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Plunger Principle

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A principle, most often used in card magic, wherein multiple cards are placed into the deck at various locations, but out-jogged from the talon. The performer then pushes those cards into the deck at one time, causing any/all cards between the out-jogged ones to in-jog from the deck.

The Plunger Principle can be used as a rising card effect, a control, or as part of an effect, as in John Mendoza's Automatic Deck (1973).


There was some initial controversy over the invention of the original Plunger Principle used as a Rising Card effect.[1]

A simple version of this idea first appeared in the September 1931 issue of Seven Circles magazine, called "Priceless Card Rise" by Lawrence Kam.[2] The trick was published again in 1935, claimed this time by Burling Hull, in his Stage Magic, No. 3.[3]

But the idea didn't gain traction until Jack McMillen published his "J. M. Card Rise"[4] and "Obedient Rising Cards,"[5] both using the principle, in 1936 in the first issue Genii. In the introduction to the description, William Larsen defended McMillen as the inventor:

...we are certain that, although the method has been published elsewhere, and the effect is being used by several prominent club performers today, it is really the origination of Jack McMillen and the late T. Page Wright. We make the explanation merely in order that credit may go to those to whom credit is due. The basis of the idea was first conceived by Jack McMillen, who showed it to Page Wright and myself as early as 1928.[6]

Recently, a new description of the same idea has been uncovered from 1924.[7] It's called "The Simplex Rising Cards," and was published under Walter B. Gibson's name in J. E. Pierce's The Magic World magazine.[8]


  1. Stephen Minch, "Dai Vernon - Deep Plunge," Genii, Vol. 52 No. 11, May 1989, p. 704
  2. Lawrence Kam, "Priceless Card Rise," Seven Circles, Vol. 1, No. 6, September 1931, p. 8
  3. Burling Hull, Stage Magic, No. 3, 1935, pp. 79-82
  4. William Larsen, "The J. M. Card Rise," Genii, Vol. 1 No. 1, September 1936, p. 10
  5. William Larsen, "The Obedient Rising Cards," Genii, Vol. 1 No. 1, September 1936, pp. 10-12
  6. William Larsen, "McMillen-Wright Rising Cards," Genii, Vol. 1 No. 1, September 1936, p. 10
  7. David Britland, "Cardopolis," Genii, Vol. 77 No. 1, January 2014, p. 21
  8. Walter Gibson, The Magic World, Vol. 7, No. 9, January 1924, p. 124