The idea of manipulating an animal pelt or piece of fur to make it appear to be a live animal and then making it disappear was briefly described in 1634 in a marginal note in The Art of Legerdemain Discovered by Hocus Pocus Junior.
Using coil springs to expand various collapsible objects probably began with J. N. Hofzinser's invention of cloth production balls in the mid-1800s (see Ottokar Fischer's Zauberküneste, 1942, translated into English by Richard Hatch as The Magic of J. N. Hofzinser, 1985, p. 41). A variety of spring production items (fruit, vegetables, etc.) followed. The idea of putting a coil spring into a collapsible imitation rabbit, made of rabbit fur or other material, seems to have originated in the early 1900s. “Spring rabbits”, used as pragmatic substitutes for the live animal, were widely known to magicians by 1928 (see, for example, the mention of spring rabbits in the Jan. 1928 issue of The Sphinx, Vol. 26 No. 11, p. 416).
The next spring production animal to gain wide popularity was a skunk, first released c. 1938 by the Ireland Magic Company.
The spring production racoon was a late comer, put on the map by Jeff Justice c. 1980-1981, whose seminal “Rocky Racoon” routine became the model from which many others were built (see The New Tops, Vol. 22 No. 7, Jul. 1982, p. 18; and Genii, Vol. 51 No. 10, Apr. 1988, p. 579). The production feature of the spring animal is rarely used in “Rocky Racoon” routines. Instead, the coil spring is exploited to amplify the animation of the figure.