Magical History: Torn & Restored Napkin

by Professor Spellbinder

"The Torn and Restored Paper Napkin Trick is not thought of as tied to technological advancement, but prior to 1905, there simply were NO paper napkins available. All napkins prior to that time were made of cloth. In 1916, the first paper napkin folding machine was invented.... " thus beginneth the history lesson on the origins of the venerable Torn and Restored Napkin Trick. Here are more samples from the article:

The Napkin Ashes By Joe Rukus (circa 1930) : TEAR a paper napkin to bits, set it afire and let it burn to ashes on a plate. Take the plate and pour the ashes on the palm of your outstretched left hand .... complete article included in the History.
From: Effective Tricks by Louis F. Christianer (circa 1915) : The effect of tearing a paper napkin into small pieces and then restoring it has become very popular lately....complete article included in the History.
From: G & M Magic Course; Grant and Menge (circa 1940): This is a wonderful piece of Magic. Now for the first time we explain the improved simplified method of working this classic. In this method given we have eliminated the one drawback to former methods. You have no gimmicks or anything to slip into pocket... complete article included in the History.

From Spellbinder's Magical Memoirs (as yet unpublished): My own introduction to The Torn and Restored Napkin Trick came in the late 1950’s at Mecca Magic in East Orange, N.J., under the guidance of Professor Ted Collins. By then the trick had become a standard and was produced for sale in many magic shops.... complete article included in the History.

And right up to the present day:

The Torn and Restored SIGNED Napkin

by Fred Goode

That’s right. Before you tear it, you get a spectator to sign his or her name across the napkin with a permanent magic marker or Sharpie pen. Let’s say they sign a yellow napkin. You start to tear up the napkin, but suddenly stop and say, “I think YOU should be the one to tear up your own napkin.” You hand them the yellow napkin in a ball. Then you take a blue napkin and continue, “And I’ll tear up the napkin that I’m about to sign.” You then sign a blue napkin and now you instruct them how to tear up the napkin into pieces. When they have torn up their signed napkin and mushed it up into a ball, you take both napkin balls and ask them which one they would like to restore… your napkin, their own… or both!

It doesn’t matter what they say, because you end up making them restore both napkins, their own and yours, and the napkins they restore still bear both signatures just as if they had never been torn.

And one more:

The Torn and Restored Napkin Prediction

by Eleazar Goodenough

You bring out a big sponge rubber die and announce you are going to do the “old torn and restored napkin trick” but you want to make it more challenging. You are going to ask a spectator to roll the die to determine how many pieces they want you to tear the napkin into, just to make it more difficult for you. They can roll the die as often as they want, but as soon as they decide on a number of pieces for the tearing, they should stop. Then you will tear up the napkin and attempt to restore it.

They roll the die and truly can stop on any number except (obviously) one. You then tear the napkin the required number of times. You roll the pieces into a ball and place them on a spectator’s outstretched palm as you pick up the die and point the top face towards them to remind them what you were supposed to do.

The spectator opens up the napkin ball on his or her palm and the napkin is restored EXCEPT that it has some holes in it, making it resemble the die face exactly (in other words, if they chose to stop the die on five, you would see five holes cut into the restored napkin). The holes are included in the package and fall to the floor when the napkin is opened up.

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Magical History:
Torn & Restored Napkin
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