The invisible deck is a devastating effect and one of the most powerful weapons in the magician’s arsenal of card magic! If you are not performing it, you are missing out on one of the most amazing demonstrations you can offer an audience.
The trick’s title stems from the classic presentation of this effect, in which the magician hands the spectator an imaginary, or “invisible” deck. On being handed the deck, the spectator is asked to mime the acts of removing the invisible cards from their case, shuffling them, spreading them face-up on the table, freely selecting a card, replacing it face-down among the other face-up invisible cards, and returning the deck to its box.
At this point, either the spectator keeps the imaginary deck while the magician removes a real deck from his pocket, or the spectator hands the imaginary deck to the magician, which suddenly becomes real in the magician’s hands. The magician then asks the spectator to name the card he/she selected, removes the deck, face-up, from its box and spreads the cards to show one face-down card. The spectator removes the card to find it is the one he/she named moments earlier. ~ Wikipedia
Magician Joe Berg created the Invisible Deck in the 1936, originally calling it the Ultra Mental Deck. “The Berg Book” written by Joe Berg and David Avadon includes a brief history of the deck which says that Berg developed the Ultra Mental Deck as a refinement of the Auto-Mazo Deck, developed and marketed by Sam Drielinger. Notable performers of the effect include such masters of magic as Dai Vernon, Don Alan, and Eddie Fields. Some claim the most-used presentation of an “invisible” deck of cards is the invention of J.B. Bobo, author of “Modern Coin Magic”. Yet, the routining and presentation for the Invisible Deck is more often credited to Eddie Fields.
In “The Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields”, Fields stated the idea for his presentation was sparked sometime after 1942 when he was at an army hospital visiting a friend who was pretending to be mentally unstable. This friend shuffled an imaginary deck of cards and invited Fields to play poker with him. Fields saw the potential of the gag as a presentational framework and tied it to Joe Berg’s creation, the Ultra Mental Deck.
However, in his 2008 book, “Cocktail Card Magic”, Bill Abbott reveals a discovery he made while screening a short film entitled Oliver The Eighth, starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, released on January 13, 1934… [in a scene] involving the butler Jitters… an invisible deck of cards is used. During this sequence the basic Invisible Deck handling attributed to Fields is showcased including many of the gags and bits of business popularized by Don Alan…” (pg.21). Frame-captures of the scene are also reproduced in Abbott’s book. The film was released at least 8 years before Eddie Fields began working on his presentation. ~ Genii Magazine, Magicpedia