Cow and Milk Trick Revisited

by Jim Gerrish

Grant’s Cow Trick (circa 1955) is almost too simple a project to include. The method for the trick dates back to the days of Soup Plate Magic, hardly seen anymore since only the very rich still include soup plates on their elegant tables. You can still find routines for Soup Plate magic in Tarbell (Volume 2) and Rice’s Encyclopedia of Silk Magic (Volume 3), but why bother? Grant turned the Soup Plates into simple hardboard plaques and sold the trick for about $2.00, which would probably convert to $20.00 in today’s currency. Not a very expensive trick, but it points the way for revising the old Soup Plates into a new kind of magic.

Before I get into revisions and variations, let me remind you of the original Cow Trick.

“A funny little cow and a patch of grass;
Instead of milk in a pail, this one gives it in a glass.”

The trick as sold (no longer available) consisted of two pieces of cardboard, one with a stenciled image of a cow, and the other piece was plain green, representing grass. While reciting the little poem (above), the magician would show both sides of both pieces of cardboard. Then he would hold the green grass cardboard flat (like a tray) and place the cow cardboard on it in an upright position as a cover. When the cow picture is removed, a glass of milk is discovered on the grass.

My first improvement, as shown above, is to substitute real photos for the painted and stenciled plaques. This is easy to do using today’s computer printers. Obviously I could have taken a photo of a real cow, but there is a reason why I chose to photograph the toy plastic cow and superimpose it in front of a barn on the first plaque. Both of the photographs shown above are yours for the asking. Just e-mail from the same e-mail addressed that you used when you purchased this article and request the jpg files for the Cow Trick. However, not everyone will want to use my photos, since you may have trouble finding a toy cow that looks just like mine.

During the course of my revised version of this trick, a real glass of real milk will appear, complete with a cookie to go with it, and then in an X-Treme version of the trick (optional) the toy cow will seem to pop out of the photograph. In a third version of the trick, you produce a three dimensional cardboard barn, a bale of hay, and finally the plastic cow makes its appearance. Additional optional verse lines are included to go along with the new productions.


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