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The Royal Road to Card Magic

by Jean Hugard & Fred Braue
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The Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard & Fred Braue

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The younger generation of card magicians probably knows or has heard of Card College by Roberto Giobbi. The Royal Road to Card Magic is very similar but of older vintage and doesn't cover as much ground. It introduces the novice into the art of card magic one move and principle at a time, always with tricks accompanying the moves. It is therefore not a mindless list of moves but a well prepared and thought out textbook. It will take the beginner to an intermediate level. Once The Royal Road to Card Magic has been mastered one can move on to Expert Card Technique which requires a higher skill level.

Actually because Expert Card Technique did not sell well when it was originally published in the 40s, Hugard and Braue wrote The Royal Road to Card Magic to provide a stepping stone to the much harder and less accessible Expert Card Technique.

Paul Fleming wrote:

"Nearly every modern conjurer of any pretensions of skill commences with a card trick," wrote Edwin T. Sachs some seventy years ago, in his Sleight-of-Hand, one of the great classics of magical literature. "There is something about a good card trick well executed that always takes with an intelligent audience," he continued. "When a performer does not commence with cards, it is generally because he does not possess skill enough to do anything effective with them, although he will generally make a virtue of necessity (at which conjurers are particularly apt), and give some totally different reason." This emphasis upon the skill needed in performing card tricks was far more warranted in Sachs' time than it is in 1948, though it is only fair to say that practically all the card sleights he explained are still used, in one form or another, by the most expert card magicians of the present day. It is equally true, however, that many new and easy methods have been devised which enable one to perform a considerable number of excellent card tricks with surprisingly little practice.

In support of this statement, we cite Chapter I of the present work, in which the learner is taught to false-shuffle a pack of cards. This exceedingly simple sleight can be mastered readily by anyone who is able to do a genuine overhand shuffle. Yet the false shuffle, as here employed, is a most worthy substitute for the pass, a difficult sleight which was once considered the most basic of card principles, but which, in the present treatise, does not make its appearance until the student is halfway through the book and has been taught dozens of extremely effective tricks. The pedagogical method adopted by the authors - that of first explaining the "mechanics" of a sleight, and then showing its practical application in several striking feats - is an admirable one in teaching conjuring. Not only is the student led, step by step, from the easy to the more difficult and from the simple to the more complicated sleight, but throughout the procedure he gets encouragement and enjoyment in the actual performance, from the very outset, of really first-rate magic. Indeed, the amateur who masters no more than the first chapter of The Royal Road to Card Magic will have at his command a half-dozen very good card tricks!

We may safely assume that our amateur, delighted at having made such rapid progress, will proceed with speed and enthusiasm to the study of the riffle-shuffle, glide, glimpse, palm, backslip, double-lift, pass, reverses, force, and top- and bottom-changes building, as he moves from wonder to wonder, an effective program from the feats which the authors explain in connection with each of these sleights. Nor (if he is wise) will he overlook the two chapters which explain the mysteries that are made possible through the use, respectively, of the "key card" and the prearrangement of a portion of the pack.

If our count is correct, the reader of this book is taught sixty-seven tricks, plus a score or more of card flourishes, by the time he has completed his course in card "principles," which are explained in eighteen chapters. Of the two remaining chapters, one discusses the important question of how to "routine" a program, and outlines five complete "acts" for occasions of various types. The other, and in some respects the most important chapter in the book, presents in detail, with all necessary instructions and essential patter, nine really great card classics, which, in the hands of such famous magicians as Conus, Comte, Robert-Houdin, Alexander Herrmann, and David Devant, have made conjuring history. One of these - a 9-page lesson of The Cards Up the Sleeve - is the best explanation we have yet seen of this unbeatable feat of card magic. We strongly suspect that it is Mr. Braue's own presentation of this great trick.

The previous collaborations of Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue - Expert Card Technique, the four-volume Miracle Methods Series, and The Invisible Pass - are a sufficient guarantee that any book produced by these authors will be well worth owning. Though The Royal Road to Card Magic is primarily a book for beginners, with whom it should be immensely popular, it will also bring pleasure and profit to advanced students of card magic, for these experienced writers have imparted many touches of originality to the sleights and tricks they have brought together in this volume. If the well-informed reader finds here relatively little that is strikingly new, he may be sure of finding much that is strikingly presented, and all eminently practicable. The Royal Road to Card Magic is a genuinely worthwhile book.

The publisher, too, has done a good job. The book runs 310 (xviii +292) pages, is well printed on good paper, illustrated with 121 first-class drawings by Frank Rigney, and bound in dark blue cloth with gold-stamping on the spine. It will doubtless be, as it deserves to be, a standard work on the subject for years to come.

(You might also be interested in the Annotated Royal Road to Card Magic.)

1st edition 1949, several reprints, ex. Dover 1999; 292 pages

  • Introduction by Paul Fleming
  • Preface

    Part One

  • I. The Overhand Shuffle, I
    • Position of the Pack in the Hands
    • Execution of the Overhand Shuffle
    • Using the Overhand Shuffle
    • Controlling the Top Card
    • Controlling the Bottom Card
    • Retaining the Top and Bottom Cards in Position
    • Top Card to Next to Bottom and Back to the Top
    • The Run
    • The Injog
    • The Undercut
    • Overhand Shuffle Control
    • Retaining Top Stock
    • Overhand False Shuffle
    • Overhand Shuffle Practive Routine
    • Tricks with the Overhand Shuffle
    • Topsy-Turvy Cards
    • A Poker Player's Picnic
    • A Pocket Discovery
    • Telepathy Plus
    • Thought Stealer
    • Pinkie Does It
    • A Card and a Number
  • II. The Riffle Shuffle
    • Riffle Shuffle Control
    • Retaining a Card at the Top of the Deck
    • Retaining the Bottom Card or Cards
    • Riffle Shuffle in the Air
    • Tricks with the Riffle Shuffle
    • An Instinct for Cards
    • Mirror of the Mind
    • Ultra Card Divination
  • III. Flourishes
    • Displaying the Top Card
    • The Ruffle
    • The Click
    • Spread and Turnover
    • Gathering the Ribbon-Spread Pack
    • Springing the Cards
    • A Flourish Count
    • Throwing a Card
    • Waterfall Shuffle
    • The Fan
    • One-Hand Fan
    • Thumb Fan
    • Pressure Fan
  • IV. The Glide
    • Design for Laughter
    • The Observation Test
  • V. The Glimpse
    • Bottom-Card Glimpse I
    • Bottom-Card Glimpse II
    • Bottom-Card Glimpse III
    • Top-Card Glimpse I
    • Fan Peek
    • Tricks with the Glimpse
    • Gray's Spelling Trick
    • Round and Round
  • VI. The Key Card
    • The Key Undercut
    • Key Undercut Shuffle
    • Tricks with the Key Card
    • Do as I Do
    • The Three Piles
    • The Twenty-Sixth Card
    • A Meeting of the Minds
    • The Non-Poker Voice
    • Intuition with Cards
    • Sliding Key Card
  • VII. The Palm
    • Top Palm I (Single Card)
    • Top Palm II (Several Cards)
    • Palm Glimpse
    • Replacing Palmed Cards
    • Tricks with the Palm
    • Card in the Pocket
    • Now You See It!
    • Grab-Bag Card
    • Good-Luck Card
    • Do It and Fail
    • Gathering of the Clan
    • Spring Catch
    • A Vested Interest
    • Piano Trick
  • VIII. The Backslip
    • Backslip Force
    • Backslip Control
    • Tricks with the Backslip
    • Lightning Card
    • The Tantalizer
    • Under Your Hat
  • IX. The Overhand Shuffle, II
    • Injog and Break
    • Overhand Break Control
    • Overhand Lift Shuffle
    • Lift Shuffle Force
    • Spread and Break
    • Holding a Break
    • Spread and Break Control
    • Tricks with the Overhand Shuffles
    • The Sevens
    • Obliging Aces
    • Leapfrog
    • Spectator's Card Trick
    • A Poker Puzzle
  • X. False Shuffles and Cuts
    • Optical Shuffle
    • Charlier Shuffle
    • The Cut
    • Palm Cut
    • Tricks with the Shuffles and Cuts
    • An Incomprehensible Divination
    • Circus Card Trick
    • Black Jack, Detective
  • XI. The Double Lift and Turnover
    • Double-Lift Glimpse
    • Double-Lift Card Reverses
    • Rapid Transit
    • The Trey
    • Ambitious Card
    • Throughth and Consequences
    • Insidious Dr. Fu Liu Tu
  • XII. The Pass
    • Riffle Pass
    • Spread Pass
    • Spring Pass
    • Tricks with the Pass
    • Off Agin, On Agin, Finnegin!
    • Kangaroo Card
    • Righting a Wrong
    • Blindfolded Pack
    • Double Speller
  • XIII. Miscellaneous Flourishes
    • Color Change
    • Double Color Change
    • The Changing Card
    • Self-Cutting Deck
    • A Pretty Cut
    • Pop-Up Card
    • A Bit of Byplay
    • Charlier Cut
    • Acrobatic Aces

      Part Two

  • XIV. The Reverses
    • First Method
    • Second Method
    • Third Method
    • Fourth Method
    • Reversed Location
    • Tricks with the Reverses
    • Spellbound
    • A Tipsy Trick
    • Double Reverse
    • Mentalivity
    • Mountebank Miracle
  • XV. The Hindu Shufle and other Controls
    • Hindu Shuffle Control
    • Hindu Shuffle Force
    • Hindu Shuffle Glimpse
    • The Step
    • Natural Jog
    • Twelve-Down Riffle
    • Tricks with the Hindu Shuffle
    • All Change Here
    • Ewephindit
  • XVI. The Classic Force
    • One-Hand Force
    • Bottom Force
    • Slide-Out Force
    • Two-Card Force
    • Riffle-Break Force
    • Sliding-Key Force
    • Double-Lift Force
    • Cut Force
    • Tricks with the Force
    • Justice Card Trick
    • Fours of a Kind
    • Pulse Trick
  • XVII. Top and Bottom Changes
    • Top Change
    • The Changing Card
    • Top-Change Byplay
    • Bottom Change
    • Top and Bottom Changes
  • XVIII. Arrangements
    • Tricks with Arrangements
    • The Selective Touch
    • A Future in Cards
    • Jacks Wild
    • Think Stop
    • Deal Away
    • The Educated Cards
    • Reds and Blacks
  • XIX. Routines
    • Routining Card Tricks
    • A Table Routine
    • Card-Discovery Routine
    • Razzle-Dazzle Routine

      Part Three

  • XX. Platform Tricks
    • Conus Ace Trick
    • Ladies' Looking Glass
    • Everywhere and Nowhere
    • Egyptian Pocket
    • Cards to the Pocket
    • Enlarging and Diminishing Cards
    • Three Cards Across
    • Everybody's Card I
    • Everybody's Card II
  • Index

word count: 94588 which is equivalent to 378 standard pages of text

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Reviewed by Robin Z
★★★★★   Date Added: Sunday 20 January, 2008

A classic in magic!

I can't accurately express how important this book is for a card magician. This book will teach all of the basic techniques for cards. This includes False Shuffles, Double Lifts, Hindu Shuffles, The Pass and many more. Along with the techniques you will find tricks that use the handling you have just learned.

If you really take the time to learn all of the techniques, as well as some of the tricks you will be better than most amateur card magicians.

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This product is listed in the following categories:

Magic / Cards

Magic / [for Beginners]