No, I don’t intend to discuss the events in the life or death of a recently departed member of royalty. The topic for discussion is the card trick bearing the name The Princess Card Trick. The effect is hardly new for it dates back to 1905 and is credited to American magician Henry Hardin. In the ensuing years the effect has been reinvented, rehashed, and rewritten by more than a few. Annemann, Hillard, Ganson, and Vernon all covered it in writings of the past. Both Bart Whaley and TA Waters discuss it in their directories. Most recently Larry Jennings and Gordon Bean gave it a fresh look in their marketed effect called Limited Edition. It was/is a favorite of performers such as Nate Leipzig, Eddie Fields, Bill Wisch, and Earl Edwards. More recently it has even shown up on the internet. Hence, the effect measures up to the test of time as well as the test for performing standards.
So, just what is The Princess Card Trick? It is quite simple, and this simplicity may be the reason for its long run in the course of magicdom. A packet of cards is shown, normally four or five cards. A spectator is requested to mentally think of one card. The cards are then turned backs towards viewers and the magician pockets a single card. The faces of the remaining cards are shown and the spectator’s mentally selected card is not among the group; hence, the pocketed card is his selection. That’s it! It doesn’t get more direct than that. It has been done using both gaffed cards and normal cards.
Those wishing to dig deeper can find three versions in Down’s Art of Magic, and Leipzig’s version in Vernon’s Tribute to Leipzig. The best version I’ve seen is the marketed Limited Edition by Larry Jennings and Gordon Bean. They have made the trick truly magical whereas in previous versions the spectator could write it off as being pure good luck for the magician. Bill Wisch used to hand craft the needed cards by carefully inlaying the pips within cut portions of the gaffed cards. Bill’s cards are truly a work of art. Today those wishing to make the gaffs will find that transfer pips will work perfectly.
If you’d like to see The Princess Card Trick performed on the internet here’s the URL:
It’s nicely done and lends itself beautifully for an effect performed on the computer.
Here is one of my favorite versions using normal cards. It was shown to me by Earl Edwards of Norfolk, VA back in 1959. It’s a wonderful handling for those times when you are seated with a group enjoying beer and pizza, for it can be repeated again and again. Earl Edwards could hold court with this thing for several minutes.
Nothing new here, but the presentation and patter line take a turn in a direction normally not seen with the trick. Follow Earl’s wording closely.
Effect: Earl shuffles five face down cards without showing their faces. He places the cards in a face down row and assigns a number to each spot in the row. For instance, working from spectator’s point of view, the card on the left is in spot number one, the next card in spot number two, on up through spot five. This is important as the spectator must understand these numbered spots in the row. Earl instructs the spectator to look at a card, remember its spot, and return the card face down to that spot. This is done while Earl turns his back towards the spectator.
Let’s say the cards is the King of Diamonds and it is in spot number three. Naturally Earl doesn’t know this. Once the card is noted Earl turns back to the viewers, picks up all five cards and pockets them. He then starts removing the cards from his pocket one at a time placing them in a face down row until he has four face down cards on the table. In the eyes of the viewer one card remains in his pocket.
Now the following wording is important, for Earl never asks for the name of the mentally selected card. He asks, “In which spot from one to five does your card belong?”
The viewer replies, “Spot number three.”
Earl replies, “I simply needed to know where to place it.” With that line he removes the final card, the King of Diamonds, and places it FACE UP in spot number three. Naturally, he needs to move the tabled cards a bit making room for the face up King in spot number three. This is extremely strong because the mentally selected card is never named, yet it is the final card removed from the pocket.
The King is flipped face down, the cards are shuffled again, and the effect repeated until midnight, or until the beer and pizza are gone.
Method: This goes back to the beginning of the creation of the effect. A total of nine cards are used. They can be any value and you never need to know the values. Four of these cards are secretly placed in the jacket pocket in advance.
Follow along as described in the presentation. After the card has been noted you pick up the five tabled cards in 1,2,3,4,5 order and place the packet in your pocket. Now, as in the presentation, remove cards one at a time placing them face down on the table in a row until you have a row of four cards. The cards just removed are the “x” cards that were already in the pocket.
Now use Earl Edwards’ exact words, “In which spot from one to five does your card belong?” Your hand is in your pocket as you ask this question. When the spectator says “Spot three” you remove the third card from the packet in your pocket, and place it FACE UP in spot three on the table saying, “I simply needed to know where to place it.”
You are now ready to repeat the effect.