Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Rough and Smooth Cards

The principle of making the surfaces of playing cards lightly bind (rough) or slide more readily (smooth or slick) for the purpose of locating or controlling certain cards in the deck was developed by card cheats in the early 1500s. The principle seems not to have been adopted by magicians until the mid to late 1800s. Perhaps the earliest good explanations of how the cards were prepared appeared in two 1768 anonymous works on card cheating: L'Antidote ou le Contrepoison des Chevaliers d'Industrie, ou Joueurs de Profession (the author is believed to be Ange Goudar), p. 33; and Der verrathene und von allen seinen trüglichen Geheimnissen enblößte falsche Spieler, p. 82. An English translation by Lori Pieper of L'Antidote was published in Gibecière, Vol. 7 No. 2, Summer 2012. See p. 94, where slicking cards with soap and roughing others with powdered rosin is explained.

See also: Half Roughed or Super Roughed Cards


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