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Ace Assembly

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Ace Assembly or Four Aces Trick is a classic plot in card magic in which the four aces, placed down on the table, magically assemble onto a "leader" ace.

Copperfield performing his Grandpa's Aces

History and variations

It was first described (but not created) by Jean-Nicolas Ponsin in Nouvelle Magie Blanche Devoilee (1853).

In the same period, between 1857 and 1875, Hofzinser created what would become known as MacDonald's Aces for the final of an effect called The Power of Faith gimmicked cards. The precise date is not known, but it was eventually published in J.N. Hofzinser Kartenkunste (1910) written by Ottokar Fischer and translated in English as Hofzinser's Card Conjuring) by S.H. Sharpe in 1931.

Quote : On the 27th December 1884, before the members of the Savage Club, London, Eugene Verbeck (1844-1905) presented this trick : Showing the four aces he dealt them (apprently) face downwards on the four corners of the table, then placed professedly three indifferent cards on each. He then had two chosen, then one of remainder, usual equivoque, and caused all four aces to be found together in last head. He then said he would repeat the experiment with the cards face upward. Accordingly he asked someone to pick out the four queens and to see that there were no others in the pack. He then dealt out apparently the four Queens face upward and then added to each three low cards, placing then fanwise and face upwards...etc., etc...

Excerpt from Prof. Hoffmann's notebooks, reproduced in The Linking Ring, vol. 28, No. 3, mars 1948, page 44 by Stanley Collins.

One of the first to have the Aces move one at time (rather then disappear all at once) was Stanley Collins' Another Four Ace Trick in The Magazine of Magic, Vol. 1, No. 1, oct. 1914, page 40. Reprint in J.G. Thompson, Jr.'s book My Best (1945) as The Alpha Four Ace Trick, page 131. They do, however, all appear at one time.

Another variation dubbed O'Henry Four Aces by Frank Garcia's in Super Subtle Card Miracles (1973) added a surprise ending by having the aces joined the final ace in its packet. It was first featured in the Trevor Lewis' prize-winning act for the Magic Circle in 1969.

Another surprise ending is the "Backfire Assembly" or "Reverse Assembly" in which the Aces then travel back to their original packets.

Progressive (or Succession) Aces is a variation of the plot by Ken Krenzel in which the first ace joins the second, then those two join the third and finally all arrive in the last packet in sequence.

Lin Searles created the variation where the Aces had a different color back then the rest of the cards in Ultimate Aces (1958). This is some times also call a Technicolor Assembly.

Peter Kane's Jazz Aces popularized a streamlined Ace Assembly where only 4 indifferent cards were used.

Taking it to the extreme, Bill Miesel, Ed Marlo and Larry Jennings developed routines in which no cover cards are used at all, now known as Open Travellers.

One of the most popular marketed Ace Assembly was MacDonald's Aces.

Ricky Jay performing Exclusive Coterie

Versions in print using normal cards

Versions in print with gaffed cards

Variations of the plot