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How It All Began
Conjuring tricks with playing cards became popular around the 19th century. At that time, simple card flourishes—such as the Charlier Cut, Riffle Shuffle and Thumb Fan—were often performed by magicians as a way of demonstrating sleight of hand.
It involves the use of hands to create cuts, displays, fans, patterns and sequences through the use of playing cards. Various armspreads, cuts, shuffles and springs can be used. The intent is to create a captivating motion and beautiful display. The effects are limited only by the types of cards used, the imagination, and the degree of manual dexterity of the performer.
The presentation is typically neither “illusionary” nor purportedly “magic”; rather, it is more like juggling, mime, or similar entertaining activities.
(Quoted from Wikipedia)
Card manipulation is the branch of magical illusion that deals with creating effects using sleight of hand techniques involving playing cards. Card manipulation is often used in magical performances, especially in close-up, parlor, and street magic.
Some of the most recognized names in this field include Dai Vernon, Tony Slydini, Ed Marlo, S.W. Erdnase,Richard Turner and Ricky Jay.
Before becoming world famous for his escapes, Houdini billed himself as “The King of Cards”
Playing cards became popular with magicians in the last century or so as they were props which were inexpensive, versatile, and easily available. Although magicians have created and presented myriad of illusions with cards (sometimes referred to as trıcks), most of these illusions are generally considered to be built upon perhaps one hundred or so basic principles and techniques. Presentation and context (including patter, the conjurer’s misleading account of what he is doing) account for many of the variations.
Card magic, in one form or another, likely dates from the time playing cards became commonly known, towards the second half of the fourteenth century, but its history in this period is largely undocumented. Compared to sleight of hand magic in general and to cups and balls, it is a relatively new form of magic. However, due to its versatility as a prop it has become very popular amongst modern magicians.