Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Fan or Spread Force

This force seemed to spread around the underground for over 150 years before being published. It appeared in the unpublished MSS III, 18, also called “the Asti Manuscript”, c. 1700, p. 53 of the Pieper translation. This manuscript was translated in Gibecière, Vol.8 No.1, Winter 2013, p. 29-234.

The technique later appeared in an anonymous notebook written c. 1800. Will Houstoun transcribed the book and released it as The Notebook, 2009, p. 19. Two versions of the sleight are described. In the first the cards are spread from hand to hand while the bottom card is slipped beneath the spread. Someone touches a card, the spread is broken at that point and the culled bottom card is dropped from the right hand's portion of the spread, as if it were the card touched. In the second handling, the card isn't dropped; instead, the spread is raised to display the face of the slipped card on the bottom of the right hand's packet. This description of the under-the-spread force was recorded years before Johann Hofzinser developed his spread cull, so the cull appears merely an extension of the forcing technique.

A simple handling of this force using just a packet of ten to twelve cards, is described within “Touché” from R. P.'s Ein Spiel Karten, 1853, p. 57 of the Pieper translation, and is perhaps the first instance of the technique in print. Another early description in English of this under-the-spread force appears in The Magicians' Own Book, 1857, p. 63 (also published as The Boy's Own Conjuring Book, 1859). The description is poor, but this seems the most likely interpretation. The technique gained steam in the 20th century, being popularized by Burling Hull in his Bulletin of Latest Sleights and Tricks, 1914, p. 12; The Tarbell System, Lesson 36, 1926, p. 4; Theodore Annemann's 101 Methods of Forcing, 1932, p. 3; Frank Butler in J. G. Thompson's Top Secrets of Magic, 1956, p. 28; Dai Vernon in Dai Vernon's More Inner Secrets of Card Magic, 1960, p, 73; and Harry Lorayne in Close-up Card Magic, 1962, p. 168.

Magicians soon began developing the idea of culling or positioning the card to be forced from locations other than the bottom. The first variant was that of using the top card for the force, by taking it into the right hand and then spreading the rest of the deck over it. This technique was published without attribution in The Magic World, Vol. 2 No. 1, Apr. 1918, p. 7, and would later become known as the “Simple Simon Move” due to its popularity following the publication of Tony Kardyro's T. K.'s Simple Simon Move, 1966, p. 2. Arthur Punnar later adapted the force to be performed by culling the third card from the top in his Infallible Force from The Sphinx, Vol. 41 No. 8, Oct. 1942, p. 161. Fred Robinson popularized this culling approach — using the fourth position, rather than Punnar's preferred third — with his Ultimate Force, described in Bob Ostin's marketed “Submarine Card”, 1969, and later in Peter Duffie's The Magic of Fred Robinson, 2009, p. 125.