Dai Vernon's Inner Card Trilogy by Lewis Ganson
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii December, 1996)
As part of L&L publishing continuing project of republishing the Lewis Ganson catalog,
they now release, in one volume, the three classic Dai Vernon "Inner Secrets" volumes.
(Why this isn't titled the "Inner Card Secrets Trilogy" I fail to comprehend.) Inner
Secrets of Card Magic, More Inner Secrets of Card Magic, and Further Inner Secrets of
Card Magic, published respectively in 1959, 1960 and 1961, reflected the cutting edge of
card magic at that turning point in the field's evolution. (And were climaxed by Vernon's
Ultimate Secrets of Card Magic [page 165], already rereleased by L&L.) The first
volume was where many of us first learned a version of the color-changing deck, which
Vernon used in his Magic Castle act. Vernon's version of Al Baker's Pack that Cuts Itself
was an excellent progenitor to Eugene Burger's Haunted Pack. The chapter of color
changes was full of exciting ideas, including Vernon's Picking Off the Pips. Manipulative
magic included Vernon's handling for the interlocked production of cards. The book
concluded with a purist card location that has stood J.C. Wagner in good stead for
many, many years.
The second volume presented us, in Chapter One, with Vernon's now classic and
infinitely varied Twisting the Aces, with the first popular description of Alex Elmsley's
Counting Four as Four, which later became known simply as the Elmsley Count. Hard to
believe there was a time when we knew neither the count, nor the trick. A chapter on
Think of a Card routines bears much current study. Vernon's version was an early
variant on Marlo's Oil and Water. McDonald's $100 Routine exposed many magi to the
principle for the first time, long before it would be popularized by Frank Garcia and so
many others. I first learned the Zarrow Shuffle from a pregnant chapter entitled Magic
With the Riffle Shuffle, which also contains the Professor's work on Push-Through and
Pull-Out shuffles. A chapter on crimps is still a standard reference to such work, as is the
chapter on forces. The book includes Vernon's version of the Cards to Pocket, his work
on the Vernon Glide, the Push-Off Count, and the Buckle Count, all standard techniques
in the modern cardician's arsenal of sleights. And the Trick That Cannot Be Explained
kept me up nights, reading it over and over and over again, squeezing the nuances out,
experimenting, going back and reading it again, then trying more versions still again.
This groundbreaking item continues to ripple and resonate through card magic today, as
it no doubt always will.
The third volume features Vernon's routine for the Three Card Monte, a staple of
countless magicians' repertoires. Chapters on Palming, Changes, and Second Dealing
are required reading for students of these subjects, the latter including Vernon's New
Theory Second Deal. Tricks include the Blindfold Poker Deal, Cards Across, the Card
Puzzle, and Vernon's Everywhere and Somewhere.
This extraordinary wealth of timeless information is now included in one handy volume.
L&L has matched their format for all their other Vernon volumes, which does enlarge
the pictures a bit from the original. Unlike with Ultimate Secrets of Card Magic [page
165], this is a straightforward production; the book(s) are not newly typeset, nor do I
believe the photos to have been rescreened. There is no updated introduction, nor is
there any easy indication of where the three books are located (other than, obviously,
their relative order), such as what the page counts are for each book. Had the books
been freshly typeset, running headers or footers could have indicated which volume the reader finds himself in at any given page, making it easier to navigate through the three
books. Nevertheless, this is a bargain, and an absolute, no-exceptions must for any
budding card magician's shelf. Even old hands may well enjoy having the handy single
volume within reach.