Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Banked Deck

In Edmé-Gilles Guyot's Nouvelles récréations mathématiques et physique, Vol. 3, 1769, p. 221, we find an early trick that employs a banked deck: A spectator discovers with the throw of a die in which of six piles of cards his selection lies. The method revolves on a deck made up of six cards repeated six times. William Kalush has found much earlier mentions of banked decks in several sources (his research as yet unpublished).

A three-bank force deck made of blank-faced cards with the names of cards written on them is described in R. P.'s “The Prophetic Billets” from Ein Spiel Karten, 1853, p. 34 of the Pieper translation. This deck also contains a group of mixed cards on the face, to suggest the deck has an assortment of card names. This type of forcing deck is sometimes attributed to Tarbell due to its inclusion in The Tarbell Course in Magic Vol. 1, 1941, p. 264. It is clearly much older.

Another trick using a banked deck is given by Professor Hoffmann: “To Force three Cards together” from More Magic, 1890, p. 13, employing a deck consisting of a repeated sequence of three cards. Edward Bagshawe uses a banked deck in “A 'Spirit Divination' Mystery” from Exclusive Problems in Magic, 1924, p. 43. Bagshawe's deck had four banks of thirteen cards, each bank containing the same cards in the same order.

Today, the best-known example of a banked deck is Audley Walsh's “Magician's Dream” deck in The Jinx, No. 43, Apr. 1938, p. 298, an idea later popularized by Al Koran from his marketed “Koran's Miracle Deck”, 1962, and frequently miscredited as his invention.