Abbott's Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks for Magicians

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Legendary encyclopedia for magicians contains over 150 tricks: Loop the Loop, Jamison's Severed Rope, The Tarbell Rope Mystery, The Encore Rope Trick, Eddie Clever’s Triple Cut Routine, Bachelor's Needle, and many more. Step-by-step instructions and over 500 illustrations show you how to master these dazzling feats.
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Abbott's Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks for Magicians

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Legendary encyclopedia for magicians contains over 150 tricks: Loop the Loop, Jamison's Severed Rope, The Tarbell Rope Mystery, The Encore Rope Trick, Eddie Clever’s Triple Cut Routine, Bachelor's Needle, and many more. Step-by-step instructions and over 500 illustrations show you how to master these dazzling feats.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486232065
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 6/1/1975
  • Series: Dover Magic Books Series
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Read an Excerpt


By STEWART JAMES, Sid Lorraine, Howard Melson

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-15655-2



Chapter 1. KNOTS


You are probably familiar with the quite ancient puzzle where you would be given a rope to hold, one end in each hand, and would be challenged to tie a knot therein without releasing either end. This was accomplished by folding the arms BEFORE picking up the rope. The simple act of unfolding the arms produces a knot in the rope. This "catch" might well serve as an introduction to the following really baffling trick.

The performer holds a rope as in Fig. 1. The use of a ring, as illustrated, is an effective addition. He states that he will tie the ring on the rope without releasing either end. Impossible as that seems, that is apparently what happens and the result is depicted in Fig. 2.

The first move is clearly shown in Fig. 3. The right hand goes into the loop as indicated by the arrow. Its further progress is shown in Fig. 4 and the result of these moves is to have an arrangement as in Fig. 5. If the hands were brought together and the loops dropped off the wrists, you would return to the position shown in Fig. 1.

To produce the knot it is necessary to secretly make an additional move. As the hands are brought together, to drop off the loops that encircle them, the backs are uppermost as in Fig. 6. The right hand releases end A and regains it again at point B after it has passed through loop C. Fig. 7 is of further assistance in understanding this move.

The dropping of the loops, the releasing and regaining of end A, and the separating of the hands to the position in Fig. 2, all blend together in one continuous movement. When properly made, it is absolutely indetectible.

An interesting presentation is to give a spectator a similar length of rope and have him try to do as you do. You get a knot but he does not although he will believe that he did exactly as you did. This is one trick that may be safely repeated.

A further surprise for the spectator is when you slowly and deliberately weave the rope into the position illustrated in Fig. 5. It is evident to the most critical that there has been no trickery. Instead of proceeding as previously, direct the spectator to grasp the two ends of the rope and pull it from your wrists. Imagine his surprise when he sees the knot forming before his very eyes.

This climax is produced with little or no effort on your part. Once the rope is in position Fig. 5, the act of removal by some other person is all that is needed to create the knot. The secret move must not be made.

Some performers have the ends of the rope tied around their thumbs, to preclude any thought of manipulation, up to the point where the rope is removed by a spectator.


A two foot length of rope is sufficient to demonstrate this feat of dexterity. Extend the right hand vertically in front of the body, thumb upwards and resting lightly against the first finger. Lay the middle of the rope over the second joint of the thumb. That portion of the rope that lies across the palm is clipped between the third and little finger. Turn the hand palm downwards. Grasp the end of the rope that crosses the back of the hand between the thumb and forefinger, quickly snap the hand, first down and then up, and the rope will drop out straight with a single knot neatly formed at about the middle.

The rapid down and up movement serves to cover the action. It is best concluded by tossing the rope in the air on the upward swing and catching it, to display. the knot, as it falls.


Both ends of the rope are held in the right hand. The rope is snapped in the air at the same time as one end is released. A single knot is disclosed near the end of the rope.

The knot is secretly tied in advance about three inches from one end. The rope may vary considerably in length but four or five feet is about the most effective. The thumb, first and second fingers of the left hand effectually conceal the knot as the rope is held up to display. In taking the rope by the right hand, it is clipped between the first and second fingers with the knot again safely concealed behind them and toward the palm.

The other end of the rope is brought up and held between the first finger and thumb. As you snap the rope, you release this end. Appear surprised that nothing happened and again place it between first finger and thumb. Repeat the second time but at the third attempt you retain this end and allow the knotted end, from between the first and second finger, to fly in the air. Of course, this time it bears a knot.


One end of the rope is clipped between the thumb and first finger of the right hand. Allow about four or five inches to extend over the back of the hand. The other end of the rope is clipped between the thumb and first finger of the left hand but in a directly opposite manner. The main body of the rope passes across the back of the hand and four or five inches extend across the palm.

Bring the hands together, fingers pointed toward each other, and the right hand nearest the body. Left first and second fingers clip the end of the rope hanging over the back of right hand, and the right first and second fingers clip the end of rope that is hanging across the palm of left hand. On parting the hands, the knot appears at the center of the rope.


The hands are held about fifteen inches apart, palms up, arms half bent, and the rope lying across the wrists with an equal amount hanging down at both sides.

Turn the hands toward each other, at the same time turning them over, so that by the time they have made one complete revolution the backs will be uppermost and the ends of the rope will be hanging over that portion stretching horizontally between.

Grasp one end in each hand, let the loops drop off and two knots will appear evenly spaced from the center.


This is a feat that the average scientist will say is contrary to the laws of nature and utterly impossible. The principle on which it is performed is very little understood. The conjurer has a piece of rope at least three feet long which he allows to be examined. The ends of the rope are then tied to his wrists and, if the spectators are particularly suspicious, the knots may be sealed with wax, so that, if they are tampered with, the audience will find it out. (Figure 8.)

Now the performer announces that he will cause a genuine knot to appear on the rope, without disturbing the knots or removing the rope from his wrists. He turns his back to the spectators for a moment, and when again he faces them the knot—a plain, ordinary slipknot—has been tied in the rope. The knots on the wrists are undisturbed. (Figure 11.)

The secret depends upon a clever bit of manipulation of the rope. As soon as his back is turned the magician seizes the center of the rope in his right hand. He twists the rope twice around, forming a loop in the center of the rope. Holding his left hand before him, palm upward, he now thrusts the loop he has made under the rope around his left wrist. (Figure 9.) As it emerges on his palm, he passes his left hand completely through the loop. Reaching to the back of his left hand, he pushes the loop under the rope on the back of the wrist, just as he had done before on the other side. (Figure 10.) As the loop comes through, it has formed itself into a large knot which can be drawn tight, when it will be found to fit exactly in the center of the rope. (Figure 11.)

This may sound difficult, but in reality it is very simple, and will be found so after a little experimenting.


A rope is coiled and dropped on the floor. The magician grasps one end and quickly raises it. The rope now bears several knots.

The result is obtained entirely from the method used in coiling the rope. The magician takes the rope in his right hand at a position of about one foot from the end. (Figure 12.) The left hand now takes up a loop of the rope in the manner shown in Figure 13. It is passed over the hand as shown in Figure 14. He does this with every loop made, and it will now be found that, at the conclusion of the coiling, when the end of the rope is reached, if the original end, first held in the hand, be passed through all the loops, the result will be to tie as many knots in the rope as there were loops made. (Figure 15.)

All that remains is to drop the coiled rope on the floor and later grasp the original end and jerk it in the air.

A variation is to make three loops in the rope and have a volunteer hold one end in each hand with the most part hanging behind his back. Force a three spot from a deck of cards on a second volunteer. Have first volunteer face the audience and you step behind him. The value of the selected card is now revealed and you tie that many knots in the rope without volunteer releasing either end. Worked in this manner, you apparently do not know the number of knots to be tied until AFTER the ends are firmly held.

Sometimes the rope is lowered in a basket or urn, the original end never going out of sight, and is raised again bearing the knots.


This more closely resembles a seance test than a magician's trick. Each end of a lengthy rope is securely tied to the wrist of some volunteer, and sealed. The two volunteers stand at some distance from each other and the lights are extinguished. There are several knots on the rope when the lights are again snapped on and the volunteers will insist that the ends of the rope have remained firmly fastened to their wrists throughout.

When the lights are extinguished, the medium picks up the coiled center portion of the rope and holds it in his right hand. Going to one of his volunteers, he slips it over his head, and allows it to drop to the floor,—all unknown to the volunteer, as the magician is particularly careful to see that the rope did not touch him in its passage to the floor. This volunteer is requested to alter his position a few feet, and he is guided to some place where he will be free of the coil. It will now be seen that the whole body of one of the volunteers has passed through the loops of rope, and there are, accordingly, a number of knots formed in the rope —as many knots as there were coils in the rope.


In addition to a four foot length of rope, a metal tube, three-quarters of an inch in diameter and three inches long, is used.

Magi hands out the apparatus for examination. He slips tube on center of rope, has two spectators each hold one end of rope, covers the tube and rope and explains that with the aid of the long past dead, he will tie a knot around tube. He reaches under the cover, makes the motion of tying a knot, and when covering is whisked away, a real knot is tied around tube. Knot cannot be removed without letting go of one end of the rope.

Shake out rope and double so that center rests over forefinger and thumb tip of right hand. Now while you are talking, cross rope right under fingers with aid of left hand so that rope on side marked (A) crosses over rope on side marked (B). Place little finger of right hand under intersection as in illustration. Now with all three fingers remaining in position, take part of rope darkened in illustration between forefinger and thumb which are between loop, and pull rope through loop, all the time holding rope under little finger gently in left hand. Pull until you have about three or four inches of loop left over knot which results. Tighten knot gently. Now audience sees back of right hand holding rope with loop sticking out of top about three inches, fingers concealing knot. All these actions take place in a few seconds. Now slip tube over center of loop and pull rope through top of tube, that is, that part of rope that pulls freely through knot. Hold out rope with tube in center over knot which audience, of course, knows nothing about. Be sure tube conceals knot.

Have two spectators each hold one end of rope, throw covering (newspaper, handkerchief or scarf) over center and tube, reach under cover and slide tube off knot to the left, loosen knot and untie. Be sure to have both hands under cover and slide tube off knot to the left, loosen knot and push tube through knot until you feel knot tied around tube. Tighten knot around tube. Practice this a few times out in the open and soon it will be a simple matter to tie knot around tube under cover in just a few seconds. Let one of the spectators remove cover from rope and be sure and satisfy audience by letting several spectators examine knot. This has the effect of a small miracle if it is done properly.


Figure 17 shows the proper way to tie the square knot. The top A and B mark the ends of the rope. If you grasp the rope at A-A in one hand and B-B in the other and tug with all your strength, you will form what seems to be a very hard knot.

This square knot may be quickly and simply altered to a slip knot. All you have to do is take hold of the rope at B-B, one portion in each hand, and a quick pull will form the knot depicted in Figure 18. Study it and you will see how the knot may be slid right over the end B and off the rope.


This is one of the prettiest little sleights you have ever witnessed. It is so clean cut and so convincing that hundreds of magicians from all over the world have marveled at it. The knot is tied in such a fair manner it seems impossible for any trickery to be there, but it's there, just the same.

The moves for this beautiful effect will be shown in detail by a series of illustrations.

The eight drawings show what almost amounts to a slow moving picture of making and vanishing this knot. The whole when mastered is one complete movement. With a swing of the rope and a movement of the hands the knot is tied, placed in the hand, and fades away.

Hold the rope in the palms of the two open hands exactly as shown in Figure 19. The short end hangs over the right hand about 10 inches in length. The right hand is closed up and turned to a perpendicular position as shown in Figure 20. The left thumb comes down on top of the rope to hold it and the left hand simply is turned over when the positions shown in Figure 20 will be attained. The hand that has been partially X-rayed is the right hand. Now the rope is in such a position that the long end of it may be taken hold of by the right thumb and the right forefinger, and the long end of the rope just hangs toward the floor a portion of it being hidden from sight by passing behind the four fingers of the right hand. This is shown exactly in Figure 20.

Now the left forefinger just reaches forward, going under the short end of the rope as shown in Figure 21, and it is pulled right on through what is to all appearances, a real loop formation of a knot. Figure 22 describes better than words the movement of pulling the rope right through and shows the right hand as the upper one holding what seems to be a perfect knot. Figure 23 shows the fake knot exactly as it would appear if the right thumb were removed from it, but of course this is not done at this stage of the game. Now the left hand takes hold of the rope about ten inches away from the fake knot exactly as shown in Figure 24 and gradually pulls on the rope, the right thumb and forefinger allowing it to slide under the upper fold, and at the same time kind of rolling the fake knot a little and to all appearances, this just tightens the rope up to a real and genuine knot. The right hand throws the short end of the rope across the palm of the left hand, and deposits the knot right in the center of the left palm, the right thumb merely pushing down on the lower section of the fake knot to cause it to appear real. This exact move is shown in Figure 25. The left fingers close on the knot, and the right hand is withdrawn and takes hold of the short end of the rope and left hand turned over (as in Figure 26). All that remains to be done is to gently pull with the right hand and the knot seems to melt away, as it were.

As said before, when this is properly performed it is a most bewildering illusion. It's perfect in every detail and a person may watch it over and over and not be able to detect but what it is a real knot that is tied. WHEN YOU GET THE KNACK OF IT, THE WHOLE OF THE MOVEMENTS JUST DESCRIBED ALL BLEND INTO ONE MOVEMENT, and apparently the knot (?) is tied with just a swing of the rope and the end pulled through. Practice this until you are fully acquainted with it.


The knot, with which Chefalo's name has been associated for many years is a most interesting one.

A double knot is tied and one end of the rope is threaded back and forth first through one and then the other of the loops thus formed. The ends of the rope are pulled and the knots dissolve.

The illustrations leave little to explain. Just be sure to follow the various steps exactly as pictured in Figures 27, 28, 29 and 30. What will appear as a perfectly genuine knot will prove to be as intangible as the air.


Excerpted from ABBOTT'S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ROPE TRICKS FOR MAGICIANS by STEWART JAMES, Sid Lorraine, Howard Melson. Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Dover Books on Magic, Games and Puzzles,
Title Page,
Copyright Page,
Publisher's Foreword,

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Abbott's Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks for Magicians

    I found this book to be exactly what I thought it would be. If anyone is interested in rope trick and magic, they should have this book. It has many interesting tricks both for the beginner and the advanced. While its contents are very complicated and intricate, the instructions carry you through with not much difficulty, especially the ones with illustrations. The tricks which do not have illustrations can be mastered with just a few tries. Organization could be better, but over all serves its purpose. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in learning rope magic. Within a few days I was amazing people and getting astonishing reactions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Not a kid friendly book. Good book for an adult.

    This was a vert informative book, but not for kids (which is what I bouth it for) There was way more pages of words than pictures.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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