The almanac and prayer-book alibi, in conjunction with a deck of cards goes back further to at least the 18th century. English Conjurer Charles Bertram provides a facsimile of a pamphlet, giving an account of the story in his book Isnt It Wonderful
, published in London in 1899.
Bertram prefaces the broadside pamphlet to his readers in this way:
Mention may be made of a curious explanation given by a servant to his master, when suspected of indulging in the pernicious vice of gambling, and who upon being interrogated, explained the novel use he made of a pack off cards which was found in his possession. I have taken the account from a very old publication, and will better explain the ingenious interpretation placed upon the values of the cards by the artful servant, I have presented to my readers, a facsimile reproduction of the original pamphlet, and trust it will prove interest (Bertram 170-171).