Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Card Diary

A precursor of this effect can be found in “The Mysteries of the Zodiac” in August Roterberg's New Era Card Tricks, 1897, p. 116, in which playing cards are associated with birthdays.

Max Maven has constructed this further history: First came Roy Walker's “The Weather Test” in Magic Wand, Vol. 21 No. 136, Dec. 1932, p. 189, which was a pseudo-memory test in which the performer demonstrated that he had total recall of the weather entries for every date in a “weather diary.” This inspired Tom Sellers to create a variation in which card hands were listed for each day in a diary, published in Magic Wand, Vol. 24 No. 166, June 1935, p. 67. Then followed Arthur F. G. Carter's “Diary of a Yogi” in Magic Wand, Vol. 42 No. 238, June 1953, p. 59, in which a freely named card matched the date of the performance listed in a datebook. Nearly two decades later, Ted Danson contributed “It's a Date” to New Pentagram, Vol. 2 No. 1, Mar. 1970, p. 1. Danson's presentation had a card found listed next to a spectator's birthday in the performer's pocket diary match a predicted playing card sealed in an envelope. This became known and was marketed as “Danson's Diary.” Many other approaches on the birthday-playing card variation have since been published and marketed by Elmsley, Cassidy, Duffie, Cornelius, Paul Green, etc.

(For a history of this effect, see also The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley, Volume II, 1994, p. 433.)


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