I will introduce this book by a little story told to me by a certain well-known conjurer. It concerns an experience of his while on tour in the north. By some mischance his luggage, including all the elaborate apparatus used by him in his tricks and illusions, went astray on the railway. He telegraphed for it up and down the line, but without result. For the time being it was hopelessly lost. What was to be done? The position was as awkward as it well could be. The bills announcing his performance had been out several days. Most of the reserved seats had already been sold; and the manager of the local Assembly Rooms was confident that there would be a big rush for the unreserved ones.
The hours went on until the one for opening the doors arrived. Was the performance to be abandoned? No! My friend rose to the occasion. For that one evening he dispensed with apparatus. With the aid of coins, handkerchiefs, watches, hats, cards, matches and other things of ordinary use he succeeded in entertaining his audience. Doubtless he was helped by his exceptional skill in humorous “patter.” But the fact remains that for an hour or two he kept hundreds of people interested in tricks and puzzles connected with familiar articles to be found everywhere.
It is with such tricks and puzzles that this book deals. The reader who masters its contents will not have to make elaborate preparations in order to amuse and mystify his friends. He will not want a platform, with shaded lights and a curtained background. There will be no tables and cabinets which he will have to guarantee to be even more harmless than they look. An assistant will not be standing at the side ready to rush forward at any emergency. No; the performer will simply use Mr. Brown’s watch, Mr. Jones’s handkerchief, and Mr. Robinson’s coins (provided of course that Mr. Robinson is of a sufficiently confiding nature).