The man who fooled the man who fooled Houdini?

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Postby Guest » 05/31/06 05:09 AM

Gregg Webb and I were discussing the great article about Dai Vernon featured in the May issue. Our conversation centered on the entertaining and well-written account of the night Vernon fooled Harry and Bess Houdini.

Gregg noted the article pointed out two methods: in one, the double backer was placed second from top, enabling the selection to be turned over. The second method places the selection second from the top, enabling a double turnover to effect its return to the top.

We observed the explanation of both methods may have first seen print in Stephen Minch's book "Daryl's Ambitious Card Omnibus." (Minch also covers the use of the Tilt or Depth Illusion for this effect, and details a great non-gaffed approach attributed to Frank Shields.)

As we talked, Gregg introduced an interesting theory: the man who advanced the use of a double-backer for this effect to Vernon could have been Leo Horowitz.

It is known that Horowitz made his own double-backers to match the popular styles of card designs. He carried these with him, and would bring them into play when using a borrowed deck. Horowitz knew Vernon, and shared these gaffs with him.

Ergo, was Leo Horowitz "The man who fooled the man who fooled Houdini?"
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Postby Ian Kendall » 05/31/06 06:05 AM

Would it not be more appropriate to call him 'the man who sessioned with the man who fooled Houdini'?

From my limited knowledge (gleaned from reading the various books on the subjects) Vernon and Horowitz seemed to be close confidents rather than rivals. I would like to think that since Horowitz 'shared' his double backs with Vernon, it was more in a collaborative gesture than an attempt to get one past him. Didn't Vernon send details of the Kennedy deal to his friend rather than fooling him with it? (and yes, I could be very wrong there...)

Now, I'm sure that people who knew Vernon and Horowitz will be able to correct me with first hand information (rather then the fifth hand stuff I'm working with). Would either man have tried to best the other, or would they have said 'look what I've got, what can we do with it?'

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/31/06 07:37 AM

Conus, why would you assume that it was Horowitz who inspired Vernon to use double-backed cards and not the other way around?
Do you have some letters or other material to support your theory?
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Postby David Britland » 05/31/06 12:35 PM

In the Downs/McGuire correspondence (reprinted in the Linking Ring April/May 1971) Downs wrote to McGuire on 12th April 1925 saying:

"When you go to N.Y. be sure to get in touch with Dai Vernon & Sam Horowitz, they are the two cleverest card men in N.Y. on close up stuff. Vernon fooled me with some of my own stuff. He work that Card To Top of mine & I think used the Double Backer method among others. The above TWO are the only ones I met in N.Y. who knew anything worth mentioning with cards."

Not sure that sheds a whole lot of light on who did what first but Downs refers to Vernon doing the trick rather than Horwitz.
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Postby Guest » 05/31/06 12:37 PM

Its been a while since Ive looked at the Dai Vernon Revelations videos and at the moment my entire library is boxed up for shipping (so I cant confirm this). But Im pretty sure that on one of the tapes Mr. Vernon tells a funny story about how he bewildered Horowitz with the trick that fooled Houdini.

Levent
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Postby Guest » 05/31/06 01:06 PM

Vernon does mention in Revelations that Horowitz was fooled badly for a long time. He would ask Vernon how he did it and Vernon passed him the double backer. He had it in his hands and didn't know what it was until Vernon gave him one more chance. He turned the card over and almost fell backwards. He instantly recognized what could be done with the card. I believe he came up with some great effects with a double backer. Probably some were written up in encyclopedia of card tricks or something like that.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 05/31/06 02:03 PM

Well, that's me told :)

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Postby Guest » 05/31/06 04:23 PM

What is the point? Houdini, not Vernon, made statements that he 'couldn't be fooled if I see a trick three times'. I thienek Vernon was not only an amazingly enthusiastic magician he also enjoyed seeing magic performed.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 05/31/06 04:40 PM

I also read somewhere--perhaps one of the Vernon Chronicles texts that Vernon fooled Horowitz with a double-backer. If there was a man who fooled the man who fooled Houdini--it wasn't Horowitz. Maybe that title should go to Vernon's father... :)
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Postby Guest » 06/01/06 01:55 PM

I also remembered reading this in The Vernon Chronicles. It is in volume three (Further Lost Inner Secrets, 1989) with the discussion beginning at p. xxi (Vernon disagreeing with J.N. Hilliard's write-up in Greater Magic mentioning Vernon, Finley and Horowitz as pioneers in the use of the double-backed card; Vernon stating that Horowitz was a late-comer to the principle and that Vernon did not reveal it to Horowitz until the late 1920s).
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Postby Guest » 06/01/06 02:06 PM

This is interesting reading. Yet another reason why we all admire Vernon so much.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 06/01/06 03:06 PM

Thanks for the the concise write up that confirmed what I had remembered Christopher. I don't post at home so I don't have immediate access to my library. Now I know which Lost Inner Secrets book to look this up. Thanks again! :)

The mystery is still out there. Who fooled the pants out of Vernon?...
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Postby Guest » 06/01/06 03:51 PM

A fellow in NYC known as Slippery Sally, 1923.
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Postby Guest » 06/02/06 09:43 AM

Hilliard's write-up in Greater Magic mentioning Vernon, Finley and Horowitz as pioneers in the use of the double-backed card; Vernon stating that Horowitz was a late-comer to the principle and that Vernon did not reveal it to Horowitz until the late 1920s.
You're right!
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Postby Guest » 06/02/06 01:01 PM

The mystery is still out there. Who fooled the pants out of Vernon?... [/QB]
Lots of people! I saw The Professor fooled quite often. He loved it! I also saw him re-construct things with "lightning-like rapidity". And I saw him de-construct many items when asked for criticism. Vernon could be quite harsh in certain circumstances. But, back to who fooled him - certainly he was fooled by some of his comtemporaries - Jack McMillen, by Vernon's own admission, then Downs and Liepzig. Later, folks came to the Castle to meet him, and to impress/fool him. That was a "badge" of sorts. And he invariably mentioned you in his column if he liked what he saw. Vernon could be very generous with praise, too! Richard's new release, "The Vernon Touch" will certainly give you a sense of the type of magic Vernon liked, and what fooled him, what didn't, and who. I'd suggest it is a "Must-Read" book.

Best, PSC
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Postby Guest » 06/02/06 01:06 PM

Originally posted by Leonard Hevia:

The mystery is still out there. Who fooled the pants out of Vernon?...
According to Jules Lenier, in the early days of the Magic Castle when folks were first coming from far and wide, "everyone was fooling everyone." He told me once, (paraphased from my memory) 'I fooled Vernon, Vernon fooled Ose, Ose fooled me. Everyone was fooling everyone.'

I'll step in line with Steve V on this one - Houdini was the only one with enough chutzpah to claim he couldn't be fooled.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/02/06 02:06 PM

It's funny ... Derek Dingle could be fooled (it was difficult), but he didn't like to let you know it. I was sitting with Derek watching Jennings lecture at the second NY Syposium in 1983 (?) and Jennings did a twisting trick where the cards turn into a Royal Flush at the end (it was published in his A Visit With LJ lecture notes and is also in Classic Magic).
Anyway, knowing Dingle well, I could see his posture change slightly at the moment Jennings reveal the royal flush. Then he looked at me and I could tell that Larry had fooled the hell out of him.
Many years later, in 1995, I was in Paris with Jennings and Dingle for a convention (Mayette Days) and was in the bar with the two of them the night before it started. Derek had been practicing his color-changing All Backs routine and wanted to do it for Jennings. He did and caught Jennings complete off guard (it had been many years since LJ had read the routine in my Dingle book). Jennings loved to be fooled and he always let you know when he fooled you. He often extended his hand to shake yours and said, "Congratulations, Young Man."
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Postby Guest » 06/02/06 05:08 PM

Slydini fooled Vernon.

Perhaps someone can remind me where I read the following (which I paraphrase from a sometimes faulty memory):

Vernon was telling an interviewer that magicians lived for the moments when they themselves could be fooled.

The interviewer asked "And who fools you now?"

Vernon shook his head and said rather ruefully, "Nobody..."

Then Vernon looked up and smiled, and said "Except for Tony, of course!"
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Postby Guest » 06/03/06 03:07 AM

I only would like to add a note to the following:

Hilliard's write-up in Greater Magic mentioning Vernon, Finley and Horowitz as pioneers in the use of the double-backed card; Vernon stating that Horowitz was a late-comer to the principle and that Vernon did not reveal it to Horowitz until the late 1920s.

Hofzinser used double-backed cards in a very clever way! (around 1850)


Reinhard
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Postby Guest » 06/03/06 03:23 AM

On the revelations tapes, Vernon mentions that he got the idea of using a double backed card from Hofzinser.
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Postby Guest » 06/03/06 07:41 AM

“Hilliard's write-up in Greater Magic mentioning Vernon, Finley and Horowitz ...
(but)
...Hofzinser used double-backed cards in a very clever way! (around 1850)
Yes. Hilliard mentions Hofzinser as the most probable inventor on the same page in Greater Magic. He describes the tool as having fallen into disuse until its "rediscovery" by Vernon, Horowitz, and Finley.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/03/06 08:43 AM

Too bad they forgot Theodore DeLand. It's far more likely that Vernon learned of the double-backed card from DeLand's marketed "Two-Card Monte" than the one trick in which Hofzinser used it (not sure of the year it was translated into English in The Sphinx).
DeLand's Two Card Monte sold tens of thousands and was the first trick in the US to use a double-backed card.
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Postby Geno Munari » 06/03/06 04:54 PM

Very interesting.

I do believe that Vernon would be fooled but would not openly show it. There are so many people who would confirm this but never post here or anywhere else.

I don't mean to take anything away from Dai Vernon, he was and still in my mind a great performer.

I will never forget the first time I met him. I went to the Magic Castle about 1969 or 70, maybe 71, on a reference from Jimmy Grippo. I called Bill Larsen and Bill allowed me to be a guest with my dear friend Bill Pene.

I was about 24 years old and was a Baccarrat Dealer and Floorman at the Dunes Hotel.

I was pointed toward Dai Vernon and he was with several fellows. I was very reluctant to intrude. Finally after observing for about 15 or 20 minutes, a time opened up and I walked up and introduced myself and friend, with greetings from Jimmy Grippo.

He asked what I did and proceeded to show him my best. Paper (cash) dealing, false shuffling and seconds.

I did a block of money switch and he said, "Show this to this guy", meaning someone else at the table.

Years later did I realize that I fooled him and that he wanted to see it again.

I really enjoyed him and still have fond memories of meeting him.
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Postby Guest » 06/03/06 09:17 PM

In the Apr 1972 "Vernon Touch" column, he mentions having been fooled by Shimada.
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Postby Guest » 06/04/06 01:43 AM

This is a great topic, so i dont want to go on a different path but, what about double facers?

was Vernon, or anyone, kind of a pioneer if you will, of the double facer?
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Postby Guest » 06/04/06 03:00 AM

Regarding double face cards: again there is HOFZINSER!

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Too bad they forgot Theodore DeLand. It's far more likely that Vernon learned of the double-backed card from DeLand's marketed "Two-Card Monte" than the one trick in which Hofzinser used it (not sure of the year it was translated into English in The Sphinx).
DeLand's Two Card Monte sold tens of thousands and was the first trick in the US to use a double-backed card.
I do agree with Richard's note, which is very plausible to me.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/04/06 07:29 AM

While Hofzinser seems to have been under the impression (just from the brief quotes I've read from some of his letters) that he invented both double-ended and double-faced cards, these existed long before he was born.

However, if you want to examine the idea of subtlety in using them, then (like Vernon with the use of a single double-backed card in a normal deck) Hofzinser certainly deserves that credit.

Remember, the trick we know as "McDonald's Aces" is Hofzinser's, including the one-handed dealing out of the packets! And Hofzinser's routine is superior in that the spectator is allowed to choose one of the four packet as the place where the Aces will congregate.

Ditto for the use of double-ended cards--go back and reread "Everywhere and Nowhere" in our November 2005 issue. That's where "Wild Card" comes from.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 06/04/06 09:21 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
DeLand's Two Card Monte sold tens of thousands and was the first trick in the US to use a double-backed card.
He may have been the first one in the U.S. to market a trick using a double backer, but the use of a double backer - though a not entirely subtle - appeared in "The Secret Out" almost 15 years before DeLand was born.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/04/06 10:06 AM

Jim, great reference, can you fax me the page of The Secret Out you're referring to? 301-652-8035. Thanks.
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/04/06 10:29 AM

One of The Professor's ploys to figure out how something was done was his saying, "Show it to... " when he really wanted to see it again for himself.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 06/04/06 11:00 AM

No problem, Richard -- I'll get it to you tomorrow.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 06/04/06 02:27 PM

Jim, can you tell us that effect with the double back card from "The Secret Out" (1871)?

I know the following effect, which is more or less a gag:
I bet, you can not name your chosen card!
The double back card is forced to a spectator.
That gag is from "Carl Bosco's Zauberknste".
I own only the 20th edition (1903)of "Carl Bosco's Zauberknste" by Kerndrffer. May be that gag is already to find in an earlier edition, may be in the 6th edition of 1851, which is increased edition?

I just found another source: R.P.: EIN SPIEL KARTEN (A Deck of Cards), Prague 1853:
I quote from ESCORIAL 2005 manuscript:

"22. Die namenlose Karte The anonymus Card
The performer asserts that the spectator will cut to a card, which he cannot name! He cuts to a DOUBLE BACK card!
Technique: The double back card is under the long card."

Reinhard
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 06/04/06 02:37 PM

Reinhard,
That is the same effect that appears in "The Secret Out" (which was first published in 1859, not 1871). It's also possible that the effect appears in some of Cremer's earlier works as I understand he used some of the material from those books when compiling "The Secret Out". I do not own those, however, so I can't state for certain. It's definitely possible that the gag appears in an earlier edition of the book you reference, but it seems that "The Secret Out" (or possibly one of Cremer's earlier books) marks the first time it appears in the U.S.

-Jim
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Postby Geno Munari » 06/04/06 04:33 PM

I have the 1859 edition and the effect is on page 131. "To let a Person draw a Card which he cannot name."

However the use of the doubleback card is evident to the spectator, since the magician offers a wager that he cannot name the topmost card.

This use actually exposes the effect and from that point the secret of the double back card, however I think the spectator would still be fooled by another effect using the DB card.

Incidently, my copy is written by the "Author", no name.
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Postby Guest » 06/05/06 01:54 AM

Jim,
thanks for your information.
By the way, I have read of THE SECRET OUT (1871) in Stephen Minch's FROM WITCHCRAFT TO CARD TRICKS p. 178.
Stephen also mentioned that Cremer's book relied heavely on OZANAM, GUYOT and DECREMPS. Stephen did not mention the double back gag.
Is anyone there who can help us with OZANAM, GUYOT and DECREMPS?

That db-card gag kept up for a long time: I still found it in Figner: HHERE KARTENKUNST (1927): "Ein Reinfall" (="A Flop").
I find it interesting that Conradi-Horster(1870 - 1944, major German magic dealer and author) offered a deck with 36 prepared cards in his catalog of 1904, but none of them is a double back card!
Or in Marian: DAS BUCH DER KARTENKNSTE (1890)are listed 11 special cards, and again no db-card!

Hofzinser's ingenious simple idea was that falling db-cards always land back up. See that Vernon(?) effect of throwing a deck of cards out in a pond and only the selection is seen swimming face up!

Reinhard
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Postby Guest » 06/05/06 03:44 AM

Originally posted by reinhard mueller:
Is anyone there who can help us with OZANAM, GUYOT and DECREMPS?[/QB]
There doesn't seem to be any mention of anything like a double backer in Guyot (1799). Conradi-Horster's "Der moderne Kartenknstler" mentions double facers and divided-face cards, but not double backers.

Magic Christian's book on Hofzinser says that the use of double facers and divided-face cards was well known, but that it is not clear whether Hofzinser actually invented double backers - he thinks it's more likely Hofzinser just found a more subtle way of using them than that described in "Ein Spiel Karten" (1853) (which is the earliest reference he gives).

I believe the Sphinx translation of Hofzinser, which Vernon must have read, was some time after Goldston's "Modern Card Tricks" of 1914 (confirmation, anyone?).
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Postby Guest » 06/05/06 08:12 AM

Originally posted by reinhard mueller:
... a card, which he cannot name! He cuts to a DOUBLE BACK card!...
Interesting and in contrast to the blank faced cards used elsewhere.

A card one cannot name... guess that's better than calling it the thing with two backs.
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Postby Guest » 06/05/06 10:30 AM

Thanks Edwin.

And Jonathan, you wrote:
Interesting and in contrast to the blank faced cards used elsewhere.
A card one cannot name... guess that's better than calling it the thing with two backs.
I agree with you!

By the way, that Flying Double Back Cards you can find in Cervon/Burns: THE VERNON CHRONICLES, Vol.4, 1992, pp. 186 187.
Jon Racherbaumer wrote in ARCH TRIUMPHS, 1978, p.1 that the Floating Triumph is also ascribed to Frank Thompson [Whaley:(USA: -1976) Pro gambler. Amateur card & coin magician. See Ray Goulet, Frank Thompson's The Cold Deck (1976, 10pp)].


The Singleton translation of Hofzinser effects in THE SPHINX is to find in the issues from March 1922 to Aug. 1923.

Reinhard
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Postby Guest » 06/06/06 09:31 AM

Another thought regarding db-cards:
Reading Joanthans comment regarding blank faced cards, it occurs to me that in the 16. Century there are the first cards with backs here in Germany. Before the backs were white, and became stained during playing cards. So they turned into marked cards! For that reason the backs were printed with pattern then.

Reinhard
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/06/06 10:35 AM

Then DeLand's marketed items using double-backed cards appeared a decade before the Hofzinser's material appeared in English in The Sphinx.
It is possible that Vernon read about double-backed cards in The Secret Out, but it's more likely he saw the DeLand effects.
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