Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Mene Tekel Deck

Reinhard Müller has traced this deck back to Friedrich Wilhelm Conradi, who describes it in a Card at Any Number trick, “Mundus Vult Decipi,” in Der Moderne Kartenküstler, 1896, p. 77. The deck was made up of pairs of ordinary duplicates; they were not cut long and short. Burling Hull later developed the same idea, marketing it as “The Devil's Pass,” 1908. In a biographical piece on Hull in The Sphinx, Vol. 9 No. 9, Nov. 1910, p. 187, it was stated that he privately sold “Improved Devil's Pass” on a limited basis from 1904 to 1906, and that he created the deck when he was 11 years old.

The “Mene Tekel” name, along with the long and short card addition, was introduced by W.D. Le Roy when he marketed “The 'Mene Tekel' Mystery,” 1910. This same deck of cards was described without attribution as “The 'Self-Shifting' Pack” in Donald Holmes's book, Tricks With Prepared Cards, 1913, p. 9.

Other notable variants of the deck include Eugene Gloye's idea of only using a bank of Mene Tekel cards in the center of an otherwise normal deck, mentioned by Nathan Kranzo in M-U-M, Vol. 100 No. 10, Mar. 2011, p. 80, and two attempts to create Menel Tekel packs out of a normal deck of cards, one by C. A. George Newmann in The New Jinx, Vol. 3 No. 30, Oct. 1964, p. 126, and the other by North Bigbee in The New Jinx, Vol. 3 No. 32, Dec. 1964, p. 134.