If you are new to magic, it can help to familiarise yourself with some of the materials magicians use.


First and foremost, the close-up magician will use good quality playing-cards. Those manufactured by the U.S. Playing Card Company – brands such as Bicycle and Tally-Ho – are among the best, and easily available from eBay and magic shops in the U.K.

decksIf you have an old deck lying around that your family or flatmates have used for card games, you should seriously consider upgrading to a higher-quality (and better condition) deck. Justin can supply new cards at cost price (usually £3.00) at the first lesson. Click here for advice on cards.


Close-up magicians will often use normal money for performing magic; in the UK the £2 coin is best due to its size and weight, though 10ps and 2ps will suffice for simple tricks.

To learn certain sleights and effects, old English pennies are recommended due to their larger size and weight. These can be had for as little as 2p each or (London prices) 10p each from any coin collector’s shop (e.g., those around Charing Cross Road). Many magicians, both in Europe and USA, also use American half dollars (usually Kennedy). These have traditionally been used in tandem with old English pennies due to their contrast in colour and fact of being the same size.

Magic books

For those pursuing card tricks as a hobby, The Royal Road to Card Magic by Hugard & Braue is considered the bible of card magic. For those interested in coin magic, Modern Coin Magic by J.B. Bobo is the classic text that no close-up magician should be without. While the lessons do not use or require these as textbooks, nonetheless they will be helpful in your studies. For more on books, click here.

Dedicated notebook

For lessons, a notebook dedicated to your studies is essential. Notes are built up in layers from one lesson to the next, sometimes requiring further notations as details are added. For this reason, a tablet computer is not recommended.

Close-up mat

A close-up pad or mat is what magicians use to practise (and sometimes perform) on. Like a large mouse pad but with a thicker and softer base, this forms an ideal work surface to practise the special shuffles and moves used by magicians. Justin can supply these at cost price of just a few pounds. (Cheap magic mats available from Amazon tend to be thin and smell plasticky. Try and always buy them from a magic shop.)

Practice mirror

A mirror is essential to not only see what the angles (good and bad) are like when practising, but also develop confidence in one’s magic. Please note, there can be a difference between acrylic mirrors and glass. Acrylic mirrors are often not true, i.e., completely flat (if you’re sensitive you might develop headaches as a result of staring into a warped mirror). Try and use a glass mirror wherever possible.