The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

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Bob Farmer
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The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 17th, 2018, 11:03 am

I am compiling some credits for "The Birthday Book," aka "The Diary Trick."

The most famous version is “The Book of Fortunes,” by Alex Elmsley (pp. 347-351, The Collected works of Alex Elmsley, Volume 1 by Stephen Minch, L&L Publishing 1991). It was also released as a standalone trick with a prop book as, the "Fortuneteller's Book of Days" (1996, L&L Publishing). In the book, the creation date is given as May, 1973.

In 1983, there appeared Eric Mason’s “A Birthday Card,” (pp. 45-46, Stuff by Eric Mason, 1983).

Mike Close’s version was published a bit later (pp. 156-159, Workers Number 5 by Michael Close, 1996).

Bob Cassidy's version came out in 2002 as "Chronologue" (Collectors' Workshop, 2002).

Mike Weber showed me a version in 2004.

These versions fall into two classes: in the first class the book lists the entire deck; in the second class, a more limited number of cards are listed.

What I'm interested in is knowing who first used a diary/datebook with cards listed.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Max Maven » May 17th, 2018, 2:46 pm

Tom Sellers.

(Check the “Card Diary” entry on conjuringcredits.com for more details.)

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 17th, 2018, 3:04 pm

Thank you, Max. It looks as if the Danson entry is the earliest version of what is common today, the card and the birthday.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 17th, 2018, 3:25 pm

I don't have access to the Danson effect, but there is an earlier version by Danson in Come A Closer (1953) entitled "It's a Date." It uses 6 datebooks. Pat Page has his version of what he calls, "Ted Danson's Diary Trick" in Magic Page by Page, but it uses just one diary. I suspect Danson decided 6 datebooks was a bit much, adn then worked out a version with one datebook.

The earlier, "It's A date" version is closer to modern versions: the card connected to the spectator's birthday matches a prediction in an envelope that has been in full view the entire time. A modern version would be Bob Cassidy's "Chronologue" (thankfully it doesn't use 6 datebooks.

I'm not sure, "It's A Date" appeared in the original 1953 version of the book, since I have the hardback reprint from 1998.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Max Maven » May 18th, 2018, 4:38 am

Arthur F. G. Carter, “The Diary of the Yogi” in the June 1953 Magic Wand.

Bob Farmer
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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 18th, 2018, 7:18 am

Max, is that a prediction where the birthday card is in an envelope? It's those versions I'm most interested in.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Q. Kumber » May 18th, 2018, 7:22 am

Let's not forget Simon Aronson's version.

Bob Cassidy had a later version superior to Chronologue. He also had a superb version with a remote viewing theme privately published, but I'm not sure if it was ever released to the great unwashed.

The trick really needs to divided into two categories, one that (apart from the revelation) does not use cards, and a category that does.

I believe Ted Danson was the first to do the effect as we know it today.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 18th, 2018, 11:26 am

There is an extensive listing of various versions over on The Magic Cafe.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 18th, 2018, 3:53 pm

Max has referenced Tom Sellers's version in which card hands were listed for each day in a diary (Magic Wand, Vol. 24 No. 166, June 1935, p. 67) and
Arthur F. G. Carter's “Diary of a Yogi” (Magic Wand, Vol. 42 No. 238, June 1953, p. 59) in which a freely named card matched the date of the performance listed in a datebook.

If anyone has access to these two puboications, I'd love to know the method. In the Danson version, 6 datebooks were used and there was a two-way out (i.e., no matter what date was selected, the magician could produce a datebook that listed one of the two out cards).

This suggests a sort of formula: less outs (or cards) = more datebooks, more outs (or cards) = fewer datebooks.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Joe Mckay » May 18th, 2018, 4:27 pm

I will email you Bob.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 18th, 2018, 5:20 pm

Thank you, Joe!

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Brad Jeffers » May 18th, 2018, 6:45 pm

Bob Farmer wrote:The most famous version is “The Book of Fortunes,” by Alex Elmsley (pp. 347-351, The Collected works of Alex Elmsley, Volume 1 by Stephen Minch, L&L Publishing 1991)
Elmsley's The Book of Fortunes is something different.

I believe what you mean is Fate's Datebook, Elmsley's opening trick from The Dazzle Act.
This is in Volume 2.

Elmsley says, "The plot of the diary test seems to have begun with a pseudo-memory feat "The Weather Test" by Roy Walker in the December 1932 issue of The Magic Wand "

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Max Maven » May 19th, 2018, 4:35 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote: Elmsley says, “The plot of the diary test seems to have begun with a pseudo-memory feat ‘The Weather Test’ by Roy Walker in the December 1932 issue of The Magic Wand.”

No, Alex did not say or write that. The historical note was put in by Stephen Minch, who authored the Elmsley books and added valuable reference notes. And, in this case, the information was found and provided by me.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 19th, 2018, 5:19 pm

For the versions I'm interested in--prediction of card in envelope--I think the Danson version may be the earliest.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Steve Bryant » May 19th, 2018, 8:03 pm

Lewis Jones has a practical version in his hardback collection Seventh Heaven, titled Calendar Card.

He opens the trick with this bit of history:

"The trick was invented by Ted Danson, and first appeared in The New Pentagram in March of 1970. In 1983, Danson's Diary Trick was published by Supreme, along with some other versions. Unfortunately Ted's method required the use of six diaries, and you had to wait until the date was called before you knew which diary to bring into view."

He followed with a list of methods that had since appeared, then detailed his own (and which defects it corrected), and closed with this:

"Ted Danson tells me that he is not happy that 'everybody wants to turn the Diary Trick into a card trick.' His original idea was that a deck of cards should be nowhere to be seen at any time. And that only at the final revelation should a single card be produced from wherever it had been hiding."

And then Lewis apologized for doing just what Danson complained of.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 20th, 2018, 8:32 am

Thank you, Steve--I'll look that up.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby Bob Farmer » May 20th, 2018, 9:23 am

Lewis's trick is very good. Here's the reference: "Calendar Card," pp. 154-159, Seventh Heaven by Lewis Jones, published by Lewis Jones 2009.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby federico luduena » May 23rd, 2018, 11:35 am

Also "Date Me", by Greg Arce. In his book Deep Thought (2004), p19.

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Re: The Birthday Book-The Diary Trick

Postby EndersGame » July 1st, 2018, 9:57 pm

Great work Bob - excellent compilation.
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