This effect dates back at least to 1853, when J. N. Ponsin described “Faire passer le doigt d’une personne à travers une pièce de sinq francs” in Nouvelle magie blanche dévoilée, p. 208. In this version, a spectator's finger suddenly passes through a coin. S. H. Sharpe provided an English translation of this trick in Ponsin on Conjuring, 1937, p. 55.
In the January 1911 issue of Magic, Vol. 11 No. 4, cover page and p. 26, Ellis Stanyon described two further methods, one using a coin switch, the second (seemingly attributed to Chung Ling Soo [William Robinson]) using a coin with shell.
The effect seems mainly to have languished in these dusty pages and a few others until David Roth's method, titled “Karate Coin”, was published in CoinMagic, 1981, p. 24.