Lewis Ganson, mostly known as author of magic books, was also himself an expert stage card manipulator. This ebook is a complete course in the art of manipulating playing cards, from back palms, to catching cards, card fans, flourishes, gimmicks and holders, and how to put it all together into a routine.
This recent work on card manipulation is divided into four sections which deal with (1) the back-palming of cards, (2) card fans, (3) card flourishes, and (4) suggestions for routines. Since we have no special knowledge of card fanning or card flourishes - and, because they lack mystery, no particular interest in them - we shall say relatively little about these two sections of the book, and shall dispose of them first.
The author's treatment of card fanning is quite extensive, covering 32 pages of descriptions which are illustrated with 90 photographic halftones and two line drawings. The reader is told about the best kinds of cards to use (with respect to both quality and design), and the proper preparation, care, and arrangement of the cards. He is then given quite a course in making thumb-fans, spring-fans, and single-handed fans. In this process he is taught The Visible Changing Fan, The Fan "Steal" and Production, The Giant Fan (and conclusions thereto, including one- and two-handed Waterfall Shuffles), The Fan False Shuffle, and finally Mr. Ganson's "Ace" Diminishing Cards, a variation and elaboration of Robert-Houdin's famous feat of apparently reducing the size of a pack of cards in successive stages. The section on card flourishes consists of 12 pages of description and 15 photographic illustrations. The specific flourishes here described are limited to card-springing, arm-spreads, and a dozen or so ways (usually by means of a "catch") to bring the "spread" to a successful and graceful conclusion. The instructions in these two sections are so complete and so well illustrated that they should enable the would-be card-fanner, -springer, -spreader, and -catcher to practice to his heart's content with every assurance of acquiring the desired skill.
So far as Section 1 is concerned, we have no hesitancy in pronouncing it one of the very best discussions of back-hand card manipulation we have ever seen. It is somewhat shorter than the remarkable treatment of this branch of card conjuring that is presented in Magic Without Apparatus, but on the other hand it brings the subject more fully up to date. The really serious student of back-hand palming will not be content until he has read all that has ever been published about this sleight and its development; but if one's knowledge of back-hand work and its possibilities were to be limited to a single source, we should be disposed to vote for Expert Manipulation of Playing Cards. Thirty pages of text and 82 illustrations (all but two of which are photographic reproductions) carry the student along smoothly from the simplest to the more complicated moves of this intricate sleight.
The reader is taught, first, how to "vanish" a card by means of the back-hand palm, and then show the hand empty back and front by shifting the hidden card each time the hand is turned; how to show both hands empty while concealing a number of cards (three methods of performing this vital move); how to show the backs of the hands with fingers spread, while concealing cards; how to transfer the hidden cards from hand to hand (two methods), so as to prove both hands quite empty; how to produce the cards, one by one, from the back palm; and how to vanish cards, one by one, by using this sleight.
With these fundamentals of back-hand palming thoroughly taught, Mr. Ganson proceeds to explain how to produce fan after fan of cards from the air, and how to draw a silk handkerchief between the fingers while concealing a packet of cards, thus negating the idea of possible concealment. He next goes into the mysteries of card manipulation while wearing gloves, explaining the best type of gloves to use; how to secure a "load" of cards from the glove; how to obtain a load outside the glove; how to remove the gloves and continue to produce cards; and how to obtain a load in the act of putting on the gloves. This bare listing of principles that are explained gives no adequate notion of the conscientious care that has been exercised by the author to insure the inclusion of every useful detail in all the procedures that are described.
To magicians who experience difficulty in building manipulative sleights into finished routines, the half-dozen pages of Section IV will be of much assistance. The author gives three complete series of manipulations, which are followed by several other suggestions for working one's sleights into an effective "act."
This book is a publication of Arcas of London, and is in the usual Arcas format. It runs 82 pages, 6 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches in size, has a total of 189 illustrations, and is bound in gray cloth with the title printed on front cover and spine. It does not rate high as a piece of bookmaking, chiefly because some of the photographic halftones have not reproduced clearly enough to meet the requirements of first-class printing, though even the poorest are sufficiently clear to enable the reader to understand the explanations without difficulty. So far as the material itself is concerned - and especially the section on back-palming - it is of so high an order that we can scarcely conceive of any card manipulator, whether expert or beginner, denying himself the pleasure and profit that a study of this book is sure to provide.