I PUBLISHED this method for secretly gaining written information many years ago in Magische Welt(1). Over the years this method has proven extremely valuable to me for learning thought-of words, numbers, names and questions. However, as far as I know, no one else has ever adopted it. I would like to offer it again, this time to my English-language readers, from the bottom of my heart; more so, because the handling has changed a bit since then.
First, you will need business cards printed on glossy, black stock. I’ve had mine printed with silver ink. These cards must be black on both sides, making it impossible for writing to be seen on them.
You must now prepare one of these cards by attaching a second one to it in a special way: A very thin border of Chap Stick lip balm(2) is applied to the face of one of your black business cards, along all four edges. The treated area should be no more than a sixteenth of an inch wide. Position a second card, also face up, onto the prepared card, so that all edges align perfectly and adhere to each other. The two joined cards should now look exactly like a single business card. Place this prepared card on top of a packet of twenty to twenty-five unprepared matching cards.
You will also need a supply of white, round or rectangular, self-adhesive stickers of a size that fits neatly on the back of your black cards. These stickers provide a writing space as well as a white field that forms a “concentration point” on which a spectator can fix his or her thoughts. (When I use a round sticker, I refer to it as my “portable crystal ball”.)
Remove the top (prepared) business card from the stack and, as the audience watches, apply a white sticker to its back, approximately centered. Then hand this card to someone, a lady if possible, along with a felt-tip or ball-point pen, and ask her to write a word or two that express her thoughts on the white sticker. (Since your cards are black, the reason for the sticker is obvious to everyone.) As she writes, you naturally turn away. The white area on which she is writing, you explain, forms a “clear, pure field” on which she can concentrate her thoughts.
Next have your subject place the card, writing side down, back onto the stack of business cards. You, the great mind reader, now spring into action. Set an opaque envelope on the table; then take the stack of cards and thumb the top card onto the table. Here I really mean the top card. When pushing the card off the stack, apply moderate press with your thumb, breaking loose the upper card of the glued pair. This leaves the card with the sticker still on top of your packet!
Either your helper or you slips the tabled card into the envelope, seemingly protecting her thought from prying eyes. The envelope and card can now be burned if you like.
It now remains for you to learn the information on the top card of the stack, quickly and unnoticed, so that you can read the thoughts of your subject. This is very simple: You have a second type of self-adhesive sticker, one larger than the first and opaque. You pick the top card off your stack (the information card), turn the back of it toward yourself and apply one of these larger stickers over the informative first sticker, simultaneously reading what the subject has written! The action of applying the sticker gives you a perfectly natural reason to look at the back of the card, and once the sticker is attached all evidence of trickery is securely concealed.
Jot down a few random impressions on the sticker as you concentrate, gathering your helper’s thoughts piecemeal from her mind as you work toward an effective revelation.
One last note: It can sometimes be difficult to find large white stickers that are opaque enough to conceal the smaller sticker beneath. If you find this to be the case, use red or green “day-glo” labels instead. These hide the evidence quite nicely.
(1) Vol. 27, No. 1, Jan./ Feb. 1978, pp. 27
(2) In Britain a similar skincare product called Melrose works well. I’ve also found that certain non-permanent photo-mount sprays do a good job. With these, you must use a template of cardboard that leaves only the very edges of the business card exposed. I’m sure other substances, fixatives and cements can be discovered that will do the required duty.