Name revelation with Faro Shuffle

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 01/08/06 09:05 AM

Cordial greetings. Someone posted my name on a forum board some time ago in reference to a 1973 article in Genii about name revelation on the side of a deck using the faro shuffle. I thought perhaps, some of you would like to hear about the following. I am, indeed, the former ships doctor on the Island Princess, later known as The Love Boat. My name is Michael Ewer, and I am now Professor of Medicine at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas. I guess I invented this effect, although I had considerable help. In the fall of 1972 I met Michael Skinner who was one of the entertainers on the ship. We became friends, and kept in contact for many years. He taught me the faro shuffle, and we spent many hours practicing this shuffle in my cabin on the ship. If I couldnt do eight shuffles in one minute I didnt pass the session. Later I learned to just glance at the deck, and keep eye contact with the viewer. Most of the time I could do this without errors.

As a physician and amateur math student, I wanted to see why eight shuffles got me back to the starting point, and so I first drew a circle on the side of the deck and looked at the images that were formed by the shuffles. In shuffles 5, 6, 7, there were 8, 4, 2, ovals, and finally after the eighth shuffle the circle appeared. This let to the name revelation.

Also on the ship was the wonderful Charlie Miller, and Ron Wilson. It was Charlie that got my picture and wrote the story in Genie where the picture appeared. I no longer have a copy; if any of you do, could you please send me a photocopy?

I still do this effect, but only in private settings. It has evolved as follows: I ask someone to bring in a deck of un-opened bicycle cards to the session. They either bring in Blue of Red cards, and I try to get them to show me the sealed box beforehand. I remove the jokers from a similar second deck, write the name of the donor of the cards on the side of the second deck, do four faro shuffles, and cut the cards approximately in the middle. The deck then is placed back in the box without jokers.

I start the routine with the spectators deck, remove the jokers and put them on the table do a few faro shuffles, so people get the idea of what I will be doing, have as many as want to shuffle the cards at various times while I do other effects. Then I take the same pen as I used to write the name, and place lots of dots on the side of the deck. I show the dots, and then I do another one or two sequences. I put the deck, without jokers (I leave them on the table) in the box, and place the box in my pocket. I hesitate, take it immediatelyout, but really remove the prepared deck and ask the donor of the cads to sit on them to "incubate them." I do something with either dice or coins, and then get back the incubated deck. I ask three or four spectators to think of a card, but not to tell me. I cut the deck so that the Ace of Spades is back on the bottom, and do faro number 5; I ask the color of the card they thought of. I do faro 6, and ask the suite. I then take off about a quarter of the deck, show that it is shuffled, and(I don't show it this time, as it is no longer looks shuffled) that there is a hint of a name. I do faro 7, take off half of the deck, and the name is clearer, and then I do faro 8, and show the full name on the side of the deck. I put the jokers back on the top and bottom, put the cards in the box and then ask one of the viewers to put their hand on the box to make sure that nothing happens. I then remember the cards that were though of. I take the deck out, ask those that thought of a card to announce the name, and then find it in this deck by feel.

Finally, I offer to tell them how I do this, but say that I need to start over, and ask if anyone has a new, unopened deck of cards. Of course, no one does, and so I blow on the deck, and show that it is exactly as it was originally, in the same order, except the name still clearly shows on the side. I give the cards back to the owner.

I would love to hear from you. You can E-mail me at mewer@mdanderson.org. or mewer@houston.rr.com

What ever happened to Mike Skinner? I heard he had died, but no one has every told me what really happened. He had a big influence on my life; all of a sudden he was gone.

Another on the ship was Ron Wilson, but I have not heard from him in decades. All of these classic artists helped me to find great joy in close-up and to have lots of fun in what has been a very active career in clinical medicine.

Hello and warm wishes to you all
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Postby Guest » 01/08/06 09:38 AM

Wow, thanks for an insight into the genesis of that effect. Must have been GREAT learning from Skinner and meeting Miller, et al.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/08/06 01:29 PM

Dr. Ewer, thanks so much for giving us the history of this now famous effect, popularized by Paul Gertner.
Ron Wilson now books the acts at The Magic Castle.
Michael Skinner died some years ago of heart failure after a bout with pnemonia.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
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Postby Max Maven » 01/08/06 01:34 PM

It's worth noting that the idea of a message written on the side of the deck goes back much further than his exploration of the idea in the early 1970s.

The basic idea was probably used in the world of espionage: a message written on a deck that, after being shuffled, could only be reconstructed by rearranging the deck back to the sequence it was in when the message was inscribed.

That might be apocryphal (I'm hardly an expert in spycraft). What is certain is that Annemann mentions the idea in The Jinx, Winston Freer applied it to his marketed "Half-Wit Deck," and Hen Fetsch had a related effect in The Linking Ring (see "Mixed Magic" in the January 1948 Parade).

The above references do not employ Faro Shuffles. Earl Keyser's "Mirage Deck" (in Epilogue #16, dated November 1972) does.

None of this is intended to take anything away from Dr. Ewer, whose creation was surely independent and valuable. Just thought I'd provide some historical context.
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Postby Pepka » 01/08/06 01:59 PM

I'd just like to echo everyone else's sentiments Dr. Ewer. It's great to have you on the forum. Your discovery, which of course became popularized by Paul is such a wonderful effect. I really think it has to be one of the most magical effects with a deck of cards. And of course Max comes up with a way to connect a card trick to spies and espianage.
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Postby Philippe Billot » 01/08/06 03:07 PM

Mr. Max Maven is absolutly right.
If you are interessed, you can find an explaination in a book written by Neal Stephensen which title is Cryptonomicon III - Golgotha (there are 3 volumes)

In the appendice, Bruce Schneier, author of Applied Cryptography (President of Counterpane Systems) explains the system with the game of Solitaire. I give you the name of the game in french because I don't know if there is a correspondance in english.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 01/08/06 04:32 PM

Dr. Ewer, about 18 years ago I met with Mike Skinner in Las Vegas and when he learned I lived in Houston he asked about you, saying you were a ship doctor on cruises out of Galveston, as I recall. But I assumed you were no longer in the area, since no one I knew was in touch with you. I am thrilled to learn you are still here (as am I). Our bookshop (H & R Magic Books: www.magicbookshop.com )has lots of used GENIIs and I'll see if I can locate a copy of the issue which mentions you. I'll email you privately if I do.
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Postby rage » 01/09/06 12:46 AM

Its funny that this thread is here. I just started performing "unshuffled". while at the castle library i actually looked at the genii issue (november i think) that Dr. Ewer was in. kind of funny i think.

Dr. Ewer, I agree with everyone else when i say that it is great to have you on the forum :genii:
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Postby Steve Bryant » 01/09/06 10:20 AM

Fortunately, for posterity, Michael Skinner was captured on tape and is now available on multiple dvds from Geno Munari's Houdini Magic Shop at http://www.houdini.com. There is also a book of Michael Skinner's magic called Classic Sampler, available from Louis Falanga at http://www.llpub.com. Finally, Richard Kaufman published an excellent book of Ron Wilson's magic called The Uncanny Scot, which, alas, is currently out of print but well worth digging for.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 01/09/06 12:30 PM

Originally posted by Max Maven:
It's worth noting that the idea of a message written on the side of the deck goes back much further than his exploration of the idea in the early 1970s.

The basic idea was probably used in the world of espionage: a message written on a deck that, after being shuffled, could only be reconstructed by rearranging the deck back to the sequence it was in when the message was inscribed.
In his article "Pre-arrangement and mnemonic use of a deck of cards" in the Winter 2005 issue of GIBECIERE, Vanni Bossi cites a 1563 manuscript by Giovan Battista della Porta that describes the use of a deck of card as cited above, to encode secret information by writing on the sides of the deck in a known order, then shuffling the cards to destroy the order and render the message illegible to anyone not familiar with the stack.
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Postby Jeff Haas » 01/09/06 12:35 PM

Dr. Ewer, there was also a terrific issue of Genii a year or two ago, which featured a lot of info about Mike Skinner and details of some of his magic.
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Postby Guest » 01/09/06 01:12 PM

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Originally posted by Max Maven:
[b] It's worth noting that the idea of a message written on the side of the deck goes back much further than his exploration of the idea in the early 1970s.

The basic idea was probably used in the world of espionage: a message written on a deck that, after being shuffled, could only be reconstructed by rearranging the deck back to the sequence it was in when the message was inscribed.
In his article "Pre-arrangement and mnemonic use of a deck of cards" in the Winter 2005 issue of GIBECIERE, Vanni Bossi cites a 1563 manuscript by Giovan Battista della Porta that describes the use of a deck of card as cited above, to encode secret information by writing on the sides of the deck in a known order, then shuffling the cards to destroy the order and render the message illegible to anyone not familiar with the stack. [/b]
I think Richard Hatch wins that round.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/09/06 08:15 PM

Originally posted by Philippe Billot:
Mr. Max Maven is absolutly right.
If you are interessed, you can find an explaination in a book written by Neal Stephensen wich title is Cryptonomicon III - Golgotha (there are 3 volumes)

In the appendice, Bruce Schneier, author of Applied Cryptography (President of Counterpane Systems)explains the system with the game of Solitaire. I give you the name of the game in french because I don't know if there is a correspondance in english.
English readers looking for this book will find it as just Cryptonomicon -- the French translation was released in 3 parts.

The solitaire system is used to code information, but not via marks on the side of the deck. Instead the order of the cards, generated by the solitaire game, provides the information. Here's a link to the appendix .
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Postby Fred Zimmerman » 01/10/06 09:33 AM

Just wanted to say this is what a forum like this does best.

What a great thread.

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