A miniature packing case is displayed on the performer’s table. The performer removes one end of this packing case and tips out and displays four miniature, fine art, framed paintings. He then explains that these four paintings are all very valuable works of art and that one of them is priceless. A spectator is now invited to choose which of the four paintings he would consider to be the priceless masterpiece.
PLEASE NOTE: There is no force: the spectator has an absolutely free choice of one of the four paintings.
The spectator’s choice is noted and then the four paintings are returned to the packing case for safe-keeping, and the end of the packing case is replaced.
Also displayed on the table is another wooden case with the letter ‘J’ on the top of it. This wooden case houses an envelope, inside of which there is a single playing card. The performer removes the envelope and extracts the playing card from it, making sure that the back of the playing card is facing the audience. The letter ‘J’ on the wooden case, the performer now goes on to explain, stands for Jack, which means it would be reasonable to expect that the playing card the performer is holding is one of the four ‘Jacks’ from a deck of cards. However, on turning the playing card around, he reveals a picture of an altogether different Jack – Jack the Lad, the fine art thief!
The playing card is returned to the envelope which is now sealed and then handed to the spectator who is requested to place his initials on the front of it. The envelope is then replaced in the wooden case and the performer explains that the spectator, by the simple act of placing his initials on the envelope, has actually given Jack the Lad permission to try and steal the most valuable painting in the packing case – the masterpiece freely selected by the spectator.
The end of the packing case is now removed and the paintings are once again tipped out and displayed. This time, however, only three of the picture frames actually contain a painting…
THE FOURTH HASS HAD ITS PAINTING REMOVED – THE SPECTATOR’S PRICELESS MASTERPIECE HAS COMPLETELY VANISHED!
The performer now removes the envelope from the wooden case, and then, showing the audience that there is nothing concealed in his hands, he opens the envelope and tips out the playing card into one of them. On lifting the card, THE MISSING PAINTING CAN BE SEEN LYING ON THE PALM OF HIS HAND – Jack the Lad, the fine art thief, has triumphed again!
Finally, the envelope is handed to the spectator to verify his initials and to check that the envelope is otherwise completely empty.
BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED APPARATUS
The miniature art reproductions are framed in ornate gilt picture frames measuring 47 x 55 x 5 mm. The packing case, as one would expect to find, is made of unfinished wood, but it has been fine-sanded. The wooden envelope case is made of teak with the letter ‘J’ set in relief. The Jack the Lad card is a miniature bicycle card (i.e. half poker size). Complete with routine.