centre tear

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Postby oliver m » 12/11/08 07:13 AM

hi all,

I'm trying to track down the origins of the centre tear for a book. I'd love to be able to cite: Title, Author, Publisher, Year, and Page Number...but any help would be most appreciated.

thanks, Oliver

ps apologies if this has already been answered but it didn't come up when I searched.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/11/08 09:04 AM

No sense in publishing a claim of novel work that was done back in 1935 and likely by Annemann himself and put into print in the Jinx... right? Almost March weather out today - how's it where you are?
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Postby Philippe Billot » 12/11/08 06:07 PM

If you read The Life and Times of A Legend compiled by Max Abrams, page 123, you learn that Joe Ovette was the first to describe the "torn center" in a marketed trick called What Is It? in 1929.

Annemann explained the method in August 1932 in the Thayer Trick of the Month Series in Ne Plus Ultra Reading Method then in The Jinx N 6, march 1935, reprint in Annemann's Mental Bargain Effects.
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Postby oliver m » 12/12/08 05:37 AM

thank you kindly for the sleight-sleuthing, guys. great stuff!

PS it's freeeezing cold today in Londinium.
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Postby Philippe Billot » 12/12/08 07:05 AM

ZERO degr Celcius in Paris, this morning.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/12/08 08:34 PM

It was 32 F (0 C.) in London the other week I was there. Cold cold cold: all the dew freezes on the cars and the roads get very slippery.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/12/08 11:44 PM

Oliver,
Al Mann did the research and put it in a book he called "The Purloined Letter." It is one of the rarer of Al's books and was, or at least my copy is, hardbacked. The last one I saw went for over $300.

The Center Tear did not come from Annemann or Ovette or Martin Sunshine. Al's research seems solid.

Sid Lorraine got it in England, July, 1928, from an American student named J. T. Garrus. Garrus claimed he'd learned it from Dr. Leland Wyman of Boston, a magician and psychic investigator who learned of it from mediums. Al believed that a small group of magicians who investigated mediums knew the technique as well, notably Joseph Rinn and Joe Dunninger. In The Jinx 74, Jan 6, 1940, Dunninger claimed to have known of the CT as early as 1915.

In 1928 Sid reported on the English magic scene England in The Sphinx but did not detail what he'd learned from Garrus. He wrote three letters to close friends describing the technique: Tom Bowyer, Josepth Ovette and Ted Annemann.

Ovette advertised "What Is It?" in the September, October, and December issues of The Sphinx of 1931 (according to Al) and that was the extent of the advertising. The copy of the ms. that Al obtained was signed by Ovette and numbered 32A, dated October 20th, 1931, suggesting that by October of that year he'd only sold 32 units. The Center Tear was used in that ms. in the performance of a Living and Dead test.

In August, 1932 "Ne Plus Ultra" mindreading became Series No 2, Release No 2 of Thayer's Trick of the Month Club. It was the Center Tear described by Annemann. Thayer also included it as "Smoke Rays" catalog item 1321 for $1.

Annemann put it in The Jinx No 6, March, 1935 and by that point the cat was out of the bag.

Probably the first person to fully realize the potential of the Center Tear was Mogul - Prince of Mystery out of Baltimore. According to Al's book, in 1935 and 1936 Mogul's act was Q&A with the Center Tear and he did good business as the technique fooled a lot of people.

Al reported that when Mogul played Toronto in early 1937 Tom Bowyer discovered to his shocked amazement that Mogul was using a simple technique that Bowyer had known since 1928.

Many years later Al obtained copies of Sid's original notes that he made in England detailing the Center Tear and reproduced them in "The Purloined Thought."

Al also reported that the first public exposure of the CT was in Town and Country magazine in 1939 by someone he describes as "card trickster Jerry Kahler." Apparently Annemann cursed him in The Jinx No 66.
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Postby Jim Martin » 12/13/08 03:23 AM

Thank you,David, for being so generous with the information in your post.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/13/08 01:39 PM

Happy to help, Jim. Al did The Purloined Thought in one edition of 200, my copy being #18. I'd done some private work for Al and he sent me a copy as a gift. I don't think he sold more than 100 copies. It is one of his better efforts and is encyclopedic in nature. I was always surprised that he didn't sell more.

Even given the wide exposure the Center Tear has had, it will still fool people in it's original presentation. The "Tear and Read" methods beginning with Al Baker and going forward from there make the technique even more baffling.

The final truth is that the true inventor of the Center Tear is probably a 19th Century medium or psychic worker who will remain unknown to history.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/13/08 02:58 PM

Has anyone asked the Romany about this item? I wonder if they might also know about the origins of the folded paper switch and some other things we use?
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Postby David Alexander » 12/13/08 04:01 PM

Jon,
Unless you're part of the tribe, they're not going to talk with us, but from what I've seen over the years a family speciality is often handed down from mother to daugher, taught by example. Their work is often crude and their cons unsophisticated, but they are good enough to get the money from the credulous and trusting.
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Postby Dick Christian » 12/14/08 10:29 AM

Jon,

For what it's worth, I agree with David that trying to get any information out of the Romany's would be a waste of time. I know several "gypsy" readers and book them through my agency from time to time to do palm or tarot readings at private parties for some of my clients. All of the ones I know and have used are members of the same "family" (cousins, mothers, daughters, etc.) surnames are all Mitchell or Stevens, and they are all fourth or more generation "readers." They start teaching the trade to the girls from the time they're toddlers and by the time they're teenagers they are surprisingly good at it. I've never booked them for any situations in which they would have occasion to use any billet or center tear techniques so don't know whether or not they ever use such methods in their private "reader/advisor" work, but can state with assurance that the likelihood of getting any of them to discuss their "secrets" is something less than zero and I say that having known one of the best for 20+ years and have booked her, her mother, her daughter and several of her sisters, nieces and cousins many times over the years.

BTW, lest anyone be concerned about my booking these ladies, be assured that when they work for me they understand that their readings are "for entertainment only" and must agree to adhere to very strict rules; i.e., no "tip jar," no accepting payment from the sitters (they are paid an hourly fee by the event host/hostess/sponsor), no soliciting private readings, no "bad news," etc. They have always been reliable, honest and very "up front" with me in our relationship.
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Postby oliver m » 12/16/08 11:58 AM

wow! amazingly in-depth referencing David. thank you. it's always interesting to see how ideas spread.

for the purposse of the book, I need to summarise the origins in a few lines. do you guys think the following would be accurate:

According to "The Purloined Letter" by Al Mann, the centre tear was most likely created by an unknown psychic or medium in the 1800s. It was introduced to the magic community in 1929 in Joseph Ovettes marketed trick What Is It?
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Postby David Alexander » 12/16/08 06:23 PM

More precisely, I think the more better word would be "discovered" by a medium rather than "created" as I suspect that was the more likely process.

It was introduced to the general magic community by Ovette but it was known as early as 1915 by a number of people including Dunninger.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 12/16/08 06:39 PM

Was Al Mann's book called "The Purloined Thought or "The Purloined Letter"?
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Postby David Alexander » 12/17/08 12:33 AM

It is "The Purloined Thought" and it came out in 1990. Al sent me my copy in November, 1990. I believe he sold less than 100, which is unfortunate because there's a lot of good material in the book.

If I recall correctly, in another one of Al's manuscripts, the one about Burt Reese, he thought Reese was an early practitioner of the CT along with his marvelous billet/pellet switch. Reese may have learned it from Foster the Medium.
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Postby oliver m » 12/17/08 06:20 AM

thanks for the clarification.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 12/22/08 12:57 AM

Just put a nice copy of Al Mann's PURLOINED THOUGHT on eBay. #141 of a stated limitation of 200. This one is numbered but unsigned, so likely sold after Al died. 99 cent opening bid with no reserve. Here's a link:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 0296536019
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Postby David Alexander » 12/22/08 10:48 AM

When you can find it this title sells for $300. Someone might just get a great bargain with no reserve.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/22/08 11:11 AM

Beyond the history - what's useful in that manuscript which is not out and about elsewhere in our more recent literature?
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Postby David Alexander » 12/22/08 08:09 PM

As the book's subtitle explains: A Treatise on the History, Methodology and Technique on the Use of Torn Billets in the Mentalist's Art of Thought Reading.

There are a number of variations on the CT theme, including what I believe is an excellent and clearly-explained Tear and Read method where the information is obtained as the billet is destroyed.

Many different uses are explained including one where the billet it put into an envelope and torn. It is a 156-page book that is well-worth both the money and the time spent studying it, but it isn't for everyone. It should be bought and studied by serious students of mentalism, the audience that Al wrote it for.
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Postby Furneaux » 12/22/08 11:39 PM

I corresponded with Mr. Alleman for @ 10 years, sending him billet ideas. He kept telling me how how I'd reinvented the wheel. A couple of times he couldn't find any prior history and published my small ideas ( under my alias )

"the purloined thought" is a unique collectible, a hardcover collection of previously published manuscripts ( soft-cover, lecture-note style editions ) of covert and "up-front" torn billets, and a few things never previously published. There are a few real gems in there.

I think Al's greatest thinking billet-wise was with billets that weren't torn at all.

...and as another real player in billets once told me, " the geometry of billets is finite... there are not endless paths to pursue"

It could do your brain/imagination well to travel your own path with those little pieces of paper. Just get an expert to check your work before you think of claiming credit.
( And they still might be mistaken )

the purloined is a great book, worth well more than it's original price of $100 .
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