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Steve Brooks
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Bring out those shiney metal cups, and your audience may be a bit curious as to what their function is. But bring out three walnut shells and a pea, and you'll have their undivided attention!

By its very nature, the shell game invokes visions of carnival midways, gamblers, hustlers, and various games of chance and skill. Here in the States, the shell game is pretty much a part of Americana, having made appearances in many vintage films, best selling books and even magazines. Smile

It is no surprise then, that having heard rumors of a new realistic set of shells hitting the magic market, I was more then just a little excited at having Mr. Pinard send me a set of his professional shells to review here on The Café. I've had a chance to really play with these and offer a little food for thought. Enjoy. Smile

Andrew Pinard's La Maggiore


Effect & description: The performer brings out three walnut shells and a little green pea. The challenge is for the spectator to keep track of the pea, which is covered with one of the shells, and moved in-between the other two shells. In actual con games on the street, the spectator wages real cash, hoping to double his money, if by luck and close observation he can choose the correct shell that contains the pea, he wins. If he guesses incorrectly, the performer retains the wager. Naturally, the spectator never wins, as the performer is in control of the situation at all times.

For many years seasoned performers such as the late Frank Garcia aka The man with the million dollar hands performed various presentations of the old Three Shell Game with great success. Smile

For the average performer though, the problem was always in finding a good set of walnut shells to use for the trick. In the old days, magicians would have to search high and low to find some good shells. Then once found, sand the bottoms and edges to make them handle good, and sometimes even spraying them with a clear coating to help keep them from cracking or splitting.
Truth be told, real walnut shells usually didn't last too long, especially if used regularly.

To make matters more difficult, until recently, most of the shells offered to the magic fraternity were either cheap plastic versions that are usually found in magic slum racks and beginner magic sets, or worse still, shells that looked very pretty (causing many spectators to be very suspicious), and never even coming close to looking like real walnut shells.

Well friends, I'm here to tell you that Andrew Pinard has arrived on the scene to save the day! Yes indeed, through a lot of research and great expense, Andrew has fashioned a set of professional shells that will literally make your mouth water. Calling them La Maggiore (meaning; The Greatest), Mr. Pinard has done a great service to the magic fraternity for allowing all of us the opportunity to own such a great professional prop. Smile


The shells are cast from a real Italian Walnut, and made from a highly durable resin. No cheap plastic used here folks! Weighing in at just over a half ounce, each one of these bad boys measures 2 inches long, 1 5/8 inches wide, and a comfortable 7/8 of and inch high. The set also includes two of Whit Haydn and Chef Antons School for Scoundrels Perfect Peas. Both peas are made from a special injection-molded polymer, making their movements smooth and uniform. If that were not enough, Andrew also includes a small clear bowl that just fits nicely over any one of the shells. This type of cover is used in several different routines as a way to convince onlookers that the little green pea could not possibly get out from under the shell now!. Smile

I've never really gotten serious about doing any shell work until now, but I have to say that these are by far the finest shells on the market, bar none! They handle like a dream, and feel just perfect in your hands. They are incredibly easy to grip (making steals a breeze), and can in fact be further modified if you choose to do so.

I must point out that other then instructions on the care and modification of these shells, there are no routines included.
Remember, these are professional shells, and knowing how to use them is a given here. Besides, there is a slew of information available on the Three Shell Game, and Mr. Pinard's website carries several books and videos which can provide further information for the novice.

In the end, you really cannot beat these, as the quality and attention to detail is absolutely superb. With care, these should last you a lifetime, and then some! I highly recommend anyone seriously interested in adding the shell game to their current close up routines to pick up a set right away, as I do understand there are a limited number of these sets available, so hurry! Smile


My rating:

Available direct from Absolutely Magic
Suggested retail: $69.95

Absolutely Magic
12 Church St. P.O.Box 535 Bradford, NH. 03221
Order: (603) 938-5158

You can also contact Andrew Pinard directly at:
To visit the Absolutely Magic site: Click here!
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
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