08 September 2008

Cards as Weapons by Ricky Jay

"Put a Deck of Cards in Your Pocket, Put a Feeling of Confidence in Your Life."

Ricky Jay. CARDS AS WEAPONS. Darien House, NY 1977.

ISBN 0446387568 (paperback) 0882010174 (hardback)

Current Prices
$200-$900 /£110-£500

Amusing and useful illustrated book showing how to throw playing cards better - subtitled "A Treatise on the art of throwing, scaling, juggling, boomeranging and manipulating ordinary playing cards with particular emphasis on impressing one's friends and providing a deadly yet inexpensive means of self-defence". The book, a perennial Ebay special and Library sale 'sleeper', is now being seen as a self help book that 'changes lives' - several comments at Amazon, not entirely tongue in cheek, attest to this. Apparently people take up card throwing in the way they used to take up tap dancing or juggling -to get out of a rut. Jay is something of a media star (MTV etc.,) and the book is much wanted. It is not especially elusive although it's hard to find a sharp copy as it is a thin large format paperback. It reveals secrets that some magicians feel should not have been revealed; as a manual it has been used by blokes like Chow Yun-fat, Andy Lau, and Stephen Chow in their Asian gambling films.

VALUE? Copies show up a bit creased at around $200 and twice that for fine copies. Signed should show up as Jay is pretty approachable and was often seen at book fairs etc., being a serious book collector. God bless him. Magicians are often pretty serious book collectors - at one time one heard quite a bit about the highly acquisitive David Copperfield and his awesome collection. It is worth noting that there is also a hardback of the book that is much prized and dealers (who are not mad) sometimes ask $1000 or more for it, although a cautious punter could probably pick one up in the $600 to $800 range - in a jacket.

When the book came out some shops insisted that it was obscene because Ricky's assistant was naked as a Jay bird (okay, okay) and it got sold under the counter or even returned by bible bashers. 30 years later this persists - e.g. this ad on the web right now:
'A humorous and entertaining book. Even has a few pictures of a totally nude gal throwing cards. Due to this, you must be 18, or older, to purchase this book. Should you wish to practice your scaling, this offering comes with a 10 aluminum playing cards - made from a sheet of metal. Softback. $275.00
OUTLOOK. Ricky Jay, for some reason, will not allow the book to be reprinted. Only lousy copies drop beneath $100 (there is one on AMZ at present 'good only, with an "S" shaped bend to it' for $95.) Signed copies are becoming difficult -- only one is available right now, and in paperback, at $480 (signed 'The meagre efforts of a callow youth., Ricky Jay'.) The hardback seems to be showing up more and generally copies are coming home to roost a little. Unless someone finds an abandoned pallet full of them it should hold its value but is unlikely to ascend in price.


Chris said...

I happened upon a copy of this book at a book liquidators about ten years ago. It's a great book and made all the more collectible because it hasn't been republished. Word is Ricky Jay wanted the book to become a collectible that was sought after by magicians.

The local magic shop in my city has a list of people who are looking for it. When word got around that I had it I had a few offers. Well worth investing in it, and really - this book is amazing.

Kia said...

I had a copy of this book in college, and there was a brief fad of card tossing as a result. I know it's a bit bent but I'm sure my copy is somewhere in the house.

Anonymous said...

Hate to say it, but when an author wont allow a reprint of his works and therefor doesn't allow potential readers access....

*sigh* there is a mininova torrent of it out there.

PeaceLove said...

Trivia: The cute naked chick is Laraine (SNL) Newman's sister, who was also a member of the L.A. comedy troupe The Groundlings.

Anonymous is correct; the book is widely available on P2P for non-collectors who just want to read it.

Anonymous said...

I found 52 copies of this book and tossed them all in the bin. Then I went upstairs and tossed myself off.

Vintage Poster Connoisseur said...

I thought you guys might like to know that a mint copy of the book is going up for auction on March 12, 2008 alongside the original publicity poster for the book. It's lot 82, with a reserve of $300 for both items.

You can see it at www.postersplease.com

Click on the Modern Posters banner in the middle and then go to Lot 82.

blogagog said...

I heard that Gambit sliced this guy up something fierce, and that's why he doesn't claim to be good with weaponcards anymore.