The Devilish Miracle

I was watching the first video in the Malone Meets Marlo set and towards the end is the trick called The Devilish Miracle. I've never heard of this trick before watching it, though I am familiar with Marlo's "miracle change" theme, so as it started I figured it had something to do with a color change or transposition. Spoiler alert: it's the latter. Kind of.

As the performance of the trick went on, I started noticing similarities between Malone's performance and another trick that I do, one that I've always just called The Biddle Trick. I want to say that it's fairly identical to the trick I do, except one or two slight differences. The first and most noticeable difference is that Marlo's trick has two spectator selections and Biddle's has only one.

My first thought was that a modern-day magician miscredited the routine. Why would I think that? Well, because I myself learned The Biddle Trick on YouTube maybe 5 or 6 years ago and I've seen plenty of miscredited things taught there. I figured, a trick this "simple" and yet fooling would become pretty popular, so it would be easy to spread incorrectly. I also saw it performed by a magician at last year's Magifest and he had no idea what the name of it was, but claimed that he learned it on YouTube. Go figure!

I decided that, since The Biddle Trick has been in my personal repertoire for years and I want to add The Devilish Miracle to it, it's right time to do some research and get to the bottom of it.

Elmer Biddle and the "Biddle Steal"

In the April, 1947 issue of Genii, Elmer Biddle shared a new sleight that he named Transcendent:

While looking through the dictionary for a suitable name for a new card sleight I came across the word transcendent. It is defined as "supreme, above the average, surpassing all others." Whether this sleight does exactly that I leave to you.
Elmer Biddle, Genii, April 1947

The Transcendent sleight is known today simply as the Biddle Steal. The name change happened shortly after the publication in Genii, but I'm not sure what caused the change or where it first occurred.

In Transcendent, or in the Genii article, the sleight itself was explained in detail during the source of a routine where the spectator's card appeared in the performer's pocket. This is different than The Biddle Trick where the card appears face up in the middle of the deck. The rest of the routine is pretty much identical though.

In June, 1948, in an issue of Hugard's Magic Monthly (which I don't have a copy of for confirmation), Biddle published the sleight again, this time under the name of The Biddle Card Vanish. Shortly after this publication, and for all publications thereafter, it's published once more under the name Biddle Steal. I would need to get a copy of Hugard's Magic Monthly to know whether The Biddle Card Vanish is just the sleight, or a routine where "the card vanishes" though. Per the categorization on Conjuring Archive, it's the sleight. I will confirm this at a later date when I purchase the set though.

A Devilish Miracle

Also in 1948, Marlo published A Devilish Miracle which utilizes the Biddle Steal.

I don't have a copy of A Devilish Miracle, but I do have a copy of Compleat Devilish Miracle. Unfortunately, even though this book contains everything from A Devilish Miracle, I don't know if the text is true to the original, or a Racherbaumer rewrite. It has what appears to be updated formatting, and notes directly from Racherbaumer, so without confirmation from the author (or... a copy of the original), I'm stuck with assumptions.

That said, in the book that I have, it does directly call for a Biddle Grip by name. Now, this isn't anything special, the Biddle Grip isn't the sleight itself, just how the deck is held. However, shortly after this, the sleight that is described is in fact the Biddle Steal, even though the name is never mentioned and credit doesn't appear to be given.

I've read through a handful of the different Devilish Miracle handlings and none appear to directly say "Biddle Steal" or "Transcendent" or anything like it. Given that it was published the year after Elmer Biddle published his sleight in Genii and, assuming this was in the original text, Marlo did in fact reference the Biddle Grip, I would have to say that A Devilish Miracle is a different handling of The Biddle Trick -- utilizing two spectator selections!


You may have read the above and asked: "so what?" And that's valid. It's a pretty brief amount of research. I found a new (or... really old) trick that was very similar to another trick that I've been doing and it wasn't credited. So, I was curious and did some research. Luckily, I have access to a few of the sources that can point me in the right direction -- but even with this small amount of research I still hit a block of not having access to Hugard's Magic Monthly.

I do find it odd that Marlo's book didn't credit the Biddle Steal; given the timing, I am really against the idea that this would've been the case of independent invention. That, and I haven't seen any arguments saying that it was. But hey, maybe one of Marlo's later books, that offers alternative handlings for the routine, do the whole credit dance. We'll see!

Ah, so yeah, all of that said: I really love this routine. I haven't had a chance to perform it yet, or practice it much given I went straight to research and writing, but I'm definitely going to be giving it some love soon!

Share This!

Previous Post Next Post