Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Two-card Transposition

The two-card transposition plot appeared many times over the years in private, unpublished notebooks before it officially hit the printed page. The earliest description appears to be in Sloane 424, c. 1600s, p. 158 of the Pieper translation. Its trick title translates to “A method for acting when someone takes a card and keeps it under his finger, but in such a way that it will seem that another is being placed, you will make it so that it is the card drawn, and nevertheless, you will show that the card taken is in the deck.” This manuscript was translated in Gibecière, Vol. 5 No. 2, Summer 2010, p. 141-172.

The plot was properly published in Gilles-Edme Guyot's Nouvelles récréations physiques et mathématiques, Vol. 2, 1769, p. 252; p. 11 of the Hugard translation, titled “Les cartes changeantes sous les mains.”

Hercat devised a parlor dressing for the transposition, which was published as “Two Cards Changed after Being Laid on the Tops of Two Glasses” in Will Goldston's Magician Annual, 1907-1908, p. 62. Hercat's most important contribution was staging the transposition on top of two clear drinking glasses. His method consists of two pairs of duplicates and two Bottom Changes.

Years later John Scarne used a similar staging, but used only one glass, separating the two cards by placing one under the glass, the other on top of it. He was recorded doing this in a Schaefer Beer television commercial. See Precursor, No. 22, Nov. 1988, p. 2, and Precursor, No. 23, May 1989, p. 1. For close-up performance, Scarne used Double Lifts in place of Bottom Changes, and only one duplicate. Scarne'​s performance in the Schaefer Beer commercial can be seen here.