Pocket tricks form a separate and a most important class of magic. It would be difficult to overrate the importance to the average magician of a good repertoire of well-rehearsed pocket tricks. They are not out of place in the most ambitious of programmes, and they are absolutely essential for the occasional impromptu entertainment.
At such an entertainment the magician has, as a rule, to perform without any apparatus, and at very close quarters with the spectators. He cannot hope to conceal “fakes” successfully, and must rely on genuine sleight-of-hand. If he is skilful at that, and – just as important – if he knows some new and effective pocket tricks, and can perform them neatly and quickly, he will both amuse and mystify his audience. Also he will score tremendously over the rival magician who can do nothing without the aid of a prepared platform, curtains, apparatus, and so on.
The words in the last paragraph, ‘if he knows some new and effective pocket tricks’, are important. There are many pocket tricks, but very few new and effective ones. Somehow or other inventors do not devote anything like so much attention to this department of magic as they do to the others. The result is that really original pocket tricks are very rare and, consequently, very valuable. Magicians should secure all they can, and should treasure them as among the most important of their magical possessions.
Several ‘star magicians’ owed their first engagement entirely to their skill in performing pocket tricks. They gave a quick exhibition of magic of this sort in the two or three minutes allowed them by the managers or agents in question, and, as the result, were booked for an early appearance in public. If they had had to rely on an apparatus show, they could not have given a satisfactory one in the time, and would not have been booked. From every point of view pocket tricks should be cultivated by magicians. The practice of them is useful, not only on account of the direct results, but because it helps to train the hand and eye for bigger and more difficult tasks. And the performance of them has the very special merit that it shows the public that magicians can do good work right in the midst of their audiences and without any mechanical aid.