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Center Tear

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Center Tear is technique used by magicians in Mentalism routines for secretly reading a message written on a piece of paper. It was most likely created in the 19th century by a medium or psychic worker. See also Billet Switch.

Published record

  • "What Is It?" manuscript by Joe Ovette (Ad in Linking Ring September 1931).
  • "Ne Plus Ultra Reading Method" in Thayer's Trick of the Month Club brochure by Annemann (August 1932) credited to Ted Arnold, which was later reprinted in Annemann's Mental Bargain Effects (1935).
  • Two Mindreading Publicity effect describes the center tear with a word circled in a newspaper, Jinx #6 March 1935.

In Jinx #74 (January, 1940, page 495), Annemann introduces a Dunninger center tear trick as follows: "Back in Jinx No. 6 I used this principle with a torn out piece of newspaper. Previous to that, I supplied Thayer's Trick of the Month Club with the effect as eventually made quite popular by Mogul. Previous to that Joe Ovette sold the idea in a slightly different form via the mss. route. Previous to that Martin Sunshine used it for private readings. And Martin told me subsequent to all of the above that he had learned it from Dunninger."

Al Mann did the research on the Center Tear which he put in his book The Purloined Thought (1990). He describes how Sid Lorraine learned of it from an American named J. T. Garrus, while in England during 1928. Garrus claimed to have learned it from Dr. Leland Wyman of Boston, a magician and psychic investigator who learned of it from mediums. He also describes some of the history of the Center Tear, and Sid's role in disseminating it in "The Apodosis" (page 3 - 1978) and in Chapter Three of "The Tesseract" (page 12 - 1978).

Other magicians who investigated mediums most likely knew the technique as well, including Joseph Rinn and Dunninger. After coming back from England, Sid wrote letters describing the technique to Tom Bowyer, Josepth Ovette and Ted Annemann.