A Pretty Trick

to tell, or name all spots or court Cards in the Pack, and yet never see them. From A Rich Cabinet With A Variety of Inventions in Several Arts and Science by John White. First published in 1658.

On of those books that are kept by the toilet these days for easy reading when you have a moment. This particular ‘receipt’ in the book is a cunning card trick to amaze your friends or win money down the pub. In the illustration, our protagonist is performing the trick (I won’t give it away here, but the instructions are below) in a wide-brimmed hat, short tabbed doublet with shoulder wings and breeches.

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You must privately drop a drop of water or drink (about the bigness of two-pence) on a table before you where you sit and let any body shuffle the Pack of Cards, and then taking them into your hand place a candle on the table before you (for this trick is best to be done by candle-light) and holding down your head (as you may see in the Figure) lift the cards above the brim of your Hat, close to your head, that the light of the Candle may shine on the Cards, then in the drop of water (like a Looking-glass) you shall see every speck of each Card before you draw them, which you may name; or putting your finger upon the spots, you may say that you feel them out; then lay down your first Card, and name the next, as your first Card was the Deuce of Clubs, the next in the five of Spades, and so the rest.

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2 Responses to “A Pretty Trick”

  1. I love this post! We are having a full emersion weekend of 16th-17th century military pike & shotte enthusiasts in a few weeks and I am thinking of trying this as an evening gig… even if I guess a few cards right, it should help to lighten the evening in the tavern. I just want to thank you for your excellent selection of posts which I know for a fact are followed by some of us on the other side of the pond. Most of us do not have the time or resources to find such gems and appreciate your postings and comments greatly. Hope this finds you well and in good health so that you can continue your excellent venture! Kathy Dunsmore    

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