Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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One-way Pointer Card Principle

This principle is described—not particularly clearly, but well enough to be recognized—in La Maison académique by Louis de la Marinière, 1654, Paris, p. 176. (Reference provided by Philippe Billot.)

In the Japanese book Banse Hijimakura by Hayamizu Kensan, 1725, there is a trick using utagaruta, a set of 200 cards bearing poems used for a popular parlor game. This trick uses the one-way faces of those cards. (Reference provided by Max Maven.)

By the nineteenth century, some simple tricks using one-way faces were cropping up in magic books. These made use of more than court cards; the idea of “pointer” cards (asymetrical patterns on spot cards) was also exploited. Examples can be found in The Boy’s Own Book, written anonymously by William Clarke, 1829, “Ups and Downs”, p. 674; and The Magician’s Own Book, anonymously written by George Arnold, 1857, “Heads and Tails”, p. 62.

The principle of one-way pointer cards, using all the cards excluding the diamonds, was exposed to Boston newspaper readers in Flag of Our Union, on Dec. 22, 1866.

An early twentieth-century application can be found in Reginald Morrell and Frederick Lloyd's New Magical Sleights and Fakes, 1906, p. 21.

See also: One-way Backs and Stripper Deck