twenty-sixth
from the top is now known. Sometimes a false overhand shuffle is
done; one that retains the known card in position. This shuffle helps
to allay any suspicions the faro check might have aroused.
For those with uncommon confidence in the accuracy of their faro
cut, the weave-check can be eliminated and the card at twenty-sixth
position glimpsed as the deck is held on edge and split narrowly at
center, as if beginning a cut for a faro shuffle. Most practitioners,
however, will view this sort of bravado as foolhardy.
In the mid-1950s Mr. Elmsley employed yet another method for
positioning a known card at twenty-sixth position from the top, one
that used the faro shuffle in a subtler manner. While this idea has,
over the years, occurred to others, it is far less known and practiced
than its merit warrants. The idea is simply to note a card in an easily
identified position in the deck, then to shuffle it to the twenty-sixth
place. Here are two practical approaches:
1) While the deck is fanned or spread face-up, secretly note the
card seventh from the top. This can be done quickly. Then
gather the pack and give it an out-faro, followed by an in-faro.
The card noted is now twenty-sixth from the top. (If, instead,
you do an in-faro, then an out-faro, the card is delivered to
twenty-seventh from the top, which is useful for such tricks
as "Shadowed" [Volume I, pp. 337-339].)
2) Glimpse the bottom card of the pack and casually overhand
shuffle thirteen cards below it. To avoid an overly long run of
single cards, first run six from the top and throw the balance
onto them; then run seven more cards and throw the balance
on top. Next do one out-faro. The glimpsed card is now twentysixth from the top. (To deliver the bottom card to
twenty-seventh from the top, run twelve cards below it and do
one in-faro.)

THE MATHEMATICS OF THE


WEAVE SHUFFLE
This article was originally presented in three consecutive issues
of Pentagram, in mid-1957. (Errata for the article were published
in the May 1958 issue of that journal.) It holds the distinction of
being the first serious examination of the mathematics behind the
Jaro shuffle to be published in magical literature. In his article, Mr.
Elmsley took the seminal information presented in Hugard and
Braue's Expert Card Technique (pp. 145-150, much of which was
based on faro tables constructed by Fred Black), reinterpreted it
mathematically, then expanded on it and contributed important
new ideas to the subject. It was here, also, that he coined the terms
"in-shuffle" and "out-shuffle", which have since become standard
expressions in the trade.
Mathematical studies on the faro shuffle are more common
today, though most are admittedly of far greater interest to the
mathematician than to the magician. Over the years these studies
have proven useful in statistics and set theory, and Mr. Elmsley's
work was important. It is reproduced here as Mr. Elmsley originally
presented it, with only minor editing. To the Pentagram monograph
I have appended two related articles, one of which appeared a
month after the Pentagram series, the other a year later, in P.
Howard Lyons' Ibidem magazine.
While Mr. Elmsley's opening comments depreciate the usefulness
of this information to magicians, it is suggested that the mathematically disinclined reader at least skim through it, particularly the
sections titled "Out- and In-weaves", "The Odd Pack and Weave",
"Equivalent Odd Pack", "Stack Transformations", "Royal Flush Deal",
"The Restacking Pack", "Binary Translocations" and "Double Control".
Practical magical applications are given in these sections, and one
can see fascinating possibilities for further development. Indeed,
much of this information has borne fruit for magicians since it was

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 0 3
first published. After this study we will turn to less theory-ridden
discussions and some exceptional magic based on the faro shuffle
and the principles detailed in this treatise.
This article is for mathematicians only. The many excellent tricks
using the weave shuffle depend, with few exceptions, on the simplest
of its properties. I am going to deal with some of the more
complicated and lesser known properties, most of which are useless
to the magician, who is practical only, and I am writing primarily
for those with an interest in mathematics quite apart from their
interest in magic.

Out- and In~Weaves


Provided that we have a pack containing an even number of cards,
there are two chief forms of weave shuffle. In the form in which it is
used by most magicians the pack is divided in half and the halves
are interwoven, card for card, in such a way that the original top
and bottom cards remain on the top and bottom. This is called the
"out-weave", since the top and bottom cards remain outside the rest
of the pack.
It is also possible to weave in such a way that one card goes below
the original bottom card, and one card goes above the original top
card. This is called the "in-weave", since the top and bottom cards
have gone inside the pack.
The basic properties of these shuffles are as follows, assuming
that we are using a pack of fifty-two cards:
Out-weaveAfter one shuffle, cards in the top half of the pack
move to double their original position less one (e.g., the tenth card
becomes nineteenth).
Cards in the lower half of the pack move to double their original
position less fifty-two.
After eight shuffles the pack returns to its original order.
In-weaveAfter one shuffle, cards in the top half of the pack
move to double their original position.
Cards in the lower half of the pack move to double their original
position less fifty-three.
After fifty-two shuffles the pack returns to its original order.
After twenty-six shuffles the pack has reversed its original order.
Both in- and out-weavesOne shuffle brings together cards that
were twenty-six apart (hence the usefulness of the weave in combination with twenty-six-key-card-type locations).
This about summarizes what is generally known about the weave,
and more than covers all that most magicians need to know. So, aux
armes, mathematicians, and forward into the darkness.

3 0 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

The Odd Pack and Weave


This is a basic concept in working out many of the properties of
the weave. Suppose we have a pack containing an odd number of
cards. We make an "odd-weave" by dividing the pack in half to the
nearest card (i.e., one 'half has one more card than the other 'half),
then weaving so that the top and bottom cards of the larger 'half
are retained on top and bottom. Now, we can take any card as a
reference card and reckon the position of other cards by counting
from the reference card. If a card is at a position n 0 from the reference card before the shuffle, and at a position nl after the shuffle,
n

i =

2n

or n l = 2n0 - P
where P is the number of cards in the pack.
What makes this result important is that it is true even if to get
n 0 or n t we count round the ends of the pack; i.e., from the reference card to the bottom card and then straight on from the top. This
can be seen simply by doing an odd-weave. You will see that one
card goes outside either the original bottom or the original top card
and thus comes between them if we are counting round the ends of
the pack. The top and bottom cards can thus be considered neighboring cards and treated in exactly the same way as any other
neighboring cards. The pack as a whole can be thought of as an
endless belt, and it is of no importance what particular cards happen to be at top or bottom.
It follows that if an odd pack will come to a definite order after
a certain number of weaves, it will come to that order even if the
pack is cut between successive weaves. For example, by discarding one card from a pack of fifty-two, we get a pack that will return
to the same order after eight shuffles, despite repeated cutting
between shuffles.

Equivalent Odd Pack


This last example introduces another point. Suppose we do an
out-weave with fifty-two cards. The top and bottom cards remain on
the top and bottom. It would make no difference to the final order
of the cards if we removed the bottom card before shuffling, cut so
that the top 'half contained twenty-six cards and the bottom 'half
twenty-five, wove while retaining the top card, then replaced the
bottom card. But the shuffle would then be an odd-weave with a
pack of fifty-one cards. In other words, the change in the order of a
pack after an out-weave is the same as the change in the order of a
pack containing one less card after an odd-weave. We can express
this by saying that an even pack out-shuffled is equivalent to an odd
pack of one less card.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 0 5
In a similar way we can show that an even pack in-shuffled is
equivalent to an odd pack of one more card.
For example, we know that a pack of fifty-two cards out-shuffled
returns to the same order after eight weaves. Hence, the equivalent
odd pack of fifty-one returns to the same order after eight shuffles.
A pack of fifty-one is also the equivalent odd pack to a pack of fifty,
in-shuffled. Hence a pack of fifty cards will return to the same order
after eight in-shuffles.

Returning a Pack to the Same Order


Suppose we have an odd pack of P cards, and that it returns to
its original order after S shuffles. First consider a card whose position from a reference card is originally n0, and which moves to nv
n2, etc., in successive shuffles.
After one shuffle nY = 2n0 or 2n 0 - P
After two shuffles n2 = 2n t or 2n t - P
= 4nQ minus the largest multiple of P less than 4n 0
= 4n o -X 2 P
After three shuffles n 3 = 8n0 - X3P
After S shuffles n s = 2 s n 0 - XSP
(1)
The pack returns to the same order after S shuffles, and therefore n 0 = n s
(2)
n 0 = 2 % - XSP
. . . n o ( 2 s - l ) = XsP
s
p
although unknown and varying with n0, must be an integer,
and this last equation must be true for all values of nQ. Considering
n 0 = 1,

xs

s
P
s
This means that 2 - 1 must be divisible by P. We can see from
equation (3) that this makes Xs integral for all values of n0, so it is
a possible solution of the equation.
Thus, an odd pack of P cards returns to the same order after S
shuffles if 2 s - 1 is divisible by P. An even pack, in- or out-shuffled,
will return to the same order in the same number of shuffles as the
equivalent odd pack.
In a similar way to the above, by substituting for equation (2) nR
= P - n0, we can show that an odd pack of P cards will reverse its
order after R shuffles if 2R + 1 is divisible by P. An even pack reverses
in the same number of shuffles as the equivalent odd pack. If,

3 0 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


however, the even pack is out-shuffled, the top and bottom cards
will still be in their original positions; i.e., these two cards do not
reverse, though all the other cards in the pack will.

Solving the Shuffle Equation


Pack of 2* cardsA pack containing a number of cards equal
to a power of two is a special case. Thus, 2X cards out-shuffled are
equivalent to an odd pack of 2X - 1 cards. These will return to the
same order after S shuffles if 2 s - 1 is divisible by P = 2X - 1. The
obvious solution is S = x, so 2X cards retain their order after x outshuffles. Similarly, we can show that 2X cards reverse their order
after x in-shuffles. For example, a piquet pack contains thirty-two
cards. An ordinary pack from which, in the course of a gambling
demonstration, you have discarded the four royal flushes also contains thirty-two cards. Thirty-two is 25. Therefore, either of these two
packs will return to their original order after five out-shuffles, and
will reverse their order after five in-shuffles.
P is primeIn addition to the case of a pack of 2X cards, there
is one other case when an immediate solution of the equation is
possible. This is when P is a prime number; then 2p~l - 1 is divisible
by P. This is Fermat's theorem, a theorem in the theory of numbers.
Applied to the weave shuffle equation it means that when P is prime,
P cards will return to their original order in P - 1 shuffles. Incidentally, this is not necessarily the smallest number of shuffles required
for the cards to return to their original order.
For example, fifty-two cards in-shuffled are equivalent to an odd
pack of fifty-three. Fifty-three is a prime, and therefore fifty-three
cards return to the same order after fifty-two shuffles. Hence, fiftytwo cards return to the same order after fifty-two in-shuffles.
General methodThis is the quickest all-round method. It
uses the binary system, which would take too long to explain here,
so I shall assume it is known. Express P (which of course is odd)
in the binary system and write it down. Write it down a second
time underneath, so that the final '1' of the lower expression of P
comes under the farthest right '0' in the upper expression. Add
the two together. If you get nothing but T s , stop right there.
Otherwise, write P down again under the sum with the final ' 1 '
in P under the farthest right '0' in the sum. Again add. Carry on
until you get a sum containing nothing but T s . The number of
T s in the final sum is the necessary number of shuffles to bring
P cards back to the original order.
For example, eleven in the binary system is 1011.
Going through the procedure described, we have...

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 0 7
1011

ion
110111
1011
10001111

ion
100111111

ion
liiiiiini
There are ten T s in the final sum, so eleven cards return to the
same order after ten shuffles. Note that we get the same result from
the last section, since eleven is a prime.
To find out how many shuffles are necessary for the cards to
reverse their order, we write P down each time with its final T under
the ' 1 ' excluding the final T farthest to the right in the sum, or
expression of P above, until we get a sum in the form of 1000 - - 001. The necessary number of shuffles is one more than the number
of '0's. It is advisable to solve for S before trying for R, for although
there is always a solution for S, there is not always one for R. When
there is, of course, S = 2R.
For example, with eleven cards as before,
1011
1011
100001
There are four '0's, so eleven cards reverse their order in five
shuffles.

Stack Transformations
Suppose, in an odd pack of P cards, we have a set of cards stacked
"a" apart, counting downward through the pack. As we shuffle, the
separation of the cards in the stack becomes successively 2a, 4a,
8a and so on. Suppose, after x shuffles, the separation of the cards
in the stack (which is 2xa) is less than P but greater than half P. If
we now count in the opposite direction; i.e., upward through the
pack, the separation of the cards in the stack is P - 2xa. This may
give an interesting transformation of one stack to another. At each
transformation the order of the cards in the stack reverses.
With an even pack, the calculations are made as for the equivalent odd pack.
For example, fifty-two cards out-shuffled are equivalent to an odd
pack of fifty-one. Therefore, when a full pack is given successive outshuffles, a stack of cards seven apart within it will move farther apart
in this pattern: 7, 14, 28 or 51 - 28 = 23, 46 or 51 - 46 = 5.

3 0 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Thus a stack seven apart becomes a stack five apart after three
out-shuffles. There were two transformations, so the stack is in its
original order. If, after shuffling, the distance between two cards of
the stack has to be counted round the ends of the pack, there will
be an error due to our using an even pack.
Other transformations with a pack of fifty-two out-shuffled are:
10 to 11 in two shuffles, reversing their order.
11 to 7 in two shuffles, reversing their order.
Any multiple of three to itself in four shuffles, reversing their order.
With fifty-two cards in-shuffled we get:
10 to 13 in two shuffles, reversing their order.
11 to 9 in two shuffles, reversing their order.
7 to 3 in three shuffles, retaining their order.
3 to 5 in four shuffles, reversing their order.
The 10 to 13 transformation means that cards ten apart can be
brought together by four in-shuffles.
Here, incidentally, is a poker deal that uses the 7 to 3 transformation.

Royal Flush Deal


Take out the four royal flushes from the pack and arrange them
as follows:
The cards of one flush at positions 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 1 0 .
The cards of one flush at positions 7-14-21-28-35.
The cards of one flush at positions 9-18-27-36-45.
The cards of one flush at positions 5-17-29-41-46.
You can now have any number of hands suggested by a spectator, shuffle, and deal that number of hands, giving yourself a royal
flush. When the number of hands is named, you make the number
of in-shuffles shown below, then deal normally.
For two hands, shuffle not at all.
For three hands, shuffle three times.
For four hands, shuffle once.
For five hands, shuffle twice.
For six hands, shuffle four times.
For seven hands, shuffle not at all.
For eight hands, shuffle twice.
For nine hands, shuffle not at all.
For ten hands, shuffle three times.
The same flush that is set to come out on seven hands turns up
after three shuffles set for three hands.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 0 9

The Constant Stack


Suppose, in an odd pack, P = ab. We can stack a set of 'b' cards
'a' apart through the pack, so that by dealing out 'a' hands of'b' cards
each, all the stacked cards will fall in the same hand.
Taking any card of the stack as a reference card, the position from
it of any other card in the stack will be a multiple of'a'; i.e., n 0 = xa.
After one shuffle, ni = 2xa
or n l = 2xa - P
= 2xa - ab
= a(2x - b)
In either case, nx is also a multiple of 'a'; i.e., the 'b' cards are
still stacked 'a' apart through the pack after one shuffle, and hence
after any number of shuffles. The cards will not, however, be in the
same order in the stack.
For example, suppose we discard all the diamonds from a full
pack, leaving 39 = 3 x 13 cards. We set these up in the order clubs,
hearts, spades, clubs, hearts, spades and so on throughout. We now
have three separate stacks of thirteen cards, three apart. If after any
number of shuffles (with cuts in between, if you like) we deal the
cards into three hands, each hand will consist of a full suit.

The Restacking Pack


We know that fifty-two cards return to their original order after
eight out-shuffles. During these shuffles the top and bottom cards
never move, and two more, the eighteenth and thirty-fifth cards,
change places in each shuffle. The remaining forty-eight cards can
be considered as lying in six chains, each chain comprising eight
positions. A card at any of these positions will move through each
of the other positions in its chain before returning to its original
position after eight shuffles.
If we place four cards of the same value at alternate positions in
a chain, after two shuffles each of the four cards will have moved
into a position previously occupied by one of the others. For example,
one chain is 2-3-5-9-17-33-14-27. If we place the four jacks at 2, 5,
17 and 14, after two shuffles there will still be jacks at each of these
positions.
Hence, if we place four cards of the same value at alternate positions, in all six chains, we shall have arranged twelve sets of four
cards in forty-eight positions in such a way that, after two shuffles,
every one of the forty-eight positions will be occupied by a card identical in value to the card that was originally at that position. If the
remaining four cards of a kind go on top, eighteenth, thirty-fifth, and

3 1 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


on the bottom, each of these cards will be in the same position after
two shuffles.
Thus we now have a stacked pack that, disregarding suits, returns
to the same order after two out-shuffles. (As an aside, it is worth
noting that, with such a stack, the ordering of values created on the
odd out-shuffles, though different from the original order, also
remains constant with each alternate shuffle. That is, the sequence
of values found after one out-shuffle will be repeated after the third
such shuffle, and the fifth, etc.)
Here is an example of such a stack. The cards are arranged to
be read from left to right, moving from the top of the deck to the
bottom:
2C JC 9H 6S JD 10D 4S QH 9C 5S QD 8C 6H JH IOC 5D JS
2H 3C KH 10S 3D AD 8S 4H KC 9S 4D QC 10H 3H AC 9D 3S
2S 7C 5H AS 7D 6D QS 8H 5C KS 8D 4C AH 7H 6C KD 7S
2D
*

The suits have been so arranged that, apart from the twos, after
two shuffles the position previously occupied by any card will be
occupied by a card of the same value, but one suit advanced in the
rotation clubs-hearts-spades-diamonds. The twos will always be in
the same positions.
It will be seen that the cards fall into three groups of sixteen,
separated by the twos. The suit order in each group of sixteen is the
same. If each group of sixteen is divided into four sets of four, each
set contains four cards of different suits. The suit orders in the
second and third sets are respectively the reverse of the orders in
the first and fourth sets.
The card values fall into four classes, each comprising three
values. The division of the values among the classes is, of course,
arbitrary, but in the stack given above the classes are 3-7-J, 4-8-Q,
5-9-K and 6-10-A. The values in any one class are always found at
the same positions in the groups of sixteen.
It hardly needs saying that you can obtain other restacking stacks
from this stack by interchanging cards of one value for cards of
another. [Edward Mario published some ideas on Mr. Elmsley's
restacking pack. These can be found in Mr. Mario's Faro Controlled
Miracles, pp. 18-19; and again in Alton Sharpe's Expert Card
Mysteries, pp. 175-178. S.M.]

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 1 1

Binary Translocations
While investigating the effect of combined in- and out-shuffles, I
fell into the practice of abbreviating them as T and 'O*. This led me
to the discovery of a fortunate coincidence, for I noticed that my
sequences of Ts and 'O's could be read as T s and 'O's; and these
could be manipulated with binary arithmetic to yield useful instructions for shuffle sequences. Here are several applications I've derived
from this principle.
1) To bring the top card of the pack to any position, subtract one
from the desired position, express the result as a binary number and
use it as instructions for a series of in- and out-shuffles.
Example: If you wish to move the top card to a position fifteenth
from the top, first subtract 1 from 15, getting 14. Write 14 in binary
notation: 1110. Interpreting the T s for Ts and the 'O's for 'O's,
perform three in-shuffles followed by one out-shuffle. The card
originally on top is now fifteenth from the top. This is the shortest
possible number of shuffles that will perform the desired
translocation. This method of generating shuffle sequences holds for
decks of any size, odd or even.
2) In a pack of 2X cards, to bring a card at a known position to
the top, subtract one from its position, express the remainder as a
binary number, add zeros in front of it if necessary to make it a
number of x figures, and use the result as a pattern for shuffling. If
the result ends in one or more zeros, these can be ignored, since an
out-shuffle retains the top card. [In addition, as Ravelli pointed out
in Ibidem, No. 14 (p. 7), the final in-shuffle need only be correct for
the first cards of the packets. Indeed, a simple cut at center, rather
than a shuffle, can be made and completed at this point. S.M.]
Example: In a pack of 32 cards (32 = 25; therefore x = 5), to bring
the fifteenth card to the top:
15 - 1 = 14 = 1110 in binary.
x = 5, so we add one '0' to the front of the binary number to bring
it to five figures: OHIO. Since we can ignore the final zero we get
0111. Therefore, one out-shuffle, followed by three in-shuffles brings
the fifteenth card to the top.
3) If you have an edge-marked card in a pack of 2X cards, it can
be brought to the top in x or fewer shuffles, by always in-shuffling
when the marked card is in the bottom half and out-shuffling when
it is in the top half.
I have so far been unable to discover a comparatively simple way
of bringing a card to the top of a deck that is not a power of 2; e.g.,
52. The only method I have found is much too complicated for

3 1 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


practical use. However, if you perform reverse faro shuffles instead
of faros, a card at any position in any size pack can be brought to
the top by subtracting one from its position in the pack and
translating the remainder into a binary number. The result provides
a sequence for reverse faro shuffling that will bring the card economically to the top, when read in reverse; that is, from right to left.
[Mr. Elmsley's statement of this problem encouraged others to
attempt solutions. David Michael Evans provides this list of references, which offers information and solutions of varying merit:
"Something from Ravelli of Switzerland", Ibidem, No. 13 (March
1958), p. 10; Mario's Faro Notes (1958), pp. 2-6; "Oil Always Floats"
in Swinford's More Faro Fantasy (1971), pp. 54-57; Murray Bonfeld's
"A Solution to Elmsley's Problem" in Genii, Vol. 37, No. 5 (May 1973),
pp. 195-196; and "Any Card, Any Number" in Bonfeld's Faro Concepts (1977), pp. 41-47. S.M.]
June, July, August, September 1957

Double Control
Here is an interesting, though uninspired, magical application
of the rule last explained. It uses a thirty-two card deck. You might
reduce a fifty-two card deck to thirty-two by first performing a
trick that ends with a four-hand poker deal. Push the four hands
aside at the finish and continue with the balance of the pack.
Have a card chosen and noted. When it is returned, use your
nail to scratch or nick it secretly on one long edge. Hand the deck
to the spectator for shuffling. When he has finished, have him note
the position at which his card now lies from the top.
Take the pack from him and ask a second spectator to
remember the top card. Then hold the pack with the marked edge
of the card nearest you and perform five faro shuffles. In-weave
whenever the edge-marked card is in the lower half of the pack;
and out-weave whenever it is in the upper half. When you have
finished shuffling, ask for the name of the chosen card. Turn over
the top card of the pack: it is the selection. Turn the card facedown again and ask for the number at which the card rested
before you shuffled. Count down to that number and turn up the
card there. It will be the card remembered by the second
spectator, which was on top before the shuffles.
[For a variant on this idea, see "Elmsley Revisited" in Swinford's
More Faro Fantasy, p. 63. S.M.]
September 1958

PENELOPE'S PRINCIPLE
When, in 1957, Mr. Elmsley published his series of articles on
faro shuffle principles and their mathematics, in his closing lines
he mentioned having reserved one principle in particular for his
private use. This was obviously a tool that he valued highly. Over
the years it was passed quietly from hand to hand through the inner
circles of cardmen, and as was inevitable, tricks based on this
ingenious principle began to appear in printsometimes with credit
given to its inventor, but more often not. Mr. Elmsley did not formally
release Penelope's principle, for that was its name, until 1988, over
thirty years after its formulation. Penelope was the daughter of
Icarius and the fabulously faithful wife of Odysseus, who, during
Odysseus' twenty-year absence, wove and at night unwove a
tapestry, at the completion of which she had vowed to make a choice
from importuning suitors. Mr. Elmsley's unending tapestry is the
woven deck.
The principle is this: Assume you have a particular cardsay the
ace of spadesat a position twenty-sixth from the top of the pack.
If a spectator then cuts a small packet from the bottom of the deck
and you follow this with a perfect out-faro of the remaining cards,
the ace of spades will now be at a position from the top equal to the
number of cards cut away by the spectator.
Some further explanation is in order. The faro weave must be
started from the bottoms of the packets for the principle to work
consistently. Those who weave from the top down will find that, when
an odd number of cards is cut away, the target card will not be
positioned by the shuffle as desired. But if the weave is started at
the bottoms of the packets, the principle is entirely dependable. This
holds whether the upper portion contains one less card than the
lower, or one more. (In the latter case the weave will end with the
top two cards of the upper portion left unwoven.)
Those who weave downward may wish to turn the above process
topsy-turvy. The target card in this case is located twenty-seventh

3 1 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


from the top. The spectator is asked to cut a small packet from
the top of the deck. If you now perform an out-faro with the
remainder, beginning the weave from the top, the target card will
lie as many cards from the face of the pack as are contained in
the removed packet.
Mathematically, the principle can be expressed in this way: If a
card rests within the mid-portion of the deck, and if "x" cards above
it and "y" cards below it are removed, and if the remainder is given
a faro shuffle, the card of concern will be transported to a position
k + y - x from the top, in which "k" is some constant that depends
on the original position of the card and on the type of weave.
The following four tricks are illustrations of how Penelope's principle is put to use.
August 1988

PENNY WISE
Effect: The performer runs through a shuffled deck and indicates
to an elected confidant a random card that he feels will be a good
prospect for a prediction. The spectator is asked to write the name
of this card down, without revealing it to the group.
The performer gives the pack a further shuffle and has another
person take a group of cards from the center of the pack. The
removed packet is counted while the performer turns away. However
many cards the packet contains, that number is used to arrive at a
random card in the deck. Cards are fairly counted from the top of
the deck and the card at the random number is noted by the spectator. When this person announces the card he thought of, the first
spectator shows the others the card she wrote down at the beginning. It is the identical one.
Method: A full pack of fifty-two is shuffled, by one of the audience if you like. You then ask a spectator to collaborate with you in
making a prediction. Give her a slip of paper and a pen. Then run
through the pack, with the faces visible only to you and her. As you
spread the cards, secretly count until you arrive at the fourteenth
from the face. Stop on this and indicate it to the spectator. "This card
looks promising. Will you remember it for me? Perhaps you had
better write it down, but don't let the rest see."
While she does this, square the deck and give it one out-faro
shuffle. This transports the card to a position twenty-sixth from the
top. Place the pack face-down on your left hand and approach a
second person. "I want you to choose a number at random by cutting a packet of cards from the middle of the deck." With your right
hand, cut off slightly more than half the cards from the top of the
pack. This portion must contain the predicted card. Hold out the
lower portion and let the spectator take as many as he likes. When
he has cut off his packet you, with an air of utter fairness, drop the
right hand's cards back onto the left's.

3 1 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


"I now want you to count how many cards you have taken; I won't
look." Turn away while he counts and, as you are waiting, give the
balance of the deck another out-faro. Do this casually, as if merely
filling time.
"I shall show you the cards one by one. I want you to remember
the card at your number." Show cards singly, taking them from the
top of the deck as you count them aloud. Stop when you are sure
the spectator has noted a card. "Have you got one? Good. I think
everyone understands that if you had taken more cards, you would
have thought of a later one; and if you had taken fewer, you would
have thought of one earlier. The choice of card was determined
completely by your actions."
Having sufficiently emphasized the fairness of the procedure, ask
the spectator to tell everyone the card he mentally selected. Then
turn to the first person. "You wrote the name of a card before we
started. What was your prediction?" Through the aegis of Penelope's
principle you are assured that the card noted and that predicted will
be one in the same.
August 1988

PREDICTION BY PROXY
Effect: The effect is similar to that of "Penny Wise". However, in
this version an audience member makes her prediction without the
prompting of the performer.
Someone is asked merely to think of any card in a standard pack,
barring the joker. A shuffled deck is then run through, faces toward
the spectator, for her to remove the card she has mentally chosen.
She lets no one see this card. This, the performer tells her, will be
proof of her prediction.
The deck is shuffled again, while the first spectator points to
someone else in the group. That person is asked to choose a card
at random from the deck. This selection is turned up so that all can
see what it is. The first helper is then asked to show everyone her
prediction. The two cards turn out to be perfect mates.
Method: This spectator-assisted prediction is made possible by
the combination of a cyclic stack with a faro shuffle. The deck must
be arranged so that the cards of each mate-pair are exactly twentysix apart. That is, if one red five is on top of the deck, the other red
five is twenty-seventh from the top; if a black king is second from
the top, the second black king is twenty-eighth, and so on. Any of
the standard cyclic stacks, like the Eight Kings arrangement or the
Si Stebbins system, fit this requirement. Or you can divide the deck
in half, with one card of each mate in each portion. Then shuffle one
half, and arrange the other half to match the random order of the
shuffled cards. This gives you a subtle sequence that only the most
painstaking examination could detect. However, the more patterned
sequences are just as serviceable here, as no chance will be given
for the order to be studied.
Begin by asking someone in the group to play the role of a psychic. She is to think of any card in a deck of fifty-two (no joker) that
comes to her mind. As this is arranged, you may casually false
shuffle the pack or simply give it a series of straight cuts, preserving the cyclic order of the cards.

3 1 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


When the spectator says she has a card in mind, hold the deck
with its face toward her and ask her to pick out her mental selection as you spread through the cards. Caution her not to let anyone
see what card she has taken. Run the cards from left hand to right,
at moderate speed, while you turn your head aside. Stop the
spreading when the spectator reaches to remove her card, and
separate the spread at that point, aiding her in the removal. Then,
as you drop both hands, place the right hand's cards under the left's.
In doing so you cut the deck at the point where the card was
extracted. This secretly brings the mate of the chosen card to a
position twenty-sixth from the top of the pack.
You can now apply Penelope's principle to arrive at the mate. Set
the pack face-down before the second spectator and have him cut
off a small packetless than half. Ask him to count the number of
cards he has removed, and while he is doing this, you give the
balance of the pack an in-faro and set it face-up on the table. (If you
find you have an odd number of cards, always weave so that the top
card becomes the card second from the top.) When he has finished
counting his cards, tell him to count down that number in the faceup portion to arrive at a completely random card. When he does so,
he will stop at the necessary mate to the first spectator's prediction,
providing you with everything you need to conclude the effect
successfully.
For an application of this method to a coincidence effect, see
"Pother" in Volume I (pp. 331-332).

TUPPENCE
Effect: The deck is shuffled by two spectators. Each then cuts
off a packet and counts the cards removed to establish a random
number. The deck is reassembled and the performer displays the
faces of a number of cards, while counting them aloud. The two
spectators watch the cards as they are shown, and remember the
cards that fall on their selected numbers.
The performer does not himself look at the cards as they are
shown; nor does he at any other time during the procedure. Yet he
divines the identities of each person's mental selectionwithout
knowing the chosen numbers, without asking a question.
Method: Here Penelope's principle is applied to the plot of
"Brownwaves III" (pp. 64-66). The result is a clever positioning of
two cards for a subtle force. The first requirement is that you be able
to cut the deck precisely and unhesitatingly at center. Therefore, a
break must be formed below the twenty-sixth card of the pack. There
are several ways this may be done. You can use a faro check to
ascertain the accuracy of your split (see p. 301), then hold a break
as the packets are placed together again. Or you can perform another
trick that, within its procedure, allows you to count twenty-six cards
(for a good example, see Expert Card Technique, pp. 397-399).
Ask two spectators to assist you. One should be at your left, the
other at your right. "I want you both to help me; so will you each
shuffle some of the cards?" Cut the cards at the break and hand each
spectator half the pack. When they have finished mixing them, take
back one half in each hand. During the trick you will secretly glimpse
the faces of two cards; however, throughout the handling strive to
give the impression that the faces are never visible to you.
"Now I want you each to cut off some cards. But to assure that
you have different numbers, you should cut something less than half
your packet." This is addressed to the spectator on your left. "And
you should cut off more than half of yours." This, to the helper on
your right. It is as you deliver these instructions that you obtain your

3 2 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


first glimpse. As you tell the first
spectator how many cards she is to
cut, raise your left hand in an indicatory gesture, as if you were
estimating something less than half
the packet, as she must. Within
this gesture, tip the inner end of the
packet up just enough to allow
yourself a glimpse of the bottom
card (Figure 215). Remember it.
Let the spectators cut off packets as you have instructed. Then
slip the remaining right-hand cards under those in the left hand.
This buries the glimpsed card in the middle of the packet. No
break is held.
Ask that each spectator silently count the number of cards she
has cut, keeping that number a secret from you. As the two are
busied with this task, casually give your packet an out-faro
shuffle. (Here the weave must be started at the bottom for
Penelope's principle to work with an odd number of cards missing; that is, the original bottom card must always remain on the
bottom.) As you complete the shuffle, glimpse the bottom card and
remember it as well.
"Each of you now has a number in mind; but the cards in your
hands are physical evidence of those mental numbers. I want all the
evidence destroyed." While you say this, casually cut your packet
and complete the cut, taking a break above the original bottom card
(the card most recently glimpsed). A quick and easy method of doing
this is to form a break above the bottom card, using a buckle or pulldown, as, with your palm-down right hand, you grasp the packet

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 2 1
by its ends from above. Use your right thumb to retain the break as
you swing cut the top portion of the packet to the left, taking it into
the left hand (Figure 216). Then transfer the thumb's break to the
left fourth finger.
Addressing the spectator on your left, say, "Will you drop your
cards back in the middle of the deck?" Cut your packet at the break
and hold out the bottom portion for the spectator to return her
packet. Drop your top portion onto this, but let it fall rather askew.
This nonchalant action creates a step at which you can form a break
above the spectator's cards as you square the packet. (See Hugard
and Braue's Royal Road to Card Magic, pp. 195-196, and Andrus'
Andrus Deals You In, pp. 77-80, for subtler variations on this
concept.) You must now shift that break downward one card. If you
can, without hesitation, lift the necessary card while you square the
packet, do so. Otherwise, when the spectator gives you her cards,
push the top card of the spectator's packet slightly to the right as
the left hand swings back to meet the right hand. Drop or dribble
the right hand's cards onto the left-hand packet. Then, as you square
the cards, push up with the left fingertips on the rightjogged card
to form a break below it. Once the break has been shifted, cut the
packet at that point and complete the cut.
One other course of action that can be taken is to cut at the
original break, complete the cut, then shuttle the top card of the
packet to the bottom with a double undercut. In the end, with any
of these methods, the first spectator's packet, less one card, is now
on top of the deck, and directly under her packet is the second card
glimpsed. Also, thanks to Penelope's principle, the first glimpsed
card is positioned at the second spectator's number.
Cut off at least two-thirds of your cards and have the second
spectator, she on your right, replace her packet onto the lower
portion. Drop the upper section on top of this, making it clear that
all is above board. Without delay, say, "I want you each to remember
the card at your number. If you are thinking of one, you would
remember this card; if the number is two, you would remember the
second one; three, four, five..." Show the cards one by one as you
count, taking them from the top of the deck and making it plain that
you see none of the faces. Stop when you have counted about twenty
cards and ask if each assistant now has a card in mind. The spectator on your left will be thinking of the second card you glimpsed;
the one on your right, the first glimpsed card.
All you now need do is recap the procedure to emphasize the
strictness of the conditions: the spectators shuffled the cards, it is

3 2 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


impossible for you to know which cards they have thought of, you
haven't seen the face of one card yourself, and so on. Then reveal
the two cards in your most impressive fashion.
August 1988

MEET ME ON THE ROAD


Effect: Someone shuffles the cards, cuts off a small packet and
hides it. The performer turns his back as the packet is taken. He
then has a card freely selected from the balance of the pack. The
card is noted by the spectators and returned.
The cards are shuffled and the spectator brings forth the packet
he concealed at the start. Both spectator and performer now deal
in unison, until the spectator's packet is exhausted. As the spectator
deals his last card, the performer turns up the corresponding card
from the deckand it proves to be the spectator's chosen card.
Method: Here is another clever use of Penelope's principle. The
application is similar to that found in "Tuppence", but things are
managed to give a quite different effect. Have the spectator shuffle
the pack to his satisfaction. Then ask him to cut off a small packet
while your back is turned, and to hide it in a pocket or elsewhere.
He can cut off as much as half the pack, but in stipulating a small
packet, you ensure that he cuts within the required limit. When he
has hidden the packet, turn back to him and retrieve the balance
of the deck.
Spread the cards slowly and deliberately between your hands for
a selection to be made. As you begin the spread, push off four groups
of three cards and inconspicuously injog the next card, the thirteenth
from the top. Let the spectator draw a card from anywhere below
this point. While he notes the card and shows it to those around him,
square the deck into your left hand and form a break above the injog.
(If the spectator insists on taking one of the top thirteen cards, form
the break below the injog.) Casually cut at the break, have the
selection returned and drop the cut-off packet onto it. This places
the selection thirteenth from the top. Handle the cards in a fashion
that shows no breaks are being held.
You now give the pack two faros. The first is used to position the
selection twenty-sixth from the top. If the pack contains an even
number of cards, perform an in-faro, followed by an out-faro. If it

3 2 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


contains an odd number, perform two straddle-faros, cutting one
card above center each time and weaving the smaller upper packet
into the lower packet.
Ask the spectator to bring out the packet he has hidden and deal
in unison with you. Deal cards from the top of the pack into a pile,
matching him card for card, until his last card is reached. Dramatically turn up the card from the deck that falls with his final card; it
is the selection.

A WOVEN AND CUT CASE


Effect: Someone, through a very fair seeming procedure, makes
a mental selection of a card in the pack. The cards are then shuffled.
Yet the performer is able to locate the selection without a question
being asked.
Method: This trick relies on a principle related in a warped or
woofed way to Penelope's. Again, a key card is positioned twentysixth from the top. Set the pack face-down in front of someone and
ask that he cut off a large group of cards, something more than half
the deck, and hand it to you. This leaves him a small pile on the
table. Have him silently count the cards in this pile and remember
the number. Turn away as he does this, but leave your portion of
the deck sitting on the table, to avoid any suspicion of tampering.
When he has counted his cards, turn back to him and pick up
the large packet. Explain that you will show him some cards and
that he is to remember the card that appears at his number. Remove
cards one by one from the top of your packet, without reversing their
order, and show them to him while you count aloud. Do not look at
the faces yourself. When you have shown a number of cards safely
past the number he has cut (less than twenty-six), drop the balance
of the packet onto them. Then have the spectator add his packet to
yours, placing it on top or underneath. It makes no difference to the
working of the trick.
Now give the deck a brief false shuffle, followed by a cut that
leaves your key card somewhere in the top half of the pack. (It
shouldn't be difficult to follow its general location.) Follow this with
one out-faro. Thanks to Penelope's principle, the thought-of card now
rests directly under your key. If that key happens to be a cornercrimped card, you can set the deck on the table and ask the
spectator to name his mental selection. When he does so, cut the
deck at the crimp and turn up the top card of the lower portion,
revealing his card.

AUTOPILOT
Effect: A shuffled deck is divided into three piles, a card is freely
chosen from any of these, noted, then lost in the pack by the spectator, in a manner that precludes any possibility of key cards or other
common methods of location.
The performer shuffles the pack to lose the card further, and again
cuts the deck into three piles. The spectator is asked to point to any
of the three, and ends by finding his own card.
Method: The deck must contain fifty-two cards, but may be freely
shuffled beforehand. After the shuffling, you must secretly establish a break below the twenty-sixth card from the top. Here is one
way that can be accomplished:
As you introduce the trick, casually begin a faro shuffle, but
change your mind and instead give the cards an overhand shuffle.
This, at least, is what seems to happen. Actually, you perform a faro
check, splitting the deck at center and weaving the corners of the
two packets together. Once you have seen that your cut is accurate,
strip the corners apart and replace the top half on the bottom half,
holding a break between them. (If the cut proves to be off-center,
you can adjust it at this point by dropping a card from the top half
to the bottom, or by picking one up.)
Now give the pack an overhand shuffle, shuffling off to the break,
injogging the next card and shuffling off the balance. As you square
the pack, form a break below the injogged card as you push it flush.
With the break established, casually cut off about ten cards and
set the packet onto the table. Next cut off all the remaining cards
above the break (about sixteen) and set that packet to the right of
the first. Place the balance of the deck (twenty-six cards) to the right
of the second packet. You must keep track of the large pile, but this
is easily done, as it is visibly thicker.
Invite someone to pick up any one of the three piles, shuffle it to
his satisfaction, then peek at the top card of the packet. You now
guide his actions in losing the card in the deck, and in doing so you

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 2 7
secretly position the selection twenty-seventh from the top. Two
logical procedures make this possible.
1) If the selection is made from either of the smaller piles, have
the spectator drop that pile onto the other small pile. Then have
him pick up the untouched large pile, shuffle it and drop it onto
the others, burying the selection twenty-seven cards down.
2) If the selection is made from the large pile, have him place the
two smaller piles together and shuffle them. Then have him
drop these combined piles onto the large pile, burying the
selection. (Again it is twenty-seventh from the top.)
Once he has squared the cards, seemingly leaving you no clue,
take the deck and give it a false overhand shuffleone that need
only preserve the position of the selection. A shuffle like the
Jordan-Ireland red-black shuffle is well suited for the purpose:
Shuffle off roughly twenty cards, until you see that you are
nearing the center of the pack. Now run single cards until you are
safely past the twenty-seventh. Then shuffle off the balance.
Repeat this shuffle and the selection will again be twenty-seventh
from the top. Or you can achieve your goal with one shuffle alone
by simply shuffling off roughly twenty cards and throwing the
balance of the pack beneath them.
Next perform a perfect in-faro. This brings the selection to the top
of the pack. Follow the shuffle with a cut, undercutting about a third
of the pack to the top and holding a break beneath it.
Explain to the spectator, "We can find your card in the same way
it was chosen." Cut off all the cards above the break and place the
packet on the table. Cut off half the remaining cards and set this
packet to the right of the first. (The top card of this pile is the selection.) Lay the final third of the deck to the right of the second pile.
"Please point to any pile." Chances are good that he will indicate
the center one. If this occurs, ask the spectator to name his card,
then to turn over the top card of the pile he has chosen.
If, however, he points to one of the end piles, say, "Fine. I want
you to shuffle that pile into the others like this." Take the two
unchosen piles and riffle them together, dropping the selection last,
so that it becomes the top card.
When the spectator riffles his third of the pack into the other
portion, which is twice as large, it is highly likely that the selection
will remain on top. Watch to see if this is the case, though outwardly
you should appear unconcerned with the shuffling. Ask him to name
his card, then to turn over the top card of the deck he himself has
just shuffled.

3 2 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


The only other possibilityand the least likely of the lotis that
he will shuffle one or several cards onto the selection. In such cases
you should be able to see exactly how many indifferent cards he
releases over his card. If you have any doubt about the number, stop
him before he pushes the portions flush, and ribbon spread the
interlaced deck as you say, "I think you will agree, since the shuffle
is yours, that it is a thorough one." With the deck spread in this
manner, the cards above the selection can be easily counted. (This
clever ploy is a little-known idea of Arthur Finley's.)
Gather the spread, returning the two packets to their semishuffled state, and have the spectator push them square. You now
know the exact position of the selection, and can devise some effective means of reaching it. For example, assume the selection is
second from the top (the most likely situation). Ask the spectator to
name his card. As the name is leaving his lips, give the pack a smart
slip cut on the table, bringing the selection to the top. Then have
him turn over the top card to conclude. If more than one card has
been shuffled over the selection, several slip cuts can be performed
in quick succession, or a tabled double undercut can be executed.
Other solutions will certainly occur to each reader.
It is best, of course, if the spectator locates his card by pointing
to the right pile, or by shuffling the cards; but any of the possible
outcomes creates for the audience an unsolvable and impressive
mystery.

DIRECT LINK
(Featuring Bill Reid's
"Automatic Discovery")
Effect: This effect is closely related to "Second Link", described
on pages 183-185. A spectator cuts a shuffled pack in half. The
performer takes one of these halves and the spectator takes the
other. Each then selects one card from the other's packet, notes it
and loses it in his own packet. The performer now shuffles the two
packets together.
The deck is handed to the spectator, who is only then asked to
name a number between ten and twenty. "Will you deal cards faceup onto the table," says the performer, "until you come to my card,
the three of spades." The spectator does this.
"There is my chosen card. What was the number you chose? Fourteen. Will you now please count down fourteen cards and deal the
fourteenth face-down right here." The spectator obeys. He is then
asked to name his selectionand when he turns up the fourteenth
card, it is none other than his own.
Method: In the mid-1950s Mr. Elmsley, with his friend Bill Reid,
wrote a booklet of one dozen original faro tricks. This project proved
an ill-fated one, and never succeeded in reaching press. Its story is
recounted in the introduction to Volume I (pp. vii-viii). The Bill Reid
material from this booklet was thought to be lost. However, recently
Jack Avis made a happy discovery in his files. He uncovered a copy
of the original typescripts by Reid for his six faro tricks. Eventually,
Mr. Avis will arrange for the publication of this material, in memory
of BUI Reid.
One of those six Reid tricks was an item titled "Automatic Discovery". Its plot is this: The deck is divided between the performer
and a spectator. Each chooses a card from the other's half, notes it
and cuts it into his own packet. The performer then faro shuffles
the two packets together and hands the deck to the spectator. The

3 3 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


performer tells the spectator, "My card is the ten of spades. Please
deal cards face-up until you find it." The spectator does this, then
takes the value of the performer's card to deal down ten cards farther. When the tenth card is turned up, it proves to be his selection.
The secret is quickly explained. The ten of spades is secretly
positioned fifth from the face of the pack before the trick begins. The
deck is given a false shuffle, preserving the position of the ten. A
spectator then cuts the pack in half. The performer takes the top
half, leaving the bottom half for his helper. Each draws a card from
the other's packet, notes it and places it atop his own packet. Then
each gives his half deck one complete cut. This places the setup
directly over the spectator's card. Now the performer faro shuffles
the two packets together, making sure that the center sections mesh
perfectly. This positions the ten of spades ten cards away from the
spectator's selectionand the effect is concluded as described.
Mr. Elmsley admired this trick and, shortly after learning it, came
up with the idea of allowing the spectator to choose the position at
which his selection would appear. It is this elaboration that will now
be taught. {"Second Link" was developed around the same time, as
a non-faro approach.)
A slightly more elaborate setup is required. You must position five
memorized cards at positions six through ten from the face of the
pack. For the sake of simplicity we will use an ace through five with
suits in CHaSeD order. From the face of the pack the setup reads:
five indifferent cards, ace of clubs, two of hearts, three of spades,
four of diamonds, five of clubs. Of course, any five cards that you
can easily recall can be used.
In performance, begin by giving the pack a false shuffle that
preserves the ten-card bottom stock. Set the deck before a spectator
and ask him to cut it into two fairly equal piles. When he does so,
pick up the top half, leaving the bottom half for him.
Have him spread his half for you to make a selection. Do so,
taking any card above the setup. Look at the card and place it facedown on top of your packet. You needn't remember it, as its only
role is one of alibi in the scheme of things.
Fan your packet for the spectator to take a card. Have him note
it and place it face-down on his packet. Now you both cut your
packets near center and complete the cut to bury the selections. In
doing so, the spectator unknowingly positions the setup directly over
his card. Guide the spectator carefully as he makes this cut, leading
him step by step through it. You do not want him to disrupt the setup
by cutting too deeply.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 3 1
Take his half from him and faro shuffle the two packets together.
It doesn't matter if one packet is larger than the other, or if the weave
is an in, an out or a straddle, so long as it is perfect throughout the
middle section where the setup lies.
Give the shuffled deck back to the spectator and ask him to
choose a number between ten and twenty. The number he names
defines the card you will, in a moment, claim is your selection. The
system for determining the card is this: Each of the five memorized
cards of your setup governs two numbers.
Ace of clubs =11 and 12
Two of hearts = 13 and 14
Three of spades =15 and 16
Four of diamonds =17 and 18
Five of clubs =19 and 20
Therefore, if the spectator chooses eleven, you name the ace of
clubs as your card. If he chooses eighteen, you name the four of
diamonds. As you can see, the thinking necessary to designate the
correct card is not terribly demanding. (You also will note that,
although the selection range offered is a number between ten and
twenty, twenty is covered by the system. However, offering a choice
between ten and twenty-one, or from eleven to twenty, sounds too
artificial. It is better to sacrifice the last number. Of course, if
someone misunderstands your instructions and names twenty, you
can oblige him.)
When the number has been named, you say to the spectator, "Will
you deal cards face-up on the table until you come to my card,
the..." and you name the proper card from the setup. When he turns
up that card and stops, you continue as follows:
If the number the spectator names is odd, your instructions
are these: "There is my card. What was the number you chose? Fifteen. And there was no way anyone could have known what number
you would name, is there? Will you now please count down fifteen
cards." When he has done this, ask him, "What was the card you
chose? The seven of hearts. Turn up the top card of the deck." And
he finds it to be his selection.
If the number named is even, you say, "There is my card. What
was the number you chose? Fourteen. And there was no way anyone could have known what number you would name, is there? Will
you now please count down fourteen cards and deal the fourteenth
face-down right here." Point to some place away from the pile of dealt
cards. When he has done this, ask him, "What was the card you
chose? The queen of clubs. Turn over that card." That card is the
one dealt apart from the rest; it is also his selection.

3 3 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


hi summary, if an odd number is chosen, that many cards are
dealt and the next card is turned up to produce the selection. If an
even number is picked, the selection is the last card dealt.
The weakest part of this construction is that you choose one of
the cards and do not show it to anyone else. Therefore, your selection should not be made an important factor in the presentation.
Instead, emphasize the freedom of the spectator's choice of both card
and number, and stress that he himself lost his card in the pack,
that he didn't name a number until after the shuffled deck was in
his hands, and that he did all the dealing. Presented in this fashion, the trick can have a tremendous impact.
Mr. Elmsley mentions that the faro shuffle can be eliminated from
this method if, when you stack the deck, you alternate the five
memorized cards with indifferent cards at the face of the pack, then
put eleven indifferent cards below this arrangement. Have the spectator cut the pack in half. You take the top half and let him choose
a card from it. You then take the top card of his packet, a card he
randomly cut to. Pretend to note your card, place it face-down on
top of your half and give the packet a straight cut to lose the card.
Then instruct the spectator to lay his selection on top of your packet
and bury it by placing his packet on top of yours. This places the
stack over his card. Give the deck a false shuffle and hand it to him.
Then conclude the effect as taught.
While this second handling is performable, the faro procedure is
the more convincing course. Indeed, Mr. Elmsley suggests that
attention be drawn to the thoroughness of the weave as the cards
are sprung square with the usual waterfall flourish. On the other
hand, the execution of a false shuffle after the cards have been
returned occurs when attention on the deck is understandably
intense and, therefore, least advantageous. In addition, the stack
required for the faro version is half the size of the non-faro stack,
permitting greater freedom in the handling of the cards by the
spectator.

THE CUSTODIAL CARD


Effect: Someone cuts the deck into three piles and two of these
piles are shuffled by members of the audience, while the performer
shuffles the third. Each spectator then notes a card in his packet,
as does the performer. The deck is reassembled and shuffled. The
performer makes a magical gesture over the pack, then spreads the
cards. His selection is found to have turned face-up in the middle.
When those cards to each side of it are turned up, they are seen to
be the two selections made by the spectators.
Method: This is Mr. Elmsley's embellishment on an Edward Mario
trick, "Fourth Fooler", from Mr. Mario's booklet Faro Notes (pp. 52
and 55). It is also related in method to "Buried Treasure I" in Volume I of this work (pp. 340-342).
Shuffle the pack and manage to learn the twenty-sixth card
from the top. Set the deck face-down before someone and ask him
to cut it into three face-down piles of roughly equal size. As he
does this, note where the top, middle and bottom sections are
placed. Tell the spectator to take the bottom section (without identifying it as such) and hand it to anyone he wishes. He then takes
the top section for himself. You pick up the remaining (center)
section. Ask both spectators to shuffle their packets, as you give
your cards a brief mix in demonstration. This shuffle, however,
is false, for you must retain your key card (which rests roughly
near the center of your packet) in place.
Next tell the two spectators to spread through their cards and
remove any one they like. They are to place this card face-down on
the table, without letting anyone else see its face. Once more, in
demonstration, you fan your packet, face toward you, and remove
your remembered key card. As you draw the card from the fan,
slightly upjog the card in front of it. Place the key card face-down
in front of you and close the fan, retaining the jog. Then take the
packet face-down into left-hand dealing position, with the jog turned
toward you. As you square the packet, press down with your right

3 3 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


thumb on the injogged card, pushing it flush as you form a left
fourth-finger break above it.
Pick up your key card and say to another spectator, "I'll let you
see the card I have chosen." Let her see its face. "But I won't let you
see where it goes." Put your hands behind your back and slip the
key card Jace-up into the face-down packet, at the break. You can
now release the break and bring the packet once more into view.
Tell the first spectator that he can shuffle his packet again, if he
wishes. Then have him set it face-down on the table. Ask him to place
the other spectator' selection onto the shuffled pile, along with his
own card. Invite the second spectator to shuffle his packet once
more, if he likes. He then lays the packet onto the first spectator's
(original bottom section onto top), burying the selections. When this
has been done, you drop your packet on top of all.
Now emphasize that the spectators themselves have returned their
selections to the pack, and have shuffled the cards to assure that
all is fair. As you stress the difficult conditions under which you are
working, pick up the deck and give it one in-faro shuffle. This automatically places your reversed card between the two selections. Ask
the spectator to whom you showed your card to name it. Snap your
fingers or make some other magical gesture, and ribbon spread the
face-down pack to reveal that your card has turned face-up. Then
turn over the cards on either side of it, showing them to be the spectators' selections.
Note how, in this trick, Mr. Elmsley has cleverly covered the need
for working with three packets. Other tricks that utilize a sunken
key often suffer from the illogical procedure of having the deck
divided into three piles, of which only one or two are used for making
selections. Here, Mr. Elmsley creates a use for the third packet, as
he makes his own selection from it, while he demonstrates what the
spectators are to do with their cards. Thus, the third packet is given
a reasonable purpose in the eyes of the audience.

THE FAN AND WEAVE


CONTROLS
Here is an exceedingly clever method for controlling one or two
free selections, derived from elements drawn from two earlier
Elmsley inventions: the fan shuffle control and "Calcolate x 2" (ref.
Volume I, pp. 96-98 and 361-362).
One element that makes these controls so impossible in appearance is that the selections are returned to random spots in the pack,
all the time with the cards out of the performer's hands. Yet, with
two quick shuffles, the selections can be delivered to the bottom or
the top of the deck, where they may be produced or palmed off for
later production, as the performer sees fit.

The Fan and Weave Control


To begin, you must have a known card resting twenty-sixth from
the top of the pack, and an edge-marked card on top. This can be
accomplished with an unprepared pack in a few moments by
glimpsing the twenty-sixth card during a faro check, then nail
nicking or scraping one side of the top card.
Set the deck face-down on the table and have a spectator cut off
roughly a third of the pack. Turn away as he notes the card at the
face of the cut-off packet. Then have him bury his packet in the
center of the remaining cards. That is, tell him to lift about half the
cards remaining on the table (this cut must be below your center
key), drop his original packet onto the bottom portion, then replace
the raised packet on top of all. This sandwiches the original top
portion in the middle of the bottom portion. It also produces a very
useful circumstance: the number of cards now resting between your
two key cards, when added to the number of cards lying below the
selection, equals twenty-six.
Pick up the pack and, while squaring it, tip it up on edge so that
you can sight the edge-marked card, which should lie about a third
down from the top of the pack. Divide the pack at a point a few cards

3 3 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


below the marked key and
step the top portion of the
deck approximately half
an inch to the right at the
right end (Figure 217).
Then adjust the grips of
both hands to the ends of
the packets, taking the
bottom portion into the
left hand and the top portion in the right, both in
position for one-hand
fans. Separate the packets
and simultaneously fan
them, fanning the faces of
the packets in an upward
direction to expose the
indices of the cards in the
right hand.
Briskly brush the two
fans lightly over one another. As you do this,
quickly sight your memorized key (the card that
originally rested at center
in the pack)it will be in
the right-hand fanthen
insert the left hand's fan between this key and the card in front of it
(Figure 218). Rest the lower edges of the fans on the table and let
them fall closed into each other. Those familiar with this "shuffle"
know that when it is done at a brisk pace the cards appear to interweave as the fans close, when in fact the situation is much simpler:
one packet is inserted as a block into the other. (For further information on the fan shuffle flourish, see Volume I, pp. 96-97).
If you now give the deck one in-faro shuffle, the chosen card is
delivered directly above the edge-marked locator, and can be cut to
the top or bottom of the deck, as desired.
Or, when dividing the pack for the fan shuffle, you can cut at the
edge-marked locator, making it the bottom card of the right hand's
packet. If you now fan the packets and insert the left-hand fan two
cards before the remembered key card (that is, two cards closer to
the face of the right hand's fan), when the fans are squared together
the selection will rest twenty-seventh from the top of the pack, and
can be transported to the top with one in-faro.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 3 7

The Fan and Weave Double Control


Managing two selections is no more trouble than controlling one.
Begin, as before, with an edge-marked card on top of the pack and
a known card at twenty-sixth position. Have one spectator cut off
about a third of the pack (this must be less than twenty-six cards),
and a second spectator cut off a second packet of roughly equal size.
If there is a small tray, a book or magazine handy, Mr. Elmsley likes
to set the deck on it, then hold it out to each of the spectators as
they cut. Doing this emphasizes that the pack is out of your hands,
and therefore out of your control. It also aids in obscuring the transposition of the two cut-off packets when they are returned to the
deck, as follows:
Each spectator peeks at the card on the face of his packet: the
card he cut to. Then the first spectator places his packet onto the
remaining portion of the deck; and the second spectator puts his
packet onto the first's. This procedure reverses the top and center
sections.
Pick up the deck and cut it at a point several cards below the edgemarked locator. Take the top portion into the right hand and perform
the fan shuffle, inserting the left hand's cards into the right-hand
fan immediately before the remembered key card. Then square the
deck, divide it at center and perform one perfect in-faro shuffle. At
this point the first selection lies directly above the edge-marked key,
and the second selection rests above the first. By sighting the marked
card and cutting it to the top of the pack, both selections are delivered to the bottom, and can be dealt with in any fashion you like.
If the fan shuffle and faro are performed in a brisk and casual
manner, it appears impossible that you could be controlling even a
single card, let alone two at once. The method is as efficient as it is
diabolical.

BRAINWEAVE
Effect: A spectator shuffles the deck, then thinks of a card. The
performer also mixes the cards, then places the deck behind his
back for a moment while he reverses a card. He brings the deck
forward in a fanned condition and asks the spectator to name the
mentally chosen card. One reversed card is discovered in the
middle of the fan. When it is removed and turned over, it is seen
to be the selected card. It should be noted that the deck is
unprepared and may be borrowed.
Method: The principle underlying this impromptu Ultra-mental
effect springs from a method devised by Chung Ling Soo (ref.
Goldston's Magazine of Magic, Vol. 2, No. 4, July 1915, pp. 111-112).
hi Mr. Chung's trick, the red cards in a standard pack were alternated with the black cards, and left outjogged very slightly. If you
riffled one end of the staggered pack, only red cards could be seen.
Riffling the other end displayed only black cards.
Mr. Elmsley became intrigued with the principle upon seeing Bob
Bridson demonstrate an improved version of it. Mr. Bridson did not
often mix with other magicians. He preferred to devise tricks in
seclusion, without the influence of others. However, sometime in the
early 1950s, the British I.B.M. held their annual convention in the
seaside town of Southport, and Bob Bridson on several evenings
dropped in after work to visit. During one of these social appearances he showed Mr. Elmsley how the red cards could be faro-woven
into the blacks and offset widthwise as the halves were pushed into
each other. In this configuration the deck could be ribbon spread
in one direction to display all red cards, while all black cards
appeared if the spread was made in the opposite direction. Mr.
Elmsley recalls that the mechanics of the trick were transparent, but
his imagination was sparked by the principle. From this interest
emerged such creations as "The Fan Prediction" (pp. 29-32) and
"Brainweave"; which brings us to the trick itself.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 3 9
After a spectator shuffles the deck to his satisfaction, take it back
and cut off roughly fifteen to twenty cards. Fan these, faces toward
the spectator, and ask that he think of any one of the cards he sees.
As you do this, keep chatting with him and focus all attention on
the fan of cards. At the same time drop your other hand, which holds
the balance of the deck, to your side. You cannot hide the fact that
the mental selection is being made from only a portion of the deck,
but by directing attention away from the unused portion, you can
minimize the audience's awareness of the situation.
When the spectator says
that he has thought of a
card, close the fan and insert it face-down into the
center of the deck. As you do
this, form a left fourth-finger
break under the selection
packet and a third-finger
break above it. This is done
by angling the packet into
the deck until the right inner
corner breaks through on
the right side. Engage the
right inner corner of the bottom packet with the left fourth fingertip, and the same corner of the
selection packet with the third fingertip (Figure 219). Then pull
downward with these fingers as the third finger pushes the center
packet flush.
With the palm-down right hand, grasp the pack from above by
the ends, taking over the two breaks with the right thumb. Then
double undercut all the cards below the lower break to the top of
the pack. This brings the selection bank to the bottom, with a break
still held above it.
In an action continuous to the double cutting, reverse the selection bank under the deck, using a half pass. At the completion of
the half pass, the left fingers will be at the left side of the pack, in
perfect position to grasp it, the fingertips beneath, the thumb above
(Figure 220).
(In another approach to this selection procedure, Mr. Elmsley
suggests that you fan only the bottom fifteen to twenty cards of the
full pack, keeping the balance squared as a block and out of sight
behind the fan. As you adjust the fan, pull the card on the face of
the block roughly a quarter of an inch to the right, so that it projects
a bit. Have the spectator make his mental selection from this display.

3 4 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Then close the fan, delivering the jogged card to the inner end of the
deck, and form a break above the injog as you square the cards. You
can now execute a half pass to reverse the selection bank beneath
the deck. Those who enjoy a mild gamble with odds very much in
their favor might try handing the deck to the spectator for the
selection to be made. Have him spread through the deck and note
one card. You must estimate the general area where the spectator
pauses to make his choice. Then, when you retrieve the deck, cut
the cards to bring the selection somewhere near the bottom of the
pack. Your estimate and cut can be off by quite a few cards, and
yet the trick can still proceed successfully.)
With the left hand, rotate the deck ninety degrees in either direction and, with the palm-down right hand, regrip the right end of the
cards, fingers on the outer edge, thumb on the inner. Done as a
continuous movement, the left hand's turning of the deck provides
excellent cover for the half pass action.
You are now in position to perform a faro shuffle. Bring the left
hand palm-up under the deck and grasp its left end. Then separate
the pack just above the face-up selection bank, taking one or two
face-down cards with it for cover. Cut the pack at that point, taking
the bottom portion in the left hand and the top portion in the right.
Then faro shuffle the smaller portion into the larger. The weave need
not be perfect, so long as at least one card from the larger packet
lodges between each pair in the smaller one.
With the palm-up left hand, regrip the meshed deck by its sides
and turn it ninety degrees clockwise. With the right hand, push the
smaller packet into the larger one for roughly two-thirds of its length.
Then relax the left fingers' pressure on the sides of the deck and push
the smaller packet flush into the larger. However, allow the cards
from the larger packet, caught between those of the smaller one, to
slide secretly from the inner end of the deck, plunger-fashion (Figures 221 and 222).

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 4 1

With the right hand, grasp the deck by its sides from above, near
the inner end, concealing the injogged cards. Then take the deck
behind your back as you explain, "I am going to reverse one card at
random in the pack. No one will know what it is; not even myself."
^
.
With both hands now behind
you, transfer the face-down deck to
the left hand, grasping the outer
end between the thumb, on the left
side, and the forefinger, on the right
corner. Also station the fourth finger at the inner right corner of the
projecting cards. If you now press
with the thumb on the left side, and
maintain a firm pressure with the
first and fourth fingers, you can
cause the injogged portion to swivel
to the left, as shown in Figure 223.
Bring the right hand over the deck and push the angled portion flush with the front of the pack. At the same time, apply firm
pressure with the left thumb and forefinger on the front corners.
This forces the front end of the pack into reasonable alignment,
but maintains the angled condition of the cards at the back left
corner (Figure 224).
Now turn the pack end for end in the left hand, keeping it facedown while bringing the angled portion to the right front corner.
These adjustments of the cards take only a few moments, in which
time you are assumed to be reversing a card.

3 4 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Behind your back, form a pressure fan in the left hand. Then bring
the fanned pack from behind you, directing the face of the fan toward
the audience. The results of this fan are surprising. At the back of
the fan you will be staring at the indices of the entire selection bank
(Figure 225). However, from the front, none of the reversed cards are
visible (Figure 226).
As you are bringing the fan into view, ask the spectator to name
the card he thought of. You can easily spot his selection among the
reversed cards on your side of the fan. However, don't worry if it
takes you a few moments to locate the card. As you do so, the audience is naturally busy trying to spot the selection from their side of
the fan. With the right hand, grasp the right portion of the fan, up
to and including the named card. Spread the fan at that point (Figure
227) and upjog the selection (Figure 228). If you do not let the other
cards slip, only this reversed card will be visible in the fan from the
audience's side.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 4 3

With your right hand, strip the upjogged card from the fan, and
drop the left hand, turning it palm-down while keeping the face
of the fan in view. Then dramatically turn the selection around
to reveal its face.
Allow the effect to register. Then insert the card, facing correctly,
back into the fan and square the deck. If you are using this trick as
a closing itemand it certainly is strong enough to serve in this
capacitysimply put the deck away. However, if you wish to
continue with other effects, the deck must be somehow straightened,
or its condition used to advantage; for you have roughly fifteen to
twenty face-up cards in the central portion, alternating with facedown cards. If your faro weave has been a perfect interlace, one trick

3 4 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


that can benefit from this configuration of the cards is Edward
Mario's "Hummer-Mario" from Ibidem, No. 12 (Dec. 1957, pp. 2-3).
(Those desiring to take this path should check Mr. Mario's "3rd Note"
on pages 53-54 of his faro Controlled Miracles.) Other suitable tricks
can be found as well.
John Thompson, in the early 1960s, came up with an exceptionally shrewd solution to the righting of the reversed cards, which he
has kindly permitted me to reveal. Mr. Thompson routines
"Brainweave" to precede a Triumph effect in his act. Having concluded the Elmsley trick, he divides the face-down deck near center,
cutting at a face-down card. Thus, both halves look as they should,
were the cards all face-down. He turns over the bottom half and riffle
shuffles the packets together, face-up cards into face-down, doing
so in a manner that conceals the already topsy-turvy condition of
the pack. Turning to a spectator, he says, "I've just made quite a
mess of the deckface-up cards hopelessly mixed with face-down
cards. If I gave you the deck, how long do you think it would take
you to straighten it out?" After the spectator makes a guess he is
handed the pack. "Well, let's see. I want you to deal the deck into a
pile and turn all the face-up cards face-down when you come to
them. Do it as quickly as you can. We'll time you." He does just that,
and calls out the time the spectator takes to complete the task.
"Forty-three seconds. Not bad. Now I've been practicing this, and
I'm getting pretty fast at it myself. Let me show you." He then performs a Triumph effect, righting the cards in supernatural time. This
is a brilliant strategy. It solves the clean-up problem of "Brainweave"
in a wonderfully sly way: The spectator sorts the cards for you. At
the same time, his actions serve to dramatize the impossibility of
the next feat you will perform.
Allan Ackerman also uses this strategy. He mentioned to me that
he has routined both "Brainweave" and the Triumph effect to preserve a full-deck memorized stack. In doing so he can immediately
move into an impressive closing sequence, exploiting the setup,
without the need to switch decks. The ruse has taken in many wellposted magicians as well as the public. Those who are interested in
utilizing this routining concept will have little trouble working out
the details for themselves.
Mr. Elmsley's brilliant method for performing Berg's Ultra-mental
effect with an ungimmicked pack has garnered much praise and
attention in high places. If the reader desires to study this trick and
its principle further, Edward Mario has devoted almost twenty pages
to the subject in his Faro Controlled Miracles (pp. 52-71); then there
are Dean Moore's "Affinity Unrefuted" in Sharpe's Expert Hocus Pocus

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 4 5
(1961, pp. 86-92), Ted Biet's "Pres'sure* Location" inApocalypse (Vol.
2, No. 4, April 1979, pp. 181-183), John Bannon's "Cleaved Deck"
in his Mirage (1986, pp. 22-26) and "Shake Well Before Using" in
Smoke and Mirrors (1991, pp. 26-29). A handling by Dai Vernon can
be found in Richard's Almanac (Vol. 3, Spring 1985, pp. 243-244),
and another by the Professor is given on the Vintage Vernon, Volume
4 audio tape. Finally, see "Ackerman's Opener" in Allan Ackerman's
Day of Magic Lecture Notes (1992, pp. 1-4) and on his video tape,
The Las Vegas Card Expert: the Allan Ackerman Video, Volume 1.

1964

THE OBEDIENT FARO


Effect: The deck is shuffled and the top five cards are shown.
Someone is asked to name any one of the five he likes, then to choose
a number from one to twenty. The performer places the five cards
face-down on the deck and gives the cards two faro shuffles. He then
hands the pack to the spectator and asks that he count down to his
chosen number. When the card at that number is turned up, it is
found to be the spectator's selection. The feat can be repeated. The
result is always successful, and only two shuffles are executedno
more, no less.
Method: In his booklet, Faro Notes, Edward Mario published a
method for positioning the top card at any number in the pack, using
faro shuffles (see "Exact Placement", pp. 61-62). While this work was
theoretically interesting, in practice the system became unwieldy,
as there were many contingencies in which three or more faros were
necessary to place the card as desired. The number twenty, for
example, required five shuffles. The effect described above represents
a similar problem, developed by Mr. Elmsley. His solution allows the
placement of a specific card at positions one through twenty in the
pack, with only two faro shuffles. This is hardly a trick with which
to entertain laymen. It is designed purely to puzzle and impress
fellow magicians, and that is how Mr. Elmsley uses it. Indeed, he
managed to perplex Dai Vernon with this feat some years ago, and
later shared the secret with him.
The chart on the opposite page shows the system of shuffles.
The top row indicates the position of the selection before shuffling.
The left-hand column defines the type of weave needed for the first
shuffle, then the second. O = out-weave; I = in-weave. Each of the
cells shows the desired final destination for the selection after the
two shuffles have been made. For instance, if you wish to move
the top card to a position third from the top, you would perform
an in-weave, followed by an out-weave.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 4 7
SHUFFLES

oo
O I
I O
I I

1 st CARD 2 n d CARD 3 r d CARD 4 th CARD 5 t h CARD


1
2
3
4

5
6
7
8

9
10
11
12

13
14
15
16

17
18
19
20

Notice that the Os and Is, representing the weaves, also felicitously
represent the numbers 0 through 3 in sequence, in binary notation.
Even if you are not familiar with binary numbers, the memorization
of these four should pose no problem.
Have the deck shuffled and set face-down before you on the table.
Pick off the top five cards and display them in a face-up fan. Ask
someone to name one of the five. Explain that you will shuffle the
deck only twice, and will cause the card to appear at any number
from one to twenty. The choice is his. Once both card and number
have been specified, you must subtly position the selection to allow
you to shuffle it to the specified location.
If the spectator asks that the selection be transported to positions
one, two, three or four from the top of the pack, you must maneuver
the selection to the top of the packet before executing the shuffles.
If positions five, six, seven or eight are called for, the selection must
begin second from the top of the packet, and so on.
Your chances of having the selection lie in the necessary position without moving it are good. The end cards of a fan are seldom
chosen. It is also unlikely that a position near the top of the pack
will be specified, since the task of shuffling a card already near
the top to a nearby location hardly seems a challenge. Therefore,
the selection is most often one of the center cards, and these cards
govern t h e m i d - r a n g e of post-shuffle p o s i t i o n s , t h o s e m o s t
frequently requested.
However, should you need to move the first card to fifth position,
the second card to fourth position, or the fourth card to second
position, this can be done by squaring the fan, turning it face-down
and dealing the cards briskly onto the pack, reversing their order.
False deals (which are greatly simplified with a small packet such
as this) also can be used to reposition the card. Use whatever means
best suited to conceal the repositioning of the selection. A nonchalant attitude is one's greatest ally in such situations. If you cannot
shift the card without causing suspicion, it is better to do the repositioning openly and casually.
If the number requested is one, two, three or four, you only need
use the shuffle combination directly to the left of the number in the

3 4 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


chart. For higher numbers, a simple calculation determines the
required starting position for the card and the combination of
shuffles required to deliver it to the chosen location. First, think of
the number of cards that must lie above the selection when it rests
at the chosen number. Say, fourteen is named. Thirteen cards lie
above the fourteenth. Divide this number by four: 13 -r 4 = 3 with a
remainder of 1. This tells you that, to deliver the selection to position
fourteen in the pack, it must begin third from the top. 1 (the
remainder) in binary notation is OI. Thus, one out-weave, followed
by an in-weave will place the selection fourteenth from the top of
the pack. Here is another example: Nine is the position chosen. Eight
cards rest above the ninth. 8 -r 4 = 2. Thus, the selection must begin
second from the top of the deck; and since your division has left no
remainder, the remainder is 000 in binarywhich tells you to do
two out-weaves.
While the system may seem complex in its explanation, a bit of
study will show that it is logical and requires little memorization and
only one easy calculation.
Once the shuffles are completed, hand the deck to the spectator
and let him verify for himself that his card lies at the location
requested. One or two repetitions of this feat should bolster your
reputation with magical associates.
[January 3, 1965]

SPELL BY THE NUMBERS


Effect: Someone shuffles the pack. Then, while the performer
turns his back, the spectator cuts off a small group of cards and
quietly counts them. When he has finished, he remembers this
number and puts the packet somewhere out of sight.
The performer turns back to him, takes up the balance of the deck
and, while looking away, begins showing him cards. The spectator
is asked to remember the card that falls at his number. Now the
hidden packet is returned to the deck and the cards are given one
quick shuffle. The spectator is asked to name the card he mentally
selected. The performer spells the name, dealing one card from the
top of the deck for each letterand the selection appears as the last
card of the spell.
Method: Spelling tricks seem for the most part to have fallen out
of favor with magicians. There was a period, though, in the first half
of this century, when such magical spelling-bees held a great attraction for magicians and, perhaps to a lesser extent, for their
audiences. Nevertheless, some entertaining and astonishing spelling effects have been devised over the years. And, if it is true that
among the general population the ability to spell is becoming less
and less common, one would think that such tricks would gain an
added fascination with the spectacle of seeing someone successfully
spell such words as hearts and diamonds.
This effect of Mr. Elmsley's is a variant approach to a spelling trick
by Edward Mario that appeared in the August 1955 issue of The New
Phoenix (No. 329, p. 126). The principle on which Mr. Mario based
his trickone he called "the automatic placement"has roots that
burrow down over two hundred years into magical history. The starting point is a mathematical card location that can be found in the
literature of the late 1700s. Over the years this principle has reappeared in various guises. The most pertinent to our topic begin with
Eddie Joseph's "Who Knows the Card?" (Eddie's Dumbfounders with
Cards, 1950, pp. 4-5) and continue to advance with Rufus Steele's

3 5 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


'They Tell You Nothing", "You Tell Them Everything" and (with Robert
Parrish) "Tell and Spell" (Steele's Last Word on Cards, 1952, pp. 3236). Then we turn to Gerald Kosky's "No-clue Card Miracle" (an
instruction sheet marketed in late 1953 by Joe Berg, reprinted in
The Magic of Gerald Kosky, 1975, p. 28) and Edward G. Brown's
"Two Pile Trick" (Hall's Card Magic of Edward G. Brown, pp. 74-80,
published in 1973, though this trick was worked out in 1947). All
this work preceded Edward Mario's writings on the subject in The
New Phoenix, which three years later he recast in his Faro Notes
(1958, pp. 47-49). Gerald Kosky's trick features virtually the same
handling of the mathematical placement explained by Mr. Mario.
However, this chronology cannot verify sources of inspiration for
these developers, as none thought to mention previous sources and
it is reasonable to assume parallel invention in some if not all of these
cases. While there is more to say about the history of the automatic
placement, I have digressed from our main subject, and it is time
to return to Mr. Elmsley's trick.
In the JVeiy Phoenix article cited above, Mr. Mario suggested six
applications for the automatic placement procedure, one of which
was a spelling effect. This sort of material holds particular fascination for Mr. Elmsley, so he began experimenting. In doing so he
devised a method for simplifying the handling of this spelling trick.
He merely positioned the selection twenty-first from the bottom of
the pack, rather than twenty-seventh, before shuffling. Here are
complete details:
Have the cards shuffled. Then turn away while the spectator cuts
off a small packet: no more than a third of the deck. Ask him to count
the cards he has removed, to remember that number, then to place
the packet out of sight.
Turn back to him and pick up the balance of the deck. Explain
that you will show him cards from the pack while you look away.
He is to remember the card that lies at his number. It is obvious that
you can know neither the number nor the card he notes. Lift cards
from the deck, one by one, and display their faces to him, taking
each under the last, thus maintaining their original order. Count the
cards aloud as you take them, to eliminate confusion. When you
have shown twenty cards, stop.
Turn to him and ask if he has a card in mind. He will have. Drop
the undealt portion of the pack onto the twenty dealt cards. Then
have the spectator hand you the cards he has been hiding. Drop the
deck onto these. Thanks to the automatic placement principle, the
thought-of card now rests twenty-first from the bottom of the pack.
(The formula here is: x + 1 = position of selection from the face of
the pack, where x = the number of cards displayed.)

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 5 1
Give the deck one out-faro shuffle. This places the card twelfth
from the top. Without further manipulation you can produce any
card, save four, by spelling its name. This system of spelling is old
and well-known to magicians. Here is a brief explanation for those
unfamiliar with it.
If the word of is included in the name of the card, all cards spell
with ten to fifteen letters. By eliminating of or the final s of the suit,
names can be shortened. This dodge makes it possible to spell fortyeight of the card names in a deck and end on either the eleventh or
the twelfth card. (If you end on the eleventh card, the next card is
turned up to reveal the selection.) Here are a few examples: queen
of hearts"Q-U-E-E-N and the suit, H-E-A-R-T-S"; four of
spades"F-O-U-R O-F S-P-A-D-E-S"; seven of diamonds"It is
a diamond, D-I-A-M-O-N-D, and a seven, S-E-V-E-N."
The four exceptions that cannot be spelled with eleven or twelve
cards are the ace, two, six and ten of clubs. These all spell with ten
letters. Should one of these four be chosen, several courses may be
taken to correct matters. Here are three possible solutions:
1) After you have performed the faro shuffle, set the deck down
between the spectator and yourself. Ask him to name his card.
If it is one of the forty-eight that can be spelled with eleven or
twelve cardsand most often it will bepick up the deck and
spell the name. However, on those few occasions when one of
the short spelling cards is named, give the deck a brisk, decisive tabled slip cut, burying the top card. Repeat the name of
the card to yourself when you do this, and act as if this cut is
of great importance. Then pick up the pack and spell the name.
2) As you spell the name, double deal two cards as one somewhere
along the line. If the pace of the dealing is normal, the two cards
needn't be perfectly aligned when dealt for the subterfuge to
be deceptive. An unbroken rhythm is the real secret.
3) In place of the card name, use some other word or words,
containing eleven or twelve letters, for the spelling. This could
be your name, or the spectator's, or some magic word.
The dealing and spelling can be done by the spectator (unless,
of course, double dealing is required). However, Mr. Elmsley thinks
it best that the performer do the spelling himself. This eliminates
the need to explain the necessary procedure to the spectator, thus
accelerating the action while diminishing any awkwardness that
might be inherent in some of the special spelling conditions.
This is a remarkable mystery. The cards are obviously not prearranged, there seems no way you can know the identity or the
position of the mental selection, and the only manipulation of the

3 5 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


cards by you is one quick shuffle. Yet the card is somehow correctly
positioned to turn up at the end of its name. One performance will
convince you of the power this effect wields.
hi the next trick Mr. Elmsley tackles the problem of devising a
method for spelling to two mental selections.

PARASPELL
Effect: A shuffled deck is handed to two spectators, each of whom
is asked to fan the deck, look over all the cards and think of one.
So that they won't think of the same card, one thinks of an oddvalued black card, the other of an even-valued red card. The
performer then gathers the deck, shuffles it, and divides it between
the two spectators. He asks the first person to name the card he
thought of. The performer picks up the half deck before that spectator and spells the name of the mental selection with the cards.
When the last card of the spell is turned up, it is found to be the
thought-of card.
The second spectator is asked to name her card and, when its
name is spelled out with the remaining half of the deck, this mental
selection too appears at the end of the deal.
Method: One of the greatest advances in spelling-trick methodology was made in the late 1920s by Stewart James. Mr. James
conceived the idea of combining counting and spelling to designate
the name of a card. He would count the value, then spell the suit.
Nothing is lost in effect by doing so, and a good deal is gained in
the ability to spell to any card named. Mr. James' trick, "Evolution
of a Dream", depended on a simple but productive stack, in which
each suit was grouped together in sequential order (ref. Stewart
James in Print: the First Fifty Years, pp. 69-72). By spelling either
from the top or the face of the pack, one could arrive at any card on
demand. During the following decades, many adopted or unwittingly
reinvented this clever method; some attempted to improve on it, but
few succeeded in bettering it.
One drawback to this stack was its obvious arrangement, which
prevented the performer from displaying the faces of any cards but
those spelled. The faro shuffle provided an excellent method of
disguising the stack, and it is likely that this idea occurred to more
than a few magicians, one of whom was Derek Dingle (see Kaufman's
The Complete Works of Derek Dingle, pp. 169-170).

3 5 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


In the 1950s, when Mr. Elmsley was most deeply immersed in the
exploration of the faro shuffle, he too struck on the idea of using the
faro to conceal the James spelling stack. He also developed a variant stacking arrangement that simplified the spelling procedure
while it eliminated the somewhat awkward practice of spelling from
the bottom of the pack for certain suits. A price was paid for these
gains. You could no longer spell every card in the pack. In fact you
could arrive at only twenty. But Mr. Elmsley devised a presentation
that obscured this limitation and seemed, at least superficially, logical. And that is usually all that we magicians can expect. Here, then,
is the Elmsley treatment of Stewart James' "Evolution of a Dream".
Two ten-card sequences are constructed in the deck. One of these
contains all the odd-valued black cards, in numerical order; the
other contains all the even-valued red cards, similarly arranged. The
remaining thirty-two cards are random in their sequence, but must
be properly distributed around the two ordered strings. From the
top of the pack down the cards read:
7 indifferent cards
AC-AS-3C-3S-5C-5S-7C-7S-9C-9S
19 indifferent cards
2H-2D-4H-4D-6H-6D-8H-8D-10H-10D
6 indifferent cards
Once the pack is arranged as shown, note and remember the card
twenty-sixth from the top. This will serve as a position check when,
during performance, you must cut the pack in half.
Now perform two reverse out-farosor three reverse out-faros,
if you wish to give the pack an extra shuffle while you introduce the
effect. For those unfamiliar with the reverse faro, it is simply the
process of outjogging every other card in the pack, then stripping
the outjogged cards free in a block and placing the two packets
together. If, when you combine the packets, the original top and
bottom cards of the deck are retained in those positions, it is
considered a reverse out-faro. You can use reverse in-faros if you
like, but you must remember the types of reverse faros you have
made, so that you can undo them when faro shuffling the cards.
Alternatively, you can give the stacked deck six out-faros before you
start, if you plan to shuffle twice during the presentation; or five outfaros if you wish to do three shuffles in front of the audience.
In performance, ask for the assistance of two spectators and, as
you arrange this, give the deck one out-faro shuffle, if you have
provided for this with three reverse faros. Hand the deck to one of
the spectators and explain that each of your two helpers is to look
through the deck and think of a card. Because your stack is still

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 5 5
two shuffles away from its original state, the cards have an entirely
random appearance. (If you have any worries about the spectators
not following instructions and possibly disrupting the stack, ribbon
spread the deck face-up instead of handing it to them. However, if
your instructions are clear, there should normally be no trouble; and
making a mental selection with the deck in your own hands is
extremely effective.)
"However," you caution, "it sometimes happens that two people
will think of the same card, and while that is rather interesting in
itself, it is not our current goal. So, to avoid such a coincidence, while
preserving the privacy of your thoughts, would you please think of
any odd-valued black card; and would you think of any even-valued
red card. Do you understand?" If analyzed, this stipulation goes
beyond the stated aim, as the coincidence could be avoided by
having one think of a black card, the other a red card; or one an
odd card, the other an even card. But if you make your request with
an air of authority, and keep things moving, no one will think to
question the logic. Also note how the choice of court cards is subtly
eliminated, through a seemingly ingenuous phrasing. Much of public
(aside from players of certain games such as blackjack) does not
think of jacks, queens and kings having numerical values.
After giving the spectators a few moments, gather the pack and
give it two out-faro shuffles, treating the shuffles as nonchalantly
as the execution of a perfect weave permits. This brings the cards
into arrangement. As you finish your shuffling ask your helpers if
they have thought of a card. Scrutinize each of their faces, seeming
to search for some clue to their thoughts. Then, with an air of
deliberation, divide the pack in half, using your memorized check
card to confirm the accuracy of the cut. Set the top half of the pack
face-down before the spectator who is thinking of a black card, and
the bottom half before his companion.
Ask the first spectator to name the card he is thinking of. When
he names his chosen black card, pick up the half deck in front of
him and deal cards face-down from the top into a pile as you count
the value and spell the suit, including the word "of". For example,
say he names the five of spades. You would deal one card for each
word and letter: "One-two-three-four-fiveO-FS-P-A-D-E-S."
Turn up the card dealt on the final S to show the five of spades.
Set down the balance of the packet, turn to the second spectator
and ask her to name her card as you pick up the half pack in front
of her. There is now one small hurdle left to clear. All the suits but
one deliver the correct card on the final S of the name. The one
exception is hearts. If she names a heart card, the mental selection

3 5 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


will fall on the card after the final S. If you perform the spelling with
unhesitating authority, this discrepancy will pass without question.
But if this inconsistency bothers you, you must adjust the stack by
disposing of one card. If you can execute a truly indetectable onecard pass, do so. A better option for most of us would be a rapid
slip cut that sends the top card somewhere among the bottom six
of the packet. But probably the best alternative is to deal two cards
as one sometime in the middle of the spell. This technique is not that
difficult and can be entirely deceptive.
One other way of overcoming this adjustment problem is to eliminate the division of the deck into halves. To do this, you must either
edge mark the twenty-sixth card from the top of the stack, or pencil dot it at the corners, so that it can be sighted in a narrow spread
or fan. Now, spell to the black card, using the entire pack. After
producing the correct card, drop the talon onto the dealt pile and
pick up all the cards. As you replace the cards into left-hand dealing position, spread the top portion a bit. The marked card won't
be far from the top. Spot it and, as you square the pack, rightjog
the card below the key slightly. With the palm-down right hand,
grasp the deck by its ends, concealing the jog, as you move your left
hand from the deck to gesture toward the second spectator, asking
her to name her card.
If she names a diamond, return the deck to the left hand and form
a break above the jog. If she names a heart, form the break below
the jog. Then either execute a pass or an open cut. In this fashion
the adjustment for the second spelling is made.
One last comment: Some may think it a bit odd to count one card
for the value of an ace, when spelling A-C-E seems the more obvious
route. The situation can be resolved to an extent with a statement
such as "The value of an ace is one," (dealing a card on the word
"one"). Or you can spell A-C-E, and omit the O-F, proceeding directly
to the suit (though this does create a small discrepancy between the
methods of spelling the two selections). The problem can be
completely skirted if, in your introductory instructions you state:
"However, it sometimes happens that two people will think of the
same card. The ace of spades and the ace of clubs, for instance, are
quite popular. While that is rather interesting in itself, it is not our
current goal. So to avoid such a coincidence..." Through this casual
mention of the problem aces, you psychologically eliminate them
from the selection group.
While the discussion of various aspects of this trick has been
lengthy, the method is uncomplicated to learn and rewarding to do.
To an audience, whether of laymen or magicians, the resulting effect
is one of amazement.

COLLINSPELL
Effect: The four aces are arranged face-up on the table, along with
four small piles of indifferent cards. An ace is honestly inserted into
each of the piles, from which it then vanishes. The piles are dropped
onto the deck and the cards shuffled.
From the shuffled pack, the performer spells the name of an ace,
dealing a card for each letter. At the end of its name, the proper ace
appears. This is repeated with each of the aces, until all four have
been produced.
Method: The plot is in essence Stanley Collins' "Alpha Four Ace
Trick" (invented around 1904, but left unpublished until 1945, when
it appeared in Thompson's My Best, pp. 131 -132). However, the trick
that inspired the sequence under discussion was Cy Endfield's handling of the Collins effect. Titled "Aces for Connoisseurs", the Endfield
routine was published first in The Gen, Vol. 8, No. 5, Sept. 1952,
pp. 144-147; and later in Cy Endfield's Entertaining Card Magic, Part
Two, pp. 46-54. In both the original Collins trick and the Endfield
handling, at the finish the aces were reproduced in a hand of cards
dealt from the pack. Mr. Elmsley, after studying Cy Endfield's treatment, worked out startling new vanishes for the aces, and a clever
way of placing them, with a faro shuffle, for a spelling revelation. It
was an impressive resolution to an equally impressive series of vanishes. This was in the mid-1950s.
In America, sometime during 1972, Martin Lewis also became
intrigued with the Collins ace trick, as have so many magicians.
Independently Mr. Lewis arrived at the same idea of spelling the aces
to reproduce them, though his approach was entirely different from
Mr. Elmsley's (ref. Martin's Miracles, 1985, pp. 36-41). And Darwin
Ortiz informs me that in 1973 or 1974 he saw Persi Diaconis perform
an unpublished version of this plot, incorporating the spelling finish,
which used a faro placement.
In 1977, Jon Racherbaumer published a brief description of the
Elmsley faro procedure for setting the aces (ref. Sticks and Stones,

3 5 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


No. 6, p. 1), but the full Elmsley routine, as developed in the mid1950s, has never been revealed in print. It is taught here for the first
time. Aside from the clever method for setting the aces in position
for spelling, the methods for vanishing the aces will be of more than
passing interest. They are fine vanishes and, though devised almost
forty years ago, seem remarkably contemporary.
Stanley Collins evolved various methods for his four-ace effect over
the years. In several of these the cards were handled face-up. Most
handlings derived by others since have relinquished this point. Mr.
Elmsley has retained the face-up feature, thus enhancing the overall fairness and impossibility of the effect.
Set the aces into a face-up row on the table, arranging them from
left to right in CHaSeD suit order (club-hearts-spades-diamonds).
Below this row arrange another, this consisting of four face-up piles,
each pile containing four indifferent cards. There are two courses
possible in the formation of these piles. One can simply push off
groups of cards, casually creating the piles while placing no importance on the number of cards in each. Nothing is lost in effect if the
size of the piles is left unspecified at the time of their creation. Or
one can false count each pile as three cards, while actually dealing
four. Either of these practices is presentable, and the performer must
decide which is best in his hands.
Set the remainder of the pack face-down to one side. Then, working from left to right, add each of the face-up aces onto the pile
behind it. Having done this, bring your right hand palm-down over
the left-end pile, which has the ace of clubs at its face, and pick up
all five cards by the ends, second finger at the outer right corner,
thumb at the inner right. Carry the packet to the palm-up left hand
and, with the left fingertips, draw the lower three cards leftward,
backspreading them to form a four-card fan (Figure 229). The fourth
indifferent card lies squared and hidden beneath the ace.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 5 9
Lower the left thumb onto the fan, holding the cards in place
while you turn the right hand palm-up and grip the double card
by its right side, near the outer corner. Slip the double card under
the three fanned cards and close the fan. This brings the ace to
a position second from the rear of the packet. As you square the
cards, adjust the packet to left-fingertip pinch grip, as if about
to do an Elmsley count.
Blow on the packet for magical effect, then count the five cards
as four as follows: With the right thumb, draw the upper card of the
face-up packet onto the right fingers. Then draw the next card from
the face of the packet onto the first card. As the right hand
approaches the packet to take the third card, do a two-card block
push-off. If the tip of your left thumb rests very near the left edge of
the packet, the upper pair of cards can be pushed to the right in
perfect alignment. Draw the double card onto the right hand's pair.
Then take the remaining card from the left hand onto the face of the
right hand's packet. Four indifferent cards have been seenand the
ace of clubs is gone.
Pause for only a moment after
the count. Then flip the packet
face-down and take it again into
left-hand pinch grip. Bring your
right hand palm-up to the packet
and pinch off the top card, holding
it by its right side at the fingertips.
Turn the right hand palm-down
and lower the left side of the card,
now face-up, onto the table (Figure
230). Then withdraw your thumb
from beneath the card while you press down lightly with the fingertips on its face, letting the card snap flat onto the table. Leave the
card there and return the right hand to the packet. Pinch off the next
card from the top of the packet and, with the same action, snap it
face-up onto the preceding card. Next execute a two-card block
push-off and take the double at the right fingertips, exactly as you
have taken the single cards before it. Turn the double card face-up
and snap it down onto the previous two cards in precisely the same
fashion. Then deposit the final card from the left hand face-up onto
the pile. This second display confirms the vanish of the ace, while
showing four cards, faces and backs.
With the palm-down right hand, pick up the second pilewhich
sports the ace of hearts on its facegrasping the packet by its
opposite right corners. With the left fingers, backspread the lower

3 6 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


three cards (as in Figure 229), and separate these indifferent cards
from the double card held by the right hand. Flip the left hand's
three cards face-down into dealing position; then momentarily clip
the face-up double card under the tip of the left thumb, holding
it widely jogged to the right as the right hand turns palm-up and,
with the fingertips, flips the double card face-down and square
onto the packet.
The instant the double card settles, use your left thumb to push
the top card to the right and, with the palm-up right hand, grasp
this card by its inner right corner. Remove it from the packet and
use it to flip the packet face-up. Then riffle two cards off the left
thumb and insert the card into the left thumb's break. Square the
reversed card (believed by the audience to be the ace of hearts)
into the packet.
Adjust the packet to lefthand pinch grip and, with
your right thumb, draw the
first card from the face of
the packet onto the right
fingers. Draw the next card
onto the first, injogged for
roughly half an inch. Draw
the third card, the facedown indifferent card, onto
the previous card, injogged
half an inch farther; and
deposit the last two cards
as one onto the face-down card, injogged farther still. This forms a
four-card vertical spread (Figure 231) with the face-down card visible
second from the face.
With the left hand, pull the face-down card forward and out of
the spread. The right fingers and the heel of the thumb press against
the sides of the spread to assure that the double card remains
squared as the card below is extracted. Blow on the left hand's card,
then turn it over to show its face. The ace of hearts has vanished.
Lay the left hand's card face-up onto the others and square the
spread. Flip the packet face-down and deal the five cards as four,
turning them face-up onto the pile of discards. Here you employ the
same snap-down action used when dealing the first packet onto the
table, and execute a two-card push-off as the third card is dealt.
Again, all backs and faces are seen and the ace is gone.
Take up the third pile, with the ace of spades on its face. With
the left fingertips, form a four-card fan by backspreading the lower

FARO TAPESTRIES

361

three cards (again as in Figure 229). While your left thumb holds
the fan in place, grasp the double card (the ace with an indifferent
card beneath) by its outer right corner, right thumb above and fingers below. Then slip the double card between the lower two cards
of the fan, leaving it outjogged for approximately an inch.
Close the fan, taking care not to split the double card, and turn
the packet over sidewise and face-down in the left hand. Immediately adjust the outjogged double by drawing just the upper card
forward until it projects a bit over half its length from the packet.
Simultaneously, place the tip of your left forefinger on the outer end
of the lower card (the ace) and secretly push it flush with the packet.
In other words, you execute a push-in change.
After pushing the ace flush, do not straighten the left forefinger.
Instead, let it rest at the outer end of the packet, its tip pressed lightly
up against the outjogged card, near the center of its face. Also extend
the left thumb until its tip contacts the back of the outjogged card,
placing it directly over the tip of the forefinger. Once you have
assumed this position, place the tip of the right forefinger on the
outer left corner of the outjogged card and pull it to the right, making
the card rotate end for end, pivoting on the left thumb and forefinger
(Figures 232 and 233). This is performed as a magical flourish.

Now, with your right hand, draw the outjogged card from the
packet and show that the ace of spades has changed to an indifferent card. Flip the card face-down onto the packet, and deal the five
cards as four (using the snap-down deal) onto the face-up pile of
previous discards.
The ace of diamonds remains to be vanished. Pick up this pile
and backspread three cards, forming a four-card fan, as you have
with each of the previous packets. As before, the fourth indifferent
card remains hidden beneath the ace. With your right hand, remove

3 6 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the double card from the fan. Then, with the left fingers, flip the
fanned cards face-down, letting them fall squared into dealing grip.
Lay the face-up double card onto the left hand's packet, injogged
about one inch. Then, with the right fingers, draw the bottom facedown card forward and remove it from the packet. Immediately lay
this card onto the face-up ace, injogged about an inch farther to
create a lengthwise spread.
Now reposition your
right hand palm-down
over the packet, in preparation for the Vernon
alignment move; that is,
station the right thumb on
the inner end of the top
card, the tip of the right
forefinger on the back of
this card, and the tip of the
right second finger on the
exposed portion of the
face-up ace of diamonds
(Figure 234). Then move
the right hand forward,
sliding the face-down top
card and the face-up ace over the packet as a unit. As you do this,
the right thumb will hit the inner end of the face-up indifferent card
that was hidden below the ace. Do not hesitate at this point: continue
moving the right hand forward, now pushing the top three cards
alongbut also use the right thumb to lift the inner ends of these
cards slightly, forming a break beneath them as the top and third
cards slide flush with the bottom two cards of the packet. Halt the
right hand's movement when the bottom two cards hit the right
thumb, and take over the break above them with the left fourth
finger. At this point the ace of diamonds should be outjogged about
an inch, second from the top of the packet. Position the tip of the
left forefinger at the outer end of the ace.
Retract your right fingers to the inner end of the packet and grip
the cards above the break, pinching them between the thumb, below,
and fingers, above. Draw the top card and the face-up indifferent
card beneath it inward, while keeping the outjogged ace stationary
by applying pressure with the tips of the left fingers and thumb to
the sides of the packet. This action strips the ace from between the
right hand's two cards, but to the audience it should appear as if
you are only drawing the top card back and away from the packet.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 6 3
Rest the outer end of the
right hand's double card on
the inner end of the ace (Figure 235). You will next
perform the Vernon paintbrush color change, with the
ace outjogged on the packet:
Slide the double card forward, gliding it over the
face-up ace until it hits the
tip of the left forefinger,
which still lies at the outer
end of the ace. Draw the
double card back, returning to the position shown in Figure 235 and
exposing the ace once more. Repeat this brushing action with the
double card. Then do it a third time; but the instant the double card
is square with the ace, pull back with your right fingertips on the
top card of the double, pinching it more deeply between the thumb
and fingers. Use the tip of the right thumb on the inner end of the
lower card to keep it stationary as the top card is drawn inward, and
immediately tighten the left hand's pressure on the sides of the cards
to hold the face-up indifferent card square with the ace. Then, without hesitation, continue to draw the top card inward, lightly brushing
it over the face of the indifferent card. In doing so, you create the
illusion of an instant transformation of the ace.
Snap the right hand's card face-up. Then, with the right fingertips, clip the outjogged double card under this card, injogged for
roughly an inch, and remove it from the left hand's packet.
In a continuing action, flip the left hand's two cards face-up and
push the upper card of the two forward; then place the right hand's
cards onto this pair, completing a lengthwise spread of four cards.
Pause only briefly, to let the face of the four indifferent cards be seen;
then close the spread, flip the packet face-down and deal the five
cards as four, face-up onto the tabled pile. Again, the snap-down
deal and two-card push-off are used to hide the ace.
Casually square the face-up pile of twenty cards and drop it facedown onto the balance of the deck. The ace of clubs now lies third
from the top, the ace of hearts eighth, the ace of spades thirteenth
and the ace of diamonds eighteenth.
Pick up the deck and give it a quick series of overhand shuffles:
first run five cards and throw the balance on top; then run six and
throw the balance; again run five and throw; and finally run seven
and throw. If you like, you can follow these runs with a jog shuffle
that preserves the order of the bottom half of the pack.

3 6 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Now give the deck one perfect in-faro shuffle. This sets the aces
for spelling. They are produced in CHaSeD order, just as they were
vanished. Spell A-C-E O-F C-L-U-B-S first and turn up the card
following the S. Continue to spell each of the aces in turn; all four
consistently appear after the final letter of the suit.
That concludes "Collinspell". However, before leaving the topic,
it might be mentioned that, if all four aces lie in CHaSeD order on
top of the pack, they can be positioned for spelling by first giving
the deck three in-faros, then by overhand shuffling to this pattern:
run eight cards and throw the balance on top; run twelve and throw
the balance on top; run eight and throw the balance on top; then
run fourteen and throw the balance on top. The cards are now set
to spell the aces in clubs-hearts-spades-diamonds order. This is
merely a curiosity as it stands, for the shuffling is too laborious to
be deceptive. Yet, the knowledge might eventually prove useful.
In the next trick, Mr. Elmsley applies faro techniques to another
classic ace effect, this one by Henry Christ.

ARAB ROTO-PACK
Effect: The four aces are honestly buried at various depths in the
pack and the cards are shuffled and cut. The name of the first ace,
the ace of clubs, is spelled while one card is dealt for each letter.
The ace of clubs turns up on cue at the end of its name.
The pack is given another shuffle and the ace of hearts is cut
directly from the middle of the deck.
The deck is given a third shuffle and a cut. The top card is turned
up. It is a four. Counting down four cards from the top, the ace of
spades is found.
One more shuffle is performed and the deck is ribbon spread.
There, face-up in the center, is the final ace, the ace of diamonds.
Method: The plot is essentially that of Henry Christ's Ace Trick
(ref. Cliff Green's Professional Card Magic, pp. 48-54; Epilogue, No.
20, Mar. 1974, pp. 8-9; or The Vernon Chronicles, Volume 2, pp. 242245); but the method has been completely altered through the
application of faro shuffle techniques.
The only preparation required is to install a concave bridge down
the length of the face-down deck. This bridge is needed to assure
that you can cut quickly and unerringly to a card reversed in the
pack. Such a bridge can be created by giving the cards a face-down,
edgewise, dovetail shuffle; or by performing the spread flourish (ref.
The Card Magic of LePaul, p. 36).
Spread through the deck and remove the four aces. As you do this,
also cut or cull a four of any suit to a position sixth from the face of
the pack. Flip the deck face-down and quickly form four piles of
cards. Push off four cards from the top of the pack to make the first
pile. Push off seven more for the second pile; six for the third pile;
and nine for the fourth. Spread the cards off in groups as you count
them silently, making the procedure look casual and uncalculated.
Do not mention the number of cards in each pile. By the way, the
peculiar title of this trick is a mnemonic cue to the setup and layout. Those familiar with the mnemonic alphabet used in the Nikola

3 6 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY

Card System (ref. Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, Hugard revision, p


387) will quickly see that "aRaB RoTo-PacK" translates into
4-6-4-7-6-9. The first two numbers (4 and 6) remind you that a four
must be positioned sixth from the face of the deck. The remaining
four numbers (4, 7, 6 and 9) indicate the sizes of the four piles.
As you form the piles,
lay them out in a row
from left to right. Then
position the aces in
front of the piles, in a
face-up row with suits
running in CHaSeD
order from left to right
(Figure 236). This suit
order is adhered to
when, later, the aces are
produced during the
trick. Thus, there are
built-in mnemonic aids
for the entire procedure.
The piles and aces are now gathered, burying the aces at various levels in the pack. Start at the right end of the rows and work
leftward. First place the ace of diamonds face-down onto the talon.
Drop the nine-card pile onto this ace, but catch a left fourth-finger
break beneath the pile. Lay the ace of spades face-down onto the
deck and bury it with the six-card pile. Onto this place the ace of
hearts, the seven-card pile, the ace of clubs, and finally the fourcard pile. Square the deck.
"The aces are now separated in the pack. There is no question of
this. You can see so for yourselves." Here cut off all the cards above
the break and fan them face-up in the right hand. This is done as a
gesture of display. Only three of the
aces are present in the fan, but it
is not exhibited long enough for this
to be ascertained. As you call
attention to the fanned cards, push
the top card of the left-hand packet
slightly to the right and form a
fourth-finger break under it. This
card is the ace of diamonds. With
the aid of the left hand, close the
face-up fan over the face-down
deck and steal the ace of diamonds

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 6 7
under the right hand's cards. This is easily done: While the fan is
closed, the tips of the right fingers simply enter the left fourth-finger's
break and clip the face-down ace to the underside of the face-up
packet (Figure 237).
Move the packets a few inches apart and smoothly flip the left
hand's cards face-up. Then drop the right hand's packet onto them.
It appears that you have merely turned the deck face-up in two
portions, but the ace of diamonds is reversed near center.
Turn the deck face-down and give it one perfect out-faro. Then
cut the deck by its ends, bringing the reversed ace of diamonds to
the bottom (it is eighth from the bottom after the shuffle). The bridge
aids you in making this cut.
"The first ace was the ace of clubs. To find it, all I need to do is
spell its name: A-C-E O-F C-L-U-B-S." Deal one face-down card
for each letter as you spellthen turn up the top card of the deck.
It is the ace of clubs. Put the ace to one side and drop the deck onto
the dealt cards.
Perform another perfect faro. Since the deck contains only fiftyone cards, this must be a straddle faro. It does not matter if you cut
the top portion at twenty-five or twenty-six. Just weave the smaller
portion into the larger: the top and bottom cards of the large portion
become the top and bottom cards of the deck.
"Finding the ace of hearts is even easier. You just cut to it." Square
the deck and set it face-down onto the table. Then, with the right
hand, cut the pack by its ends, immediately below the reversed ace
of diamonds (which lies somewhat below center). Once more, the
bridge makes accurate cutting possible. With the left hand, turn up
the top card of the portion on the table. It is the ace of hearts. Toss
it aside to join the ace of clubs.
Drop the right hand's packet back onto the tabled portion and
pick up the deck. Give it an out-faro shuffle and cut the ace of
diamonds to the bottom (it rests twelfth from the top after the
shuffle). Then turn up the top card. It will be the four you set at the
beginning of the trick.
"The ace of spades is the hardest to find. You have to use detectives. This one is a four. So if I count down four cards..." Set the
four spot on the table and count four cards onto it in an overlapping column. Turn up the fourth card. It is the ace of spades. Place
this ace with the preceding two. Then turn the four face-down onto
the dealt cards and drop the deck onto them.
Cut roughly ten cards from the top of the deck to the bottom; then
perform one more faro shuffle. This can be of any sort and need not
be perfect, as it is done only for the sake of consistency.

3 6 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


'The last ace is the ace of diamonds. It's a rich card and likes to
stand out in a crowd." Set the deck face-down on the table, pause a
moment, then ribbon spread it with a dramatic sweep of the hand.
The ace of diamonds is seen face-up in the middle. Set it with the
other aces and conclude.
March 1958

WHAT A PARTY!
Effect: As the performer discusses the trials of hosting a
successful party, he removes twelve red and twelve black cards from
the deck. These cards are used to represent the guests at the party.
The red and black cards are alternated, but then, in illustration of
the host's problems in keeping his guests amicably mixed, the cards
magically form pairs of colors, then go back to single alternation,
only to group in color triplets, and finally to segregate completely
into red and black cliques.
Method: Mr. Elmsley, commenting on this trick, observes: "I
consider Bill Simon's effect 'Call to the Colors' among the most
original tricks we have had in a very long time. One of the marks of
a really good trick is that one immediately alters it completely in an
effort to gild the lily. My gilded lily grew in an effort to find a
presentation and climax for the effect."
Bill Simon's "Call to the Colors" (ref. Effective Card Magic, pp. 7981) was founded on a packet effect by John Scarne, "The Scarne
Puzzle", which Mr. Simon described in his booklet, Controlled
Miracles (p. 21). Both tricks are built on the second deal. In the treatment about to be taught, Mr. Elmsley has added faro techniques and
a whimsical presentation, elevating the effect from a merely interesting display of skill to an intriguing and entertaining premise with
which many in the audience can identify.
Run quickly through the deck and assemble on the table a pile
of twenty-four face-up cards, the colors of which alternate. As you
openly sort through and arrange the cards, explain: "Have you ever
thrown a party for friends? I wonder then if you have the same anxieties that I do? You pick your guests so carefully. You introduce Bill
to Sam, because they're both interested in music. You ask Henry to
meet Jean because they both have a dachshund."
Once the twenty-four cards are set in alternating color order, put
aside the balance of the pack. "Imagine that these cards are my
guests. As you see, the cards are alternated red and black, which

3 7 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


shows how well mixed the group is." Spread the pile of cards briefly,
showing them to be as you claim. Then gather the spread and hold
the packet face-down in left-hand dealing grip.
Deal a few cards from the packet into an overlapping face-up row,
as you recite, "Red, black, red, black, red, black..." Gather the dealt
cards, without altering their order, and replace them face-down on
the packet.
"But after a little time, what happens? They won't stay mixed.
They begin to form glum little cliques, standing static and gazing into
their glasses." Give the packet a fillip or a riffle, as a magical gesture;
then deal the cards again face-up into an overlapping row. However,
this time deal out a dozen cards, and perform second deals at the
second, sixth and tenth cards. This produces pairs of same-colored
cards; e.g., red-red, black-black, red-red, etc.
Set aside the packet of undealt cards and gather the dealt row.
Turn these cards face-down. "Frantically you try to make the guests
mix..." Make a great show of mixing the twelve cards, performing a
perfect out-weave shuffle, "...and after much hard work and
unwilling introductions, you succeed." Deal the cards again into a
face-up row, performing second deals as the fifth and seventh cards
are dealt. The twelve cards again fall into an alternated color
sequence. (Those familiar with the Simon method will know that the
cards can be brought back to alternating order purely with second
deals. Mr. Elmsley introduces the faro here to set a precedent for
its use later in the trick.) Gather the spread and drop it face-down
onto the undealt portion of the packet.
"Now you fondly imagine that your party is well under way. But
drinks are running low, so you leave the room to fetch more alcohol.
Then you return." Apparently take the top card from the packet, but
perform a second deal, and use this card to represent yourself as
host, running to get the drinks, then coming back to the party. In
returning the card to the packet, place it on the bottom.
"But what has happened in your absence? Even worse cliques
have formed." Deal the entire packet into an overlapping face-up row,
performing seconds on every third card; that is, on cards three, six,
nine, twelve, fifteen, eighteen and twenty-one.
"Your entire party has broken into depressed groups of three.
Again you do your level best to persuade the guests to mix."
Gather the cards and perform an out-faro. "You introduce people
to other people they already know and hate the sight of." Do a
second out-faro.
"You circulate the drinks in every direction. You even go upstairs
for some dance music, but to no avail; for when you return..." Signify

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 7 1
your flustered flight up the stairs and down again by removing the
top card of the packet and gesturing comically with it. Then replace
it on top. This is done to support the earlier transference of the top
(though actually the second) card to the bottom of the packet.
"... you find your party completely divided into two groups at
opposite ends of the room." The two faro shuffles have completely
segregated the colors for you. All you need do is rapidly deal the first
twelve cards into a face-up column on one side of the table, and the
second dozen into another column on the other side.
Notice how Mr. Elmsley has neatly edited the original Simon trick,
using only twenty-four cards instead of the full deck. This eliminates
any chance of tedium, and lessens the number of second deals
required. It is worth noting that (as he has done in previous tricks,
like "Second Link", pp. 183-185, and "Diamond Cut Diamond", pp.
186-188) attention is naturally drawn to the faces of the dealt cards
as you turn them up, and away from the actions of the second deals
themselves. The faro shuffles are also simplified by the use of small
packets. But the most important contribution here is the entertaining
story line that enhances the magical rearrangement of the colors,
making the trick as charming as it is astonishing.
[c. 1958]

LATE NIGHT LOCATION


Effect: The deck is placed face-down in front of a spectator and
she is invited to cut off a group of cards. She peeks at the card on
the face of the packet, then shuffles the packet, losing the card.
This packet is then buried in the deck and the cards are shuffled.
Despite the fairness of the procedure, and without looking at the face
of a single card, the performer has immediate control of the selection and can produce it in any fashion he wishes.
Method: A special deck of cards is needed for this challenge
location. Therefore, this is more likely a trick that will be reserved
for baffling one's colleagues; ergo the title.
The pack is made up of twenty-six random cards and their
duplicates. It is divided into two banks. The top bank consists of
one set of twenty-six, in chance order. The bottom bank mirrors this
order in reverse. When the two banks are placed together, the top
and bottom cards are duplicates, as are the cards second from the
top and bottom, etc. The two banks meet with two adjacent duplicates at center. Prepare the top card of the bottom half so that it
can be easily located by you; e.g., with an edge mark or a crimp.
Begin the trick by exhibiting the seemingly unarranged deck. If
the cards are casually spread between the hands, or fanned and
displayed briefly, the duplicates are not obvious.
Square the cards and set the deck face-down before someone. Ask
this person to cut off anything less than half the pack; as few or as
many cards as she likes. Have her peek at the card on the face of
the removed packet. She is then to give the packet a mix, losing the
card. Stress this shuffling of the cards; otherwise some in your
audience may overlook this point when attempting to reconstruct
the trick, causing an oversight that would lessen the impossibility
of the location.
Just as she finishes shuffling her cards, reach out and cut off the
top portion of the tabled packet, cutting at the locator card or not

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 7 3
far beneath it. If the locator is not at the face of the portion cut off,
there should be no more cards below it than there are above.
Have the spectator place her packet onto the tabled one. You then
drop the other portion on top, burying her cards in the middle.
Square the pack, pick it up and give it one perfect out-faro shuffle.
This shuffle automatically places the duplicate to the spectator's card
precisely beneath the locator card. You can now cut the card to the
top or bottom of the pack and produce it in any manner you wish.
In "Auto-discovery" (which follows immediately) and in "Computer
Dating" (pp. 385-386), the reader will find the principles used above
applied with excellent effect to a normal pack.
September 1957

AUTO-DISCOVERY
Effect: The deck is set before a spectator and he is asked to cut
it at random, remove the card he cut to and pocket it. He shuffles
the rest of the cards he has cut off, then loses them in the remainder
of the deck.
The performer gives the pack one shuffle, declaring that it will
function as a calculator to discover the identity of the selection. The
deck is spread and in the center is seen a face-up card. This card
and the face-down card above it are extracted from the spread. The
face-up card, the performer explains, reveals the suit of the chosen
cardand the value of the facing card completes the identification.
When the selection is brought from the spectator's pocket, it is seen
to be the very card specified by the two indicator cards.
Method: Here, as promised, the fascinating principle from "Late
Night Location" is made to function with a standard pack. A setup
is necessary. First remove the ace through king of diamonds and
set the ace to one side. Then remove twelve cards running from
two through king. The suits of this second set are mixed. Arrange
the mixed set of cards with its values running in reverse order to
those of the twelve diamond cards. The diamonds, by the way, are
not set in any particular order; they can be left just as they come
from the pack.
Now assemble the deck in this manner: Form a face-down packet
from thirteen of the unsorted cards. Onto these lay the twelve-card
set of mixed suits, face-down. Place the ace of diamonds, face-up,
onto this. (You must be able to cut quickly to this ace later in the
trick. Therefore, if there isn't a dependable bridge in the pack, crimp
the ace in a manner that allows you to cut immediately below it.)
Lay an indifferent card face-down over the ace, and place the twelve
diamond cards onto that, also face-down. Finally, top the setup with
the remaining thirteen face-down cards.
Begin the trick by setting the arranged pack face-down before
someone. Casually ask him to cut off anything between a quarter

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 7 5
and half of the pack. In doing so, he unwittingly cuts into the
diamond stock. Have him remove the card on the face of the cut-off
portion and pocket it without showing it to you or to anyone else.
Whether he himself looks at it is a presentational point left to your
discretion. Then have the spectator shuffle the rest of the packet.
When he has finished, reach out and divide the remainder of the
pack, as it lies on the table, cutting it at the bridge or crimp. (The
reversed ace of diamonds is at the bottom of the upper portion.) Ask
that he place his mixed cards between the two portions, losing them.
Drop the upper packet onto his packet, sandwiching the shuffled
cards, square the pack and pick it up.
Explain that the pack can act as a calculator to determine the
identity of the missing card. Cut the pack near center (twenty-five
cards in one portion, twenty-six in the otherit does not matter
which half is the larger) and give the deck one straddle faro, weaving
the smaller half into the greater. Then ribbon spread the cards to
reveal the ace of diamonds face-up near center.
Explain that this card identifies the suit of the selection in the
spectator's pocket: a diamond. Slip the ace from the deck, accompanied by the face-down card just above it. Turn this card up. It will
be the same value as the chosen card. Have the spectator remove
the card from his pocket and reveal it, proving the uncanny accuracy of the calculating pack.
If you are concerned that the spectator may accidentally cut to
the ace of diamonds, prematurely revealing it, you can do this
instead: Edge mark the ace and position it face-down in the stack.
Then, after the faro shuffle, rather than ribbon spreading the cards,
bring out a pen knife and stab its blade into the side of the pack,
using the edge mark as a guide (an idea of Dr. Ben Braude, ref.
Phoenix, No. 293, Nov. 13, 1953, p. 1173). Ideally, the blade should
be inserted between the ace of diamonds and the card above.
However, if you find you are one card off, both cards can be
produced, either above the blade or below it, without appreciable
loss of effect. You can use the blade of the knife as a shiner, to cue
you to the accuracy of the stab, before you separate the pack. See
page 447 or further details on this method of glimpsing.
September 1958

THE ELMSLEY RISING CARD


Effect: The plot follows that of the centuries-old classic, but in
this version several exquisite refinements are offered. A card is freely
selected, noted and returned to the deck. The deck is shuffled, then
fanned. A magical pass it made over the fanned pack and the
selection rises slowly from the center.
Method: The refinements mentioned are two: First is the idea of
having the card rise from a fanned pack. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Elmsley was the first to perform the card rise in this
fashion. The second refinement is the use of the faro shuffle to control the selection and place it neatly into the gimmick that makes
this rise possible. Mr. Elmsley devised his card rise in the early
1960s and word of it quickly spread through the inner circles of card
magic. Since that time, a few others have adopted the idea of a
fanned-deck card rise (notably Ted Biet, whose card-rise gimmick
is most ingenious). Around 1980 David Britland, unaware of work
over fifteen years earlier, and inspired by the Biet card rise, came
full circle by reinventing large portions of the Elmsley method, which
he published as The Angel Card Rise. There are some interesting
points, however, in Mr. Britland's handling that are worthy of study.
The Elmsley method uses a simple gimmick that can be easily
added and removed from a pack. In essence, it is the old Jumping
Card gimmick, which has been commonly sold to the public by street
and carnival pitchmen since the 1920s. This gimmickconsisting
of two playing cards with a length of rubber band strung between
themwas peddled as a means to make a card jump from a pack
or packet of cards. A few perspicacious magicians of the period
recognized that the gimmick also could make a card rise slowly from
the pack. An exceptional example of the exploitation of this gimmick
is found in "Cardini's Rising Cards" (ref. The Tarbell Course in Magic,
Vol. 2, pp. 229-234). Indeed, it was the Cardini trick that inspired
Mr. Elmsley's work with the gimmick. The Elmsley gimmick is
essentially that used in the Jumping Card, but it features a

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 7 7
construction superior to the original rubber band and staples model
used for decades.
The gimmick is made from two playing cards, a length of thin
elastic thread and some rubber cement. Mr. Elmsley obtained his
elastic thread from flat elastic like that used in waistbands or
garters. Each of the little cords that make up such flat elastic bands
contains a length of round, thin rubber band. With a little work,
these thin rubber cores can be pulled or stripped from their sheaths.
In recent years other types of thin elastic thread have become available. In Britain, David Britland discovered an ideal thread for the
purpose, called shearing elastic. It is found in sewing supply shops,
hi the States one must locate a source of knitting machine supplies
and ask for elastic thread. This thread is thin and very strong, but
any of these types of thread are quite serviceable.
Take one of the two cards and place it face-down on a hard,
smooth surface. Using an X-acto knife, you must cut a sort of
irregular oval in one end of the card, roughly a quarter of an inch
from the edge. The oval is rounder at the bottom than it is at the
top, and a small tab is left projecting inward from the top edge of
the hole, near the right. This tab measures approximately a quarter
of an inch wide and half an inch tall. Figure 238 will clarify this.
Place the second card face-down on your cutting surface and
make a similar hole in it, but with the tab positioned on the left side.
(Figure 239.)
You must now carefully split the two pasteboard tabs, so that you
can glue the ends of the elastic thread between the layers of card.
Neatly coat the ends of the threadabout the width of each tab
with rubber cement. Also apply rubber cement to the inner surfaces
of the split tabs. When the cement is dry, carefully lay one end of

3 7 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the thread between the layers of each tab, with the thread lying deep
inside, traveling parallel with the top of the oval, and with the end
of the thread pointing toward the longitudinal center of the card
(Figure 240). Press the tab layers together, securely trapping the
ends of the thread between them. Then cut off the bottoms of the
tabs, leaving a length of roughly three-sixteenths of an inch. (The
tabs are initially cut longer than needed to aid in the splitting.)
Figure 241 shows the completed gimmick. Note that, when
the cards are held face-down, the
left-hand tab is uppermost. This
detail is important. If the gimmick
were constructed with the righthand tab at the back, loading a
card into the gimmick would create tension in the stretched elastic
that would cause the prepared
cards to spread and expose themselves during the card rise. Also
note that the mild arching of the
tops of the holes accommodates
the slight bulging of the opposing
tabs, caused by the glued ends of
the thread.
When the two cards are placed together, the loop of elastic thread
should hang within the area of the holes. You may have to twist the
cards a few times to get the elastic to lie flat, in a neat loop within
the holes. The Elmsley gimmick is designed to minimize gapping
between the cards by containing the thread within the cut-out portions. You will need to experiment with the length of the thread you
have found and the size of the holes necessary to contain it in its
unstretched state. The thread must be elastic enough to stretch to
the opposite end of the gimmick when a card is inserted into it, and
strong enough to make that card rise when pressure is not applied.
Finally, it is a good idea to apply a coat of fanning powder to the
inner surfaces of the gimmicked cards. This aids in producing a slow,
smooth card rise.
After a bit of experience, it takes about ten minutes to construct
one of these gimmicks, and one of them will last for many performances.
Over the years, Mr. Elmsley has used several methods of faro
placement for loading the selection into the gimmick. When working
for laymen he prefers the following procedure:

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 7 9
From a normal pack, discard the duplicates of the two cards that
make up your gimmick, and place the gimmick, threaded end
inward, five cards from the face of the deck.
In performance, spread the pack face-down between your hands
and offer a free selection. As you make the spread, smoothly push
off five groups of four cards each and form a break or jog under the
twentieth card from the top. (Your counting, of course, must not be
evident to the audience.) While the selection is being noted, square
the cards and cut at your break or jog. Have the selection returned
at this point and bury it. It now lies twenty-first from the top.
You can ribbon spread the face-down deck for a moment, as you
talk, implicitly showing that no control is being exercised. Then
gather the spread and go into a brief overhand shuffle. This consists
of shuffling off less than a quarter of the pack and throwing the
balance on top. This approximately centers the gimmick in the
bottom half of the pack.
Grip the deck in preparation for a faro shuffle, with the threaded
end of the gimmick positioned to take part in the weave. Divide the
pack at twenty-six and perform an out-weave. When making the
weave, apply firm pressure to the packet containing the gimmick,
to eliminate any gapping between the two threaded cards. You want
only a single card to enter the gimmick. This card will be the
spectator's selection.
As you push the halves about an inch or so into each other, let
the cards lie loose in the hands, until the end of the selection has
moved safely past the cut-out areas of the gimmick. Then square
the deck by pushing the cards together. (Do not spring them, as
shown in 242.) The card is fully and
automatically loaded into the gimmick, and the pressure of the thumb
and fingers at opposite ends of the
pack stop the selection from shooting
out. The loaded gimmick now lies
close to the center of the deck.
With your left hand, grip the pack
at one endthe end at which the cutout portion of the gimmick restsin
preparation for a one-handed fan.
Make the fan. The pressure normally
exerted when performing this flourish
should prevent the gimmick from
ejecting the selection. However, if the
card should slide out a bit, it will

3 8 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


travel down, behind the fingers, and cannot be seen by the audience. Perform the fan in a casual fashion as you talk. This fan is
used merely as a delaying tactic, to expend a bit of time, before
proceeding to the card rise.
With the right hand, close
the fan, bringing the open end
of the gimmick uppermost, in
position to force the selection
from the top end of the pack.
Then take the squared deck
into the fork of the right thumb,
in fanning position. With the
left fingers on the face of the
deck, and the left thumb on the
back, fan the cards in the right
hand. During this, maintain a
firm steady pressure with your
right thumb on the bottom end
of the pack, to prevent the card
from shooting upward. As you shape the fan, bend in your right third
finger, so that it passes under the arc formed by the bottom edge of
the fan and lies behind the cards (Figure 243). Extend the other right
fingers across the face of the fan. Apply firm pressure with the right
thumb and third finger to the back of the fan, restraining the action
of the gimmick.
Now, if you gradually ease the right fingers' pressure, the card
will rise slowly and mysteriously from the center of the fan. If it
begins to tilt to the left while rising, increase the thumb and
forefinger's pressure on the cards. Should it begin to tilt to the right,
increase pressure between the second, third and fourth fingers.
Thanks to the right hand's grip, the rise of the card is under your
full control.
As the card rises, turn the right hand and fan slowly, letting the
audience view both the edge of the fan and the back. This permits
them to see that nothing is occurring behind the fan that could
account for the rise of the card; and from the edge, the sight of the
card rising from the center of the fan is quite eerie.
When the selection has risen about three-quarters of its length
from the fan, grip the card by its upper end, left thumb on the back,
left fingers on the face, and draw it from the fan, simultaneously
twisting the left side of the card outward and the right side inward.
This twisting forces apart the two cards of the gimmick and avoids
pulling the thread into view.

FARO TAPESTRIES 3 8 1
If you desire to add the gimmick secretly to a deck in use, without
extracting two cards, the same faro method can be used with a fiftyfour card pack. Just shuffle six cards below the gimmick, rather than
five. Proceed as above, having the selection returned twenty-first
from the top. Then shuffle about eight to ten cards from top to
bottom, and do a perfect out-faro to load the selection into the
gimmick. This procedure allows you to add the gimmick to a normal
pack, perform the card rise, then remove the gimmick, leaving you
again with a full pack.
Having mentioned disposing of the gimmick, here is a method of
Mr. Elmsley's for accomplishing that task. Once the card has risen,
lower the right hand, turning the fan face-down. With your left hand,
remove the selection from the fan, turn it face-up and reinsert it into
the fan, one card above the place it last occupied; that is, directly
over the gimmick. Push the card into the fan for roughly a third of
its length.
Now separate the fan at the outjogged card and transfer the cards
above the selection to the bottom, cutting the fan as you simultaneously close it in the left hand. This leaves the face-up selection
outjogged on top of the pack, covering the threaded end of the
gimmick. Raise the left hand, directing the face of the pack toward
the audience and, with your right hand, remove the selection. Turn
it face outward and replace it square on the pack as you lower the
hands. Now, as you talk, casually spread the top three cards just
enough to get a left fourth-finger break under the gimmick. Palm off
the three cards above the break. Then produce the selection from
your right-side pocket, treating this as an added fillip (while you
leave the gimmick in the pocket).
When working for magicians Mr. Elmsley will sometimes
employ a variation of his "Late Night Location" (pp. 372-373) to
place the selection in the gimmick. In this case, the upper half of
the deck consists of twenty-five random cards, and the lower half
contains twenty-five duplicates of those cards, arranged in reverse
order to their doubles. Between the two banks is placed the rising
card gimmick, which occupies positions twenty-six and twentyseven in the pack.
Hold the deck face-down in left-hand dealing position, threaded
end of the gimmick turned toward you, and ask a spectator to cut
off a small group of cards. His cut must be confined to the upper
half of the pack. Have him look at the card on the face of his packet,
then shuffle the packet, losing the selection.
With your right hand, lift a block of cards from the portion left
you, cutting just a couple of cards below the gimmick, and ask that

3 8 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the spectator replace his packet on the cards in your left hand. Drop
the right hand's packet onto this, burying his cards. The gimmick
now lies somewhere in the upper half of the pack, probably about
ten cards from the top.
Divide the deck at center and perform one in-faro shuffle. This
shuffle loads a duplicate of the selection into the gimmick. You can
now fan the deck and make the card rise, as previously explained.
If you are working under close conditions, and fear that spectators may spot duplicate cards in the fan, you can perform the rise
with the backs of the cards toward the audience; or you can eliminate the fanning, and do the rise in the traditional manner, from a
squared pack.
Before closing the subject of suitable faro controls for this trick,
it should be mentioned that the fan and weave control (see pp. 335336) can be adapted to good effect. Position the gimmick on top of
the pack, threaded end inward, with one card covering it. Then
secretly learn the identity of the twenty-sixth card from the top (or
the twenty-seventh if you have added the gimmick to a full pack),
using a faro check or any other efficient method. Set the deck facedown before a spectator and ask him to cut off a small packet:
roughly a third of the deck. He then notes the card at the face of
the packet he has removed, lifts about half of the tabled cards, and
sandwiches his initial packet between the two portions.
You now retrieve the deck and give it a fan shuffle: Spot your key
card in the fanned upper half of the pack and insert the fanned
bottom half two cards below the key; that is, two cards nearer the
face of the right hand's fan. Let the fans collapse into each other,
square the deck and cut a few cards from top to bottom. This places
the gimmick approximately thirteen from the face. Now do an in-faro
shuffle to load the selection into the gimmick; and perform the rise.
All of these methods are excellent, and the rise is astonishing.
There are several subtle elements that will worry fellow magicians
and intelligent spectators. First, the control of the selection is
extremely difficult to fathom. Then there is the question of how it is
set for the rise. Finally, the freedom with which the cards are
handled, shuffled and fanned seems to negate all the usual rising
card methods. These assets, combined with the inherent appeal of
the rising card effect, make this as straightforward and baffling a
feat of card magic as could be wished.

Chapter Seven:

Stray Stacks

COMPUTER DATING
Effect: A shuffled deck is placed face-down before someone and
he is asked to cut off a small packet, remove the card on its face
and pocket it. He then cuts the remainder of the packet into the deck,
losing it.
The performer gives the deck a precautionary shuffle for the sake
of fairness, then spreads it face-down across the table. After a
moment's deliberation, he pushes one card from the spread. The
spectator is asked to bring his card from his pocket and show it to
everyone. The performer then turns over the card he pushed from
the pack to show it a perfect match to the spectator's. Throughout
the effect, the performer never looks at the faces of the cards; nor,
it is clear to the audience, would marked backs be an explanation
for what they have witnessed.
Method: Some readers will have noticed that in the trick "Late
Night Location" (pp. 372-373) the arrangement of the special deck
is a variety of stay-stack. In 1958, a week after he invented the
stay-stack concept, Mr. Elmsley received his first copy of The
Cardiste and found that roughly a year earlier "Rusduck" had
discovered the same idea (see No. 1, Feb. 1957, pp. 12-16). Mr.
Elmsley immediately wrote to congratulate him, and to pass on
a couple of notions concerning the stack.
As the reader will by now have surmised, the deck used in "Computer Dating" is arranged in stay-stack order; that is, the bottom
half of the pack mirrors the order of the top half. The mate to the
top card lies on the bottom, the mate to the card second from the
top rests second from the bottom, and so on. At center the twentysixth and twenty-seventh cards are mates. Expressed as a formula,
the stack looks like this:
A1-B1-C1-D1-E1... E^D^C.-B.-A,
Excluding this specific distribution of the mates, the suits and
values of the cards are otherwise random.

3 8 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


One of the attributes of the stay-stack is that perfect faro shuffles
of either the in or out variety will conserve the reflected ordering of
the top and bottom halves. For the trick under discussion, the card
twenty-sixth from the top must be crimped or edge marked for easy
location. If you wish to faro shuffle the deck before the selection is
made, begin with the crimped or marked card on the bottom and
retain it there with out-faros. When you have shuffled as much as
you wish, cut the deck at center and complete the cut, thus placing
the prepared card at twenty-six. Since a set of mates always lies at
center in a stay-stack arrangement, these cards function helpfully
as guides for the cut: splitting the deck between them guarantees
an even division. Alternatively, you can eliminate the cut by
positioning the key card seventh from the bottom. If you now give
the deck first an in-faro, then an out-faro, the key will be transported
to twenty-sixth from the top. (Similar shuffling and positioning
procedures can be used with the "Late Night Location" deck.)
Lay the deck face-down before someone and request that he cut
off a small packet, something less than half the deck. Have him slip
the card on the face of the packet into his pocket. Look away as he
does this, pointing out that even if the cards were marked, which
they are not, you have seen neither face nor back of the card he has
chosen. When the card is out of sight, turn back to him and ask that
he give the remainder of his packet a mix. When he has finished,
cut the deck at the key card or very close beneath it, and ask that
he place his packet onto the tabled portion. Drop the packet you
have cut away square onto his and invite him to give the deck one
or two straight cuts, to lose his packet further.
Pick up the deck, split it at center and perform a perfect faro
shuffle. Since there are now only fifty-one cards in the pack, one
packet will contain twenty-five cards, and the other twenty-six. It
does not matter which portion is the lesser one; simply weave the
smaller packet into the larger, executing a straddle faro. Square the
pack and note the approximate position of the key card. Then ribbon
spread the deck face-down, sight the key and push out the card
immediately below it. This, thanks to the mathematics of the staystack and the faro shuffle, is the mate to the card in the spectator's
pocket. Have him bring out his selection and show it to everyone,
after which you reveal the match.
If you prefer, rather than spreading the deck, you can use the key
card as a guide to cut or stab to the mate in the pack.
[circa 1958]

EMPTY AND FULL


Effect: The plot is similar to that of "Computer Dating". The deck
is shuffled, then cut into two even piles. A spectator is offered a
selection of either half. He cuts this packet once or several times,
until he is satisfied that the cards at top and face are random ones.
He is then given the choice of either card and told to place it in his
pocket while the performer turns away. The spectator drops his
packet onto the rest of the deck and buries it by cutting the cards.
The performer takes the pack and gives it a shuffle. Then he runs
quickly through the cards and throws one onto the table. When the
spectator removes the card from his pocket, the performer's card is
found a perfect match in both value and color.
Method: The stay-stack is again responsible for the location of
the mate to the spectator's selection; but the method of identification is entirely different from that used in "Computer Dating". Give
the stay-stacked pack a faro shuffle or two and divide it at center
(between the centered pair of mates). As you do this, glimpse the
bottom cards of both halves and remember them. You needn't
remember suits, just values and colors; for example, red ace, black
seven. Don't separate the halves just yet. With your left fourth-finger,
retain a break between them as you hold the deck face-down and
talk for a few moments. Then casually cut at the break and set the
halves face-down in front of a spectator.
Because of the nature of the stay-stack, you now know the top
and bottom cards of both halves. The mate to the top card of one
half lies on the face of the other, and vice versa. Again, all you need
remember are the values and colors of the two glimpsed cards.
Invite the spectator to pick up either half and give it one or more
straight cuts. When he is satisfied that you could know neither the
top nor bottom card of his packet, tell him he has a choice of either
one. If he wishes, he can cut again before he decides between the
two. Turn your head away and tell him to place the card of his choice
into his pocket. Once the card is out of sight, turn back to him and

3 8 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


ask that he drop the half he holds onto the tabled half. Then have
him give the pack a straight cut to bury his portion.
Pick up the deck and give it one perfect straddle faro. It does not
matter if the top half is woven into the bottom, or the bottom into
the top. Square the cards and turn them faces toward you. Then
quickly run through them, watching for any of your four key cards
(red aces, black sevens). The two keys from one half will lie together
in the deck; ignore this "empty" pair. The other two keys will have
one card sandwiched between them. This is the mate to the selection. Remove it from the pack and reveal the match.
In the unlikely event that the spectator happens to choose one of
your key cards, after the shuffle you will find the remaining three
keys together in the pack. The center card of the three is the mate
to the selection.

WEDDED AMBITIONS
Effect: The deck is shuffled and cut into two even piles. A spectator freely chooses either, looks through the cards it contains and
removes one. This she keeps, while the performer reassembles the
deck and gives it a shuffle.
The spectator now turns up her card, showing everyone what she
has chosen. She is told to give the pack a tap with it as she thinks
of the mate to the card. This simple action causes the mate to rise
magically to the top of the deck.
Method: The deck is set in stay-stack order. Give it one or two
faro shuffles as you talk, and form a break at center (between the
centered mates). Continue to chat for a moment; then cut the deck
at the break and set the halves face-down on the table.
Have a spectator point to either half she wishes to use. Pick this
up and hold it with the faces of the cards turned toward her. It
should be clear that you cannot see the faces as you now spread
the cards from hand to hand and invite her to draw any card she
wishes from the group.
When she takes one, catch a break at the point of removal and
square the cards. Lower the packet to a face-down position and cut
it at the break. Complete the cut and obtain a fresh break between
the two portions. Now pick up the unused half pack on the table and
drop it onto the held half. Cut the deck at the break and complete
the cut.
The mate to the spectator's card now rests twenty-sixth from the
top of the deck. To bring it to the top, split the pack between the
twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth cards, as if for a faro shuffle; and, if
you are sure of your accuracy, cut at that point. Otherwise, perform
a straddle faro as a check and, if the cut is good, complete the
shuffle. Should the cut be inaccurate, strip the packets apart, make
the necessary adjustment, and cut the pack to bring the required
card to the top.

3 9 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Set the deck onto the table. Then invite the spectator to turn up
her card and tap the deck with it while she thinks of its mate.
Conclude by turning up the top card to reveal that the mate has
apparently been drawn there by some strange attraction.

TOPSY-TURVY STAY-STACK
(A Problem)
Mr. Elmsley became Intrigued by a suggestion in The Cardiste that
tricks might be generated using a double-decked stay-stack arrangement. That is, two decks with contrasting backsone running in
reverse order to the otherare woven together. He wrote to Rusduck
with the following idea.
If you wish to begin with two fresh packs of cards, still in factory
order, and you do not want to reverse one before meshing the packs
together, try this instead:
Set one pack onto the other and cut them several times. Conclude
the cutting with roughly half of one pack above the other and the
other half below. Since the decks have contrasting backs, this is not
difficult to ascertain.
Now split the double pack at center: fifty-two and fifty-two. Turn
one of these halves face-up and faro shuffle it into the face-down
half. Give the double pack several more perfect shuffles and you will
have a set of cards that looks thoroughly mixed in more ways than
one. What is interesting is that the deck is in stay-stack order. That
is, the top card and the bottom card are duplicates. However, they
have contrasting backs and one will be face-up and the other facedown. The same conditions hold for the cards second from the top
and bottom, and so on.
Mr. Elmsley's last comment to Rusduck on the subject was "Don't
ask me what tricks you can use this for." Perhaps this amounts to
no more than an inside joke. Yet, the structure of this double pack
is fascinating and seems to hold promise for tricks of some sort.
Perhaps its mention here will stimulate fresh thinking on the subject.
February 1958

PARITY FAILURE
Effect: After shuffling the pack, the performer hands it to someone and has him cut it. The spectator completes the cut, then deals
out five face-down rows of five cards each. It is explained that he
can turn over any four cards of the layout that form the corners of
a rectangle. The rectangle can be of any size and shape, so long as
the cards at its corners lie at the intersections of two rows and two
columns. In Figure 244, two such rectangles are indicated; one by
Xs at its corners, the
_
other by Os.
The spectator can
turn over as many quadruplets as he wishes,
turning the same cards
over again should they
be shared by adjoining
rectangles. The result is
a haphazard arrangement of face-up and
face-down cards, determined by the spectator's
whims.
The performer does
not watch as the cards
are turned this way and
that. Instead he walks to
another part of the room,
taking the balance of the
deck with him. When the
spectator has finished
turning cards, he is asked to decide on one. It
can lie either face-up or

STRAY STACKS 3 9 3
face-down. He is told to mark the card by setting some small object
on it: a coin, a matchbook, a pencil. This is to avoid confusion later
in the trick.
He is now asked to call out the condition of each card, telling the
performer only if it is face-up or face-down. However, when he comes
to the card he has chosen, he is to lie about its condition. If it is faceup, he should say it is face-down, and if face-down, he should say
it is face-up. As he calls his way through the twenty-five cards, the
performer, at another table, lays out his cards in an identical pattern.
He gazes a moment at his layout; then, without a question, he names
the chosen card.
Method: Here is a variation on the "Pack of Lies" plot (pp. 100106), with a method founded on an entirely different principle. The
deck must be secretly arranged in a simple stack. The only rule of
this stack is that each pair of mates be twenty-six cards apart. That
is, if the top card is the three of hearts, the twenty-seventh card must
be the three of diamonds; if the card third from the top is the nine
of spades, the card twenty-ninth from the top must be the nine of
clubs. This stack may be given any number of straight cuts without upsetting its arrangement.
Besides the stacked deck, you will require two tables with surfaces
large enough to lay out five rows of five cards each.
Begin by giving the deck a false shuffle or a quick series of straight
cuts that simulates an overhand shuffle. When finished, hand the
deck to a spectator and have him cut the cards and complete the
cut. Then tell him to deal a row of five face-down cards from left to
right. Below this have him deal a second row in the same fashion,
and a third below that, and so on, until twenty-five cards have been
dealt into five rows (Figure 244).
Take the balance of the pack from him and clearly explain how
he is to turn over four cards at a time. As already explained, each
group of four must fall at the corners of a rectangle, though each
rectangle can be of any length and width the spectator desires. Cards
turned once are turned again if they happen to rest at the corners
of more than one rectangle. To make the rules of procedure clear,
point out several examples of rectangles in the layout, but turn none
of the cards over during the explanation.
Once the procedure is understood, walk across the room to the
second table. While keeping your back to the spectator, repeat
your instructions clearly and succinctly. "Now will you turn over
any foursome. Have you done that? Good. Do the same thing
again. Of course, if one of the four cards is one you have already

3 9 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


turned face-up, this time turn it face-down. Keep turning over foursomes until the cards are well mixed, face-up and face-down.
"Are you satisfied? Fine. Now I want you to choose any one of your
twenty-five cards. Don't move itjust decide which one you want.
It can be one of the face-up ones or one of the face-down. It doesn't
matter. So that you don't forget which one it is, lay something on it:
a coin, a pencil, a matchbook, anything that's handy.
"Now I want you to call out all your cards in the order you dealt
them, from the first card to the last. Don't tell me what they are. Just
say whether each is face-up or face-down. For example, you might
call, 'Up, up, down, up, down,' and so on. But, when you come to
the card you've chosen, lie about it. If it's face-down, say it's faceup; and if it's face-up, say it's face-down. Do you understand? Go
ahead then."
As the spectator runs through his layout, form a duplicate of
it, dealing cards from the top of the face-down packet you hold.
When the layout is completed, two cards will remain in your hand.
Keep them.
Because only twentyfive cards (one less than
half the pack) were dealt
by the spectator, the
mates in the two layouts
are staggered. The mate
of each card in his layout
lies one card further
along in yours. With the
cards turned randomly
up and down, anyone
comparing the two configurations would be
hard pressed to detect
this offset affinity.
To discover the location of the chosen card,
first examine each of
your five rows for an odd
number of face-up cards.
Any row with all its cards
face-down is discounted
in this search. You will
find that only one row
contains an odd number

STRAY STACKS 3 9 5
of face-up cards. Now inspect the five columns. Again you will find
there is but one with an odd number of face-up cards. Figure 245
shows one such configuration of the cards. The card that lies at the
intersection of the odd row and odd column corresponds in position
to the selection in the spectator's layoutand the card one position
further in your layout is the mate of that card. Should the spectator's
selection lie at the right end of the bottom row (that is, if it is the
last card dealt), its mate is the top card of the pair in your hand.
If the mate lies face-up in your layout, note it and name the
spectator's card. However, if it is face-down, rather than openly
turn it over, sweep your cards together and glimpse the mate as
you do this. Then, as you square the cards, name the selection
and conclude.
See Karl Fulves' book, Curloser (sic), pages 59-61, for interesting
variations on "Parity Failure" by Charles Hudson and Roy Walton.
In the next trick, another divination of a card is made possible
by a spectator's lie. However, with this method, only three cards are
dealt, and the spectator retains the entire deck throughout.
1979

TELL ME THREE TIMES


Effect: The performer hands out a shuffled deck and turns his
back. The person holding the pack is instructed to cut it, complete
the cut and deal the three cards cut to the top face-up onto the table.
He then mentally selects one of the three. The performer asks that
the spectator name the three cards for him, but that he lie about
the identity of his selection. Without a question, the performer
determines the fictitious card, then divines its real name.
Method: A stack is again at the root of the mystery. The stack
can be any of the common systems; e.g., Eight Kings, Si Stebbins,
Hungry Jackass. Give the deck a false shuffle and hand it to
someone. Turn your back and have him give the pack one or two
cuts before dealing the top three cards from left to right in a faceup row.
"I want you to think of one of those three cards. Have you got one?
Good. Now name the cards aloud from left to rightbut when you
come to the card you're thinking of, lie. Name some completely
different card in its place. Do you understand?"
You know the three cards must be in your stacked sequence. To
ascertain the counterfeit then is a matter of simple logic. Ask yourself
these questions:
1) Do the first two cards named follow the stack arrangement? If
they do, the third card must be the mental selection and its
true identity is the next card in the sequence.
2) If the first two cards do not follow your arrangement, do the
second card and the third? If they do, he must be lying about
the first card, and its real identity is that of the card preceding
the second in your sequence.
3) Do neither the first and second nor the second and third cards
follow the arrangement? Then the second card must be the
selection, and its identity is that of the card following the first
in the sequence.

STRAY STACKS 3 9 7
Here are several examples to illustrate the method of deduction.
In them it is assumed the arrangement being used is the Eight Kings
stack, with the suits ordered in CHaSeD rotation.
The spectator calls out the king of clubs, eight of diamonds and
ten of spades. He must be lying about the second card, as neither
the first nor the last pair follow the sequence; and since the three
of hearts follows the king of clubs in the proper sequence, this must
be the card chosen.
He names the Jour of spades, ace of diamonds and nine of
diamonds. The first two cards follow the arrangement, so the third
card must be the false one. The card that should follow the ace of
diamonds in the sequence is the six of clubs. This, then, is his card.
Don't merely blurt out the name of the card when you have
determined it. Play with the situation. Have a little fun with it and
build the drama. Here is an example of how this can be
accomplished:
You have just identified the selection for yourself as the third card
of the row. "I need a few more samples of your voice when you are
lying. Will you pick up the card on your left, hold it in your left hand
and say, 'I am holding this card in my right hand.' Humm. Now say,
'This is not my card.' Yes, that sounded like the truth. Put that card
back in the pack.
"Pick up the card now on the left of the row and say, 'This is the
card.' No, that was certainly a lie. Put that card in the pack.
"Now pick up the last card and name the suits: hearts, diamonds,
clubs, spades. Yes, I think I got that. Now name the values: ace, two,
three and so on, up to the king. Fine. Now say, 'My card is the queen
of clubs.' No, that's not quite right. Try this: 'My card is the six of
clubs.' Yes, that's finally the truth! That's it!"
The trick is baffling, easy to do and most entertaining, as a few
performances will prove.
1980

FUTURE STOCK
Effect: Two spectators are each invited to cut off a packet of
cards from the deck. While the performer has his back turned,
they silently count their packets and hide them in their pockets.
He then turns back to them and asks one spectator to concentrate on his number. Taking a pen from his pocket, he looks for
something to write on and finally settles on a card from the deck.
On the face of this he writes a prediction.
He then asks the spectator to take up the balance of the pack and
count off as many cards from it as he has cut and pocketed. These
he deals face-up. The card arrived at is noted by everyone. The
performer turns to the second spectator and writes a second message
on the prediction card. He then has this person count off cards from
the talon equal to her number. The card resting at that number is
also noted. When the performer hands over his card, his predictions
are found to be wholly accurate: on the face of the card are clearly
written the names of both spectators' random selections.
Method: In the preceding trick Mr. Elmsley cleverly exploited a
classic deck arrangement. Here, such an arrangement, the Si
Stebbins system, is used in a most unusual manner. The basis of
the trick is the ancient one-ahead dodge, but a cunning deck stack
lends fresh mystery to this ancient principle. The stack employed
is not the Si Stebbins arrangement but, strangely, the Stebbins
sequence plays an important part in it. From top to face, the deck
reads as shown in the chart on the opposite page.
The fifteen positions listed as "indifferent cards" can be filled with
any of the cards not specified elsewhere in the stack (2C, 9C, JC,
3H, 7H, 10H, QH, AS, 9S, 10S, QS, KS, JD, QD, KD).
If desired, you can give the cards a false shuffle before starting.
Then set the deck face-down on the table and ask two persons to
help by each cutting off a small packet: anything up to a dozen cards
apiece. Turn your back while they do this. Then have them silently
count the cards they hold and hide them in a pocket.

STRAY STACKS 3 9 9
Indifferent Card

Eight of Clubs

Jack of Hearts

Indifferent Card

Indifferent Card

Nine of Diamonds

Indifferent Card

Jack of Spades

Ace of Hearts

Three of Spades

Queen of Clubs

Indifferent Card

Aces of Clubs

Ten of Clubs

Indifferent Card

Seven of Clubs

Four of Spades

Five of Hearts

Six of Diamonds

Indifferent Card

Two of Diamonds

Six of Clubs

Indifferent Card

Eight of Diamonds

Four of Hearts

Ace of Diamonds

King of Hearts

Indifferent Card

Six of Spades

Eight of Hearts

Indifferent Card

Six of Hearts

Seven of Diamonds

Four of Diamonds

Eight of Spades

Indifferent Card

Three of Diamonds

Five of Spades

Indifferent Card

King of Clubs

Five of Clubs

Three of Clubs

Nine of Hearts

Indifferent Card

Two of Hearts

Ten of Diamonds

Indifferent Card

Five of Diamonds

Seven of Spades

Two of Spades

Four of Clubs

Indifferent Card

When they have finished, turn back to them and ask one of the
spectators to concentrate on his number. Stare intently into his eyes
and appear to divine his thought. Bring out a pen to write a prediction, but then notice that you have nothing to write it on. (Do make
sure that this is indeed the case before you begin the trick.) Improvising, pick off the top card of the cards remaining of the table and
use it. Treat this act as if it is of no importance. Just jot the prediction on the face of the card, writing in the lower half. This prediction
consists of the name of the card next in sequence to that you are
writing on. That sequence follows the classic Si Stebbins arrangement. The value of the card you hold is increased by three and the
suit is advanced to the next in CHaSeD rotation. An example: if the
card you hold is the nine of diamonds, you would write down "queen
of clubs"9 + 3 = 1 2 (queen), and clubs falls after diamonds in
CHaSeD order. This is the card you write as a prediction.
Have the spectator take up the talon and deal as many cards into
a face-up pile as he removed and placed in his pocket. When he stops
dealing, remark, "So the card at your number is the..." and name
the last card dealt.
Turn to the second spectator and have her think of her number.
In response you write down the name of the card just turned up.
This you do on the upper half of the card, above the first name. The
positioning of the names is designed to imply that the cards were
written in reverse order to that actually employed.
Ask that the second spectator now deal cards face-up until she
reaches her number. The card at the end of the count will be the
one you first recorded. "The card at your number is the..." Name

4 0 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the card on the face of the second pile. Now summarize briefly: "Two
numbers merely thought of, and the two random cards that rested
at those numbers. Will you now read my predictions aloud." Hand
the card to someone for him to proclaim your success.
April 1974

THROUGH DARKEST PEIRCE


Effect: "A card sharp, to be successful, must possess an exceptional memory and a clear mind. Not only must he remember all the
cards he sees, he must follow their positions as they are shuffled
and dealt into hands, and as they are picked up again. To complicate matters, the number of hands may vary as people leave or join
the game. A magician has an advantage over a card sharp in this.
Let me show you." The performer removes about a quarter of the
deck and sets the rest aside. He gives the packet a shuffle or two,
as he explains:
"To speed up the demonstration, I'll use only a few cards. If I were
a sharper, I would have memorized their order. They are now
randomly mixed; but the card sharp must follow them past this, as
they are dealt out and gathered. Will someone suggest a number of
hands?" A number is decided on and the packet is dealt face-down
into that many hands. The hands are gathered and dealt out again
into any number of hands called for by the audi-ence. This can be
repeated as many times as desired, but two or three rounds usually
satiate the average group's appetite for mixing.
"You will agree that the cards are well mixed. However, being a
magician, I shall add to the challenge by having a card chosen. We'll
take one by chance. This card on the top of the packet is a seven,
so we'll choose the seventh card." The seventh card from the top of
the packet is counted to and shown. It is an ace.
"Now we'll mix the cards with one more deal; say, five hands." The
cards are dealt and gathered. "I told you earlier that a magician has
his own way of following the order of the cards. He does so by making use of the sympathy that exists between certain cards. For
example, what card did you choose?" The performer is told it was
the ace of hearts. He reaches for the portion of the pack that was
set aside in the beginning. This he ribbon spreads and the ace of
diamonds is seen reversed in the middle. The partial deck is cut and
the face-up ace brought to the top. Then the top card of the other
packet is turned up: it is the ace of hearts.

4 0 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


"That's what I mean by sympathyand here's how it helps me
keep track of all these cards we mixed." Cards from the tops of the
two piles are now turned face-up in unison, and each pair is seen
to consist of mates: black sevens, black nines, red tens, and so on.
Every card in the mixed packet is unaccountably matched by a corresponding card from the deck.
Method: This effect depends on the second mathematical principle found in a 1860 card trick by Charles S. Peirce, published in
The Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Vol. 4, page 473. (For
further information on this trick, see "Peirce Arrow" in Volume I, pp.
397-398.) Mr. Peirce's formula has been melded here with Herbert
Milton's "Sympathetic Clubs" plot, and embroidered with an unusual
presentation. The trick, Mr. Elmsley points out, holds more fascination for magicians than for laymen, and is therefore better suited
to performances before one's peers. Here is the working.
An arrangement must be made. Remove thirteen cards from the
deck: ace through king in mixed suits. Order these cards from top
to face as follows:
ace-seven-nine-ten-eight-jack-twofive-three-four-six-queen-king
Then remove the thirteen mates to these cards and arrange them
in the same order. Turn the ace face-up on one of the two groups
and insert this packet into the center of the remaining half deck. All
cards, aside from the ace, should be face-down. Drop the other
thirteen-card packet face-down on top of the deck. You are now ready
to perform.
Introduce the effect as explained above and, as you do so, casually spread over the top thirteen cards, maintaining their order.
Remove these cards from the deck and set the balance to one side.
If you wish, you can give the packet one or more straddle faros;
that is, cut the top six cards from the packet and weave them into
the bottom seven cardsthe top and bottom cards of the bottom
portion become the top and bottom cards of the shuffled packet.
These faro shuffles are optional.
Explain that you wish to mix the cards in a way resembling that
which would occur in a card game. Ask someone to specify the
number of hands in the game. The number will normally fall within
the range of two to seven. If a number higher than seven is named,
point out that you have too few cards to make this practical and ask
for something lower.
Deal the thirteen cards face-down into the desired number of
hands. Then gather the hands. Here, the Peirce gathering formula
is applied. However, Mr. Elmsley has simplified it to the following
three patterns:

STRAY STACKS 4 0 3
If two, three, Jour, or six hands are dealt, assemble the piles
in the order they were created: drop the first hand onto the
second, these onto the third, and so on.
If seven hands are dealt, assemble the piles in reverse order,
starting with the sixth pile. That is, place pile six onto five, these
onto four, and so on, until all piles have been gathered but the
seventh. This pile contains only one card. Drop all the gathered
packets onto this card.
If Jive hands are dealt, use both hands at once to gather the
piles. With the left hand, pick up pile three and, with the right
hand, simultaneously pick up pile four. Move these two packets
over the first two piles, drop pile three onto pile one, and pile
four onto pile two. With the left hand, pick up the combined
third and first piles, and with the right hand pick up the
combined fourth and second piles. Drop the right hand's packet
onto the fifth pile and the left hand's packet onto the lot.
With any of these gathering patterns, you will find that the king
always becomes the top card. Double cut or slip the king to the
bottom of the packet after each gather.
You may deal the packet and gather it as many times as you like,
letting the audience specify the number of hands to be dealt on each
round. However, two or three rounds are sufficiently convincing for
most groups. To complicate matters further, you can insert straddle
faros (top portion into bottom) between each round if you like. Just
be certain to return the king to the face of the packet after each
gathering, and to retain it there during the shuffles. Throughout the
dealing and shuffling, emphasize that the gambler must remember
cards and their shifting positions. This feat will seem particularly
difficult in your case, as you have not yet seen the faces of the cards.
When the last gathering of hands is made, glimpse the bottom
card of the packet before you return the king to the face. Remember
the value of this card. Then suggest that the exercise be complicated
by having one of the cards chosen. Turn up the top card of the packet
and display it. Then replace the card face-down on the packet and
use its value to arrive at a seemingly random card. (The jack is
counted as eleven and the queen as twelve.) The card arrived at,
however, is not quite random. It will always be the ace, thanks to
an attribute of the stack. Do not reverse the order of the cards as
you count. Take each card under the previous one until you arrive
at the desired number; then hold the face of the counted cards
toward the audience, giving everyone a chance to note the ace. Drop
the counted cards back onto the packet.

4 0 4 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


You will now perform one last round of dealing and gathering, and
with this round you will bring the packet back to its original order.
Suggest, "We'll mix the cards with one more dealsay, five hands."
This time you nonchalantly nominate the number of hands. This
number corresponds to the value of the card you previously glimpsed
on the face of the packet. By dealing the packet into that many
hands, gathering it in the manner already explained, and cutting the
king from the top to the bottom, the packet will be returned to its
original order: ace-seven-nine-ten-eight-jack-two-flve-three-foursix-queen-king.
All that remains is to ribbon spread the portion of the pack placed
aside earlier, revealing the face-up ace in the middle. Separate the
spread at the ace and gather the cards, bringing the ace and setup
to the top. Set the squared deck beside the packet and turn up the
ace on the packet. Lay both aces face-up in front of their piles. Then
say, "That's what I mean by sympathyand here's how it helps me
keep track of all these cards we mixed."
Turn up the top cards of each packet in unison and lay them onto
the aces. They are matching sevens. Continue to turn up pairs of
matching cards until the smaller packet is exhausted.
There is one detail yet to be explained. What if the card you
glimpse toward the finish of the mixing is an ace or has a value
higher than seven? This card determines how many hands will be
dealt on the last round. An ace would mean that you would simply
deal the packet into a single pile, reversing its order. While this does
restore the packet to the necessary sequence, it is not an acceptable
procedure for this presentation. And dealing more than seven hands
becomes cumbersome. Though these contingencies are covered by
Peirce's original formula, nonetheless, it is best to avoid them. How?
By giving the packet one or several straddle faros (top portion into
bottom), until a two, three, four, five, six or seven moves into position
above the king; that is, second from the face of the packet.
For the mathematically inclined, Mr. Elmsley offers a formula to
calculate the position of any card in a packet of any size, after the
cards have been dealt into any number of hands and gathered,
following the Peirce system:
If P = the number of cards in the packet,
h = the number of hands dealt,
n0 = the original position of the card to be tracked, counting
from any card as a reference card,
nt = the position of the card after the deal,
and if h is prime to P, then
hnl =n0(mod. P)

STRAY STACKS 4 0 5
If the cards are dealt out twice, first into h1 hands, then into h2
hands, the resulting order will equal h1 x hjmod. P).
If the packet is given x faro shuffles, the order will be identical to
that achieved if the cards had been dealt into h hands, where
2xh = l(mod. P)

While Mr. Elmsley has not rigorously proven these results, they
have held for all cases he has tested.
Having here treated the topic of gambling games, we will stay with
the subject for one further excursion. However, sympathetic cards
are swapped for sympathetic thoughts, and an entirely different
method is introduced.
September 1957

BLIND STUD
Effect: A shuffled pack is handed to someone who, when the
performer turns his back, cuts the deck, completes the cut and deals
stud poker hands for himself and three others. The four players are
asked not to look at their hole cards yet, but to tell the performer
what promising poker combinations appear in their face-up cards.
Specific cards are not namedjust playable combinations like pairs,
three of kind, etc. This information is less than would be had by any
player in the game, but the performer keeps his back turned, to allay
suspicions of marked cards.
After hearing the strength of the players' hands, the performer
comments on the merits of each, its chances of winning, and the
likelihood of it being improved by the unknown hole card. This, he
explains, is the sort of reasoning a good gambler must depend on.
However, he is a magician, not a gambler, and he depends on magic.
He then proceeds to prove it by naming each player's unseen card,
after which he specifies the winning hand on the table.
Method: This trick and the three that follow it are all based
on Gray codes. Gray codes are special series in which all portions
of a specified length are unique in sequence. Such series have
been used by mathematicians for centuries. Recently Persi
Diaconis discovered a magic trick published in 1584 that contains
a simple Gray code. This appears in Jean Prevost's Premiere Partie
des Subtiles et Plaisantes Inventions, possibly the earliest extant
Western book on conjuring.
Until the twentieth century, however, the principle was rarely
used. It wasn't until the 1960s that a strong interest in these
arrangements, particularly as applied to playing cards, flourished.
This movement was marshalled by Karl Fulves, who borrowed the
term Gray code from the field of mathematics and introduced it into
magic's vocabulary (ref. "Other Voices II", Pallbearers Review, Vol.
3, No. 10, August 1968, p. 201). Mr. Fulves, Roy Walton, Phil
Goldstein and others built on previous work by Charles Jordan,

STRAY STACKS 4 0 7
Larsen and Wright, and Bob Hummer to come up with some
fascinating methods; and most recently Leo Boudreau has done
extensive work on the subject (see his books, Psimatrika, Spirited
Pasteboards and Skullduggery). In the early 1970s, Mr. Elmsley too
became intrigued with Gray codes, and what follows are the fruits
of that interest.
To accomplish the effect under discussion, the deck must be
stacked from top to bottom. The stack is this:

Eight of Spades

King of Clubs

Jack of Spades

Five of Clubs

Two of Hearts

Two of Clubs

Eight of Hearts

Ten of Diamonds

Queen of Diamonds Ace of Clubs

Queen of Hearts

Ace of Spades

Jack of Clubs

Tne of Spades

Nine of Diamonds
Jack of Diamonds

Nine of Spades

Seven of Hearts

Two of Spades

Three of Diamonds

Ten of Clubs

Three of Hearts

Three of Clubs

Nine of Hearts

Four of Hearts

Six of Clubs

Nine of Clubs

Seven of Spades

Six of Hearts

King of Diamonds

Seven of Clubs

Four of Diamonds

King of Spades

Six of Spades

Three of Spades

Two of Diamonds

Four of Clubs

Eight of Clubs

Five of Diamonds

Queen of Spades

Seven of Diamonds

Five of Hearts

Ace of Diamonds

Six of Diamonds

Queen of Clubs

Ace of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

Ten of Hearts

King of Hearts

Four of Spades

Eight of Diamonds

Five of Spades

Give the pack a false shuffle and hand it to a spectator. Turn your
back and have him give the cards one or two straight cuts before
he deals four hands of stud poker. Beginning with the first hand and
working around the table in the order the hands were dealt, ask each
spectator not to mention the identities of his face-up cards, but to
tell you what playable combinations he has. The only combinations
that the stack permits are one pair, three of a kind and two pairs.
When each person tells you what he holds, think of it as a single
digit:
All Cards Different... 1
One Pair
2
Three of a Kind
3
Two Pair
4
By the time you have heard the contents of the fourth hand, you
will have a four-digit number. This number identifies the face-down
hole cards in each person's hand, as shown in the following table:

4 0 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


1112:
1113:
1121:
1122:
1123:
1124:
1131:
1132:
1143:
1211:
1212:
1213:
1214:
1222:
1223:
1232:
1234:
1241:
1243:
1311:
1312:
1321:
1412:
1431:
2112:
2114:

JS2CQDAS
4C7DQCKH
2CQDAS7H
2S 3C 9C 7C
7H3H 6CKD
IOC4H6HKS
7DQCKHJS
6D 10H5SKC
2H10DQH9S
QDAS7H3H
3D9H7S4D
5DADJH8D
8S9DJD1 OS
3C9C 7C3S
7S 4D2D QS
3H 6C KD6S
5C8HACJC
4H6HKS4C
8C5HAH4S
QCKHJS 2C
JH8D8S9D
10H5SKC2H
JDJOS3D9H
10D0H9SIOC
AS7H3H 6C
KC2H 10DQH

2121:
2122:
2124:
2131:
2141:
2212:
2221:
2231:
2311:
2321:
2341:
2411:
2431:
3111:
3112:
3113:
3121:
3123:
3211:
3212:
3411:
4111:
4112:
4121:
4311:
4312:

3S5 DADJH
9H7S4D2D
6S8C5HAH
ADJH8D8S
9D-JDJOS3D
7C 3S5DAD
9C7C3S5D
4D2DgS6D
2DQS6D 10H
6C KD6S8C
8HACJC2S
6HKS4 C7 D
5HAH4S5 C
KHJS2 CQD
9SIOC4H6H
QS6D10H5S
8D8S9DJD
4S5C8HAC
5SKC2 H10D
KD6S8C5H
ACJC2S3 C
KS4C7DQC
JC2S3C9C
1OS3D9 H7S
0H9SIOC4H
AH4S5C8H

To determine the identities of the four hole cards, you must


refer to this table. A cue sheet is therefore necessary. This can
be written on both sides of a card about playing-card size. The
card is carried in a convenient pocket, from which it is secretly
obtained while your back is turned. Note that, for each quartet
of hole cards listed in the table, one of the cards is italicized. On
the actual cue sheet, these entries are written in red. That card
indicates the winning hand of the group, giving you one further
piece of impressive information to divulge.
On Mr. Elmsley's original cue sheet he also listed the values
of each hand. This does increase the size of the list considerably,

STRAY STACKS 4 0 9
making it difficult to compress onto a single cue card. You can
hide such an expanded list inside a book on winning poker strategy, which you openly refer to during the presentation. Given this
book, the list can be broken into convenient shorter sections and
distributed throughout the volume for quick reference.
One last thought: if you use a mnemonic system, such as
Nikola's, the cue sheets could list the cards by their mnemonic
names. This permits you to close the book, put it away and chatter
briefly, without danger of forgetting the cards before you are ready
to name them. In this case, you would not worry about giving the
values of the hands.
1980

MENTAL BOXER
Effect: The performer riffle shuffles the cards in an erratic
fashion, mixing face-up cards with face-down. This topsy-turvy
mixture is given to someone, who is asked, when the performer turns
his back, to cut the deck and deal six random cards into a row.
Meanwhile, the performer brings out six blank-faced cards and
lays them face-up into a similar row. He explains that he will try to
see through the spectator's eyes. Though he has turned away, he
hopes to be able to visualize the same six cards the spectator is
regarding.
"Even if I manage to do this, it is impossible for me to discern
cards the faces of which you yourself cannot see. Therefore, I only
ask that you tell me the location of any face-down cards in your row."
When the performer is told this, he turns the corresponding blank
cards face-down in his row.
Staring at one end of the row the performer asks the spectator to
concentrate on that card. If it is face-down, the spectator turns it
over, allowing him to see the face. Astonishingly, the performer does
divine the identity of the card. Opening a second deck, he removes
that card and lays it over the end card in his blank-faced row.
He asks the spectator to concentrate on another of the cards, and
he correctly divines that as well. The corresponding blank card is
covered with the proper card from the second pack. He continues
in this manner until he has successfully received and named all six
cards. Never in the procedure does the performer turn around, and
the only information he is given about the six cards is whether they
are face-up or face-down. Therefore, it seems that nothing short of
telepathy can account for this remarkable discernment.
Method: You will need two complete packs and six blank-faced
cards. Both packs are stacked from top to face in the sequence given
in the table on the next page:

STRAY STACKS 4 1 1
Eight of Hearts

Queen of Hearts

Five of Spades

Four of Hearts

Three of Spades

Seven of Diamonds

Ten of Hearts

Seven of Spades

Six of Hearts

King of Spades

Eight of Spades

Four of Clubs

Nine of Diamonds

King of Clubs

Six of Clubs

Eight of Clubs

Six of Diamonds

Nine of Hearts

King of Hearts

Three of Clubs

King of Diamonds

Three of Hearts

Queen of Diamonds Three of Diamonds


Jack of Diamonds

Five of Diamonds

Four of Spades

Two of Diamonds

Queen of Spades

Ten of Diamonds

Ten of Clubs

Four of Diamonds

Jack of Hearts

Ten of Spades

Seven of Clubs

Jack of Spades

Nine of Spades

Jack of Clubs

Ace of Clubs

Queen of Clubs

Five of Hearts

Nine of Clubs

Two of Clubs

Seven of Hearts

Eight of Diamonds

Two of Hearts

Ace of Hearts

Ace ofSpades

Six of Spades

Ace of Diamonds

Two of Spades

Five of Clubs

You will notice that twenty-six cards in this arrangement are


underlined. These cards must be turned face-up in one of the decks.
(All cards in the second deck are left face-down.) When the twentysix cards are reversed, if the pack has even the slightest bridge in
it, you will possess something that more resembles a cardboard
concertina than a deck of cards. Press it flat under a book overnight
to remove the opposing bends.
Cut this pack between the thirtieth and thirty-first cardsthe six
of clubs and facing king of heartsand turn the lower portion over,
so that it appears to be face-down. Install a concave bridge in this
portion and drop the upper packet onto it. The bridge will allow you
to cut neatly between the two packets during performance.
Slip this setup pack into its case. Carry the second stacked deck
in a pocket, and the six blank-faced cards in another pocket.
To perform, remove the first deck from its case and hold it facedown. As you introduce the effect, you can casually spread the top
four cards and the bottom five without exposing faces. Square the
pack and cut it at the bridge. Openly reverse the bottom portion,
turning it apparently face-up, and perform one or two false riffle
shuffles that retain the entire order of the pack; e.g., Shank shuffles
or push-throughs. Take care on the first shuffle that, as you interlace the packets, the true condition of the cards is not exposed. When
you are done, the deck should be in the order first stacked, with the
face-down eight of hearts on top and the face-up five of clubs on the
bottom. Ribbon spread the cards to exhibit their apparently random
face-up face-down muddle, then square them and hand the pack
to a spectator capable of following instructions.

4 1 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


Explain that, when you turn your back, you want him to cut the
deck into two piles, at any place he likes, and complete the cut. He
is then to deal the top six cards he has cut to, arranging them from
left to right in a row. They are to be dealt as they lie, whether faceup or face-down. While he is completing this task, bring out your
six blank-faced cards and arrange them in a face-up row before you
on another table.
"I am going to use these blank cards as a model of yours. I cannot
see your cards, but by concentrating on these blank faces, I hope
to be able to view your cards as if through your eyes. Even if I manage
to do this, it is impossible for me to discern cards the faces of which
you yourself cannot see. Therefore, I only ask that you tell me the
location of any face-down cards in your row. Working from left to
right, let me know if any of the cards are now face-down." As the
spectator specifies the positions of his face-down cards, turn the
corresponding blank cards down in your row.
"Fine. Now I want you to visualize the faces of the cards you
can see. Concentrate on them for me. That's excellent. I can sense
them lying on the table. The wood contrasts nicely with the faces
of the cards. The first card I get an impression of is the one on
the right end."
You proceed to identify that card, first by color, then suit and
value. How? The face-up face-down arrangement of the six cards
before you constitutes a Gray code that identifies the right-end card
of the spectator's row. It is calculated as follows:
If the six cards before you are thought of as A, B, C, D, E and F,
reading from left to right, assign a value of...
A= 8

B=4

E =2

F=l

The four cards take on these values only if they rest face-down.
Totaling the numbers for the face-down cards furnishes the value of
the card on the right end of the spectator's row. The rules are these:
1) If the total is 0, 5, 10 or 15that is, a multiple of fivethe
card is a king;
2) If the total is 1, 2, 3 or 4, the card will be of the same value;
3) If the total falls between 5 and 10, subtract one to arrive at the
value of the card; and
4) If the total is above 10, subtract two to arrive at the value
(11 = jack, and 12 = queen).
We have so far ignored the two center cards, C and D. These identify the suit of the spectator's right-end card.

STRAY STACKS 4 1 3
IfC is and D is the suit is
UP
UP
CLUBS
UP
DOWN
HEARTS
DOWN
UP
SPADES
DOWN DOWN DIAMONDS
If you think of UP as 0 and DOWN as 1, C and D form the binary
numbers 0 through 3, and the suits follow CHaSeD order.
Here are several examples of how the value and suit of a card is
calculated. Assume t h a t the row reads UP-DOWN-DOWN-UPDOWN-UP. B and E are therefore face-down.
B + E = 4 + 2 = 6.
Six falls between 5 and 10, so we subtract 1. 6 - 1 = 5 .
C is down and D up. Down-up = spades. Therefore, the spectator's
card is the five of spades.
Another: DOWN-UP-DOWN-DOWN-DOWN-DOWN. A, E and F
are all down. A + E + F = 8 + 2 + l = l l . 11 is over 10, so we subtract 2. 1 1 - 2 = 9.
C and D are both down. Down-down = diamonds. The spectator's
card is the nine of diamonds.
Once you have calculated the card, name it, dramatically developing its image. If it lies face-down in his row, have the spectator
first turn it up.
Now bring the second pack out of your pocket and spread quickly
through it, locating the card just named. Remove this card from the
pack and lay it face-up onto the right-end blank card. As you do so,
glimpse one of the five cards that lie beyond the removed card in
the pack; that is, a card nearer the top. These five are the other cards
in the spectator's row, arranged in the precise order in which his
cards lie. Square the pack and divine the card just glimpsed. When
the spectator confirms it, remove that card and sight another.
Continue in this manner until you have identified all six cards.
Whenever possible, divine the face-up cards first, then name the
face-down ones. This is a more dramatic mode of revelation.
The calculation procedure is simple and requires little memory
work. The arrangement of the cards makes your task easy, and it
is incredible that you can deduce the identities of six cards with no
more information than their face-up and face-down positions.
This trick is Mr. Elmsley's refinement of Karl Fulves* "ESP in Gray"
{Notesfrom Underground, pp. 55-58). Mr. Fulves in turn was inspired
by Roy Walton's "Abacus Card Trick" {Faro and Riffle Technique, pp.
69-71). The interested reader also will want to check a later revision by Mr. Fulves, "Auto Abacus" in Curioser (sic), pages 46-50.
1981

KINGFISHER
Effect: Four persons each choose a card from the deck. The
performer removes a second pack of cards and, after first divining
the colors and suits of the four selections, he removes four cards
from his pack. These prove to be duplicates of the four cards held
by the spectators.
Method: You will need two decks of cards and three cue cards
made from blank-faced cards with backs that match the second
deck. Both decks are stacked in the following order from top to face:
Ace of Spades
Six of Spades
Two of Hearts
Queen of Hearts
Five of Diamonds
Five of Clubs
Seven of Diamonds
Four of Hearts
Nine of Diamonds
Six of Clubs

King of Spades
Six of Hearts
Seven of Hearts
Three of Spades
Three of Diamonds
Four of Diamonds
Jack of Hearts
Jack of Clubs

Three of Hearts
Ten of Hearts
Seven of Spades
Five of Spades
Seven of Clubs
Ace of Diamonds

Bight of Hearts

Nine of Clubs
King of Diamonds

Five of Hearts
Jack of Diamonds

Ten of Diamonds
Nine of Hearts
Four of Clubs

Eight of Diamonds

Two of Diamonds

King of Clubs
Two of Spades

King of Hearts
Jack of Spades
Eight of Spades
Ace of Hearts
Ten of Clubs
Queen of Clubs
Ten of Spades
Six of Diamonds
Nine of Spades

Eight of Clubs

Ace of Clubs
Queen of Spades
Queen of Diamonds

Three of Clubs

Two of Clubs

Four of Spades

On the three blank-faced cards, write the following charts:


Rl

C26S
C39S
C47C

S23C
S39C
S410S

Bl

H28D D210H
H39D D39H
H4JH D45D

R4

Cl2H SIKH
C2QD S2KD
C3AD S36D

R2

Cl8S
C3AS
C4AC

SIQC
S38C
S42S

B2

HI4D Dl7H
H3JD D33H
H44H D410D

B4

HIKS Dl7S
H26C D24C
H3JC D35C

R3

Cl 9S SIKC
C24S S22C
C4IOC S4JS

B3

HI7D Dl8H
H22D D25H
H46H D43D

PR

Cue Card No. 1

Cue Card No. 2

BBRRQH RRBB5S
RBBRAH BRRB3S

Cue Card No. 3

STRAY STACKS 4 1 5
As an added visual aid, you might wish to print the red cards in
red ink and the black cards in black. Place these three cue cards
on the face or the top of the second stacked deck, where they can
be easily consulted.
In performance, bring out the first deck and false shuffle it, or
give it a series of straight cuts that imitate an overhand shuffle.
Request the assistance of four spectators and fan the deck, face
toward them, casually showing its apparently mixed condition.
Square the pack and have the first spectator cut it at any point. He
then takes the card cut to. (Alternatively, you can spread the deck
in your hands, have a card touched and break the spread at that
point for the card to be removed.) Present the three cards resting
below the first selection to the other three spectators in turn. Once
the selections are made, dispose of the balance of the pack.
(Mr. Elmsley recognizes the weakness of having all four cards
removed sequentially from the same spot in the deck, and he has
given much thought to procedures that would disguise this fact.
However, it is difficult to devise a course of action that is sufficiently
uncomplicated and straightforward. Consequently, he treats the
selection of the cards nonchalantly, giving no great importance to
it as the four are passed out. Two alternative procedures are
mentioned later in this description.)
To determine the identities of the four cards, you must first learn
the ratio of colors. This requires a little fishing. However, the system
of fishing that Mr. Elmsley has devised is designed to allow you to
proceed in an assured and assertive manner, giving the audience
the impression that you are always certain of the situation and are
never hunting for clues.
"I'm getting a jumble of images from the four of you. There is a
mixture of red cards and black; of that I'm positive." The stack guarantees this to be the case. "I'm having difficulty, though, in
determining which thoughts are coming from each of you. You are
thinking of a red card. Am I right?" Indicate any one of the spectators. You have a fifty percent chance of being correct. If you miss,
ask, "It isn't you? Then which of you is sending the red thought to
me?" While this is a question, you deliver the line in a manner that
seems to ask merely for confirmation of your statement rather than
for information. Proceeding in this manner, you can quickly ascertain the colors of the four cards with a minimum of failure.
If you find you have among the four cards two pairs of colors,
bring out the second deck and fan it, faces toward you. Glance at
the third cue card. At the bottom of this card is a chart labeled "PR".
This stands for pairs. Thinking of the four selections in the order

4 1 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


they were made, find the corresponding red-black sequence among
the four possibilities listed. For example, if the first and second
spectators hold red cards, and the third and fourth blacks, locate
RRBB on the cue card. Linked to this sequence is 5S, the five of
spades. This is the card the fourth spectator is holding. Locate the
five of spades in the deck. The three cards above it are the other three
selections, in order. Now, with no further questioning, you can tell
each person precisely what card he is holding. Or, if you wish, you
can remove the four duplicates from your deck and display them in
a dramatic fashion as each spectator shows his card. However, if
this is done, cut the four selections to the face of the pack, then
remove three cards from different parts of the deck. Secretly slip
these cards behind the selections while pretending to place them on
the face. This disguises the fact that all four cards lie together in
the pack.
If the four selections do not consist of two pairs of colors, they
must have a three to one ratio. Determine which spectator is holding the odd-colored card. This is your first clue to the identity of the
fourth card. If, for instance, the first spectator is holding the only
red card of the group, glance at chart Rl on the first cue card. If
the second spectator holds the odd red card, you would look at chart
R2. R l , R2 and R3 are found on the first cue card, and R4 is on
the third. If the odd card is black, you will consult charts Bl, B2 or
B3 on the second cue card, or B4 on the third.
You need one final bit of information to pinpoint the proper card:
you must discover the odd suit of the three identical colors. The
strategy used to determine the colors also can be used for the suits.
"Among the three of you, I am receiving images of both clubs and
spades." The stack assures that there will be a mixture of suits. "I
believe the club image is coming from you." If the person you indicate is not thinking of a club, boldly demand, "Who then is thinking
of the club?" The reply will lead you quickly to the holder of the odd
suit. Again, the fishing is cunningly concealed behind assured
statements, and the spectators don't feel they are giving you
information; rather they are verifying your accuracy.
If, say, the first, third and fourth spectators are holding black
cards, and the third admits having the only club, you would
consult chart R2 (as the second spectator holds a red card) and
then C3 in that chart (clubsthird spectator). This leads you to
AS. The fourth spectator, then, holds the ace of spades; and by
finding this card in the deck you discover that the third person
holds the two of clubs, the second the queen of diamonds, and
the first the queen of spades.

STRAY STACKS 4 1 7
While this system is rather laborious to explain, in practice it is
quick and easy. One might consider appending a further subtlety
of Roy Walton's. Mr. Walton, in his "Abacus Card Trick" (ref. Fulves'
Faro and Riffle Technique, pp. 69-71), used a one-way back pattern
to convey red-black sequence information for a Gray code. By doing
the same with the "Kingfisher" stack, one could avoid fishing for the
initial color sequence of the selections. Just orient the backs of all
the red cards in one direction, and the black cards in the other. One
could go even further by marking the backs of the cards for suit;
but then one might as well use a fully marked pack and forget
entirely about Gray codes. The point of employing a Gray code
arrangement is to avoid the use of gimmicked packs and to allow
the freedom to perform this effect from across the room, where
marked backs cannot be read. This is indeed possible with
"Kingfisher", as the pack can be handed to one of the spectators and
the selections made while you stand completely away from the group.
Returning to the problem of disguising the sequential location of
the selections as they are removed from the first pack, here are two
possible approaches suggested by Mr. Elmsley:
1) Hand the deck to one spectator and have him cut it into four
reasonably equal packets. Ask all four spectators to pick up a
packet, while you secretly note which of the four takes the
largest. Ask one of the other three to cut his packet, then deal
a card from the packet onto each of the other packets. Have
the other spectators, one by one, follow the same procedure,
saving the person with the largest packet for last. Watch how
he cuts. If he cuts too near the top, taking fewer than three
cards, or too near the bottom, leaving fewer than four, the trick
will fail. However, since he has the largest packet, it is most
unlikely that he would cut so eccentrically. After the cut he
deals a card onto each of the other three packets, just as his
colleagues have done. Now each spectator peeks at the top card
of his packet and remembers it. These four cards have all come
sequentially from the last spectator's packet, but this is
obscured by all the cutting and dealing. (This procedure has
been adapted from an ace trick by Steve Belchou. See "A Four
Ace Set Up" by Oscar Weigle in Dragon, Vol. 8, No. 6, June
1939, p. 7.)
2) Have one of the spectators give the deck a straight cut. Then
tell him to deal out four hands of cards, dealing as many complete rounds as he likes. He can stop dealing whenever he
wishes, as long as all the hands contain the same number of
cards. Next ask each of the four spectators to pick up one of

4 1 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


the dealt hands, and have them simultaneously perform an
Australian deal, until all but one card has been eliminated. Any
elimination procedure can be used here, given that it can be
done uniformly, and leads all four to cards sharing the same
initial position in the packets. These four cards will be in Gray
code sequence.
While both procedures disguise the sequential origin of the
selections, they also convolute the action and encumber the development of the plot, perhaps focusing more attention than is necessary
or wise on the method of selection. Each performer will have to decide
whether the overall mystery of the effect is enhanced sufficiently to
warrant such complications.
In the next trick, we will explain one more Gray code stack, and
a system of identification quite different from those just taught.
[March 1973]

PURSUIT OF THOUGHT
The effect echoes that of "Kingfisher". Four free selections are
divined by the performer. Again, two decks are used, and both are
stacked in an identical Gray code sequence. From top to face the
arrangement is:
Jack of Clubs
Seven of Clubs
Queen of Diamonds
Six of Diamonds
King of Spades
Ten of Spades
King of Diamonds
Four of Diamonds
King of Clubs
Nine of Clubs
Queen of Hearts
Five of Hearts
gueen of Clubs

Seven of Spades
Three of Clubs
Ace of Spades
Three of Diamonds
Two of Hearts
Two of Diamonds
Four of Hearts
Two of Clubs
Seven of Hearts
Five of Diamonds
Four of Spades
Ten of Clubs
Ace of Hearts

Five of Clubs
Seven of Diamonds
Six of Hearts
Two of Spades
Eight of Spades
King of Hearts
Jack of Hearts
Queen of Spades
Eight of Clubs
Ace of Diamonds
Six of Spades
Ten of Diamonds
Three of Spades

Ten of Hearts
Jack of Diamonds
Four of Clubs
Nine of Spades
Three of Hearts
Jack of Spades
Eight of Diamonds
Ace of Clubs
Nine of Diamonds
Six of Clubs
Nine of Hearts
Five of Spades
Eight of Hearts

You also will require two cue cards made from blank-faced cards
with backs that match the second deck. On these write the following
two charts:
BLACK
RED
HC
7
ccQ
CH 5
CS 3
CD6
SC A
SH J
SSK
SD A, 2, 3, 4

HH 9
HS 8
HD 4
DC 9
DH 2
DS10
DD K

4 2 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


This Gray code arrangement yields the value of the third card in
a sequence when the suits of the previous two cards are known. For
instance, if the first card is a club and the second a heart, the value
of the third card will be five: CH5 (see the black cue card on the
preceding page). Note that the secondary suits are arranged in
CHaSeD order on the cue charts for fast reference.
There is only one exception to the system. That is the SpadesDiamonds (SD) combination. As indicated on the black cue card, this
suit pairing can signal one of four values for the third card of the
sequence: an ace, a two, a three or a four. To determine which of
these four values is correct, the suit of the third card of the sequence
must be learned.
If this card is a Club, the value is an Ace.
If this card is a Heart, the value is a Two.
If this card is a Spade, the value is a Three.
And if this card is a Diamond, the value is a Four.
Once again, CHaSeD order is used for easy recall:
C= 1, H = 2, S = 3, D = 4.
How do you learn the suits of the selections? Through a series of
bluffs that might be called "working three behind". The opening
actions and selection procedure are identical to that explained in
"Kingfisher". The deck is false shuffled, then four neighboring cards
are removed from the pack, in order, by four spectators. (See pp.
417-418 for a discussion of selection methods.) The balance of the
deck is set aside. Standing some distance from the spectators, you
bring out the second pack. This pack, besides the fifty-two arranged
cards, has in it the two cue cards and a joker. The cue cards and
joker lie in different areas of the pack.
Gaze intently at the first spectator, then spread through the deck
to the joker and cut it to the face. Do not show the face of the joker;
simply place the card into your side coat pocket with an air of
decision. To the first spectator say, "I'm almost certain the thought
I'm picking up is yours; but just to check, tell me only the suit of
your card." When he does, smile. "I'm doing fine then. The suits are
often harder to get than the values." Remember the suit named.
Turn to the second spectator and pretend to read his thoughts.
Run through the pack and cut the unneeded cue card to the face. If
the suit of the first selection just given you is black, the unneeded
cue card is the one labeled "red". Remove this cue card from the deck,
as if it were the second choice, and slip it into your pocket with the
joker. Ask the second spectator, as a check, to name his suit. Thank
him, remember the suit named and move on to the third spectator.

STRAY STACKS 4 2 1
Give him a piercing look, then run through the deck and cut the
second cue card to the face. Find the proper suit combination on
this card; e.g., if the first selection is a club, and the second a
diamond, you would locate CD on the "black" cue card. The value
linked to this combinationsix in this exampleis the value of the
third selection. Remove the second cue card from the pack and
pocket it with the previous two cards. Ask the third spectator to
name the suit of his card. This final bit of information defines the
identity of his selection. The Gray code provides the value and he
provides the suit. (In the special case of the Spades-Diamonds
combination, the third suit also defines the exact value of the third
card: ace, two, three or four.)
Turn to the fourth spectator, seem to read his thoughts and run
through the deck until you find the third spectator's selection. Cut
the deck to bring this card to a position second from the face. The
two cards behind the third selection are the first two spectators'
cards, in order, and the one on the face of the pack is the fourth
selection. Lift the four cards as one from the deck and, with the same
hand, reach into your coat pocket, apparently to retrieve the three
cards previously placed there. (In passing, it should be remarked
that your handling of the cards as each is pocketed during the
routine should be consistent in appearanceand that you should
not be standing near a table, for any such furniture would gravely
weaken the logic of your using your pocket.) Fumble in the pocket
for a second or two, giving the impression that you are gathering the
other cards; but leave them behind and bring out only the four
selections you hold, spreading them a bit. As you do this, again for
consistency, ask the fourth spectator to name the suit of his card.
Conclude by revealing that you have removed from the second deck
the duplicate card to each of the four selections.

Chapter Eight:

The Dazzle Act

THE DAZZLE ACT


In 1975 Mr. Elmsley briefly toured the U.S. with a lecture that
was received with excitement and high regard by the magicians who
witnessed it. The lecture was founded on an exquisitely routined
series of card effects. It was a complete act, formulated on sound
dramatic principles, and with some remarkably clever ideas that left
its magician audiences often feeling like laymen.
After performing the act, Mr. Elmsley explained it in detail. The
principles he revealedmechanical, psychological and dramatic
had a pronounced impact on his lecture audiences, and on those
who later studied Mr. Elmsley's notes and the privately circulated
record of his lecture, which was transcribed and edited by Pat and
Ron Bauer from an audio tape made by Milt Kort.
The act opens with a puzzling version of the card-diary effect, in
which a card, arrived at in a seemingly random fashion from a spectator shuffled deck, is found prominently listed beside the spectator's
birthday in the performer's datebook.
This is followed by the location of two free selections by stabbing
the blade of a pocket knife into the pack.
The cards are again shuffled and, as an entertaining tale is told,
the jacks, queens, kings and aces are quickly cut or dealt from the
pack in a swift and impressive manner.
As the routine progresses, jokers are repeatedly removed from the
deck as a running gag. They seem to appear in the pack in a comically perverse manner. For the fourth effect, these jokers are used
to perform Mr. Elmsley's "Dazzle" packet effect, in which the backs
of the cards change color or design five times or more.
The act is concluded with a series of rapid and astonishing
revelations of five chosen cards from the pack, followed by the
production of every prominent card used in the routine, from the first
selection to the final varicolored backs of the jokers. This staccato
production concludes the act in a fast-paced and impressive manner,

4 2 6 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


while drawing together each of its parts into a cohesive whole. The
running time is eighteen minutes.
Serious study of the "Dazzle Card Act" is valuable on several levels.
The act is outstanding both as a whole and for the quality of its parts.
The tricks and concepts from which it is made will stand firmly on
their own or can be transplanted into other surroundings; and the
general structure contains multiple lessons in routining that should
be absorbed by every performer.

THE PROPERTIES
Before going into the specifics of each trick, the props necessary
to the entire act must be listed and their placement described.
Three decks of cards are used during the act, along with a
gimmicked packet of jokers for the "Dazzle" effect.

Deck One
[ 246

J3>

Edg

3
* *

re
0

* s-a

re

This deck is prepared with one


edge-marked card, the three of clubs.
The card is subtly but plainly marked
on its opposite long edges near their
centers. The mark measures about
one inch in length (Figure 246). If the
deck is fresh, the edge can be slightly
darkened with a pencil. If the deck is
somewhat used, a nail scrape will
lighten it enough to be detected. This
deck also contains two jokers, but is
in no particular arrangement. It is
the deck initially brought into play
and is carried, in its case, anywhere
convenient.

Deck Two
The second deck carries a twenty-two card stack on top. From
the top down, the cards read:
jack, queen, king and ace of clubs;
jack, queen, king and ace of hearts;
jack, queen, king and ace of spades;
jack, queen, king and ace of diamonds;
nine of clubs, seven of diamonds, two of spades, ten of hearts,
three of clubs;
a joker.

4 2 8 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


247
J Q K A J Q K A J Q K A J Q K A 9 7 2 10 3 JOKER

w
Figure 247 further clarifies the sequence of the cards. The nature
of this stack is somewhat flexible. The suits of the court cards and
aces, though segregated, need not run in the sequence shown.
Another preferred suit order can be used, so long as the colors
alternate, for the sake of contrast. CHaSeD suit order has been
suggested above, as it is familiar to most magicians.
The five cards that lie above the joker will be forced in the last
phase of the act. They can be any cardsexcluding those reserved
for the other tricks. In the example above, the five cards, read in
reverse, conform to the familiar Eight Kings ordering system (three
of clubs, ten of hearts, two of spades, seven of diamonds, nine of
clubs). This sequence has been adopted for teaching purposes.
Notice that the penultimate card of the stack, the three of clubs,
is the duplicate of the edge-marked card in Deck One. It too is
edge marked.
This second deck also contains a second joker, which can rest
anywhere in the lower half of the pack.
The stacked deck is stood on one long edge in the left-side coat
pocket, with the back of the pack nearest the body.

Deck Three
The third deck is stacked as well. From the top down it reads:
seven of diamonds and nine of clubs;

the four jacksthe fourth jack being a corner-shorted card;


the four queensthe fourth being corner shorted;
the four kingsthe fourth being corner shorted;
the four aces;
one indifferent card;
twenty-seven cards, each with a contrasting back, in accordance with the backs found in the "Dazzle" packet (still to be
described);
two of spades;

THE DAZZLE ACT 4 2 9


an indifferent card that is a good contrast to the two of spades
and has an odd back design;
ten of hearts.

248
7 9 J J J J 0 0 Q 0 K K K KAA A A 3

28

A Aoi

corner-shorted

27 cards with varied backs

Figure 248 shows this stack. Notice that the bottom card, the ten
of hearts, is a duplicate to the fourth card of the five-card forcing
bank in Deck Two; the card third from the face is identical to the
third card in that same bank; and that the top two cards duplicate
the second and first force cards.
This third deck is set on end in the right-side coat pocket, face of
the pack nearest the body.
All three decks have matching blue back designs, excluding the
specified cards in Deck Three.

The Dazzle Packet

249

Actually two separate


packets are used in this
trick. The first packet consists of four cards, as
shown in Figure 249. From
the top:
a double-backed card,
blue on one side, red on
the otherblue side up;

blue I red
doublebacked
card

blue/blue
doublebacked
card

two
doublefaced
Jokers

a double-backed card,
blue on both sides;
two double-faced jokers.
This packet is carried in
the inner left breast pocket
of the coat.

4 3 0 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ALEX ELMSLEY


250
OKER

4
#

RED

ORANGE

PURPLE

GREEN

BLACK

PINK

VARIEGATED

The second packet is constructed of six double-backed cards in


various color combinations, one normal joker and two double-faced
jokers (Figure 250). The order from the top down reads:
double-backed red /green card, red side up;
double-backed green/orange card, green side up;
double-backed orange/black card, orange side up;
double-backed black/purple card, black side up;
double-backed purple/pink card, purple side up;
double-backed pink/variegated card, pink side up;
a variegated joker, face-down;
two double-faced jokers, stuck together with several dots of
wax.
The faces of all jokers in these packets and in Decks One and Two
should be identical. The various back designs and colors may be any
that can be obtained, so long as they contrast well with each other,
have white borders and can be split to manufacture double-backed
and double-faced cards. Some searching for these decks will be
necessary, but the effect they make possible is worth the effort.
This packet is carried in the outer breast pocket of the coat, with
the waxed jokers nearest the body.

The Datebook
The special datebook is made from a birthday reminder or business appointment book, in which each day of the year is listed in
sequence, and given a block of space in which one is intended to

THE DAZZLE ACT 431


write the daily schedule. Ideally, a book should be selected that has
three or four days listed on each page.
Mr. Elmsley's book measures approximately three