Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Western Union Card Trick

In the autobiography of Nate Leipzig, published serially beginning in M-U-M, Vol. 43 No. 4, Sep. 1953, p. 125, Leipzig described a performance he witnessed as a boy or young man of Professor Stork (probably Harry Stork) in Detroit, in which he did this trick. The incident isn't dated, but since Leipzig's family didn't come to the U.S. until 1882, it must have occurred sometime after this and before the turn of the century, thus predating John Scarne's better-known performances of this trick by many years.

The roots of the trick go back to the 1700s. A card, prepared with an extra removable pip. was forced and, being returned to the deck, the extra pip was removed, effectively making the chosen card vanish from the deck. A duplicate of the forced card was then produced from some location remote from the magician. Herman Boaz was known for producing the card from a sealed envelope, given before the show into the keeping of a spectator. The effect is clearly detailed in The Journal of Samuel Curwen, Loyalist, Vol. 1, edited by Andrew Oliver, 1972, p. 467; see the entry dated Sep 23, 1778. A description of the method said to be Boaz's is given in The Notebook (anonymous), edited and published by Will Houstoun, 2009, pp. 13 & 15. Also see “The Salamandrine Card” in Edwin Sachs's Sleight of Hand, 1877, p. 186, and “The Halved Card” in August Roterberg's New Era Card Tricks, 1897, p. 130.