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This latex paint formula was invented by Judges Charles W. Fricke and Caryl Fleming, and marketed by Fleming in 1937. However, the idea of using rub-off pips is very old and is described in early conjuring texts. The original form of the principle involved cutting out a pip from one card and sticking it onto another, making a four appear to be a five, or an eight a nine, for example. When the card was turned face down, the magician would steal the additional pip away to effect a change. This was published in Horatio Galasso's Giochi di carte bellissimi de regola, e di memoria, 1593, p. 61 of the Pieper translation. This book was translated and published in Gibecière, Vol. 2 No. 2, Summer 2007, p. 15-150.
The transition to an ink- or powder-based imposter appeared to take place in the 18th century. Its use at the gaming table appeared in L’Antidote ou le contrepoison des chevaliers d’industrie, 1768, p. 107 of the Pieper translation. This book was translated in Gibecière, Vol. 7 No. 2, Summer 2012, p. 60-175. It later appeared in the conjuring literature within Giuseppe Pinetti's Physical Amusements and Diverting Experiments, 1784, p. 20.