The Peek / Glimpse

These techniques are important for any aspiring card manipulator.

This term is applied to the method of ascertaining what a given card is unknown to the spectators. The earliest description of the sleight that I have been able to find is that given by Robert Houdin in his book, “Les Secrets de la Prestidigitation et de la Magic,” published in 1868, as follows:

“You slip the little finger under the card you desire to know, then with extreme rapidity you open the pack at that point and, with a swift glance, ascertain what the card is. The necessary movement, quick as lightning, cannot possibly be perceived by the public, inasmuch as it is made while carelessly waving the hand about, and with the backs of the cards towards the spectators.”

peeking at a cardIn Robert-Houdin’s time there were no indices on the cards, hence to be sure of noting the card the pack had to be opened quite widely, book fashion, the upper part of the pack being gripped between the third and little fingers, With modern cards this is not necessary, the lower end of the packet being raised by the little finger just enough to allow a glimpse of the lower index.

It must be noted particularly that your gaze must be directed at the spectators and not at the pack, In the course of a natural gesture accompanying your patter, the pack is brought in the line of vision. At that moment the index is exposed and the card noted. Fig. 1.

There are many modern methods of sighting a card. The best of which follow:

Methods for glimpsing the Top Card

Methods for glimpsing the Bottom Card

Methods for glimpsing a Middle Card

From Card Manipulations by Jean Hugard (1934)