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Early Vernon Review

Official Review

January 27th, 2003 4:47pm
Reviewed by David Acer
While perhaps not as widely regarded as the Dai Vernon Book of Magic or the Inner Secrets series, Early Vernon is still numbered among the classics. Thus, when one reads the book now, it is impossible to view it from an entirely objective stand-point.

Originally published in 1962, Early Vernon is a combination of two earlier works, The Twenty Dollar Manuscript and Five Close-Up Problems, along with some historical information regarding how they came to be, and nine “new” (in 1962) Vernon variations. Largely written by Dai’s friend, Faucett Ross, himself a professional writer and magician, the text is both efficient and clear, and is supported where necessary by a handful of illustrations.

Early Vernon features 23 card tricks, one coin sleight, and one trick using bills. The material ranges from self-working (The Vernon Five Card Mental Force, Short Change with Long Green, Edgewise, etc.) to quite difficult (most notably, The Slow Motion Card Vanish). Virtually all of these effects would be considered implicit magic, rather than explicit. That is to say, while magical, they are not particularly visual.

Of particular interest to today’s working pro is the “Vernon Super Countdown” (a simple and cunning method for determining both a selected card and the number at which it resided in the pack at the time of selection); “Follow The Leader,” a pretty and poetic card trick in which red cards and black cards are drawn to their leaders; “Novel Card Transposition,” a two-card transposition that makes brilliant use of a short card (I have fried more than a handful of magicians with this); and “Five Card Mental Selection,” a clever, impromptu, Princess-Card type trick.

Of somewhat less interest is “The Perfect Coin Vanish,” which, while seminal, is now so widely known as to be uninteresting; and “Puzzling Demonstration,” another two-card transposition that is essentially obsolete. There is also the “Vernon Poker Routine,” in both its original and revised forms, and a handful of card plots that, while likely intriguing in the 30’s, might leave you somewhat cold by contemporary standards (revelations using partially stacked decks, locations using daub, etc.).

Finally, the book contains the famous (infamous?) “Vernon Five Card Mental Force,” a sleightless (though not skill-less) divination of a free selection from a choice of five cards. When it works, you’re a God. When it doesn’t, you’re a goat, and you’re never entirely certain which role you will inhabit until the very end of the trick.

Having said all that, this a highly meritorious booklet from a historical point of view that also contains more than enough usable material to challenge its readers three quarters of a century later. Moreover, I would add that, while not all the contents could be considered “workers” in today’s world, each and every one possesses a measure of ingenuity that one cannot help but appreciate.

For the modest asking price, Early Vernon is well worth your attention.

David Acer

Product info for Early Vernon

Author: Vernon, Dai
Publisher: Magic, Inc.
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $8.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

This is a republication of the original $20.00 dollar manuscript (1962), plus 10 new Vernon Variations. Contents cover the story of the preparation and sale of this first Vernon material, then the entire manuscript itself, and then the new material. Includes the Five Card Mental Force.

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