Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Anagrams have been used in various mentalism tricks, usually, although not always, in a concealed manner. The first trick using anagrams currently identified is “Anagramme Magique” in Edmé-Gilles Guyot's Nouvelles récréations physiques et mathématiques, 1799, p. 76. This is a variation in a family of tricks in which a number of tiles are arranged by a spectator in any order in a long box with a lid. The magician then divines the chosen order. In the case of the anagram trick, a chosen word—one of six possible—created by six tiles with letters on them is divined.

A concealed use of anagrams, using what has become known variously as the “branching anagram principle” or the “progressive anagram principle” was invented by Stanley Collins, who used it in a marketed trick, “The Nonpariel Book Mystery” released in 1920.