By Tom Interval
Some card tricks are old. And some are really old. The Four Burglars is really, really old. Its origin dates back to 1591 in A Notable Discovery of Coosnage and continues through such classic magic texts as Hoffmann’s Modern Magic and many others.
What makes The Four Burglars a special trick, besides the fact that it’s amazing to anyone who doesn’t know its secret, is that it’s themed with a built-in story line, which is particularly useful for beginning magicians. Over time, that story has been told many different ways for one sole purpose: to entertain.
When you perform any given magic trick, it helps to add a story or some other interesting and/or funny patter. In magic vernacular, patter is, simply, words that accompany tricks. And if those words make up a story, then the trick is that much more entertaining since most people like a good story.
During The Four Burglars presentation, the magician shows four jacks, referring to them as burglars. But they need a house to break into: the deck. The magician pushes each of the jacks into four different positions in the deck (rooms in the house to rob): the cellar, the living room, the bedroom, and the rooftop.
With a snap of the deck, all four jacks assemble on top!