Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Out of Sight-Out of Mind (No Looking)

This plot, popularized by Dai Vernon, dates back at least to the unpublished Sloane 424, c. 1600s, p. 155 of the Pieper translation. This manuscript was published in Gibecière, Vol. 5 No. 2, Summer 2010, p. 141-172. In this simplified version, all of the possible thought-of cards were at the bottom of the deck.

The idea of arranging a couple of target cards at the top and bottom appeared in Gilles-Edme Guyot's Nouvelles récréations, physiques et mathématiques, Vol. 2, 1769, p. 250; p. 9 of the unpublished Hugard translation. There, someone was asked to think of any one of four random cards. The performer then secretly arranged two of these cards at the top of the deck and two near the bottom (fifth and sixth up from the face). The spectator was shown a group of cards from the bottom and asked if he saw his among them. His answer narrowed the possibilities for the performer from four to two. One of the two possible cards was next shown. If that card was the selection, the trick was successfully concluded. If it was not, the card was switched, through the Glide, for the selection, and the card was shown to have changed.

Numerous handlings of these strategies for determining a thought-of card were developed in the twentieth century. Three of the most influential were:

“A Mind-Reading Trick” in S. W. Erdnase's Expert at the Card Table, 1905, p. 194.

“Mental Discernment” marketed 1930 by Ralph W. Hull.

“Out of Sight—Out of Mind” in Dai Vernon's More Inner Secrets of Card Magic by Lewis Ganson, 1960, p. 14. (An earlier version by Vernon is briefly described in J. N. Hilliard's Greater Magic, 1938, p. 164.)