This concept appears to have been reinvented many times over the years. In an exposé of cheating techniques (in other words, he makes no claim of originality), Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin describes the idea of opening the pack with only the little finger. This is described in a peeking technique within Les Tricheries des Grecs Dévoilées, 1861, p. 176 of the Hoffmann translation.
Laurie Ireland later redeveloped the idea in Ireland's New Card and Coin Manipulation 1935, 1935, p. 9, where it is used in the context of a false count for “Six-card Repeat.” Ireland makes no claim of originality for the pull-down.
It is also possible that Johann Hofzinser was using the technique in the mid-19th century. In Kartenkünste, 1910, p. 26 of the Sharpe translation, it says, “The two lower cards are held separately by the little finger, which is put between them and the other cards.” This occurs immediately after two cards are brought to the bottom with the spread cull, and no assistance from the right hand is mentioned. While the passage is too vague to draw any firm conclusions, Fr. Cyprian, in Fr. Cyprian on the Hofzinser Card Problem, 1978, p. 7, suggests that the pull-down might well have been what Hofzinser used here. This speculation is strengthened by the fact that Hofzinser would routinely riffle the cards using only the little finger to create a crepitating noise.