Max Maven wrote:According to Tom Ransom (who knows a lot about this sort of thing), the earliest appearance of this principle as applied
to conjuring is in Recreations with Mathematics by Charles Hutton, published in England in 1801.
Apparently, much of the material in the four-volume Recreations series was derived from a French source, but I do not have details.
Hutton translated Ozanam's "Rcrations mathmatiques et physiques", though over the years Ozanam's work was considerably revised and augmented by various people. Also, Ozanam himself derived a lot of his material from Bachet, Leurechon and others.
I haven't had time to trace it right back to its first appearance, but Hutton's treatment of the principle in question is on page 64 of "Recreations in science and natural philosophy" (1844, revised by Edward Riddle):