Cardistry in 1899

By Tom Interval

Modern cardistry, the art of card flourishing and manipulation for the sole purpose of showing off, dates back to about the early 2000s with its pioneers Brian Tudor and Dan and Dave Buck.

Although its origin is linked to the Sybil cut, first published in 1992 in Chris Kenner’s Totally Out of Control, the term “cardistry” appeared as early as December 19, 1899, page 3, of The Portsmouth Herald, which reported a performance of Boston “magician and cardist” Bennett Springer at the Warwick Club in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The short article spoke of Springer’s “tricks in cardistry, sleights and flourishes with cards” and described them as “his manipulation of the wonderful” that “won him rounds of applause.”

I just added that historical bit to the History of cardistry Wikipedia page, but I wanted to include the actual article here in case anyone wanted to see it for themselves. I don’t know precisely which card flourishes “Prof. Springer” performed, but I’m pretty sure it was nothing like what some of the kids are calling XCM (extreme card manipulation), otherwise known as flourishing or cardistry.

It’s worth noting that Springer is referred to in at least one or two other early news pieces as a “cartist” (with a “t”) as he was in the Hollis Times of March 4, 1921, p. 8. “His card work was more than ordinarily good,” writes the paper. In those days, maybe the manipulations he did were, relatively speaking, pretty extreme. Whatever the case, I think it’s pretty interesting how far back the term “cardistry” goes.

The Portsmouth Herald, December 19, 1899, p. 3

About Tom Interval

San Diego Magician Tom Interval, owner of Interval Magic, provides magic entertainment and training to private and corporate clients locally and nationally. A member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), Society of American Magicians (SAM), and the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA), Interval has captivated tens of thousands of people at numerous venues, including Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia. With a BA in professional writing and minors in communications and business administration, Interval writes magic-related e-books, magazine articles, and blogs and produces tutorials and related videos for his YouTube channel. Most recently, Interval earned The Linking Ring Award of Excellence for a cover story he wrote for the magicians' publication. To learn more, please visit https://www.intervalmagic.com.
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