Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Snap-over Color Change

This sleight appeared in Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin's Secrets of Conjuring and Magic, 1868, p.249, under the title “A Magical Transformation.” The change is performed as the card is held out to one side and given a shake or wave to cover the action of the double card snapping off either the second or third finger and flipping over. Robert-Houdin mentions resting the edge of the double against one lapel to aid in correcting any misalignment. This suggests that the change might also have been done with the double held in front of the chest. Robert-Houdin presents the change as a transposition with a card in the deck, although the transposition is only implied, as neither card is shown in the pack either before or after the change.

The sleight is also performed by sweeping the double card up and down the forearm, rubbing it along the sleeve. This handling is described in Farelli's Card Magic, Part Two, 1933, p. 72. It seems to have come later, perhaps influenced by a shift of performances from platform to close-up.

A form of the Snap-Over Change appeared in an anonymous notebook circa 1800. Will Houstoun transcribed the book and published it as The Notebook, 2009, p. 61. The change is used in the context of a transposition effect. (This transposition is more fully realized than that described by Robert-Houdin.) Two cards held back to back are waved in the air while being secretly “dexterously” turned around. While a snap-over action may not be ruled out, the vague explanation given in the notebook is more likely to have been meant to describe an older form of this color change, in which the hand merely turns around while holding a double (back-to-back) card. This handling is described in Joseph Pinetti's Amusemens physiques, et différentes expériences divertissantes, 1784, p. 18.