Sunday, December 20, 2009

Annemann's Nightmares

I was curious about the origin of the gimmicked card used in Paul Curry’s The Joker Knows. (See the November 15th 2009 entry on this blog). With the help of Ask Alexander I found Charles Jordan’s Spook Card (1916). Jordan credited the gimmicked card to Ford Rogers who used it in his 'Ever Ready' Forcing Pack. Jordan used the gimmick in a version of Hardin’s Prince’s Card Trick in which a thought of card vanished from a packet. All the cards in the packet were double cards prepared as in the Ever Ready Forcing Pack (see Greater Magic or Donald Holmes' manuscript Tricks With Prepared Cards.

Annemann acknowledged the Jordan idea in an advert for his Annemann’s Nightmare effect which he advertised in The Sphinx in 1928. Here is the advert. The method is the same as that used in The Problem with Premonition:

NOW BORROW THEIR OWN DECK AFTER THEY SHUFFLE. Have them remove a card which they place in their pocket without glimpsing. Now riffle deck, face up, and stop at their command. TELL THEM TO LOOK AT THE CARD IN SIGHT AND TO REMEMBER. IMMEDIATELY HAND THEM THE DECK WITHOUT A MOVE OR SLEIGHT. They deal the pack through a card at a time and THE CARD THEY SAW IS GONE! AND THIS WITH THEIR OWN DECK IN THEIR OWN HANDS! Ask them what it was. They tell you. Then you prove THEY WERE DREAMING, because UPON LOOKING THEMSELVES THEY FIND THAT VERY CARD WAS THE ONE THEY PLACED IN THEIR POCKET!

There are two key points. One is that the force is made with the deck face-up because the rear card of the pair is the shorter of the two. And the second is that Annemann adds the gimmicked card to a borrowed deck. Since the cards are only handled face up, the different back is never noticed. Oh, and at the beginning of the routine he forces the regular card on the spectator, of course.

Annemann returned to the effect in The Jinx (Issue 7, April 1935). It has a great presentation idea which I think is worth knowing about. Here is Annemann’s description of his New Nightmare:

Writing something on the face of a card from the deck in place of paper, the performer hands it to someone to hold for a few minutes without looking at it. Riffling through the face up pack, another person says, ‘stop’ at any time and looks at the card staring them in the face. They are asked to remember it well.

The deck is closed and without a move placed on the table. Turning, the performer asks the first person to read the writing on the card. ‘The card chosen will be the Three of Clubs.’ The prophecy is correct! Now the performer says he has gone further. The deck is dealt through a card at a time face up and the Three of Clubs is gone. ‘And where is it?’ queries the mystic. ‘I made it change places with the card I originally wrote upon!’ And the first spectator shows the card he has been holding from the start and from which he read the writing AND IT IS THE THREE OF CLUBS!

I’m not keen on the face-up riffle force but Annemann uses it so that the force card of the pair is the shorter of the two and better hidden. I think that the second card is very easy to hide in The Problem with Premonition even though it is the longer card of the gimmicked pair. However, I love the idea of giving the spectator a card at the beginning of the trick on which you’ve written a prediction. And having him first read out prediction but only later revealing that it is actually the card.

It might be better to force a red spot card so that the writing can read more easily. You need to control the assisting spectator so that they don’t reveal the card until you are ready. And I think it would be a good idea to have the spectator who selected the card to try to guess the position of the card in the deck as a reason for dealing through it and delaying the surprise. But other than that, Annemann is a genius!

NOTES: Just found Annemann's A Day-Time Nightmare described in Annemann's Card Miracles (1930) as published by Burling Hull. Also there is The Eye-Popper Card Feat which uses the Rogers' gimmick in an Ambitious Card trick.