Dan and Daves trick Peekaboo, in the October 2011 issue of Genii, uses a clever step principle to reveal the selected card in a fan. While the authors were unfamiliar with the origins of this idea, the blank fan idea is of course very old. Of perhaps greater interest, though, is the fact that the blank fan principle is used more often than one might think. Just ask any lefty.
Peekaboo, as with virtually all tricks, is written for the right-handed magician. It is a nice effect because you go from a peek directly to a fan, with no intermediate handling (other than transferring the deck from one hand to the other). But one can also make the argument that spectators expect the deck to be shuffled once a card is selected. In this case, a stepped peek is not necessary; all that is required is that the selected card be brought to the bottom of the deck, an action easily accomplished with one or two quick, natural-looking shuffles.
From this point, it is a simple matter for a lefty, and is demonstrated quite straightforwardly in a little routine of my own, called Cahoots, which uses the same basic functional motif. With the cards face down in right-hand dealing position (and the selected card on the bottom), the magician simply:
a) scoots the pack upward in the palm into traditional thumb palm position;
b) fans the face-down cards to the left with the left first finger or thumb;
c) holds up the fan, backs to the audience (that is, palm to the audience), faces toward the spectator-in-the-know, who is either behind you or to the side.
The spectator-in-the-know will now see the face of only the selected card, at the front of the otherwise blank fan.
(Note: if you imagined doing the exact actions above, only with the deck face up in your right hand, you would end up in a situation similar to the photograph of the fan in the article, minus the stepped pip which, again, in this case would be unnecessary. All the spectator needs to see is the bottom, visible, card.)
An early appearance in print of the blank fan principle was the description in The Phoenix in 1946 by Bruce Elliott of a trick called The Town Skryer, performed by Orson Welles. Since the effect was written for right-handed magicians, the sleight was identified (in right-handed language) as the reverse fan, in which the deck was kept in the left hand (normal for a righty), with the right thumb spreading the cards upward from the right to the left. In the write-up, Elliott mentions his belief that it was Dunninger who first used the blank fan principle.
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- Joe Pecore
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Earliest reference I can find is from Phoenix No. 103, Page 414 (1946): "We think it was Dunninger who first used the reverse fan to expose but one card on the bottom of a deck."