In October 2005, Chris Linn successfully broke the Guinness World Record for the "most one fingered playing card scales in one minute". To break the record, Linn had to hold a deck of playing cards in one hand and use his thumb to propel ("scale") the cards from the deck a minimum distance of 12 feet. Linn was able to successfully scale 114 playing cards in one minute, beating the previous record of 104 playing cards set by magician Jeff McBride. The record breaking attempt took place at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio.
Western card throwing techniques as they are passed among performers today are attributed to stage magicians in the late 19th Century. The exact origins of "flying card" tricks are unknown, but Alexander Herrmann is widely attributed with first including card throwing in a major act. Thurston and Herrmann used cards heavier than today's standard playing cards.
Many magicians commissioned specially printed cards, known as throwing cards, throwouts, scaling cards or souvenir cards to use for these purposes. Generally, such cards featured the image and name of the magician, and often featured optical illusions, mystical images, and text and graphics from other advertisers.
The impressive speed that magicians could throw the cards gave rise to a myth that a card can kill or seriously injure someone if thrown correctly by a person with enough force. However, this myth was tested on the Discovery Channel program MythBusters, and subsequently debunked. A playing card lacks enough mass to transfer sufficient energy to its target on impact, and even when accelerated mechanically by a powerful electric motor to over 150 mph, it was barely capable of inflicting a paper cut.
The wrist is cocked inward at a 90 degree angle, then flicked briskly outward, propelling the card. For distance and power, the technique adds motion of the forearm bending at the elbow straight outwards from a 90 degree angle simultaneous to the flicking motion of the wrist.
One more method involves putting one's thumb on top of the bottom left hand corner of the card, and one's index and middle finger on opposite sides of the top right hand corner of the card. The thrower should push his thumb down and out from the card, and would twirl his index and middle fingers, spinning the card, and propelling it forward. This is one of the most powerful techniques.
One other mildly popular technique is to grip the full deck of cards in the left hand, looping the left hand index finger around the upper-right corner of the top card, and then propelling the top card off of the deck with the right hand. This causes the card to gain large amounts of side spin, which propels them farther.
Book Reviews: More Detail Would Have Done the Trick; the Encyclopedia of Card Tricks by Jean Hugard and JJ Crimmins. Published by Foulsham. Pounds 9.99
Nov 23, 2002; Byline: CHRISTIAN SCHNABEL THE magician's greatest reward is to astonish and perplex his audience with his skill and sleigh of...