An early form of this trick produced the effect of passing short chalk-strokes drawn on a tabletop, door or panel through the wood and onto the performer's hand; see Richard Neve's Merry Companion, 1716, “To Strike a Chalk thro' a Table”, p. 84; and Jean-Nicolas Ponsin's Nouvelle Magie blanche dévoilée, 1854, p. 16 (S. H. Sharpe's English translation of this can be found in Ponsin on Conjuring, 1937, p. 83).
In India, fakers used a related method to cause a simple design drawn with charcoal on a fragment of pottery to appear mysteriously on a spectator's palm; see The Magic Wand, Vol. 5 No. 5, Jan. 1915, p. 79. In the West, a similar trick is done commonly with a sugar cube. The sugar-cube variation seems to have first been suggested by Jesse A. Mueller; see “An After Dinner Trick” in The Sphinx, Vol. 16 No. 5, July 1917, p. 86.