The bold psychological force approach of exposing a card more than others in a face-up spread from which a spectator is asked to think of a card can be found in Edmé-Gilles Guyot's Nouvelles Recreations Physiques et Mathematiques, 1769, p. 8 of the Hugard translation (unpublished), and a little over a hundred years later was described with a face-down tabled spread in Professor Hoffmann's More Magic, 1890, p. 11.
A deceptive variant is the Toss Force, in which the deck is tossed onto the table at an angle, so that it forms a rough spread in which the force card is more exposed than the other cards. Camille Gaultier, in Magic Without Apparatus, 1914, p. 86 of the English edition, mentions that he saw L'Homme Masqué use it “with the greatest success”. This is recounted in Farelli's Card Magic - Part One, 1933, p. 39, where the force is described as “The Table 'Spread'”. In Dai Vernon's More Inner Secrets of Card Magic, 1960, p. 70, Lewis Ganson describes Johnny Paul's method and psychology for this Toss Force, which involves holding a break while the earlier descriptions used a bridge.