Beginner’s Study 4/98-6/98


Beginner’s Study 4/98-6/98

April 1998

Multiplying Bills Perfected
Bobby J. Gallo

If this effect looks vaguely familiar, it is because a very sparse version of it currently appears in the I.C.O.M Cyber-Magic Textbook(tm) I.C.O.M Magic for beginners. So why am I making it the subject of an actual I.C.O.M lesson? Well, let me tell you a very short story….

Every so often Bill Wisch and myself meet at a small coffee shop to discuss all things I.C.O.M. Many of you already know this since I have said it before. Well, recently, We were discussing tricks with dollar bills since that is soon to be a subject of a video tape we at I.C.O.M are producing in the not to distant future. During our conversation I asked Bill if he ever saw the dollar trick that I developed to teach my magic class students. Bill said no…..So I proceeded to take a dollar bill from my wallet, crumble it up into a small ball, and rip the ball in half. Bill looked at me like I was crazy. He’s right, I am, but that’s another story…….I then took each half of the ripped dollar and rubbed them on my forearms while chanting and ancient tibetan mantra. Now the whole place was looking at me like I’m nuts…But that’s okay, I’m used to it. After all of my academy award winning acting was through, I proceeded to un-ravel the two halves of the dollar I previously ripped apart and to Bill’s amazement (and believe me, to amaze Bill is a reward all in itself) the two pieces were now two complete, whole dollar bills, wrinkled, yes, but none the worse for wear.

It was Bill’s enthusiasm for this effect that inspired me to give it further thought. Sure, It has always amazed my students before I taught it to them, but for some reason, I never thought it was strong enough for adults. I was wrong! To further prove this point, I recently introduced the effect at a trade show where it was knocking people out! All from a trick that is within reach of “any” beginner.

It even proved stronger than effects that require more advanced sleight-of-hand. Perhaps it is because of the simplicity of the premise or the straight forward workings I am about to explain. Whatever the reason, try this and it will become one of your favorite impromptu effects. And all it uses are two ordinary dollar bills and a lot of nerve. Go figure…………

As stated above, this uses two ordinary dollar bills. One is crumbled into a ball in your pocket, and another is placed into your pocket un-crumbled along side. An alternate way to do it would be to have the crumbled ball finger-palmed and then ask for the loan of a dollar. Either way is fine. If you are using the first method. Go to the pocket and finger-palm the crumbled dollar as you remove the ordinary one. Display the dollar bill remarking that it is similar to any a person may have.

Note at this point that the when holding the bill, your thumb and fore-finger are holding the bill while the other three fingers are curled in concealing the crumbled bill. Notice now that if you were normally holding a dollar at your fingertips “without” a duplicate finger-palmed, your hand would look the exact same way! Think about it, this is what “sells” the effect. From the audiences point of view, everything looks normal and above board. The natural in-curling of the three fingers now gives you an excellent opportunity to finger-palm an object un-noticed and un-suspected. For in all truth, they still do not know what you are about to do. Keep it that way, DO NOT TELL THEM THAT YOU INTEND TO RIP THE DOLLAR IN HALF AND MULTIPLY IT! Surprise is everything in this effect.

Now there is another subtlety that is mega important in the next step. Without the left hand coming anywhere near the right hand that is displaying the dollar at the finger-tips with the duplicate finger-palmed, do a one-handed crumble.(a sleight pertinent only to this trick) Meaning, crumble the dollar up so that is ends up right next to the dollar that is now in finger-palm. You will now notice something remarkable. If you take the two dollars out of your hand and hold them together between the thumb and fore-finger, they look just like a single crumbled dollar. THIS IS A VERY CONVINCING STRONG POINT OF THE EFFECT! An illusion in the truest sense of the word. The hands can now be shown otherwise empty, Another strong point!

Now that everyone thinks that you have merely taken a dollar, crumbled it up and are now just holding it at your finger-tips you proceed to do something that will make most people cringe. Hold each end of the ball. In reality, you are holding one dollar in one hand, and another dollar in another hand, keeping both bills together so it appears as if you are merely holding a single dollar with both hands.

Now you are going to make it appear that you are ripping a single dollar in half. To do this, instead of merely separating the dollars apart, (that would not be very convincing due to the fact that there is no noise) You separate the bills at the same time rubbing them against each other. In other words, the right hand holding one dollar is moved forward, while the left hand holding the other dollar is moved backwards. The friction of the two dollars rubbing against each other creates a ripping sound. It must appear as if you are actually ripping the dollar in two. With this ripping sound, it is an effective illusion.

After the groans of what it appears you have just done, you want to let a small amount of time lapse before the restoration. “Always distance the climax from the sleight” So make the most of it and do a little acting. I myself take each piece, rub them on my forearms, chant, etc. (And you thought I was just saying that in the story to be funny…I was serious?!) After you are done. SLOWLY unravel each dollar and look for the stunned expressions on the spectators faces.

Wow, this is so good, I am having second thoughts about teaching it to my students….<G>

May 1998

Note: This material is not only recommended to beginners, but highly valuable to advanced magicians as well…BJG

Ronald J. Dayton

On page 239 of ” The Amateur Magician’s Handbook ” Mr. Hay begins a brief discussion on silks, and on page 241 touches on the washing and care of same. Very few details are given. There are specifics which should be followed, and these may be found in detail in Vol. 1 of Harold R. Rice’sEncyclopedia Of Silk Magic.” Mr. Rice was an expert in the field…and the best advice in my estimation ever given on the care of silks is in this text.

Mr. Hay mentions on page 242 that magician John Mulholland folded and ironed his white silks like ordinary linen handkerchiefs, and removed them from his breast pocket in that condition. Well and good during performances perhaps, although I am doubtful it is ever good to fold and iron any silk. It is definitely not recommended to fold and store any silk for a period of time. The fold or crease made in the silk will weaken and break after a while. That is, in a good quality silk. It is best to know the blend of fibers your ‘silk’ is comprised of… different weight or momme silks are best for certain effects.

For my own silks I have used a variation of an idea offered in the Rice text. The washed and ironed silks are laid flat, then rolled on to a cardboard tube such as taken from an empty wax paper roll. This keeps the silks nice and smooth without creating any folds or creases. The rolled silks are then slipped in to a mailing tube, and the end closed with the tube cap. Everything is kept safe and secure until needed. Mark the outside of the tube to indicate special silks. Card silks, blendo, rainbow etc.

The three volume set of the ” Encyclopedia Of Silk Magic “ is an absolute MUST purchase for any student of magic who is serious about the pursuit of excellence, and a strong knowledge and background in silk magic. It is, quite literally, an art form all its own in the world of magic.

Henry Hay also talks about a device called a Thumb Tip on page 258 in the section Small Gimmicks and Fakes.

The distinction between a gimmick and a fake ( or, feke in earlier old English text ) is important. I think he did a good job of explaining it…and find it interesting that both the thumb tip and the mirror glass should be hard to classify.

Thumb tips are possibly the most universal device, and one of the most powerful pieces of equipment at the modern magician’s disposal. This little something, which is both seen and unseen at various stages of a given routine, is indispensable to the beginning novice magician, and the well seasoned professional as well. The only possible difference I can see between the two is the degree of understanding in regard to the full potential of the thumb tip.

This is not a toy, nor is it a throw-away novelty you show around to prove how ‘clever’ you are. It is a secret device, simplistic though it may be, which will enable you to create veritable miracles right before the very eyes of your audience.

The Thumb Tip is exactly what it claims to be. It is a false section made to resemble a human thumb, and is worn like a cap on the end of the performer’s thumb. The one described by Mr. Hay was an early style, being made from aluminum and painted a light tannish brown on the outside. Most tips are made for caucasian skin matches. People of color must strive to modify their own for a better concealment. Some lady performers have even glued false fingernails on theirs ( small size tips ) to give it a more natural appearance.

You may now purchase tips still made in the original way of aluminum, or ones of rubber, and still others of very high grade semi flexible plastic. These are known as Vernet Tips, and are the best presently available. Thumb tips can also be purchased in a variety of sizes. This is important for the fit given each performer. It is also important when considering the size or amount of the object or substance to be put in to the tip.

Thumb tips were popular in their metal form for the vanish of a lit cigarette years ago. This could also be done with the rubber or plastic tips by placing a small piece of wet sponge in the end of the tip.

Holes can be made in the plastic tips for various ribbon or string effects. Magnets can be glued into the tip for still other possibilities. Tips can be modified to become nail-writers for special mental effects. Thumb tips can be used in conjunction with various rattle-bar style effects, or in salt vanishes / long salt pour routines.

Gary Darwin has written an incredible book called ” Darwin’s Thumb Tip Miracles ” I believe, and Melbourne Christopher developed many fine routines in his book ” Thumb Tip Magic.” Inquire about these authors with your favorite magic dealer to expand your use and knowledge of the thumb tip. It’s an investment you will never regret.

Once you begin to understand the applications thumb tips have, new worlds of creativity will open themselves to you. You will see them as means to vanishes, productions, restorations, color changes, transformations, transpositions, mentalism, livestock, levitations and suspensions etc. You may even begin to visualize the possibility of things not actually being thumb tips, but which can be used as one. Thimbles, film cartridges, caps from large felt tip marking pens, rubber office supply tips for sorting papers, lip stick cases caps etc. You do not, of course, show these in their entirety as for the final full front display with a thumb tip…but when concealed, for all intent and purposes, you might as well be using a tip. They can be equally effective. And best of all, they may be readily available to you as an impromptu gimmick if you are on your toes and recognize them for what they can become. Some clever performers in the past have even modified the object they intend to vanish, into a makeshift thumb tip. In otherwords, the object was self vanishing, stolen away on the end of your thumb. Clever beyond belief.

Finger tips and sixth fingers are in another class of magic. The Rice’s ” Encyclopedia Of Silk Magic “ discuss uses for these at some length, but for the most part, they are relegated to magic

history. The nice thing about history is, it seems to repeat itself! Modern performers should take it upon themselves to learn about the methods and effects of the past…then up date these basic ideas so they may become the unexpected miracles of today!

I should mention too yet another book on thumb tips, and that was written fairly recently by the creative genius, Steve Dusheck. He has many new and wonderful approaches to the thumb tip. It is available from your favorite dealer, or via. Jim Klein at the American Magic Company.

The very best video I have ever seen concerning the thumb tip was produced by L & L Publishing. Clever and skillful manipulations are explained by their creator, Bernard Bilis. We’re talking state of the art handlings! Extremely innovative. Exceptionally deceptive!

Comedy Thumb-Tip Routine Idea!

Here is one last thing I would like to have you consider in this Odds ‘n Ends dialogue. On page 243 of ” The Amateur Magician’s Handbook “, the piece of apparatus, the Drumhead Tube is discussed. But lets forget the drumhead paper cap and rings, and the torpedo load gimmick as well. What if you have just a simple tube, large enough to reach down into, and you want to do a comedy production??

One idea I had, and which may have already been mentioned briefly in previous text, was to be wearing a large ( obviously large ) gauze bandage wrap around one thumb or finger. Showing the tube empty by peering at the audience through it, you proceed to reach down into it and begin immediately producing yards and yards of cloth streamer. Quickly, the audience will realize that you are actually pulling the bandage from the hand that holds the lower end of the tube.

Another possible idea would be to reach in to the tube, and pull out a large, colorful tie. Again, it registers with the audience that you have actually pulled your own clip-on tie off and up through the tube.

As a concluding production to this outlandish routine, the final item is a pair of suspenders. These have not actually been worn by you at the time, but rather, are up the sleeve of the arm holding the tube. As a kicker, it is unexpected, and should get a good laugh.

The best performers are serious about their magic, but you do not necessarily have to present it in a serious vein.

June 1998

Torn Corner Techniques
“Or the card to wallet for those who don’t like to sweat”
Bobby J. Gallo

Many top professionals consider the “signed card to wallet” to be one of the strongest possible effects in magic. Indeed, it is strong. There are however, certain drawbacks in developing a solid method of getting the signed selection into the wallet under all circumstances. To do this effect, one must master the technique of palming a card, then time the insertion of same into a wallet without fumbling. Couple that with the fact that the effect has extremely bad angle problems, and you end up with a routine that is dynamite in effect but is not 100% reliable.

Upon playing with the idea, I have found that in the minds of the spectator, there is a concept that proves every bit as strong, and has the added feature of being very practical. Yes…I’m talking about the Torn Corner Concept.

The basic premise goes something like this. The magician has a card freely selected, then torn to pieces by the spectator. These pieces are then vanished leaving only one piece behind. (an alternate scenario has the spectator taking one piece of the card prior to the vanishment) The card is then found fully restored in some sort of container except for the fact that a corner is missing. The grand climax comes when the corner held by the spectator fits exactly.

One may say that this method even has an advantage over signed card routines due to the fact that there is an additional magic effect at play here. That being a restoration in addition to the transposition.

There are many ways to accomplish this effect. This lesson is to stimulate your thinking so that you may develop a way of performing this bewildering effect using anycombination of methods I am going to share with you.

Step: 1
Pick a card…Any card !

Since this method of discovery involves the destruction and restoration of the chosen card. Two duplicate cards to match the selection are needed. One card for selection, the second card for discovery, and the third to maintain a 52 card deck so the performer may use the deck for subsequent routines (especially valuable in trade show and roving work).

The veteran magician will have already guessed that the chosen card must be “forced”. That is to say that the magician has controlled one the of the duplicates so that the spectator has no choice but to take it rather than an indifferent card.

There are a number of ways to do this. The easiest and in many cases the safest way is with a mechanical “Force” deck. Many force decks exist, but the most popular among prop-oriented magicians are the “one-way” deck, in which 50% of the deck consist of the same card. Another is the famed “Svengali” deck, or long and short deck. In this case, every other card is a duplicate which may be forced via a very clever principle involved. Both decks are available through the I.C.O.M Online catalog.

There are a number of ideal ways to force a card via sleight-of-hand. This is the way I do it and feel that I myself become a bit more confident knowing that if a rude audience members decided to grab the deck out of my hands,(which they sometimes do) they will find nothing but an ordinary deck of playing cards. To find some excellent sleight-of-hand methods of forcing a card, please consult the Amateur Magicians Handbook as well as the I.C.O.M Sleight of hand gallery.

Step #2
Tell it where to go !

Next you must find a suitable receptacle for the insertion of the torn corner card. The variations of this are truly limited only by your imagination. Two items past magicians have used are oranges and lemons. This is done by burrowing a tube-like hole in one end, then folding the card tightly and inserting it into the fruit. By holding the set-up citrus with the hole side facing your palm it appears to be ordinary.

One can also use the magicians force “equivoque” to force the set-up fruit from among a basket full of un-gimmicked ones.

This choice is quite messy not to mention a big hassle due to the fact that the set-up has to be done close to show-time or either the fruit will rot or the card will become so soggy, that the effect will ultimately suffer. On the flip side, it is arguably the most effective presentation for the torn corner since it is theoretically impossible for a card to have grown inside a fruit. At least, that is what the spectator thinks. And this type of effect has made the reputation of more than one top pro so it is a proven premise.

Other containers are possible. Sealed cans have been, and are being marketed with the duplicate already sealed inside. This is an expensive but effective way to go. However, maybe not effective as the “produce” methods.

A very practical and classy method would be to have the card appear inside a sealed zippered wallet. Since the card is inside from the start. You can relax and forget about the risky palming of the card as in the signed card routines and concentrate on your presentation. This is also the best way to go for trade shows and other venues where you need to re-set your show quickly and load another card. I have used this method myself during corporate work where I loaded and set-up the routine about twenty times during the course of the day with subsequent performances. It works like a charm. It is also important to note that I also included a sealed envelope inside the wallet. Again, because I did not have to load the card in DURING the routine, no rubber cement seals werenecessary as in the signed versions of the card to wallet.

Step #4
They were there a minute ago?

After you have chosen a “force” method as well as a destination for the restored chosen card, you must now decide on the most important aspect of all. How to magically dispose of the torn pieces? Now, remember, a single torn piece has to be left over to prove to the audience that the restored card is also the original that was selected. That all important corner piece can be obtained in one of two ways. The performer has to decide which.

1) The corner can either be palmed or introduced secretly into the duplicate pieces and merely plucked out by the performer and given to the spectator.

2) A riskier version would be to secretly introduce the torn corner on top of the pieces that the performer is holding and then tell the spectator to take a piece and “hope” that they take the top piece without giving you a hard time.

3) Have the corner piece “left over” after all the other pieces have vanished. (this is the method I use)

Now that you have decided upon a method wherein the corner piece is left over, you now must find a way to vanish all the other pieces. This can be accomplished in any one of a hundred ways. I will outline a few of the more popular, practical, and classic ways.

1.The hanky ploy: This is where all the pieces are placed in a well made in a handkerchief with the fingers. A rubber band is snapped around the well. (unknown to the audience) The hank is whisked away and the pieces have vanished. (only method #1 or #2 for obtaining the corner can be used with this method)

2.The use of a thumb-tip with or without a hanky. Here is an idea that I have played with but never actually put into practice. It is called the “Thumb-Tip Switching Device” (for lack of a better name) What you do is insert a piece of stiff material into the thumb-tip so that is runs right down the center. It must be attached to the inner walls of the tip and must stick out of the tip end about a “quarter inch” or so. (metric equivalent?) Now, the torn piece that matches the restored card in already in “one side” of the tip. The torn pieces go into the other side. The tip being in your closed fist at the time. The “wall” is shifted from one side of the tip to the other much like the switching envelope mentioned later in this lesson. As an afterthought as described above, take a piece out of the tip. (actually the one there from the start) and had it to the spectator. Vanish the rest of the pieces using standard thumb-tip moves.

3.The use of a “flap-type” card Box (All methods for obtaining the corner may be used)

4.The use of a Himber wallet or other switching device.

5.A double walled switching envelope made by inserting a makeshift wall into a small manila pay envelope, using a cut piece from an additional envelope. The prepared envelope can now either be shown empty after switching the wall from one side of the envelope to another. Squeezing the sides keeps the envelope sides taught and the pieces trapped inside. Or the envelope may be burned which completely destroys the envelope and evidence.. (adult magicians “only” to use this second method)

Now you are all set to actually perform this amazing effect. Here is a step by step synopsis of a routine using the technique.

  • Magician sets up routine by tearing the corner of a card and placing the larger portion into a lemon.
  • He then takes the small torn corner and places it into one side of a standard card box.
  • He walks out onstage (I know this was not necessary to say but I like dramatics)
  • Card is selected (forced)
  • Card is torn into pieces.
  • Card pieces are placed into card box.
  • Magician says an incantation, waves hands, dancers come out and distract the audience, for what reason…..I don’t know!
  • Card box is opened and all the pieces are seen to have vanished save for “one”(Hee…Heee)
  • Lemon is introduced as a prize for spectator. Magician cuts lemon open and finds a card. Magician points out that it is selected card, completely restored except for the fact that a corner is missing.
  • Magician show that the corner left over from the vanished pieces matches exactly. Magician bows to thunderous applause. Agents storm the dressing room looking to book magician on several late night talk shows.

I hope you enjoy your new found fame.


Notice: This material “IS NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN” and is intended for the personal and performance use of International Conservatory Of Magic members only.

This entire page is under copywrite 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be re-produced without the expressed written permission of I.C.O.M. All marketing, manufacturing, & publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Author: Bobby J. Gallo


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