Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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The Glide has been an unshakable technique through the ages. It first appeared in print as a cheating technique for dealing Bassetta (a portion of this game is dealt from the bottom of the deck, turning the Glide into a Bassetta equivalent of a second deal). The technique wasn't described or taught, but it was mentioned in Pietro Aretino's Dialogo di Pietro Aretino nel qvale si parla del gioco con moralità piacevole, 1543, p. 229. Excerpts from this book were translated, with commentary by Aurelio Paviato in Gibecière, Vol. 2 No. 1, Winter 2007, p. 85-118.

A conjuring application for the Glide—along with a technical description—was included in Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584, p. 333, and has been continually published and taught through the centuries.

The updated handling of using the right second finger and turning over the deck around it is credited by Dr. Jacob Daley to Al Baker. See Jacob Daley's Notebooks, n.d. (c. 1974), n.p. (Item 633). Edward Victor published much the same idea in “A New 'Glide'”, Magic of the Hands, 1937, p. 6, where he pushed back the lower card with the right first and second fingers, while using the left little finger as a stop on the inner end of the deck.

Bill Kalush has discovered a fascinating early variant of the Glide 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.”

This is in essence the Downs Change (see T. Nelson Downs's The Art of Magic, 1909, p. 73), done from the front of the deck, rather than the side. In 1937, Edward Victor reinvented this sleight as well, in the form of his “New Glide” cited above. Two years later, in The Magic Wand, Vol. 28 No. 183, Oct./Nov. 1939, p. 116, Dr. L. Rothbart (of Budapest) also described the 1678, out-jogged form of the Glide as “The Improved Glide”. Rothbart used the left third finger to draw the lower card flush, although he mentions that “Some prefer to push back the bottom card with the right second finger and grasp the second card with the thumb and first finger.”

Lewis Ganson published a Glide in March 1951, in which the right forefinger taps the face of the deck, then the Glide is executed as the deck is turned face down around this finger. The left little finger draws back the bottom card. See Abracadabra, Vol. 11 No. 269, Mar. 1951, p. 138; reprinted in Routined Manipulation, Vol. 2, 1952, p. 38. Ganson would later publish Vernon's similar handling in More Inner Secrets of Card Magic, 1960, p. 82. The Baker, Victor, and Rothbart entries above indicate that this approach had been around for a couple of decades.

In The Magic Wand, Vol. 29 No. 186, June-Sep. 1940, p. 53, Peter Warlock published what, Jean Hugard and Fred Braue called “A New Glide” in Expert Card Technique, Dec. 1940, p. 123. Hugard and Braue gave no attribution. This handling is now called the Side Glide.