No one who has seen Gus Fowler's vaudeville act with timepieces will doubt that magic with watches can be both interesting and mystifying. We cannot guarantee that Tricks with Watches will enable its readers to duplicate the financial and artistic success won by Mr. Fowler, but it will acquaint them with sleights and tricks which they will almost certainly be tempted to introduce into their programs.
Of the four chapters into which Mr. Berland divides his book, Chapter I is devoted to sleights with watches; Chapter 2, to complete tricks with watches alone or tricks in which watches play a major part; Chapter 3, to tricks with wrist-watches; and Chapter 4, to various methods of causing a watch to disappear. We cannot enthuse over the five tricks in Chapter 3, possibly because we have never seen them performed and do not realize how effective they are, but chiefly (we believe) because a wristwatch strikes us as a clumsy article to conjure with. The eight well-known devices described in Chapter 4 are included, as the author explains, because of their usefulness in the performance of certain watch tricks.
It is in the first two chapters, however, that we find the real meat of this book. To begin with, there are fifteen sleights with watches, illustrated with fifty drawings. Several of these sleights are used for "vanishing" two watches at a time, which seems to us to be almost too much of a good thing. But there are also some very deceptive "moves" for manipulating a single watch. Mr. Berland explains them well, with many illustrations, telling not only how to hold the hand that conceals the watch but also (and perhaps even more important) what to do with the other hand. These sleights, well-practiced, should give something of the effect produced by Gus Fowler in his beautifully deliberate watch-palming, with which he never failed to bring down the house. Another interesting feature of Chapter I is a device that enables one to do practically the same sleights with a watch that Howard Thurston performed with a card - passing it through the knees, and vanishing it from the hand, and reproducing it from the elbow - with the palms facing the audience.
Chapter 2, which comprises more than half the book (34 pages) is given over to detailed explanations of complete tricks, which seem to include just about everything that can be done with, and to, watches. A watch is removed from the performer's chain, disappears, and returns repeatedly to the chain; watches are produced, quite appropriately, from Time magazine; watches appear at the fingertips, a la The Miser's Dream; watches are reduced to one-fourth their original size, and watch-chains are "stretched" to ridiculous lengths. In all, 26 complete tricks are explained. The whole is told in plain English, in a well-printed, paper-bound book of 64 pages, with some 200 illustrations. We predict that Tricks with Watches will arouse fresh interest in a branch of magic that has never been over-worked. It may even give rise to a "watch king" or two!