Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Free-Cut Principle

This is a method, based on a well-disguised mathematical principle, for having a spectator unknowingly place cards at specific locations in the deck while he freely cuts the cards into several packets and then assembles the deck. The principle was first conceived and described in a manuscript by John P. Hamilton, “The Eyes of the Gods”, marketed in 1948 by Max Holden. This manuscript was reprinted in the August 1970 issue of The Pallbearers Review, Vol. 5 No. 10, pp. 351 and 356.

Some years later, Gene Finnell independently reinvented the principle and applied it to a spelling location, “Spelling the Aces”, which he sold in 1967 as a one-trick manuscript. He quickly followed this up by publishing several more applications in a booklet titled Gene Finnell's Free Cut Principle (also 1967).

One-Cut Placement

A related principle can be used for the placement of a single card. In essence, instead of placing one packet, the bottom card of which would be the selection, on top of a tabled pile, the spectator gives the cut-off packet a free cut first, and its new bottom card becomes the selection. This portion is placed onto the tabled pile and sometimes is followed by a remaining portion. The honest cut clouds the fact that the position of the selection from the bottom of the tabled pile is a constant. This strategy was employed by Richard Himber in his “Sensational Telephone Trick: 'No Questions Asked'”, a telephone card-divination, which Himber marketed in 1950 as an instruction sheet, and later contributed to Max Andrews's Magic Magazine, Vol. 1, June 1952, p. 67. It was later popularized by Ed Marlo, who used it in his “Nouveau 21-Card-Trick” in Marlo Without Tears, 1983, p. 146.