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John Ramsay's Routine with Cups and Balls
by Victor Farelli


(4 customer ratings) ★★★★★

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John Ramsay's Routine with Cups and Balls by Victor Farelli

John Ramsay was called "The Magician's Magician" because even for those in the know he could create miracles. He consistently fooled his peers with his incredible skill, misdirection and unique thinking. Here are a few quotes about him:

"... We are not given to uncritical boosts.... But it is difficult to write with moderation of the work of Johnnie Ramsay. His sleight of hand is unexcelled, perhaps even unequalled. Performers who know all there is to know about the Cups and Balls are not merely puzzled, but utterly baffled by Ramsay's presentation. His Cap and Pence is a masterpiece of artistry.... It is not that he is always "one ahead": he must generally be half-a-dozen ahead.... His misdirection is perfect. Every action is perfectly natural and fully accounted for... If it be true that art consists in the concealment of art, then John Ramsay is the finest magical artist that we have seen...." - ABRACADABRA (30th March, 1946).

"... Who hasn't heard of John Ramsay and the way he outdistances everyone with his close-up thimble and coin work?" - ANNEMANN, Theo (The Jinx).

"... If you haven't seen John Ramsay, you haven't seen one of the greatest exponents of sleight of hand..." - CHRISTOPHER, Milbourne (The Linking Ring).

"... John, I would willingly walk three hundred miles to see you perform..." - DOWNS, T. Nelson

"I have seen many of the world's greatest magicians, but as I have not seen them all, I cannot state that John Ramsay is 'the greatest sleight of hand performer living to-day'. But this I can truthfully assert: John Ramsay is the best conjurer in his particular line of work that I have ever met. In misdirection and subtlety he far surpasses all others that I have seen: his methods are original and possibly unrivalled." - FARELLI, Victor

"... John Ramsay ... his tricks with small objects are the best I have ever witnessed... His misdirection is perfect... His trick with half-crowns and a small cylinder left us guessing, and we are still guessing..." - HULL, Ralph W. (From a private letter addressed to his friend. J. Crosland, Bately, England).

"... When you know the man, and study him closely, you are absolutely amazed at his tremendous ability..." - LEVANTE, Les (From The World's Fair. 13th May, 1939).

This is likely the best book on the classic Cups and Balls effect. It includes next to a detailed description of John Ramsay's routine historical notes as well as a cups and balls bibliography. Includes photos and illustrations.

Paul Fleming wrote:

John Ramsay, whom we "killed off" in a review several years ago, by referring to him (mistakenly, we rejoice to say) as "the late John Ramsay," is known in many lands for his remarkably clever close-up conjuring. Victor Farelli, who has abandoned the magic wand for the pen, is the author of several works on magic with cards, coins, and linking rings. In producing the book under review, Mr. Ramsay has contributed his favorite cup-and-ball routine, and Mr. Farelli his literary skill, to their joint undertaking.

The routine in question consists of (1) the passage of the performer's wand through each of two small paper cups; (2) the production of two small cork balls from the wand; (3) the disappearance of these balls from the magician's pockets and their reappearance under the cups; (4) the magical production of two large cork balls; (5) the magical production of two tomatoes under the cups, and the mysterious reappearance of the small cork balls; and (6) the production of colored paper ribbons from both of the cups. Every step of this routine is explained by Mr. Farelli in the most minute detail, as should be evident when we state that the explanation covers 52 pages of print and includes 47 illustrations. We see no reason why any intelligent person should not be able to master these extraordinarily thorough instructions without difficulty, and should expect him to feel that he had received "full money's worth" provided this happens to be the sort of routine that meets his needs. On the other hand, the price would doubtless seem very high to someone who had hoped to learn an especially fine version of the orthodox Cup and Ball Trick, suitable for presentation before a group of considerable size.

Here, we believe, is a difficulty that faces every seller of a single routine, such as the one under discussion, as contrasted with the seller of a book which explains many tricks. In buying the latter the buyer "spreads the risk," for the chances of finding something that he personally can use are obviously far greater than those of the buyer of a single trick - which, unless he has actually seen it performed, may turn out to be very different from what he has had in mind, and hence prove of little or no value to him, however useful it might be to other performers. Perhaps the best insurance against disappointment of this kind would be a refusal to purchase a single routine without first seeing it done or having heard or read a fairly detailed description of it. As for John Ramsay's Routine with Cups and Balls, our description in the preceding paragraph should enable the potential buyer to decide whether it is an effect he would like to present. If so, we may assure him that the routine can be done precisely as described and that Mr. Farelli's explanation makes everything very clear.

Only about half of this hundred-page book consists of explanation. The other half traces the history of The Cups and Balls, and includes a comprehensive bibliography of publications that relate to this trick. This, by the way, is the best piece of bookmaking that the publisher, George Armstrong, has yet produced. The proofreading is not beyond reproach, but the typographical errors are not really serious. The paper is suitable for the printing of halftone cuts, and the photographic illustrations are well reproduced. Finally, the book is attractively bound in bright red cloth, and gold-stamped on both front cover and spine.

1st edition 1948; original 101 pages; PDF 85 pages.
word count: 21932 which is equivalent to 87 standard pages of text