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Tricks, Tricks and More Tricks: Old Wine in New Bottles
Learn three card tricks inspired by the eigteenth-century magician Professor Pinetti.
Welcome to the latest instalment of Tricks, Tricks and More Tricks! Get ready to learn three captivating card tricks inspired by the flamboyant Italian conjurer, Professor Giuseppe Pinetti.
Adorned in opulent regal attire, complete with a powdered wig, he commanded the stage like a king, despite his short and stout figure. Pinetti was one of the first magicians to bring his craft from the streets to the stage, transforming it into a legitimate form of theatre. His innovative inventions, and captivating showmanship, left audiences spellbound throughout Europe in the late eighteenth century.
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The three tricks below use old methods with new presentations. Two of the tricks, "Piles of Pinetti" and "Pinetti's Pyramid", are reimagined versions of The Twenty-One Card Trick, one of the oldest card tricks in existence, dating back well over four hundred years. The third trick, "Pinetti's Prediction", is a reworking of an effect performed by Pinetti himself, which appeared in his magic book, Physical Amusements and Diverting Experiments, published in 1784. Though these methods have been in use for centuries, I have created new presentations inspired by the life of Professor Pinetti and his contemporaries, including the enigmatic Count Caligstro, a notorious self-styled magician and adventurer who was immensely popular with the nobility of France before the French Revolution.
By infusing these tricks with fresh historical narratives, I hope to provide a unique experience that entertains and educates in equal measure. As these tricks date back hundreds of years, this is a clear case of putting old wine into new bottles!
The Piquet Pack Series
All three tricks featured in this edition of Trick, Tricks and More Tricks use a modified Piquet pack and are specifically designed to be performed with a reduced set of thirty-three playing cards. Piquet, pronounced "PK", was once France's most popular card game. It gained immense popularity during the sixteenth century and was still all the rage when Pinetti entertained audiences two-hundred years later in eighteenth-century Paris. Unlike a standard deck of fifty-two cards, Piquet requires only thirty-two, comprising the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Nine, Eight, and Seven in each suit. However, you'll need to include one Joker for some of these tricks to work, making the pack consist of thirty-three cards.
Additionally, to perform the tricks in the Piquet Pack Series exactly as I do, you'll need a deck that deviates slightly from the standard Piquet pack. First, remove all the high cards—the Nines, Tens, Jacks, Queens, and Kings—from the pack. This leaves you with only the Aces, Twos, Threes, Fours, Fives, Sixes, Sevens, and Eights in each suit. Then, add one Joker to complete your special "Piquet pack". This specific setup offers certain benefits when performing one of my favourite tricks in the Piquet Pack Series called "Pythagorean Prediction".
Using this unique pack, you can perform these three historical card tricks that will amaze and astound your audience!
I have plans to continue publishing fun card tricks designed to take full advantage of this special thirty-three-card Piquet pack. So look out for more tricks in the Piquet Pack Series in the future! In the meantime, please enjoy these three.
Piles of Pinetti and Pinetti's Pyramid
Here's a version of the classic Twenty-One Card Trick that's been adapted to use the thirty-three-card Piquet pack mentioned earlier. The trick is made even more captivating with an engaging presentation inspired by the mysterious Professor Pinetti. The cards are more than just objects of entertainment; they're elevated to tools of divination, used for a fascinating cartomancy reading. After the reading, the performer ventures into the realm of magic by summoning the spirit of Professor Pinetti! A card is dealt to the table for each letter in his name, and the next card in the pack is then revealed, showing the chosen card!
I’ve included lots of alternative ways to handle the revelation. For example, you can use different spellings of Pinetti’s name or even give your participant a choice between six or seven options!
Performing this trick is enjoyable because the method is essentially self-working, although I do use false shuffles and cuts during the performance. The method's simplicity allows you to put all your effort and energy into the presentation. I consider this a "conversational" piece of magic, where the focus is on interacting with your participant during the reading rather than the chosen card's location. The magic is an unexpected bonus to an already entertaining reading of a person's past, present, and future.
My goal is to pique people's interest in Professor Pinetti through the presentation. Beginning with this fantastic trick during a brief card set, you can introduce him as a historical figure to your audience. Afterwards, you can use the Italian conjurer as a recurring theme for the remainder of your card act. Typically, I perform all three tricks in succession.
It's important to note that this technique can be effectively used in a virtual magic show conducted on a video conferencing platform such as Zoom. Since the card selected is a mental choice, the participant need not physically handle the cards.
"Pinetti's Pyramid" is a minor variation of "Piles of Pinetti." The initial part of the trick, which is the cartomancy reading, remains unchanged. However, the revelation is different and involves creating a pyramid-shaped layout consisting of seven rows of diminishing cards. This version of the trick requires ample table space but is ideal for formal, close-up performances where you want to maximise visibility and cater to a larger audience.
During this presentation, a reference is made to Count Caligstro, a famous adventurer, charlatan, and magician who lived around the same era as Pinetti. As a result, the presentation style leans towards Bizarre Magick.
This is a reworking of a trick originally published by Professor Pinetti in his book Physical Amusements and Diverting Experiments back in 1784. These adjustments make the trick more practical and eliminate the need to take the deck behind your back, which is something I prefer to avoid when performing card magic.
As the name suggests, the trick involves predicting a chosen card's location in the pack based on a rudimentary mathematical principle. Despite its simplicity, when executed correctly, the trick is still profoundly fooling. It can even be repeated for the same audience with some caution. Moreover, the same principle can be applied to a full pack of fifty-two cards. Even though the method is self-working, it's best to conceal it with a simple false cut, such as the one made popular by Jay Ose.
Here is a puzzling prediction trick using a Piquet pack of thirty-three cards. For optimal results, it's best if there are no cards with a value of ten in the deck. That's why I prefer to use a pack that only includes the Ace through Eight in each suit.
The self-working principle employed is an old one and can be traced back to at least the seventeenth century. Similar to “Pinetti’s Prediction”, the trick can be repeated because the prediction card differs every time.
I have created a presentation that explores the mystical elements of Pythagoreanism (a philosophical and religious movement inspired by the work of the Greek mathematician Pythagoras). This not only adds entertainment value to the routine but also provides clear justification for its procedural nature.
Learn More About Professor Pinetti
In my ongoing column, Lendgends of Legerdemain, I've written a detailed article about Pinetti. I highly recommend giving it a read if you’d like to learn more about Pinetti and his fascinating life!