Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Optical Shuffle

This false overhand shuffle was devised by Ellis Stanyon. Stanyon marketed it as a single-page instruction sheet under the name "The Stanyon 'Optical' False Shuffle". The date this instruction sheet was released has not yet been determined, but it must have been no later than 1924, since R. W. Hull mentions it in his monograph Cards of Chance, published that year, third page.

Stanyon's shuffle is a simplification of a false overhand shuffle published in 1902 by C. Lang Neil in The Modern Conjurer, p. 53. There, Neil credited the shuffle to H. de Manche. The mechanics of this shuffle are the same as those of the Optical Shuffle, but there is an extra step that adds the mechanics of the Lift Shuffle. Stanyon, by dropping the Lift Shuffle element, made the false shuffle even easier. Stanyon was very likely familiar with de Manche's shuffle, having published a variant form of it, without attribution, in May 1913 (see “The Best False Shuffle”) and again in March 1920 (“15.—To Retain the Whole Order of the Pack: Over-hand Shuffle”) in his magazine Magic, pp. 60 and 45 respectively.


The mechanics of the Optical Shuffle are used in a false shuffle described in Prof. Hoffmann's Modern Magic, 1876, p. 24. However, this shuffle is done while holding the deck flat and pushing cards off into the opposite hand. It might be classified as a relative of the Charlier False Shuffle and outwardly resembles it.

An unusual false shuffle that is in essence the Charlier False Shuffle adapted to the actions of an overhand shuffle was published in the June 1899 issue of The Royal Magazine, in an article titled “Card Tricks Extraordinary” by Ellsworth Douglass (a pen name of Elmer Dwiggins). The shuffle is described within a trick called "To Find Any Card Called For by Counting Blindfolded Through the Pack", p. 157. This shuffle also has the action of tipping the receiving packet back and forth, which connects it to the de Manche and Stanyon shuffles.

(The full entry above is based on research by David Britland.)