A method for spelling the name of a freely chosen card to locate it in the deck, without recourse to a setup, was first described by C. E. Blair in The Sphinx; see “'Unique' Spelling Card Trick”, Vol. 21 No. 7, Sep. 1922, p. 254. Blair's trick also included the vanish of the selection from the deck, before it was reproduced by spelling its name.
Just months later, Larry Gray published a related impromptu approach (without a preceding vanish) in his “Spelling Card” in Elliott's Last Legacy, 1923, p. 145.
The first instance of an impromptu speller in which a spectator's name was used rather than the name of the card is U. F. Grant's “Spellino,” published in Counterfeit Card Miracles, No. 1, c. 1931, p. 1. The trick was later included in Jean Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, 1938, p. 50.