The Origins of Wonder
The strongman stunt of tearing a pack of cards in half began appearing in newspapers about 1888. In that year, the stunt was reported as being performed by baseball player George Borchers in the Jun. 8, 1888 issue of Fisherman & Farmer, p. 7, a weekly publication out of Edenton, NC; and by magician Alexander Herrmann on the front page of the Aug. 14, 1888 Alexandria Gazette from Alexandria, DC.
Eighteen-year-old Emil Jarrow, performing a strongman act, tore decks in half, as reported in the St. Paul Daily Globe on Jun. 9, 1895, p. 10.
Many years after he was assassinated, Abraham Lincoln was recalled as having done this feat by Joseph M. Stoddart, in an otherwise unverified account in the Nov. 12, 1899 issue of the Kansas City Journal, p. 12.
An explanation of the method is given in the Nov. 1905 issue of Mahatma, Vol. 9 No. 5, p. 53.
(Researched by Bill Mullins.)