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#1
Old 10-17-2000, 05:03 AM
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i saw svengali cards on a cheesy infomercial. the cards appear to change from a normal deck to a deck of the same card. how exactly does this work? how could one make such a deck using household materials? and can such a deck be used in normal card games?
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#2
Old 10-17-2000, 06:53 AM
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If they're what I'm thinking of, the way it works is that half the cards are very slightly wider than the other half. One half is all the same card, like the 2 of clubs, while the other half is regular cards. The two sets of cards are in alternating order.

Because of the difference in the width, you fan it one way, and it looks like a regular deck. Fan it the other way, and it looks like you've turned it all into the same card.

You couldn't use it in a card game, since as soon as you shuffle, the pattern is lost, and then you deal it and half the cards in everyone's hand is the same card. If you're the dealer and there are stakes on the table, you could end up under the table...
#3
Old 10-17-2000, 10:07 AM
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No, no no!

jti, what you're describing ("wider") sounds more like a Stripper Deck than a Svengali Deck.

(Note to other magicians: I know that by explaining this, I am revealing a secret of out art. Please understand that, since a Svengali Deck can be purchased at some grocery stores for god's sake, this is no big deal. Use the deck properly and they still won't know how you did it.)

juan,

A Svengali deck is, as jti began to explain correctly, made up of 2 parts - one half of the deck is cut slightly shorter than the other, by about 1/32nd of an inch or less.

When I say "shorter," I mean end-to-end the long way. The half which is trimmed consists of 26 copies of the same card, often the two of clubs. Then this card is placed at every-other spot in the deck.

This way, when you place your thumb on the end of the deck and riffle (not "fan") the deck, your thumb skips all the short copies of the two of clubs, then ride along, unseen, on the back of the long card in front of them, and the spectator sees what appears to be a normal deck. Then, when you riffle from the back to the front, the long cards carry the Two's on their faces, so the spectator sees what appears to be a deck of all the same card.

If this is unclear, try this demonstration. Take a deck and turn every other card 90 degrees. Then, riffle through it and take note of how the "short" cards ride along with the long ones.

The Svengali Principle is used in more than just card tricks, but this deck is its most famous application.

Or, if that explanation was not clear, here is another:
Quote:
The Svengali Deck consists of 26 ordinary cards, all different, and 26 short cards all of the same suit and value. The latter may be narrower as well as shorter, but short duplicates only are generally used. The pack is set up by arranging the two sets alternately, thus every other card from the top is a card of the same suit and value. Burling Hull in his "Sealed Mysteries" claims its invention and that he copyrighted it in 1909. The Svengali deck soon leaped into wide popularity and into the hands of street peddlers. Many thousands of packs must have been sold, and are still selling, and yet its use must not be despised by magicians on that account. Like many other weapons in the magicians' armory it can be used even amongst people who know the principle without their suspicions being aroused.

-Encyclopedia of Card Tricks
#4
Old 10-17-2000, 11:26 AM
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Okay, sdimbert, your're right about Svengali Decks pretty much being in the public domain, and somebody would've given up the dope, but damn, I think I'd have made juan go out and buy his own damn deck!
#5
Old 10-17-2000, 11:33 AM
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el_mono, I maintain that I could go over to juan's house right now and do a trick, with a Svengali deck, that would fool him.

Magic has very little to do with how the tricks work; it is all about how they are performed.
#6
Old 10-17-2000, 01:15 PM
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...if I am not mistaken, back in the 1970s some magician named Marshall Brodeen, or something like that,had a cheesey commercial on tv hawking these things by mail for 4.95 a deck...anyone else remember this?
#7
Old 10-18-2000, 07:50 AM
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Yup, I too remember Marshal Brodeen pitching "T.V. Magic Cards" sometime around 1972. It was those very cards, by the by, that sparked my interest in magic. Cheesy? Oh yeah, thing is though that "pitching" Svengali decks was an old avocation even then. Brodeen was simply savy enough to bring the old boardwalk pitch to television. After the success of T.V. Magic Cards he went on to market the T.V. Magic Set. He probably made Ron Popiel (?) jealous as hell!

And yeah, sdimbert, I hear what you're saying and don't disagree with you in principle, at least when it comes to public domain items, I just worry about guys like juan who want to get the works for free. Let him hit the library or subscribe to Magic or Geniie. Let's just make sure he doesn't start getting too cozy with the questions. Know what I mean? I don't even own a Svengali deck any longer, do you?

Think good thoughts...
#8
Old 10-18-2000, 09:29 AM
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y'know, now that I think about it, the deck I had was shorter/longer cards, not wider/thinner. pardon my memory, and thanks for the clarification, sdimbert, even if it meant breaking the magician's oath of secrecy. (I hope we don't find you some day, tied up in a cloak, with a deck of svengali cards down your throat, and a bunny's head beside you - some of those magicians....)
#9
Old 10-18-2000, 09:48 AM
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TV Magic Cards! Wow does that bring back memories. Brodeen also marketed a similar set called TV Mystery cards. The setup was the same, but the cards would show up blank if riffled the right way.

I would say that TV Magic Cards, and the "Magic Hat" were the 2 most infuential things that made me interested in Magic.
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#10
Old 10-18-2000, 08:23 PM
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sdimbert said
Quote:
jti, what you're describing ("wider") sounds more like a Stripper Deck than a Svengali Deck.
I had a stripper deck back when I was younger. The girls all seemed pretty wide, and most had a lot of mileage. The blonde on the three and seven of diamonds was kinda nice...

What? That's not the same thing? nevermind...
#11
Old 10-18-2000, 08:56 PM
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Here's some good links for finding out how magic tricks work:

[b] http://magictheater.com/
http://supermagic.com/
http://allmagic.com/
#12
Old 10-19-2000, 02:31 AM
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I bought a Svengali deck from a state-fair vendor about five years ago. Very, very cool, and very fun. My cards are permanantly warped, and the box is tape upon tape. I need a new set. Best damned cards I ever bought.

Mine are also supposed to be printed with magnetic ink.

--Tim
#13
Old 10-19-2000, 11:28 AM
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juan and others:

Now that we've come this far, and TGIF has provided links to lots and lots of magical information, let me make the offical magicians' plea:

You don't really want to know how the tricks work.

Trust me on this - being a magician isn't all it's cracked up to be. I can't think of a single illusion that I enjoy more now that I know the method. Magicians work hard to make the machinations and subtle inner workings of illusions happen - don't spoil the fun for yourself.

There is a reason why snotty kids don't like to see magicians perform the linking rings. It's not because it is a bad trick - it isn't. It's because most kids know the secret... therefor the trick has lost its charm.

Do yourself a favor and stay in the dark... these sort of things can't be unlearned, and the wonder vanishes quickly once you step into the light.
#14
Old 10-19-2000, 02:10 PM
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I don't know that I agree with you there, sdimbert... There's a few tricks that I've seen, that I know it's a slight of hand, and I even know exactly what slight it is, and how the magician is doing it, and I was still impressed as heck because he did it so well.
As for the trick where all the cards turn blank, I've seen it done with a perfectly ordinary deck, as well. No magician worth his salt needs special props, they just make things a little easier.

Disclaimer: I am not a magician, except in the same sense as every other kid who had a Fisher Price magic kit and a couple of books.
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#15
Old 10-19-2000, 02:26 PM
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Chronos said:
Quote:
As for the trick where all the cards turn blank, I've seen it done with a perfectly ordinary deck, as well. No magician worth his salt needs special props, they just make things a little easier.
I'd like to see that.

sdimbert, I will agree that 99.9999% of the folks out there will lose the mystery of the illusion once they know how it's done. A small proportion of those will still enjoy the tricks for the mastery of the performance. I myself enjoy magic, but am frustrated when I don't know how it's done. Sure, some of them are so simple it boggles the mind, but I want to know.

I guess I should go become a magician so I can learn the tricks.

I love those Fox specials.
#16
Old 10-19-2000, 02:49 PM
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You beat me to it...

Quote:
Originally posted by Irishman
Chronos said:
Quote:
As for the trick where all the cards turn blank, I've seen it done with a perfectly ordinary deck, as well. No magician worth his salt needs special props, they just make things a little easier.
I'd like to see that.
I concur.
#17
Old 10-19-2000, 03:50 PM
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Is it against the Magician's Code for a non-magician to give away secrets?

All you do is fan the deck the wrong way. Most playing cards (except the faces, and you just don't show those) have nice-sized blank areas on two opposite corners, and that's what you're showing. It helps if you have one fully blank card for the front, too, but you don't need a whole deck.

Yes, I know it's inanely simple, and very easy to figure out. With the right presentation and the right audience (preferably six years old or so ) it's still a pretty good trick.
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#18
Old 10-19-2000, 04:19 PM
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You are correct, Chronos, with one minor correction: the effect can be performed with ordinary cards, but not the particular trick that requires the use of a special deck.
In magic there is a huge difference between the trick and the effect. Levitation, for instance, is an effect, but there are countless ways to accomplish the effect and perform the trick.

I also agree that knowing the secret doesn't spoil the trick if you are watching a skilled magician. Hell, it's the lure of learning the secrets that led most of us along the path to practicing magic. Practice is the key word there. Anybody can purchase the aforementioned Svengali deck, read the directions and perform the effect. Will they fool, or more importantly, entertain their audience? Probably not, unless of course they already possess a natural talent for acting and presentation. Purchase the cards, practice the effect until you can perform it with your eyes closed and focus your attention on the presentation, then you can fool and entertain.

Anyone interested in the art of magic out there should contact the International Brotherhood of Magicians or the Society of American Magicians. Both organizations have websites, but I have no idea how to post them here. Sdimbert, care to help me out?

Thanks for the insightful comments, Chronos, your alright for a moderator!
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#19
Old 10-19-2000, 06:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by el_mono
Anyone interested in the art of magic out there should contact the International Brotherhood of Magicians or the Society of American Magicians. Both organizations have websites, but I have no idea how to post them here. Sdimbert, care to help me out?
International Brotherhood of Magicians

Society of American Magicians
#20
Old 10-19-2000, 07:35 PM
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Well, since Chronos already spilled it...

You don't need a blank card for the front. Use the ace of diamonds, and it's easy to cover the spots. This is on Vol. 1 of Jeff McBride's Card Manipulation videos, BTW.

Quote:
sdimbert, I will agree that 99.9999% of the folks out there will lose the mystery of the illusion once they know how it's done. A small proportion of those will still enjoy the tricks for the mastery of the performance.
The other 0.0001% of us are the magicians. Perhaps you are one of us...

Seriously, if anyone wants to take up card magic, I recommend Michael Ammar's videos. Videos are more expensive than books, but they're worth it in terms of getting over the learning curve.

Dr. J

PS: Are there any good message boards online (aside from Usenet) for magicians to talk shop?
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#21
Old 10-21-2000, 01:26 PM
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Having always had a curious mind and, later, upon grtowing up to discover that there is no real magic, I tended to avoid magic shows because I wanted to know how the tricks worked, but no one ever told us how. Unless they were real simple, worn out ones.

When someone published a book on tricks, I read it and learned about mirrors, hidden pockets and such and was actually disappointed.

I have a deck of marked, trick cards, cut at a bias one way and hidden marks in the complex design on the backs. If you 'stack' the deck right, the design not only tells you what the top card is, but another card deeper in the deck.

They take a lot of study to be able to use them right.
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