The prop is described by Edwin Sachs in Sleight of Hand, 1877, p. 187. There it is used to switch a half card. A needlessly more complex prop for the same purpose was proposed by George Johnson in the March 1939 issue of The Magic Wand, Vol. 28 No. 184, Mar. 1939, p. 154, titled “A Billet-switching Appliance.” It consisted of two pieces of lath, cleft at the ends and joined by a piece of elastic in a manner that caused one of the lengths of lath, when released by the fingers, to spin end for end, switching a spectator's billet for a dummy one as the performer walked back to the stage.