General Card

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
El Mystico
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General Card

Postby El Mystico » December 7th, 2004, 11:15 am

Is anyone out there performing The General Card? (AKA Everybody's Card, Metamorphosis)

If so, which method are you using?

When you read through the classics, everyone, (Robert-Houdin, Devant and Sachs among others) rave about it - yet in 40 years I've never seen anyone do it....


Re: General Card

Postby Guest » December 7th, 2004, 3:16 pm

Interesting! This must be Jung's "sychronicity" at work! I went back to work on "The General Card/Universal Card" plot(s) about three months ago. Since then, and I only mentioned it to ONE person who I working on it with, we have seen it crop up in at least a dozen places! Wierd, huh?

Anyway, yes, someone is working on it! The plots are similar, and often confused. I have a version in which one card can become any card, and another where three cards become three selections. Diaconis' "General Card", from "Ultimate Secrets of Card Magic", was a starting point for me 25 years ago, and I just re-read it after corresponding with someone else who popped up working on this.

I would love to hear from anyone who does, or is thinking of doing, either of these tricks or variations/combinations of them...

Best, PSC

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Re: General Card

Postby NCMarsh » December 7th, 2004, 3:56 pm


David Ben does a very nice version...and Ray Kosby was showing off some interesting work with the plot about a year ago...don't know if he performs it regularly


The Diaconis routine is exceptional...would be interested to see your work if it is published



Curtis Kam
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Re: General Card

Postby Curtis Kam » December 8th, 2004, 2:06 pm


Years and years ago, I saw John Carney do his version of "Les Cartes Daiconis" and it was slightly improved in all the right places, as one might expect. I don't think his routine is in print anywhere, though.

And, in unrelated news, Bill Duncan and I have appied the underlying principle (by way of the Smith's Myth) in a top-secret government project to redeem one of the most maligned plots in card magic. Watch the skies.

Kevin Wiese
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Location: Richmond, Va.

Re: General Card

Postby Kevin Wiese » December 8th, 2004, 3:20 pm

I've had good results with "Masque" from "Focus" by Phil Goldstein.

Guess I'll have to take a look at the Diaconis version now.

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Matthew Field
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Re: General Card

Postby Matthew Field » December 9th, 2004, 3:19 am

Johnny Thompson has a lovely marketed version. I'm not sure whether it's in his book ("Polished Polish Prestidigitation") or on his L&L videos -- everything's packed up in my garage presently.

Man -- I'm starting to sound like Biro.

Matt Field

Jon Racherbaumer
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Re: General Card

Postby Jon Racherbaumer » December 9th, 2004, 10:10 am

How odd.

I just finished taking digital pics to add to an updated version of THE UNIVERSAL CARD mss from the 70s. The original booklet is still "out there" and was reprinted by Tannen...probably available for $8-10. The original was 35 pages. UNIVERSAL CARD 2.0 is over a hundred with more versions and ideas.

I'm planning to put it on my WEbsite, FREE to Premium Members. Otherwise, it may be available as a bargain e-book for about $10-15, maybe less.

I suggest checking out the old mss. first to see if it's your cup of tea. If so, you may want to check out the updated version? Check out:

In the meantime, here is the old intro, which tries to make some distinctions between the related effects. (BTW, John Thompson's version is good. So are the others. One of the Spanish cardmen may have the best version?)



Over thirty years have passed since the Universal Card manuscript first appeared. The original 35-page manuscript was limited to 250 copies and was later reprinted by Lou Tannen in 1975.

The manuscript, the second of the so-called Yod Series, introduced a specific effectone ancestrally linked to Everywhere and Nowhere and the General Card. The original introduction, characterized as comments, had this to say:

Most times we tend to loosely categorize effects. That is, we have generalized notions about certain effects, particularly if some of their parts are closely related. This practice demonstrates an easy-going, almost lackadaisical attitude toward our subjects. When we are enjoying ourselves, scientific and formally artistic considerations fall by the wayside.

It was also pointed out that several subsequently published versions took liberties with the specific conditions and action procedure originally set forth by Karl Fulves.

Here are the different action procedures of the three related effects cited at the outset:


The first detailed outlined procedure of this effect I read was by Ottokar Fischer and credited to Hofzinser. Three methods were described in J.N. Hofzinsers Card Conjuring (1931). Paul Rosini, who understood the psychology of great magic presentations, performed a version of Everywhere and Nowhere that was pretty faithful to the original Hofzinser premise. Evidentally he trusted Hofzinser's judgment when it came to devising commercial effects? The Rosini-Hofzinser version appears in Greater Magic and Hilliard's Card Magic, pp. 567-570. Rosini made only one change:

He had a lady select a card instead of a gentleman, and this gentleman was then expected to choose the lady's selection from a group of three cards. In Hofzinser's version, the opposite was true. Here is Rosinis procedure for performing Everywhere and Nowhere:

A lady chooses a card, remembers it and replaces it in the pack. The pack is shuffled. The performer picks out three cards at random from the pack. (Hofzinser removed the cards from the top, center, and bottom of the pack.) The three cards are placed face down on the table or in glasses (back outward for greater visibility). A gentleman is asked to choose the lady's selection from these three cards. The chosen card is shown. It is the lady's selection. This card is replaced face down or back-outward. One of the remaining cards is also chosen. It, too, proves to be the lady's card. It is replaced. The remaining card is shown likewise to be the lady's card. Finally, all three cards are turned face up and only one is the selection, the other two are indifferent cards. The deck is shown. There are no duplicates.

The important feature of this effect to emphasize is that the sense of ubiquity. The selected card can appear anywhere it wants through transformation. The identity of a selected card changes into the identity of the original selection. In Rosinis effect, because the three tabled cards are not shown prior, the effect of the cards changing is underplayed or is non-existent. The effect, as designed by Hofzinser, was one of a selected card sequentially appearing in different places, the implication being that this cards are duplicates of the selection is suggested and then proven to be unfounded.


This effect has several names: La Carte Generale, Everybody's Card, The Card Omnibus, The Metamorphoses, and The General Card. Versions have been published in many sources, the most notable being The Art of Magic (1909) by T. Nelson Downs and is generally credited to Robert-Houdin. This is the basic approach:

Three spectators each choose a card.

These cards are returned to the deck, which is then shuffled. A spectator removes a card, which is shown to each spectator as the performer asks them if the card is their selection. Each spectator says no. The same card is re-shown to spectator #1 and it has apparently changed into his selection. Then, in quick succession, it changes into spectator #2' s and spectator #3' s selection.

This is the basic, conditional effect that has been procedurally modified over the years. The important thing to keep in mind is what the sequential changes imply. The idea of specific transformations is clear because only one card is held and shown to each spectator. The audience at large does not see the supposed changes, but hears each admit that he sees his specific selection. This has a strong psychological aspect.

Marlos Reflection explained in The Cardician (1953) is related to The General Card. Marlo had three cards selected, returned, and then the deck was shuffled. Next, he showed a spot card, which the audience saw. This spot card then changed into a Blank card, which then apparently reflected each selection (like a mirror). In turn, as each spectator named his card, the Blank card changed into the selections. Finally, it changed back into a Blank card, which could be examined.


The specific conditions of the Universal Card are:

1) A single card from a deck is introduced, remains face down, and is called a universal card. Fulves wrote: each pack contains a universal card, one capable of assuming the appearance of any other card.

2) Three cards are chosen from a different-colored deck by three spectators. In other words, if the universal card has a red back, the spectators choose cards from a blue deck.

3) The universal card sequentially changes into a duplicate of each selection.

4) Finally, the universal card is shown to be a blank card, which produces a fourth and final change.

The two methods published by Fulves use different principles.

The First Method, using the Roshomon Principle usually associated with the General Card, has each spectator selecting the same card without being aware of it. This method also uses a removable waxed pip and the now infrequently used pip fluid. The applied mechanical techniques are forcing and palming.

The Second Method applies a face-up Elmsley Count to apparently show duplicates. This proved to be a flash-point for many cardmen and marks the bold idea of using the four principal cards as a unit, combined with a face-up Elmsley Count.

The sense of duplication in both methods is implicit because the supposed duplicates are not simultaneously seen.

The first methods to introduce a strong, obvious, visual sense of duplication are Marlo's Universal Solutions. The preferred consolidation of these four solutions resulted in Marlos Favorite Universal.


Karl Fulves should be credited for the title, approach, and basic procedure of this effect. He was also the first to suggest the Blank card finish, using of the four, principal cards as a unit, and using the face-up Elmsley Count.

Bob Parrish should be credited for being the first to apply the One-Ahead Principle, used in conjunction with the Mexican Turnover.

Jon Racherbaumer suggested that the back of the Universal Card change, as well as suggesting the less effective title, The Chameleon Card. He was also the first to employ the longitudinally split half-and-half card (without the flap).

Jack Avis should be credited with the master of disguise patter approach.

Derek Dingle was the first to use a regular-flap gaffed card (based on the Marlo model).

Roy Johnson was the first to use an envelope to switch the Universal Card (Joker) in a gaffed version, making it automatic.

Bob Parrish was also the first to use a Joker in the effect; however, the Joker's appearance came at the end of the effect. About the same time, Francis Haxton used a Joker, which is shown at the beginning and end of the effect.

Edward Marlo, who contributed over a dozen methods, should be credited with being the first to use a sequential procedure were the Universal Card and a selection are simultaneously shown as duplicates. He should also be credited for introducing both types of gaffed cards: the longitudinally-split (with a flap) and the half/half split cards (as in his Favorite Universal routine). The flap on the first gaff was of the tensile-type that characterize Acrobatic Cards. He also introduced two other refined types of gimmicked cards: one with a flap arrangement, the other a different kind of double-facer.

Marlo also applied specific techniques such as the Hung Card (Nuzzo) and its special, portable gimmick. He likewise applied his own Quick Three-Way, Overhand Shuffle Force, waxed index, Diminishing Lift Switch, plus numerous other techniques that become obvious once the methods are studied. The Blank card with only the AC index is a Marlo idea (found in "The Universal Acrobat) This was also used by others (Racherbaumer, Cervon, Thompson, Ackerman, Johnson, and others.

The day off patter line is Marlo's and is used in most of his routines.

Marlo, in fact, seemed to be the first to understand the differences found in all of the methods. He pointed out that in Hoffmann's Modern Magic the following effect is described: To Allow Several Persons Each To Draw A Card, And The Pack Having Been Shuffled, To Make Another Card Drawn Haphazard Change Successfully Into Each Of Those First Chosen. This is how the effect is described. In reality, the actual effect begins on page 88, line 22, and goes on to page 89. At the finish the single card is shown to be an entirely different card from the one originally shown.

Marlo also mentioned L. Vosburgh Lyons A Question of Power, which appeared in The Jinx (July-1936). Working off the top of the deck, Lyons made a Joker change into three different selections, then back to a Joker again.

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