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Card Control
by Arthur Buckley


(2 reviews, 26 customer ratings) ★★★★

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Card Control by Arthur Buckley

This is not a book for beginners. But it is a book that will lift up the devoted student by two or three levels of proviciency in card handling. Buckley, born in Australia, was one of the masters and innovators of card magic. He studied the card gamblers as well as the top magic performers. This book with over 300 photos, of which most have been enhanced by drawing lines over them to increase contrast, and 40 outstanding routines, is a gold mine and challenge for any card worker.

Paul Fleming wrote:

Arthur Buckley's "post-graduate course on practical methods" of card magic, which has been eagerly awaited by card conjurers ever since its coming publication was advertised several months ago, is now a reality. It turns out to be a somewhat smaller book than was expected, with 219 instead of the promised 256 pages - a discrepancy which doubtless resulted from undertaking to estimate the size of the book before the type had been made up into pages. In another respect, however, the author-publisher has given exceedingly good measure; for he has provided 297 photographic halftones in place of the 247 illustrations that were announced.

Card Control consists of four chapters of substantial size and a six-page glossary, in addition to the table of contents, a short preface, and Harlan Tarbell's two-page biographical sketch of the author. The 200 pages of explanatory material have been divided into chapters of varying length, with about two-thirds of the space being devoted to principles of card conjuring and the other third to their application in the form of complete tricks. Chapter 1, entitled Sleights, runs 83 pages; Chapter 2, Conjuring at the Card Table, 27 pages; Chapter 3, Manipulation, 27 pages; and Chapter 4, Forty Experiments with a Pack of Cards, 63 pages.

In the first chapter, Mr. Buckley explains 75 card sleights, some of them quite difficult and others very easy, using 170 illustrations to make clear every detail of position and action. The force, glimpse, slide, pass, shift, palm, false shuffle, principles are described here - sometimes in practically orthodox form, but more often with what will be (for most readers) some element of novelty. Unless the student is extremely well acquainted with this branch of magic, he will be surprised by the striking developments that have taken place since Erdnase wrote his famous Expert at the Card Table; and in any case he will be pleased with the many versions of certain sleights from among which he may choose the one that best meets his individual needs. Of the many forms of shift (which the author defines as "secretly transferring a card from one position in the pack to another"), the reader is made acquainted with the Greek shift, the Hindu shift, Buckley's Slap Shift (especially useful in tricks of the Stop type), his Single Card Shift (for bringing to the bottom of the pack a card that has been "peeked at"), his Multiple Card Shift, and, finally, Vernon's Multiple Shift - in which four cards, placed in the pack at different points, are brought to the top in one move. In praising this Vernon sleight, Mr. Buckley declares that "no more perfect piece of deception could be devised."

Card locations are given a considerable amount of attention.

Among those explained in Card Control are an "invisible" (one hand) location, the glide location, Buckley's diagonal location, and one each by Carmen Domico and Richard Cardini. Another example of the abundance and variety of methods of performing a given sleight is found in the explanations of card palming. In addition to the Buckley "side steal palm," original procedures for palming cards from the bottom of the pack, "perfect" card palm, "novel" palm, and "top palm slide off," there are "top palms" by Joe Berg, Bert Allerton, and the late Judson Cole. There is also the "palm unsurpassed," an original sleight which the author considers "probably the best method yet devised of palming off the pack either one, two, or three cards." However that may be, it is unquestionably a very novel method and one which many magicians will probably find useful, and possibly even (as Mr. Buckley suggests) "worth more than the price paid for this book." The sleights we have cited are merely illustrative, and are mentioned chiefly to indicate the wealth of information that the author presents with respect to several specific principles. There are, of course, many sleights of which but one version each is given, such as the "card transfer" of John Brown Cook, for bringing to the top a card that has been replaced in the pack, and the very pretty Buckley procedure for exchanging a packet of five red cards for a packet of black ones. There are, also, enlightening observations by the author on the right way to execute the pass, the side steal, the second deal, and other standard sleights.

Chapter 2 should appeal strongly to that considerable and apparently growing group of card tricksters who delight in showing how gamblers cheat, by demonstrating their ability to deal themselves winning hands. To this worthy end, Mr. Buckley contributes instruction in stocking, false shuffling, false cutting, second dealing, bottom dealing, using the bridge, restoring the cut, and other moves that must be employed if the wizard is to be sure of getting the desired cards. This section of the book is illustrated with 42 halftone cuts.

Card manipulations of the kind designed to show the spectators that marvelous things are being done, in contrast to sleights of the kinds noted above (which, to rate as successfully executed, must not even be suspected), constitute the "flashiest" feats - though certainly not the most deceptive - in the whole field of pure sleight-of-hand with cards. They have the advantage of being suitable, in many instances, for audiences of large size, as has been amply proved by such notable card experts, past and present, as Howard Thurston, Paul Valadon, Arnold de Biere, J. Warren Keane, Harry Blackstone, Paul Le Paul, and Richard Cardini. The 27 pages of text and 75 illustrations that make up Chapter 3 are devoted very largely to an exposition of back and front palming. Every magician knows the broad principles of back-hand manipulations and the general procedure to be followed, but many readers are sure to benefit by a study of the details which are here presented. Mr. Buckley explains how to do the back and front palm "without swinging the arm and without using the thumb"; how to transfer the palmed cards from hand to hand by means of the "change-over-palm" (two methods); how to shift palmed cards from the back to the inside of the hand while openly displaying a "produced" card, so that the back will be seen to be empty (Le Paul's method), and so on. He also explains three widely different ways to cause the disappearance of a fan of cards and later reproduce them, and how to back palm a full pack of cards and then produce them in a series of fans - a feat which he "originated, developed, and used" as early as 1918, and one which has more recently helped to make the reputations of a number of card manipulators. Magicians who specialize in this branch of card magic will read with interest and profit Mr. Buckley's advice on lighting and music, and his instructions on preparing the cards of a pack for use in card manipulation.

To the "forty experiments" mentioned on the half-title page which precedes Chapter 4 (63 pages, 10 illustrations) another, unnumbered feat has been added by way of bonus. This trick, The Card in the Pocket Book ("an old plot with a new and simplified method") strikes us as one of the best of the lot, partly because it is one of the few tricks explained here that are suitable for audiences of large size. Most of Mr. Buckley's effects are of a kind which cannot be described at all adequately in the space at our disposal, nor would their nature be revealed by listing them by name, except in the case of his original versions of such well-known feats as Bird of a Feather, The Ambitious Card, and The Four Aces. We must content ourselves, therefore, with the observation that these tricks will doubtless arouse the enthusiasm of the thousands of magicians who revel in new card mysteries, and should enable those who practice them faithfully not only to do wholly incomprehensible tricks for the uninformed but also to outwit any of their colleagues who are less well read.

Though some of these tricks are relatively easy, others are quite difficult, and some will tax the abilities of any but the most skillful. In many instances, a single feat requires the performance of five or six sleights, and each of several tricks demands skill in the execution of ten sleight-of-hand principles. Hence, this is a book for the serious student of card conjuring and not for the trifler, as the author warns in his preface. "This is a compendium of advanced principles, master sleights, and card effects," he says, "and it is therefore assumed that my reader is already in possession of a marked degree of skill and aptitude for such things with cards; furthermore, that he is a student of other practical works on card magic by such authors as Hugard, Erdnase, Merlin, Tarbell, Downs, and many others. The sleights of this compendium are of major importance and great practical value. They are unsurpassed by hitherto known and published methods; many are difficult to accomplish, and require patience and constant practice before they can be mastered or performed in a creditable manner."

Physically, the book is marred by several shortcomings which, though they may go unnoticed by the casual reader, will be regretted by all who are interested in improving the quality of magical bookmaking. Our chief complaint is a lack of uniformity which manifests itself in various forms. There is great unevenness in spacing between lines, as may be seen (to cite but one of dozens of instances) by reference to pages 142 and 143. There is lack of consistency in the type used in titles, as will be observed on pages 90-91 and elsewhere. There is (to mention one further lapse) a great deal of confusion in the use of "half-title" pages, which are often used to mark the main divisions of a book. Traditionally, the half-title always occupies a right-hand page, and is followed by a blank page. In Card Control, only two of the four needed half-titles are on right-hand pages, one is on a left-hand page, and the one which should precede Chapter 1 (and is particularly important for separating this chapter from the table of contents) is omitted entirely; and the customary blank page is missing in each of these cases!

In pointing out these defects in bookmaking, to which additions could readily be made, we have no thought of criticizing Mr. Buckley, the author, but are interested rather in indicating how these errors might easily have been avoided. A few years ago, Carl Waring Jones was able to impress the magical world with the physical excellence of three of his publications, Greater Magic, Magical Ways and Means, and Expert Card Technique. The books were well made because Mr. Jones had the work done by a firm that manufactures books for the great commercial publishing houses. There is no reason to expect an author to know about the details of bookmaking - that should be the responsibility of the printer. But if Mr. Buckley, the publisher, had entrusted the making of Card Control to a concern genuinely experienced in book manufacture, that concern would have seen to it that the accepted standards of good bookmaking were not violated. We think it worthwhile to stress this, because altogether too many books on magic give evidence of having been turned out by job-printers or manufacturers of catalogs, who simply are not equipped to produce books either artistically or economically.

On the credit side of our physical appraisal, we are happy to record the fact that the book is printed on heavy coated paper from type of good size, with especially excellent presswork on the halftones, and is stoutly bound in black fabrikoid with goldstamping on front cover and spine. We happen to know that Mr. Buckley went to the extra trouble and expense of having the text re-set in 10-point type, because the original 8-point seemed to him too small for easy reading, and also had the photographs re-touched and a new set of halftones made in the interests of greater clarity. We heartily applaud this expression of consideration for the reader. The result of these changes is clearly evident. The pages can now be read without effort, and the nearly 300 halftones comprise one of the handsomest and most thorough jobs of illustrating to be found in any textbook on magic.

We bring this review to an end with a realization that we have necessarily failed to do full justice to the book under discussion. We have been able to note specifically only a few of its treasures, leaving unmentioned others which are equally certain to bring joy to the hearts of card conjurers. It is hard to believe that anyone who does sleight-of-hand tricks with cards could fail to benefit greatly by the information found in this latest treatise on the technique of advanced card magic.

1st edition, 1946, Arthur Buckley; reprint, 1993, Dover Publications, New York; 219 pages.

  • Sleights
    1. The Strip
    2. A Blind Riffle Shuffle
    3. "The Force That Couldn't Be"
    4. Domico Double Lift
    5. The Exchange
    6. Greek Shift
    7. Greek Shift - Buckley's Method
    8. Hindu Shift
    9. Vernon's Multiple Shift
    10. Multiple Shift - Buckley's Method
    11. Buckley's Slap Shift
    12. Buckley's Single Card Shift
    13. Shifting a Card from the Bottom of the Pack
    14. Improved Dovetail Stock Shuffle to Keep the Top Stock
    15. Improved Dovetail Stock Shuffle to Keep the Bottom Stock
    16. Buckley's Method of Secretly Placing a Bridge
    17. Buckley's Out of This World False Shuffle and Cut
    18. Sighting or Glimpsing the Top Card
    19. Sighting the Top Card - Second Method
    20. Sighting the Top Card - Third Method
    21. Sighting the Top Card - Fourth Method
    22. Improved Peek
    23. Sighting After the Peek
    24. Other Locations AFter the Peek
    25. Turnover Sight Location
    26. Stepping After the Peek
    27. The Slide
    28. The Invisible Location
    29. Buckley's Reverse
    30. Sighting While Cutting the Pack
    31. The Glide
    32. The Glide - Second Method
    33. The Glide Location
    34. Buckley's Method of Sighting While Fanning the Cards
    35. Glimpsing the Bottom Card
    36. Buckley's Diagonal Location
    37. The Break Shuffle
    38. Buckley's Method for Dealing Seconds
    39. Domico Location
    40. Cardini's Location
    41. The Count
    42. False Count for More
    43. False Count for Less
    44. The Side Steal Palm
    45. The Side Steal Palm - Buckley's Method
    46. Original Methods of Palming Cards from the Bottom of the Pack
    47. Palming from the Bottom After the Riffle Shuffle
    48. The Perfect Card Palm
    49. The Replacement
    50. Buckley's Multiple Card Palm Steal
    51. Overhand Shuffle and Multiple Shift
    52. Buckley's Double Peek Location Shuffle and Palm
    53. Buckley's Top Palm Slide Off
    54. Berg's Top Palm
    55. The Allerton Top Palm
    56. One Hand Top Palm - Judson Cole
    57. Palm Off the Second Top Card While Top Card Is Visibly Drawn Onto the Pack
    58. To Palm Off the Top of the Pack an Exact Number of Cards Up to Ten
    59. To Palm One or Several Cards
    60. The Fan Location
    61. The Fan Location Amplified
    62. A Novel Palm
    63. Changing a Card in the Act of Turning the Card Over
    64. The Throw Change
    65. Hindu Shuffle and Cut Location
    66. Buckley's Method of Double Cutting Cards to the Top of the Pack
    67. John Brown Cook's Transfer of a Card
    68. The "Pass"
    69. False Shuffle Par Excellence
    70. Another Method of Reversing a Card
    71. Extraordinary Queens
    72. A Different Top Change (mass hypnotism)
    73. An Amazing Location
    74. One Hand Crimp
    75. The Count (Second Method)
    76. The Palm Unsurpassed (Original)
    77. Bottom Palm of a Single Card (Original)
    78. The Top Palm (Improved Method)
    79. The Glide Shift
  • Conjuring at the Card Table
    1. Foreword
    2. False Table Riffle Shuffle
    3. False Table Riffle Shuffle and Cut
    4. The Shift and Shuffle
    5. The Push Through Simplified
    6. Cut, Riffle Shuffle and Retain the Top Stock
    7. Bottom Stock Blind Riffle
    8. Retaining the Stock
    9. The Switch at Draw Poker
    10. Dealing from the Bottom
    11. The Cut and Use of the Bridge
    12. Restoring the Cut
    13.   Second Method - The Drop
    14.   Third Method
    15.   Bottom Stock Shift
    16. Restoring the Cut (My Pet Method)
    17. A Cute False Cut
    18. Running Up Two Hands
    19. The Hold Out and Pick Up Builds
    20. Demonstration Build of Four Aces Using the Buckley Double Cuts
    21. A Cold Deck Warmed Up
    22. The Practical Sharpers
    23. Knowing Your Opponent's Hole Card
    24. The Spread
    25. A Strike (Method of Dealing Seconds)
    26. Second Dealing (Black Jack Method)
    27. Dealing Seconds (Double Push-Off One Hand)
    28. An Original Method of Restoring the Cut (Fourth Method)
  • Manipulations
    1. Lighting
    2. Music
    3. A Vanish of a Card from the Top of the Pack
    4. A Back Palm with Open Fingers
    5. The Bent Fingers Back Palm and Recovery
    6. Production from the Palm
    7. A Card Vanishes
    8. Push Down Vanish
    9. The Thumb Palm Move
    10. The Slide Up Vanish
    11. A Card Vanishes and Reappears at the Very Tips of the First and Second Fingers
    12. Reverse Palming Without Swinging the Arm and Also Without Using the Thumb
    13. Fan Vanish
    14. A Fan of Cards Disappears
    15. Paul le Paul Reversal
    16. The Change Over
    17. A Very Pretty and Deceptive Piece of Card Manipulation
    18. The Steal
    19. "Back Palm" a Pack of Fifty-Two Cards and Produce Them in a Series of Fans at the Fingertips
  • Experiments with Cards
    1. Experiment No. 1 Transposition
    2. Experiment No. 2 Confusion
    3. Experiment No. 3 Do You See Red?
    4. Experiment No. 4 Matching Pairs
    5. Experiment No. 5 The Lost Aces
    6. Experiment No. 6 The Convexed Aces
    7. Experiment No. 7 Charlier Location and Speller Effect
    8. Experiment No. 8 Card Through the Case
    9. Experiment No. 9 Unexpected Ending
    10. Experiment No. 10 Birds of a Feather
    11. Experiment No. 11 Simplicity
    12. Experiment No. 12 Next to Yours
    13. Experiment No. 13 Four Chances - A Novel Card Location
    14. Experiment No. 14 Naming the Top Card
    15. Experiment No. 15 A Gambler's Aid
    16. Experiment No. 16 A Card Gets Out of Hand
    17. Experiment No. 17 Difficult Routine
    18. Experiment No. 18 Lost and Found
    19. Experiment No. 19 Mysterious Marker
    20. Experiment No. 20 Black Jacks
    21. Experiment No. 21 The Ladies and the Deuces
    22. Experiment No. 22 Another Transposition
    23. Experiment No. 23 The Ambitious Card
    24. Experiment No. 24 The Mix-Up
    25. Experiment No. 25 Wishful Thinking
    26. Experiment No. 26 Color Memory
    27. Experiment No. 27 Think of a Number
    28. Experiment No. 28 A Brilliant Climax
    29. Experiment No. 29 An Ace Introduction
    30. Experiment No. 30 The Aces and the Chosen Card
    31. Experiment No. 31 Quintuplets
    32. Experiment No. 32 The Slop Over Card Location
    33. Experiment No. 33 Card and Pocket Mystery
    34. Experiment No. 34 Your Favorit Ace
    35. Experiment No. 35 The Double Surprise
    36. Experiment No. 36 Chivalrous Kings and the Four Ladies
    37. Experiment No. 37 A Quickie
    38. Experiment No. 38 Four Aces Par Excellence
    39. Experiment No. 39 The Obtrusive Queens
    40. Experiment No. 40 The Illusive Transfer
    41. Experiment No. 41 Card in Pocket Book
    42. Experiment No. 42 The Hindu Aces
    43. Experiment No. 43 The Four Bandits

word count: 79668 which is equivalent to 318 standard pages of text

Reviewed by Eric Fry
★★★★★   Date Added: Monday 09 January, 2023

This e-version's photos are far superior to the ones in the Dover print edition. And the text is much more readable in this e-version.

Reviewed by Feras A. Alkharboush (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★   Date Added: Monday 02 October, 2006

The book is PURE GOLD.

You know when they say: old gems? you got them all in here. These are the controls you will use!

Very advanced moves in here though. You got to have to experiance with a deck of cards. I finished Royal Road, and I can uderstand Arthur's explinations easily! I didn'n think I'm a book learner!

Altough explinations are good, some moves are hard, REALLY hard. Needs a practice.

For 5 Bucks? You cant beat that. Highly recommended