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Bill Kalush has discovered an ancestor to this sleight in Kurtzweilige neu-erfundene Kahrten-Kunste / jetzo zum dritten Mahl vermehret und verbessert herauss gegeben, 1678. The trick in which it appears is this:
“The Third Game
“To have a card selected, and after it has been looked at, to hide it among the others after which three cards are shown among which the named card is not to be found, but when they are looked at again, it is found among them, is almost miraculous to see.
“You must also begin this one [as] with the first game, and when you have found the card, you must place it in front of all the others and indeed in such a way that it juts out a little in front, after which you must place another card in front of it, square with the other. Following this you can show him the card which is in front of the first one and ask if this is the card that he had chosen and when he says no, let the card sink, and quickly pull out his card, which is the other one of the two that are sticking up and put it down on the table: after this replace the card subtly by another and let him again see [this] one, asking whether perhaps this is it? He will, however, say no. Then put this one also on the table next to the previous one and in a similar way show him then another one, which you also put down on the table with the other ones. Here you can show something strange and when the opportunity arises lay a bet that his card is among the three lying on the table, which it will be, and many will be astounded by this.”
The modern double lift – where two cards are taken completely off the deck as one – was published in Richard Neve's The Merry Companion, 1716, p. 141, where it is used to show the top card of the deck and then make it change. Other references to this sleight are rare until the twentieth century. Among the few, the technique is described three times in an unreleased notebook written circa 1800. Will Houstoun transcribed the book and released it as The Notebook, 2009, p. 27 and 43. The anonymous author describes the double being handled in end grip as well as in pinch grip (which also describes an unloading of the bottom card, see Double Lift Replacement).