Magic Trick: The Ascending Cards

For this trick some little preparation is also necessary, and a certain amount of apparatus will be required. Three, four, or more cards are chosen, and then shuffled up in the pack, which is put into a metal or cardboard receptacle of the size of a pack of cards. At a word of command, the cards ascend, one by one, from the pack, without any apparent agency.

The apparatus required for this trick consists of the case, which can either be made to conceal the cards entirely, or may have the front cut out so as to show the face of the foremost card, a small border being left for the purpose of preventing the cards from falling out. This case is divided into two divisions, the rearmost one being much smaller than the other, and just large enough to hold about ten cards. To the top of the dividing partition affix a piece of fine black silk, which allow to hang over the smaller division. Into this smaller division now introduce a card, which, as it is put in, must have the silk under it. Now introduce a second card, but pass the silk over this one instead of under it. Put in a third card with the silk under it, and a fourth with the silk over, continuing the operation according to the number of cards you intend performing with. When the silk is pulled, it will cause those cards which have it passed beneath them to ascend. The same effect would be caused without the intervention of intermediate cards, but then they would all rise at once, whereas the trick is to make them do so singly. The performer must have all this arranged before commencing, and also have the silk passed out either at the back (which is to be preferred, where possible) or the side of the stage, where an assistant is stationed, holding the end of it. If at the side, then a small staple or pulley must be fixed in the back of the table and the silk passed through it, otherwise a direct pull will not be obtained. The case holding the cards can either be made to fit in the neck of a decanter by means of a cork on the under side, or can be permanently fixed to a tall stand. I prefer the decanter myself, as an opaque stand always causes suspicions of mechanical assistance to arise in the minds of the audience. The decanter should be given for examination.

The performer must force duplicate cards of those arranged in the small division of the card-case, of course taking no notice of those over which the silk passes, as they will never be exposed, and, asking the audience to remember the names of them, have them put in the pack and shuffled. The rest of the trick follows as a matter of course. The pack is placed in the larger front division of the case, and, as the chosen cards are called for, the assistant, who must have a view of the cards from his place of concealment, pulls the thread. A very commonly practised piece of humour is to include a knave in the forced cards, and to place two in the small rear division of the card-case. The one that is to appear first is put in upside down, court cards with one head only being used. It is upbraided for thus making its appearance, and it is replaced in the pack—still upside down—but in the front division. The second time, the other knave appears, right side up. The marvel of the audience is how the card managed to reverse itself in the pack. These card-cases can be procured from any of the vendors of conjuring apparatus.

A better arrangement is the following, which enables the performer to have his case examined by the audience—always a great advantage. It will require a little construction on the part of the performer himself, unless he is more fortunate than I ever was, and can find someone to carry out his ideas for him.

Instead of having the tin case made with partitions, let him have it quite plain, and just large enough to take from thirty-five to forty cards. This will bear any amount of examination, and a pack of cards should always be put in it before the audience, to show that it is entirely filled therewith, and so cannot possibly be made to contain any mechanical contrivance. The performer's little arrangement lies in a few cards, which, with others, are lying carelessly upon his table. These cards are pre-arranged with the silk exactly as just described for the small partition of the case, the end of the silk being affixed to the top of the undermost card. When the performer returns to his table with the pack, he should place it, whilst arranging his case in the decanter, with the loose prepared cards, which should then be picked up with it, the pack being undermost. The trick can then proceed as usual, and the case be handed round for examination afterwards. Great care must be taken not to disarrange the silk whilst picking up the cards, as any fault in this respect cannot possibly be remedied. The more simple and free from apparatus the method of performing this trick, the better it will be appreciated.

A third method, quite original, which I have adopted with unvarying success, the performer, will, I expect, prefer to any of the foregoing. It is the only method which does not call for the forcing of the cards; and its general surroundings are so simple that I find conjurors themselves sometimes puzzled to explain how the result is brought about. The performer has the usual bottle, which it is, perhaps, as well to open before the company. It should be of perfectly clear glass, and some fluid should be left in to give it steadiness during the performance of the trick. The card-holder should have the front side open, a quarter-inch flange being left on each side, to prevent the cards from falling out, and the inside coloured black. The silk, by means of which the chosen cards are to be made to rise out of the pack, has a small round cloth-covered button attached to the free end, and this button must be lying upon the table, in a convenient position. The performer first comes forward, and gives the bottle and card-holder into the hands of the company for examination. The examination concluded, he takes the articles to the table, and, as soon as possible, drops the button into the bottle. He next fits the holder into the neck, taking care, as he does so, to cause the thread to pass over the top of it. He now brings forward his pack, which he gives up entirely into the hands of the company, who select three cards. As many people nowadays have some idea of the "force," this at once disarms suspicion in a remarkable manner, and puts off many knowing ones, who are sure to have seen the trick before, otherwise performed, it being a very favourite one with conjurors. The performer now takes the pack back to the table, getting a picture card to the front, as he does so. If he chooses, he may ask the selectors of the cards to mark them with pencil, and whilst this is being done, he goes with the pack to the table, where he places it carelessly into the holder, taking care that the thread passes over the top of the cards. It also passes over the front of them, but, as a picture card is in front, it is not seen, as it would be if a card with much white showing were there. For this same reason, the inside of the holder is coloured black. The three cards are now fetched from the audience, faces downwards, so that the performer, as he will explain, cannot see them. It will not assist him in the least if he does; but audiences invariably think an immense deal attaches to the fact of the performer seeing a card, and it is as well for all conjurors to conspire to keep up the delusion. Laying the cards first upon the table, he takes up one, and places it amongst those in the holder, some three or four from the front. As the card is pressed down, it takes the silk with it, care being taken to keep the latter as near the middle of the card as possible. The second card is now placed a few cards farther in the rear, and the third still farther back. It will be necessary to keep a finger of the disengaged hand upon the top of the card or cards in front of the one being placed into position, or the downward pressure will cause a corresponding, but premature, upward motion to be imparted to those already in position, which would spoil the trick at once. Whilst the cards are being thus placed in the pack, the performer must be careful to keep the company engaged in conversation. The trick then proceeds as usual; but, at the conclusion, the performer, seizing the bottle in one hand and the holder in the other, separates them, and comes rapidly forward to give them and the cards for examination. The assistant keeping firm hold of the thread, the button is drawn out of the bottle, and no trace remains of the medium by which the ascension was accomplished. I take some pride in this little arrangement, which, I need scarcely say, is not elsewhere made public.

To force three or more cards, pass them all from the bottom to the centre together, and not one at a time. Always be very particular about showing round the decanter or bottle, the most innocent portion of the whole apparatus. Where convenient, it causes a good effect to have a bottle of champagne opened on purpose. Give some of the wine away, and use the bottle half emptied, saying that you must keep some of the spirits in it for your trick.

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