Scarne describes 155 easy to do tricks with cards. No sleight of hand skill whatsoever is required in these tricks. But don't assume that this makes them weak effects.
"Among the multifarious illusions of the conjurer," wrote professor Hoffmann some sixty years ago, "few are more truly magical, or to the uninitiated more inexplicable than a really good card trick." Fortunately or unfortunately, it is not given to all of us to master the intricacies of expert card manipulation and win the fame of a Leipzig, Vernon, or Daley. But it is possible today, in contrast to Professor Hoffmann's era, to become a card wizard without bothering about the "pass," the "palm," or indeed any of the sleights that seemed indispensable to card conjuring less than a half century ago. Strangely enough, the latest addition to the literature of card magic without sleight-of-hand is the work of a man who is himself one of the foremost experts in the field of advanced card technique, whose services in both entertaining and instructing the American forces during World War II have made his name - John Scarne - a familiar one to a host of young war veterans.
Scarne on Card Tricks (which must not be confused with his Scarne on Cards, a book that dealt primarily with card games and not tricks) is a collection of 155 feats with cards. It runs into 308 pages of clearly written, well printed, and neatly cloth-bound text, with 82 illustrations. Anyone who has followed conjuring developments during the past few decades is bound to meet up with old friends in this volume, but he is equally certain to make many new and welcome acquaintances as he marches through the really amazing selection of card mysteries that Mr. Scarne has brought together here. According to the preface, he has included approximately thirty original tricks of his own, and, though we have not attempted to make a tally of such matters, we noted, in the course of our reading, that he had a hand in modifying, and doubtless improving, many others. With lavish hand, Mr. Scarne bestows credit for originating, suggesting, performing, "being identified with," or "favoring" tricks. In dispensing credit, it is doubtless better to be generous than niggardly, but the present reviewer must confess to experiencing surprise upon finding his own name among those with whom, according to this book, a certain variation of The Card on the Ceiling "has been a great success!" However, the mention of such well-known card experts as Baker, Cardini, Daley, Gibson, Houdini, Leipzig, Le Paul, Thurston, Vernon, and Zingone, in connection with specific feats with which they have in some way been associated is a commendable practice, and one which, among other things, probably attracts some readers to worthwhile tricks that might otherwise be overlooked.
Card tricks are notoriously hard to describe in a limited space, and non-sleight-of-hand feats present special difficulties because they are likely to involve much counting, noting, remembering, cutting, replacing, and other actions which make monotonous reading and in some instances, be it confessed, even monotonous witnessing in actual performance though we are not implying that this is true of Mr. Scarne's tricks. The reader will find here many contrasting types of feats - old and new, simple and complicated, slightly puzzling and most astounding, amusing and serious, virtually instantaneous and time-consuming, and so on. He will find, also, tricks that make use of a few cards, a full pack, several packs, and (in a single instance) no cards at all! Here, we rejoice to report, are such old favorites as The Card in the Wallet, Birds of a Feather, Follow the Leader, the Four-Ace Trick, The Telephone Trick, Do As I Do, The Piano Card Trick, and many others, usually in several versions and always without the need of sleight-of-hand. Spelling tricks, reversal tricks, feats of prediction and divination, mind-reading tests, the separation of red cards from black and of blue-backed cards from red-backed-these are but scattered examples of the scores of mysteries that Mr. Scarne offers his readers.
Scarne on Card Tricks is not just another magic book for boys (though we could have made excellent use of it in our youth as the boys and young men of today will doubtless do). It is, on the contrary, a volume which contains many outstanding feats with playing cards, among which any would-be conjurer who possesses a fair memory, a modicum of personality, and a reasonable amount of industry can select a dozen or so, rehearse them thoroughly, and build up (among laymen at least) a reputation as a card expert. It is a book that is almost certain to produce a bumper crop of conjurers with cards!
Included is a new hyperlinked topical index which makes this ebook a much better work of reference where it is easy to quickly find effects belonging to a certain category.