Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Hotel Mystery

This plot grew out of an effect with a mixed packet of Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces that inexplicably resorted. It began as a self-working dealing trick, and appeared in Pablo Minguet é Yrol’s Engaños a ojos vistas, 1733, p. 165 of the Pieper translation. The book was translated and published in Gibecière, Vol. 4 No. 2, Summer 2009, pp. 61–225. A hotel patter story was added to the trick for its inclusion in the anonymous The Secret Out, 1859, p. 66 (it did not appear in the later William Cremer book of the same name).

Charles Jordan introduced a new method that made the effect magical rather than simply coincidental. He marketed the trick as “Like Seeks Like,” 1919 (see Jean Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, 1938, p. 344). Jordan's trick was designed for platform and stage. Dai Vernon created a close-up version, which was explained in Ten Card Problems, 1931, p. 13 of the c. 1950 edition. Henry Christ contributed a streamlined version of the effect, using just Aces and Kings, so titled and published in The Jinx, No. 74, Jan. 1940, p. 496. Edward Marlo changed the Aces and Kings to Queens and Kings, re-applied the “racy” hotel premise and provided the title “Hotel Mystery” in his handling from Let's See the Deck, 1942, p. 17.

Ken Beale is reported to have proposed the asymmetric transposition in 1967, using four Kings and two Queens; and Persi Diaconis worked out a method around this time. Neither Beale nor Diaconis have published their methods, but since that time others have been less discreet.