Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Rising Card

The effect of making a chosen card emerge from the pack began appearing in magicians' repertoires in the mid to late 1500s. The earliest mentions of it say, or imply, that the card jumped from the deck. The method was most likely an attached thread, an adaptation of the method used for the popular trick of The Dancing Ring or Coin in a glass. Sometime later, the handling, and eventually the threading method, evolved to make the card rise gradually from the deck.

Tomaso Garzoni, in the 1587 edition of his La Piazza universale di tutti le professioni del mondo, mentions that the amateur conjurer Abram Colorni performed something that may have been a Rising or Jumping Card effect: “Altre volte hà fatto che una carta chiamata da uno de circonstanti à sua elettione è uscita fuora del mazzo.” (“At other times he made a card freely named by one of his spectators come out of the deck.”) The passage is terse and vague. The eminent conjuring historian Dr. Kurt Volkmann relied on a 1641 translation of Garzoni's book into German that suggests the selected card jumped out of the pack, although the ambiguity of the terms used in the original Italian make the precise nature of the effect performed unclear. As a result, the claim that Colorni performed the Rising Card as now known is questionable, although that interpretation has long been accepted and repeated in conjuring literature. Even less certain is the accompanying claim that Abram Colorni invented the trick. Garzoni says only that Colorni performed an effect in which a named card emerged from a deck. There is nothing here on which to base any claim of invention.

It is likely that, if Colorni did perform a version of the Rising or Jumping Card, it may have resembled the method given by H. Dean in The Whole Art of Legerdemain or, Hocus Pocus in Perfection, 1722 (linked page image is from the 1763 sixth edition, p. 52). Dean described the deck being spread on the table and the named card jumping out of the spread and running across the table. Thread was the source of the animation. Dean's book is mainly, if not wholly, a compilation made from earlier sources. If the description of this trick is not original in Dean's book, Dean's source has not yet been identified.

Versions of the trick in which the deck was placed in a houlette existed no later than the 1700s, as shown in a souvenir sheet made for Johann Anton Barth and Gottlieb Heinrich Riediger, c. 1757. Edmé-Gilles Guyot describes a method using a houlette in Nouvelles récréations physiques et mathématiques, Vol. 2, p. 287; p. 37 of Jean Hugard's unpublished translation. An improved method was added to the 1772 edition of Guyot, Vol. 1, p. 162.