The Long and Short of it
I have always been fascinated with trick decks. The best of them produce effects not possible by any other means. Some, like the Stripper or Svengali Deck, allow you to do more than one effect. In the 1930s Val Evans created an interesting deck he called Multeffect Cards. It’s published in The Jinx Winter Extra for 1936/37. Annemann described eighteen tricks you could do with the deck and hailed it ‘one of the best combination trick decks extant.’ The deck has been revived from time to time, notably by Tamariz who, I’ve read, wrote a book about it and Vincent Hedan who recently marketed his handlings under the title of Multitude.
The deck can be configured in many different ways. In the following routine I’ve reduced the features of Evans’ original deck but combined it with some card handling to produce an effect in which you reveal the identities of three freely selected cards in an impressive manner.
I made my deck by combining cards from a regular deck and a short deck of Bicycles. To be honest it was a terrible deck to handle. They heat crimped quickly. Memo to self: find better card stock.
The original routine, which is difficult to show on video, had a pseudo memory plot. It went as follows: Three spectators each select a card, remember them and place them face down on the table. You then openly look through the deck holding the faces of the cards towards you. You pretend to be memorizing the deck. In fact you only remember the names of the top three cards, the mates of the selections.
Announce that having quickly scanned the deck you now know which three cards are missing. Reveal the names of the three mates of the three cards you just noted. The spectators will say that you are right. Ask the spectators to turn their cards face up on the table so that everyone else can see that you are indeed correct.
Now tell the spectators that you not only knew which cards were missing but also where the mates of those cards lie in the deck. You now produce the mates as shown in the video.
The False Running Cut used in the video was described in Cardopolis Newsletter 3. Which is a good time to remind you that all the Cardopolis Newsletters can still be read on the substack website.
There is a second phase to this routine in which you give the spectators a chance to locate mate cards. That will appear in an upcoming issue. For now, let’s move on to a different kind of gimmicked deck.
Douglas Hood’s Easy Miracles
Douglas Hood was a prolific inventor of card tricks. I was a keen reader of his Hoodwinks column in Abracadabra magazine. Gimmicked cards, set-ups and subtlety were the hallmarks of what Hood called his ‘Easy Miracles.’ He came to mind recently because I was contacted by a member of his family who wondered whether I knew anything about him. I was happy to help but I suspect his name doesn’t mean as much in magic today as it did in the 40s, 50s and 60s. I never met Douglas Hood, he died on December 31st 1969, but I’d read and tried many of his effects and will be featuring some of his ideas in this newsletter. Meanwhile, take a look at Douglas Hood’s ‘Nippy’ or the Ultra Plus Force Deck. This is the actual deck made by Douglas Hood and sold by him in 1957.
Thurston’s Rising Card From Case
‘By this method, the magician can make a playing card rise from the case.’ So begins a brief description of a trick described in Thurston’s 200 More Tricks You Can Do (1927). The effect is simple. The performer shakes a cased deck of cards and a card rises up. The trick works automatically. When you shake the box the front card of the deck rises up, friction between box and card enabling it to climb upwards.
Recently the trick has been given a new lease of life with the release of Adrian Lacroix’s Virtual Rising, a timely adaptation and recently marketed by Penguin. Calling it a ‘rising card’ is a bit of a stretch. It think it’s better to tell the audience you are shaking the card out of the deck rather than making it rise. While not astounding it is an interesting curiosity and you could use it as a novelty in different routines. For example you could shake the last of several selections from the deck. Or the last of four aces. There are a couple of ways of making the original a little more magical as you’ll see in the following video.
When we think of Mitch Devano (Harry Mitchell) we think of the Devano Rising Cards. He had another lesser known card rise in Abracadabra magazine in 1949 that is an excellent improvement on the method published in Thurstons’ book. He called it Wydriser, for reasons that will shortly become obvious. The first time I tried it I didn’t have much success. But a little perseverance pays off. Take a look.
There is an easy way to clean up after Wydriser. Squeeze the sides of the case as you shake the cards out. You’ll find that the wide card stays inside. The cards are now gimmick free.
You can also use any other means to render the front half of the deck immobile. For example: use a solid block of card, wrap the block in something you can add or take away such as a clip or elastic, or use a stripper deck and turn the lower half of the deck around so it can be gripped inside the case. Play with the principle. I’d be interested in hearing from you if you find a new handling.
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Primarily Cardopolis is about card magic but from time to time we’ll indulge in a little history. As you can tell from this issue, I like digging out old tricks and seeing how they fare when the handling is updated.
The history, techniques and psychology of magic have always been a passion for me and this newsletter seems a good way of sharing some ideas old and new. If you have not read the original Cardopolis blog then you can find it here. Although infrequently updated it seems to have accumulated quite a lot of material since I began it in 2002.
Until next time