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 Interval Magic

Magician Tom Interval, owner of San Diego-based Interval Magic, provides magic entertainment and training to private and corporate clients locally and throughout the United States. A member of the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA), International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), and Society of American Magicians (SAM), Interval has captivated tens of thousands of people at numerous venues, including Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he performed as a medieval conjurer, trained employees of the magic shop, and promoted the park on several local TV talk shows along the East Coast. As an entertainer, business owner, and former marketing communications professional, Interval understands that the success of any event depends on how satisfied his clients' guests are. Whether it’s a trade show or 50th wedding anniversary, Interval is dedicated to providing his audiences with a highly visual, interactive, mind-boggling magic experience they’ll remember and talk about for years to come. To learn more, please visit www.intervalmagic.com.
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