There is no reason to suppose that Annemann’s Practical Mental Effects, compiled in the main from the same source (the pages of The Jinx) and capably arranged and edited (as was the earlier work) by John J. Crimmins, Jr., will prove any less popular. It is, to be sure, a much more expensive book, but it is also much larger and much more elaborately gotten out. It is, moreover, a far bigger book than it seems at first glance to be. It numbers 310 pages, size 6 by 9 inches; but, because it is very compact and is printed in rather small type, it contains more material than is found in many a book which gives the appearance of being substantially larger. A simple calculation of the kind often made by printers indicates that if the format of Practical Mental Effects were the same as that of the Tarbell books, it would make a 400-page volume. We are not applauding the use of small type – and, indeed, would have preferred a larger size (though the excellence of the type-face makes it easily readable) – but are merely emphasizing the fact that there has been no “rationing” of material in the present book.
We learn from the Table of Contents (which is here labeled “Index”) that Practical Mental Effects explains 193 feats, which are grouped into twelve chapters. The most we can hope to do, by way of reviewing this wealth of mysteries, is to give some idea of their authorship and the ground that is covered, and then single out a few individual tricks which happen to appeal to us as especially good. We note that feats by at least sixty-seven persons are described. As was to be expected, the name of Theo. Annemann heads the list. According to our count (which is subject to correction), he is responsible for fifty-eight of the feats – which does not mean that he invented all of them, but rather that he “wrote them up” in his journal, The Jinx. There are nine effects each by J. G. Thompson, Jr. and L. Vosburgh Lyons; seven by Orville Meyer; five by Henry Fetsch; four by Stewart James; three each by Dr. Jaks, Clayton Rawson, Jack Vosburgh, Eddie Clever, R. H. Parrish, Walter B. Gibson, Bruce Elliott, Charles T. Jordan, Dr. Jacob Daley, and Dr. L. E. Duncanson; and one or two by each of fifty or more others, including such well-known performers and writers as Joseph Dunninger, Al Baker, Sid Lorraine, Stuart Robson, Karl Germain, Tom Sellers, Otis Manning, Paul Curry, Ralph W. Read, Jean Hugard, Peter Warlock, Stanley Collins, Dai Vernon, Audley Walsh, Henry Christ, R. M. Jamison, and others whose names are familiar to readers of current literature on magic. Such a list of contributors is in itself ample guarantee of the high quality of the material which Mr. Crimmins, as editor, has brought together in this exceptional collection of mental effects.
Probably as good a way as any to indicate the scope of the book, and the relative importance of its several divisions, is to give the titles of the chapters, together with the number of pages and feats included in each. The contents of the twelve chapters are as follows:
Ch. 1. Effects with Billets and Pellets (23 pages, 12 feats). Ch. 2. Publicity Effects (12 pages, 13 feats).
Ch. 3. “Dead or Alive” Effects (11 pages, II feats). Ch. 4. Book Tests (24 pages, 15 feats).
Ch. 5. Thought Foretold (12 pages, 9 feats).
Ch. 6. Miscellaneous Mental Masterpieces (38 pages, 25 feats).
Ch. 7. Envelope Necromancy (28 pages, 13 feats).
Ch. 8. Miracle Slate Routines (57 pages, 38 feats).
Ch. 9. Money Mentalism (12 pages, 9 feats).
Ch. 10. Blindfold Reading (13 pages, 6 feats).
Ch. 11. Mentalism with Cards (49 pages, 34 feats).
Ch. 12. Psychic Codes (25 pages, 8 feats).
It will be clear, from even a casual examination of this list, that Practical Mental Effects covers the field of “mentalism” with surprising thoroughness. The absence of information on “radio mindreading” is doubtless attributable to the fact that these articles were written before Joseph Dunninger had demonstrated the possibilities of such feats over a nation-wide network. It may be noted that the book leans definitely to the side of “one-man” rather than “two-person” feats, though there are several first-rate “routines” of the latter type.