An object is vanished in the course of giving it three taps, using broad up-and-down swings of the hand holding it. On the third tap, the object is secretly left behind the performer's ear or on his hat.
The idea was published by Ed—“The Kardells”—Lew in The Sphinx, Vol. 3 No. 11, Jan. 1905, p. 139. In it, the performer taps a coin three times onto his empty, outstretched hand, and on the upswing for the third tap, he secretly leaves the coin on the brim of his hat. It's not clear whether Lew was the originator of this technique. He included this vanish in larger contribution he called, “Coin Vanishes That Are Not Well Known”. This might suggest he's trying to introduce existing techniques to a wider audience, rather than contributing material original to him.
Harry Crawford later extended this concept into the now-common exposé of the technique, which affords the performer misdirection for an additional vanish. This appeared as “Ear It Is” in The Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 7, 1972, p. 199.