Magic Trick: The Palm

"Palm a card!" exclaims the reader, "how can one possibly palm a card?" Not after the manner of a coin, certainly; but, after the proper method, the palming of a card — i.e., the concealing it unnoticed in the hand—is not at all difficult. It is as important as, and, next to the pass, more used than, the other sleights with cards, there being a continual demand for its assistance. To palm a card in the right hand, take it in the left, across the middle, and place it in the right, so that the top left-hand corner is against the inside of the little finger, and the bottom right-hand corner against the fleshy part of the thumb. This pressure is quite sufficient to hold the card, but other parts of the hand and fingers will render a slight assistance. This, unless one possessed an enormous hand, would be impossible of accomplishment with the ordinary playing-cards, hence the necessity for using those of smaller dimensions. When the learner can palm the card tolerably well, he should learn to secrete it from its position on the top of the pack, under which circumstances the palm is mostly used. The right hand must press upon the pack, and when it is felt that the card is in postion it must be slid off sideways, not lifted. The hand containing the card should not be held unnaturally flat, but considerably curved, care being taken not to bend the corners of the card to any extent. The wand will, as usual, be of use here, as, if held between the finger and thumb, it will assist in disabusing the minds of the audience of the idea that anything is contained in the hand. It is not very likely that they will think so, for the idea that it is even possible to hold a card in the hand, without its being discovered, never occurs to anyone. The wand can also be held flat in the hand across the card, which is as good a way as any. Palming is not by any means confined to a single card, any number, up to a whole pack, being rendered invisible by this method. When two or more cards are to be palmed from the surface of the pack, they must be first slightly dislodged by the thumb of the hand holding them, and held a very little—not more than a quarter of an inch—above the others, just sufficient to enable the other hand to palm them rapidly without disturbing the pack. The palm is, of course, executed right in front of the audience, who never dream of what is going on. To entirely vanish a pack, take it in the right hand, across the back, lengthways, the thumb being at one end and the fingers at the other. Stand sideways to the audience, and, bringing the hands together, make a perpendicular swinging motion once or twice, as if about to toss the pack towards the ceiling. Make a final and vigorous toss, as if you had done so, and, with the left hand, press the cards into the right hand. The wand should be under the arm during this operation, in order that it may be at once seized by the thumb of the hand concealing the cards. If it be not handy, the lappel of the coat must be brought into requisition. It causes a good effect if the cards are afterwards found inside the coat of one of the audience, with whom you affect to be displeased thereat. You can also go down among the audience, and pretend to give someone the pack with the left hand, which must, of course, be so disposed as if it really contained the cards. To do this requires a little confidence, and care must be taken to hold the inside of the hand well towards the body, or detection may easily ensue when one is quite surrounded by eager, prying eyes. The simplest trick performed with the use of the palm is to ask someone to look at the top card on the pack held in your left hand, and to replace it. In the right hand you have a card palmed. Ask the name of the card just looked at, and, on being told it, affect surprise, and say that you fancy there must be some little mistake—you feel quite certain that the card is not what it is stated to be. Of course, the party who looked at the card, and who probably allowed it to be seen by others, will be positive, so you say that you will show that you are right. Bring the right hand over the cards in a similar manner to that employed when about to perform the third change (Fig. 38), and, with one movement, leave the one palmed on the top and pick it off again. The picking off will be done very slowly, to show that you really do take the top card. Finish up by palming the card originally looked at, and remarking that you cannot understand how the mistake occurred, "for here is the card in my pocket." Produce it from thence, the hand containing the card being merely plunged into the pocket, and slowly withdrawn, holding the card in the tips of the fingers.

Another very effective method is to stand sideways to the audience, and hold the pack perpendicularly (the length being horizontal) in the left hand, with the faces visible. In the right hand have a few cards palmed, with the faces towards the hand. Suppose the seven of hearts to be at the bottom of the pack in the left hand. Say that you can change it by simply passing the hand across it, which you then do, leaving one behind. If two or three are left by accident it does not matter, the chief object aimed at being smoothness. Care will have to be taken to have the end of the fingers of the left hand protruding well, so as to be in readiness to take the card thus left on the seven of hearts. The motion of passing the right hand over the left should be an upward one, and the performer should practise to dwell as little as possible over the pack.

The palm is also invaluable when anyone insists upon shuffling the pack, so as to make sure of mingling the cards well. The card secure in the performer's hand, the pack may be shuffled for a whole week without much harm being done. With the palm and the pass shown at Fig. 35 combined, a very pretty trick can be performed. It is somewhat similar to one already described. Take four cards of any denomination, and, cutting the pack into two halves, place one of the four at the bottom of one half. Place the remaining three at the top of the other half, which give to be held by a spectator, the three cards being previously palmed, and put on the top of the other cards, as you take them up to show the card at the bottom. Tell the person holding the cards, which are supposed to contain the three, to keep a very tight hold, and, tapping his pack with the wand, affect to take one of the cards away and pass it into your pack. Give a flourish, and pass one card to the front. The slight noise made by the pass will not signify if you say, "Ah! you heard it go?" Repeat this operation with each of the cards, when you will show all four at the bottom of your pack, whilst the three will be found to have vanished from the one given to be held by one of the audience.

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