An Impossible Transposition

I was recently going through some old scripts and I came upon the following item. Around fifty years ago, the late Clarke Crandall wrote articles in several American magic magazines. He was noted for his acerbic wit, much of it aimed at card workers.

He was not averse to performing card magic himself but always thought that it was more important to 'entertain' his audience than perform displays of knuckle-busting technique.

Hence the following 'tongue in cheek' item:

By Clarke “The Senator” Crandall.

One of the most amazing of all card effects is where a selected card changes into a visible spectator’s hand which he has been holding all the time.

I was first shown this wonderful trick by an old magician with one arm by the name of Lester Overton. I’m sorry, I can’t remember the name of the other arm. To the newer men in magic the name of Lester Overton means very little but to the old-timer it means even less.

I was living at the time and anxious to learn all there was to know about magic. One day in a small school gymnasium, I was practising double lifts, when suddenly I stopped short, a position I was to assume many times in later life. Hearing nothing, I turned and there framed in the open window was a little wizened old man, slowly but surely doing the Marlo motionless centre steal. This impossible move was being done so smoothly I could see nothing but nevertheless I immediately recognised it. I realised that this must be the famous unknown Lester Overton.

I will try to explain this unbelievable effect exactly as done by that quizzical little wizard, who actually has been forgotten by many magicians who have never known him. Sadly enough, this seems to be true even today.

The reader should be familiar with such simple sleights as the multiple double shift glide and the single card triple bottom lift. These two fundamental moves have become second nature to me and you must practice them until they can be done even in the spectator’s sleep. Practice, practice, practice until you can truthfully say, “Take a card, any card at all”, and then, and only then will you be worthy of the name “Magician”.

A regular deck is not necessary. This trick may be done with a borrowed Svengali deck which has been trimmed a little longer on one end. Some pre-arrangement must be made beforehand. With the deck still in the case, arrange the high cards a little lower so the out-jog falls to the dealer. This will of course place the lower cards in position for the double in-glide. As the deck is now reversed, this will never be noticed by the spectator who has been completely concealed. He is asked to turn his back and face you as the card is returned to the centre of the packet of small cards near the front. At this point both the spectator and the magician should shuffle a little. A cut is not necessary unless he requests it. You will notice that amazing as it seems, the red cards have not been disturbed at all, but the black ones remain indifferent.. The balance of the deck is returned while the selected card remains unknown to the spectator. This subtle move has been explained so many times in previous effects of mine that seldom does anyone notice it. The rest of the audience is unaware of this and even the spectator is not too sure.

Before returning to the table, the cards are spread face up in the case, This move is difficult to explain on paper but you will have no trouble at all if you remember to exert pressure on the sides with the ball of the left thumb, causing it to buckle. As the right hand crosses over to the spectator’s left pocket, suddenly exclaim and then step back in order to cover up the misdirection.

Now try to remember if you have forgotten anything. Do you still have the effect in mind? Is the method clear? Is the spectator still there? Ask yourself these questions over and over again until someone answers them.

The crucial part of the trick is over. You may now reveal the card with all the showmanship at your command. Arouse the spectator and play quietly on his gullibility. Gaze intently into his nearest eye as you say dramatically, “Close your eyes and look at the card, concentrate on it and try to visualise it. Think of it in your mind and repeat its name over and over as I try to remember it myself”. As the spectator does this, look at him. This may not be easy but remember you are the magician and he is the spectator. This will give you the courage to continue.

Remove the card from his pocket with the marked back facing outward. If he doesn’t have a pocket with a marked back replace it as before. You then remark, “Is this not your card?” “Yes, it is not”, he will rejoinder. As he says this, flick the card casually with the small index finger causing it to change into his selected card. The effect caused by seeing your finger changing into a playing card will not only astound him but cause no little consternation to yourself.

I have given you only the bare bones of the trick. The meat you must fill in for yourself. There is no doubt in my mind that you will add it to the long list of things to do at the slightest provocation. In the years to come and long after I have been forgotten, I am sure you will thank me over and over again for this introduction to Lester Overton.

We do Sir, we do!

I believe that the above item originally appeared in a book entitled "The Last Word on Cards" by Rufus Steele, published in the early '50's.

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