This is the 3rd edition which includes an additional chapter by Dai Vernon and another one by Dr. Daley. (The popular Dover version is a reprint of the 2nd edition and is lacking these two interesting chapters.) This book describes serious stuff. Card moves and tricks for the advanced card man. (For an excellent introduction to card magic see The Royal Road to Card Magic or the Card College series.) Expert Card Technique lists and explains in detail a large quantity of card moves. Card moves are abundant and any good card man will come up with his own variations and twists due to his constant use of cards and tireless perfection of his every movement of each and every joint in his dexterious hand. But to get you started or to refer back to, one needs a solid explanation of the details preferably from someone who has mastered the craft. And this book contains the methods of the masters of card magic such as Charles Miller, Dai Vernon, Theo Annemann, and many more. But not just moves like passes, fals deals and cuts, shuffles, crimps, peeks, glimpses, and jogs, but also the best tricks and routines using these sleights are collected in this magnificent book.
Ever since its first appearance, ten years ago, this work on card magic has been recognized as the "comprehensive and lucid source-book of expert card technique" which the authors, in writing it, had hoped it might turn out to be. It fulfilled admirably its avowed purpose of recording the developments in card manipulation that had occurred since the beginning of the century, and is indeed the only extensive advanced general treatise on card conjuring that has been published since 1902 when The Expert at the Card Table, by S.W. Erdnase, virtually revolutionized card magic by presenting card wizards with dozens of new sleights, many of which were vastly superior to those which conjurers had been employing from time immemorial. So popular did the Hugard-Braue opus prove to be, that two large printings were disposed of before it went temporarily out of print many months ago. Fortunately for those who have sought in vain to obtain this much-wanted book, the obstacles that prevented its prompt reprinting have now been removed, and a new, enlarged edition (with additional chapters by two celebrated experts, Dai Vernon and Dr. Daley) is now available. (For the benefit of possible procrastinators, we may mention the fact that the type used in printing this book has now been destroyed, so that there are unlikely to be any further editions.)
In bringing the subject of card magic up to date, Messrs. Hugard and Braue did not feel obliged to deal with the technique of card manipulation of the pre-Erdnase era, except in instances when improvements on old sleights or tricks had brought new life to ancient procedures. Thus we find occasional references to Bertram, Charlier, Hofzinser, and even Robert-Houdin, but always in connection with something that has pertinence today; and the emphasis is definitely upon the methods of Dai Vernon, Jack Merlin, Paul Rosini, Nate Leipzig, Luis Zingone, Charles Miller, and other notables whose names will be familiar to even the youngest of current card conjurers. Indeed, it was largely through the friendly cooperation of these and other able performers that our authors - though themselves well versed in both the theory and practice of card magic - were able to make Expert Card Technique the authoritative, modern work that it is.
In its original form, the book was divided into six parts of quite unequal length, two of which (comprising four-fifths of the whole volume) were used in explaining sleights and tricks. Some of these sleights - the pass, the false shuffle, palming, and so on - bear familiar titles, though the actual methods described here were in most cases unknown when Hoffmann and Sachs wrote their classic treatises; but many of the titles - such as the secret lift, the side slip, the spectator peek, and the rear palm (not to be confused with the back-palm, which is not explained in this book) - would sound odd to the ears of nineteenth-century magic writers. However these and other new sleights that are explained in detail in Expert Card Technique, which represent the cream of post-Erdnase developments in card manipulation, are the ones upon which the "top flight" present-day experts depend chiefly, though by no means exclusively.
What we have said about sleights is true also of tricks and routines. Such feats as The Rising Cards, The Ambitious Card, and The Four Aces are found here in name, and in some instances in essentially the same form as in the days of Robert-Houdin, Alberti, and Charles Bertram. But they also appear in this book in many new and ingenious versions by our Charles Millers, Jack Merlins, and Paul Rosinis. Of the Four-Ace type of trick, for example, there are here thirteen variations, grouped in a single chapter under the title, Birds of a Feather. Another chapter presents fifteen different "discoveries" of chosen cards; a third explains ten mental tests - a form of effect that has become exceedingly popular in the past half-century; a fourth, under the heading Selected Tricks, offers eight startling feats that are or have been favorites with Zingone, Jack McMillan, Paul Rosini, Charles Miller, Dai Vernon, and others. All told, even in its original edition, Expert Card Technique included 341 sleights and tricks.
Mere quantity is so much less significant than quality that it must be emphasized that the material in this book is of unusual excellence, having been chosen and presented by authors who know and love their art and have learned how to teach it to others. This point is well illustrated in Part III, entitled Technique, which the authors define as "the method of performance or manipulation in any art .... It concerns itself not with the means but the manner in which the means are employed." For example, though the reader has already been taught the mechanics of card-palming, he is now taught "the palm in action" -how, without arousing suspicion, to hand the pack (from which a card had just been palmed) to a spectator for shuffling, how to "cover the palm" while the shuffle is being executed, and how finally to replace the palmed card undetectably on the pack when the latter has been returned. To make clear the "manner" of employing the card-palm, the authors use ten pages of print which give information of a kind that may make all the difference between success and failure in mastering a technique, but which is often completely ignored by writers or dealt with so briefly as to be virtually worthless. Other evidence of the Hugard-Braue teaching is found in the six pages on the technique of card forcing, the three pages on secret-counting, and indeed generally throughout the book. For these examples are typical of the conscientious, painstaking effort which has gone into the superior instruction that here awaits the serious student of card conjuring. In this connection, we venture to quote a comment made in 1908 by Professor Hoffmann, in expressing his admiration for Robert-Houdin's Secrets of Conjuring and Magic. "Other books teach the neophyte how to perform given tricks; this book how to become, in the most finished sense, a conjurer," he wrote. So far as card magic is concerned, we feel that the statement might be applied with equal appropriateness to Expert Card Technique.
Another section of the book that deserves special mention is Part VII, entitled Misdirection and Presentation. Here are the theory and practice of magic brought down to earth and made understandable by means of concrete illustrations. Seldom if ever has the task been done so well as in these twenty-six pages. The advice here given has the sterling ring of authenticity. It is doubtless true, as an ancient Roman once said, that "experience is more valuable than precept"; but while one is gaining one's own experience, it is sound policy to follow precept if it is as clearly based upon experience as is the Hugard-Braue advice on misdirection and presentation. On two points, however, we wish to register mild protests. We agree with the authors that patter should be written out and memorized word for word; but we question the advisability of later making "no attempt to repeat word for word what you have learned," on the theory that when you use it in actual performance "you will find that you will remember what to say and how to say it," even though "you may clothe these thoughts in new words." We hold that the stage performer, at least, should be letter-perfect in his patter, on the ground that the effect of a spoken line depends very largely upon exact wording and exact timing, and that neither of these can have exactness unless the speaker knows exactly what he is going to say. Only by memorizing both his routine and his patter, and then sticking staunchly by them, will the magician be able to follow Hamlet's sage advice: "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action." Our second protest must be preceded by a word of hearty congratulations to Messrs. Hugard and Braue for their convincing case against confederacy. Our only regret is their suggestion that this is an issue "which each conjurer must decide for himself." On the contrary, it is a matter of great moment to the whole world of conjuring, and one that cannot safely be left to individual decision, for the good repute of magic and magicians and the very survival of the art are at stake. As we have said before in reviews, and shall continue to say until the battle is won, the practice of confederacy is both bad ethics and bad business. In dealing with so great a menace there can be no middle ground. Confederacy can find no justification, and is entitled to no quarter!
To the earlier printings of this book are now added two new chapters, one by Dai Vernon and one by Dr. Jacob Daley. This new material will be of the greatest possible interest to all sleight-of-hand card conjurers, partly because it is new and partly because of the worldwide fame of these experts. Mr. Vernon's chapter entitled A Lesson in Card Handling, consists of 15 pages and 16 illustrations. First come four pages of tips on top and bottom changes, a branch of card manipulation for which Mr. Vernon is famous. He then proceeds to explain Multiple Card Control, a procedure which enables the performer to have (say) three chosen cards replaced separately anywhere in the pack, and yet bring them together and keep them completely under control, so that they may be revealed individually in the order chosen (and not in the reverse order). Next is his Hand-to-Hand Card Transfer, a beautiful sleight for smoothly and naturally performing this useful operation. This is followed by The Peregrinating Pip, a charming change of the Five of Spaces to the Four, with the "peregrinating pip" moving onto a Deuce of Spades and thus converting it into a Trey! However, the piece de resistance of the chapter is The All Backs (6 pages, 7 illustrations), which may be briefly described as follows: After the cards have been spread fanwise, showing the backs, the performer lifts the top card off the pack and finds (much to his surprise) that it has two backs but no face! The next card is similarly displayed, and then the pack is turned over and run through without any cards being found that have faces. Finally, the performer slaps the pack, lifts off the top card (which now has a face), and then shows that all the cards are ordinary, each having one back and one face!
The chapter by Dr. Daley, called The Side Steal and Some of Its Finer Points, brings up to date the Hugard-Braue chapter on The Side Steal. Most magicians are probably aware that Dr. Daley is one of the greatest of experts in the use of this modern sleight for locating and getting possession of "peeked at" cards - a sleight which has played so important a part in the programs of Nate Leipzig, Max Malini, Paul Rosini, and other noted card experts. The special value of the Daley chapter can be appreciated only by going through the moves, pack in hand, as the present reviewer has done. Dr. Daley has given his readers the benefit of his long experience with this sleight, explaining how to avoid (1) a visible separation in the pack, (2) a noticeable movement of the left fingers, (3) unnatural actions in depositing the card on top of the deck, and (4) any noise in slipping the card from the center of the pack. Finally, and of vast importance, he provides practicable suggestions for misdirection. Altogether, he explains in detail four forms of the side steal. This new chapter and the original one by Hugard and Braue on the same subject (totaling 15 pages, 25 illustrations) constitute what we believe to be the most complete treatment of this valuable sleight to be found anywhere in print.
The third edition of Expert Card Technique is a volume of 500 pages, exceptionally well written, illustrated with 318 fine drawings by Donna Allen and 34 by Clayton Rawson, printed on paper of good quality, and bound in red cloth with silver stamping on both front cover and spine. It is a handsome book, the really great general textbook on modern card magic, and one of the major works in the whole realm of conjuring literature.