|In one corner of the library stands an
old fashioned bookstand. Designed for use while standing, these relics
were used to display huge dictionaries or other similar large books. The
one in the DeNomolos library held an enormous book some 24 inches by 18
inches and a good two inches thick.
The book was called "People and Places of the Past" and was published by National Geographic back in the early eighties. When opened to it's full 36-inch width it made an impressive coffee table book. It is an illustrated guide and cultural atlas of the Ancient World. DeNomolos used it as a reference book for some of his esoteric studies and it occupied a prominent place in the material I am about to report to you.
DeNomolos removed the book from its resting-place and placed it on the table before him. I believed him when he told us that this was not intended as a lap book because the weight was such that it cut off circulation to your feet if you tried to hold it for any length of time. I would estimate that the book weighed a good ten pounds.
From one of the ornate boxes he kept at hand, he removed two small tin boxes, which were in the form of Egyptian sarcophagi. He told us that they were from the British Museum and depicted those of the high priest Denytenamun from the Twenty Second Dynasty, c. 900 BC. and Hornedjitef from the Early Ptolemaic Period, c. 240 BC.
I always have to suppress a chuckle when DeNomolos pronounces the names of these Ancient Egyptians. He gets such a superiority thing going and no one knows if he is serious or not. He usually is but it is hard to tell since we have been fooled so often by the crafty old devil.
He shook the little coffins and each contained something but we were not ready for what happened next. He opened each in turn and produced a very unusual set or pack of playing cards from them. Die-cut replicas of mummies were showing the front view on one pack and the back view on the other pack. The actual faces of these marvelous renditions were a virtual library of Egyptian Symbolism and one would not recognize them as playing cards except for the standard indices at the very top of each card. He confided that they were from the Boston Museum of Fine Art.
The final object was a metal cigar tube or at least I suspect that what it was. When the lid was unscrewed he removed a small scroll that looked older than anything else on the table. It was about six inches long and rolled on a rod with colored stones at each end. It appeared to be velum or perhaps some other animal skin and was sealed with a cord that had been waxed in place with the Eye of Horus displayed.
He began with this scroll held high above his head and spoke with authority saying, "Behold the sacred scroll of Hathor, keeper of the secrets of the Pharaohs and protector or the lands of Egypt." He smiled and continued, "Herein is a prediction that may come about in your presence this evening."
DeNomolos looked at the company and nodded wisely. He looked like one of those little dogs in the back window of someone’s car.
"Charles, I want you to assist me with this. Please choose a pack of these cards. Face up or face down? No,no,no. The mummies. Face up or face down. Face up? Wonderful." ( Free choice. Both packs are stacked so it makes no difference but the choice thing is important.)
"Please hand the pack to George."
"George, Please choose ODD or EVEN. EVEN...thank you and please hand the pack to Jim there beside you." (Magicians choice directs to EVEN)
"Friend Jim, George has selected EVEN so I want you to choose an even number between ten and thirty and count off that many cards on to the table." ( Assures the two cards are in place when finished.)
"Thank you and please place the rest of the cards back in the mummy case."
"George please pick up the cards that Jim has dealt there in front of you and from that stack deal off two hands."
"Thank you George, You did that very well. Now would you do one more thing for me? Turn over the top mummy of each hand and see what the Egyptian symbols mean to you." ( Symbols could be read for additional bluff at this point.)
The answer..."Nothing." "NOTHING ! OK, let’s try the card indices. What do you find?" "Two six's. The six of hearts and the six of spades" replied George.
"That is a bit unusual wouldn’t you say?" " Not if you are doing a card trick." "DeNomolos doesn’t do card tricks. You know that."
DeNomolos wasn’t smiling. He was just holding the little scroll and staring at George.
"6 and 6. Both even numbers. Added together that makes 12. side by side we get 66. Let’s try that."
DeNomolos pushed the giant book across the table toward Jim.
"Jim, open the book to page 66 and go down to line 12 if there is text and if not to the 12th object and tell us what you find."
Jim discovered in the section of Ancient Egypt a time line chart. As he moved down to the 12 entry he found the following information.
"In 3000 BC the old kingdom was beginning to disintegrate for lack of central leadership................"
DeNomolos casually unrolled the scroll. The almost clear skin was covered with hieroglyphs. As the scroll was extended to its full length a small slip of paper fell to the table. DeNomolos cleared his throat and began; "I took the liberty of making a small translation from the text of the scroll. It says quite simply, The kingdom failed for lack of a strong leader."
He passed the scroll to Charles and smiled. "What do you think Charlie?"
Amazed, once again we looked at the artifacts and pondered a solution.
All items described are just what they are. A collection of oddities, which singly evaluated are simply curiosities but when used collectively present a tableaux for a most plausible story. The scroll is made from sausage casing, hand lettered and rolled around a piece of 1/4 inch dowel with epoxy end caps with a bit of colored stone embedded in each. A bit of cord is cemented to the scroll and a seal of epoxy putty adds to the antiquity.
The card trick is just that. the top two cards of the pack are the two six's. Cards are counted off to an even number, forced on the spectator with magical direction. They become the bottom two cards on the new stack which is dealt out in two hands and the original cards become the top card of the new stacks. That probably has a fancy name and was probably invented by someone famous for card flinging but it is my simple means of getting the page identified and a location on the page of the big, strange book. Ambiance is the key to the mystery. The props help weave the story and a little history lesson is presented to the unsuspecting audience.
Obviously the number arrangement can be changed to suit almost any book for a book test such as this. Four cards could be forced and the numbers added to make things appear anywhere in the book. The story is simple enough and the props, while somewhat unique, are available at Museum Stores and Nature Stores. Developing an eye for something magical is a part of the learning process. Magick is where you find it. Most often, not at your favorite dealers or from the most recent magic catalog.
To View All The Props, CLICK HERE.
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