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A. Warner "Fool's Gold"

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Fool's Gold relates the story of an alchemist's dream of transmuting base metals into pure gold: it is also the story of the practical joke he plays on his unsuspecting family, after his death, with a bequest of what have all the appearances of being two solid gold ingots.
The performer displays a wooden box which he claims was left to his father by his father's fabulously eccentric, Great Uncle Jasper, an amateur alchemist who spent a lifetime experimenting with various formulas for transmuting base metals into pure gold. This box, the performer explains, allegedly contained the sum total of all of Jasper's alchemical experiments. The performer opens the lid of the box and takes out a casket. He then slides out a tray in the casket to reveal what would appear to be two small, solid gold ingots. The ingots are removed and the empty tray is then replaced in the casket while the performer tells his audience of his father's great excitement on discovering, not just these two gold ingots, but also a secret compartment in the casket. This, the performer continues, was apparently Great Uncle Jasper to a tee. Not only was he a great one for playing practical jokes on his family, he was also a very secretive man. The performer proves this by opening the secret compartment in the casket to reveal the piece of parchment it contains which certainly, so far as the performer's father was concerned, clearly sets down Jasper's formula for transmuting base metals into gold.
The performer then goes on to relate how his father then had the gold ingots assayed to establish their true worth, only to have his great expectations of fabulous wealth cruelly dashed. The ingots were totally worthless, merely gold-colored. Furthermore, the formula that had been found in the secret compartment was incomplete. All, however, was not completely lost. 'My father,' the performer explains, 'then had a strange dream in which the ghostly spectre of his Great Uncle Jasper appeared before him and with a twinkle in its eye, scolded him for his haste in not pausing for a moment to examine a little more closely, this other small box.' The performer now removes a second small box from the larger wooden box and, taking off its lid, displays four small wooden tablets, each one of which features a mediaeval metal symbol - one for brass, one for copper, one for silver and one for iron. These four tablets, according to the spectre, were actually intended as a test of the performer's father's true worth as ONE OF THESE TABLETS WAS THE KEY THAT WOULD UNLOCK GREAT UNCLE JASPER'S SECRET. The spectre, however, then went on to advise the performer's father that it would be up to someone else, with the aid of one of the four symbolical tablets, to be the judge of his true worth and that he must seek out this person, even if it took him a lifetime of searching. That person was to select one of the four tablets and if the right choice were made, the key would be revealed. Unfortunately, the performer continues, his father failed to find this magical key and has since passed on. This task has now fallen on the performer's shoulders and he has high hopes that the person he now asks to select one of the tablets will prove his true worth and lead him to the key to the missing part of the formula.
A spectator is selected to choose one of the tablets, the lid is replaced on the box containing the tablets, and if the right one has been chosen, in true alchemical tradition - according to what was foretold by the spectre - it will dematerialize and then materialize in the tray in the casket - hopefully with the elusive magic key! The performer removes the lid of the small box to reveal that only three tablets remain, THE SELECTED TABLET HAS COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED! 'This,' he says, 'is showing great promise...' After all these years of searching for the key, he is about to find himself with cause for great celebration. He is about to become rich beyond his wildest dreams! The performer picks up the casket and removes the tray, excitedly drawing attention to the fact that a single tablet has appeared in it. To his further excitement, it is THE TABLET SELECTED BY THE SPECTATOR! BUT... When the performer turns the tablet over, he discovers that once again the family has been cheated of their expectation of great wealth. The reverse side of the selected tablet reveals nothing more than that a gold-colored key has been engraved into it. 'Well, I guess we shouldn't be too disappointed,' the performer says to the spectators. 'Didn't I warn you that Great Uncle Jasper liked his little practical joke?'
THE APPARATUS: The box housing the four symbolic tablets is made of teak, with inlaid banding decorating its lid. The lid also features a small, inlaid, blue mosaic stone. A spectator has an absolutely free choice of one of the four tablets. No force of any description is used to influence this choice. The tablets can remain in the box while this selection is taking place, or the performer can remove them and then either he or the spectator can replace them in the compartments within the box. At the beginning of the routine, if the performer so desires, a spectator may remove the tray from the casket to reveal the two gold-colored ingots. The special construction of this piece of apparatus enables the performer, at the conclusion of the effect, to pick up the casket and remove the tray, with one of the four tablets automatically appearing in the tray. The casket, which is likewise made of teak, has a gold-colored medieval symbol for gold mounted on the top of it. The outer box which houses the foregoing two pieces of apparatus is again made of teak and measures approximately 7.5 inches x 4 inches x 2 inches. The lid of this box features a fretwork design, the centerpiece of which is real natural amber as supplied by Shipton & Co. of Birmingham, UK, Cutters and Mounters of Precious Stones since 1870. A signed Certificate of Authenticity in regard to the real natural amber, together with the number of the box, is mounted on the underside of the lid of this box.
Text Copyright 1972-2009 Alan Warner Mini-Magic

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