Magic Trick: The Egyptian Pocket

One of the very best sleight-of-hand card tricks is that introduced by Herrmann, who, a few years ago, was such a favourite throughout Great Britain. He called it the Egyptian Pocket, though, for all the name implied, it might as well have been called the Nubian, Chinese, Japanese, or Brazilian Pocket. One of the audience took a pack round, and allowed four cards to be drawn from it. These cards were afterwards gathered in by the same person, who, after mounting the stage, placed them in the pack, which was then well shuffled. The pack he placed in his breast pocket, and then drew out, one by one, three cards of those selected in the audience as they were called for. The fourth card, however, he failed to find, and was told to search the pack for it. The search proving fruitless, he was told to maufacture the card, and, on expressing his ignorance of the proper method to pursue, was directed to blow into his pocket, where the missing card was then discovered. He was found, however, to have blown too hard, for his vest contained a perfect avalanche of cards; whilst his nose, on being squeezed, gave forth a stream of them, amidst roars of laughter. The method for performing this trick is as follows: Place upon your centre table two bulky packs of cards, and step forward with a third pack in your hands. Ask someone to assist you, and give him the pack in the shape of a fan, directing him to ask certain ladies, four in number, whom you will indicate with your wand, to select one card each. On this being done, take the pack from his hand, and direct him to receive the four cards, faces downwards, on the flat of one hand. Whilst this is being done, step on the stage, but never take your eye off the operations that are going on, for you must notice whose card is placed undermost, whose next, and so on. Request your volunteer assistant to kindly step on the stage, and, opening the pack in the middle, ask him to place the four cards inside. Close the pack, keeping the finger inserted where the cards were placed, ready for the pass, and inquire if the person on the stage with you possesses an inside breast pocket to his coat. If it is outside, it does not much matter, but the inside one is better for the trick. On receiving an answer in the affirmative, ask to have the pocket emptied. Whilst this is being done, sometimes amidst much amusement, by reason of the miscellaneous character of the contents of the pocket, make the pass, bringing the four cards to the top, and, opening the pack slightly, carelessly run the eye over them. It is always as well to know them, in case of an accident occurring. Palm them, and give the rest of the pack to your assistant to shuffle. Taking the pack back, replace the palmed cards upon it, re-palming the top card only, and bid your assistant place the pack in his pocket. Feel the outside of his pocket, under the pretence of seeing that everything is all right, but in reality to give the cards a bend, crosswise. This bend will cause the back of the uppermost card to be the first met with by a hand entering the pocket. Now inquire of the chooser of this said top card—which, as you have palmed the original top one, will be the third one gathered in—what the name of her card is. You will affect to do this haphazard, and not as though you selected that particular person to inquire of. On receiving a reply, desire your assistant to put his hand quickly—"very quickly indeed, sir"—into his pocket, and draw out a card. If you have arranged everything properly, this will be the desired card. Now ask the chooser of the second card what the name of hers is, and repeat the operation. Do the same with the first card, and then with the fourth. By thus apparently dodging from one lady on one side of the room to one on the other side, it will still more appear that you are indifferent whose is asked for. This last card will not, of course, be forthcoming, and after a few fruitless attempts to produce it, plunge the hand, in which the card is palmed, into the pocket, and draw out the pack, leaving behind the palmed card. The assistant looks through the pack, but does not find the card, and you say, "Well, sir, you must make one, I suppose." On hearing that he does not know how, say, "Oh! it is as simple as possible. Take this wand in your right hand, and open your coat with the left. Good. Now blow into your pocket." The card will be found there, and your assistant, thinking it is all over, will be about to retire, when you, having just palmed one of the packs from the table, detain him with the remark that, "Although you did the trick very well, sir, for the first time, yet, owing to your inexperience, you unfortunately blew a little too hard. See here, sir, what you have inside your vest!" You then plunge the hand containing the cards rapidly inside his vest and draw out one card only, then another, another, and so on, and finally say that, as you do not know how many more there are, he had better take them out himself. Whilst he is doing this, palm the other pack, and say, "Have you any more cards, sir? No! Excuse me, but will you allow me to finish my experiment?" You then place your hand to his nose, and, compressing the hand, cause the cards to shoot forth in a stream on to the floor. Immediately it is over, shake hands with your assistant, and say you are extremely obliged. This will ease his mind of the idea that you meant to make a fool of him.

Sometimes, in drawing the cards from the pocket, the assistant will accidentally take them from the bottom, instead of from the top. In this case, they will be wrong cards, and you must say, "Ah! you don't do it quickly enough; this is the way," and, plunging your hand in the pocket, draw out the desired card, giving the pack, at the same time, a good bend, when you can allow the assistant to try again. About thirty cards will make the best pack for this trick, and great care must be taken that it does not contain two cards of a kind, for if one of these duplicates is chosen, and it is the fourth card, i.e., the one which is missing at the last, it (its duplicate) will be found in the pack when it is gone over, and all your blowing in the pocket performance, which is the great feature in the trick, will be knocked on the head. I have actually seen this occur. All the performer could do was to palm the card and pretend to pass it into the pocket, where, of course, the duplicate was found; but it was a very weak finish.

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