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The Buddha Papers
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the magical effect known as the Buddha Papers. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

The Buddha Papers is nowadays the established name for a magical effect which, in its current form, consists of a set of simple nested envelopes made from folding paper, each smaller than the one before. An object placed in the smallest envelope, which is then folded up inside the next smallest, which is then folded up inside the largest (a nest typically, though not necessarily, consists of three envelopes) is then found to have vanished or changed into something else when the procedure is reversed and the smallest envelope unfolded. Magicpedia states that the name "Buddha Papers" began appearing in magic catalogs by the 1930s, but that the effect has also been called "The Witched Paper","Buddha Money Mystery", "The Hindoo Paper Packet Trick", "Bengali Papers", "Hindu Magic Papers", and the "E-Z Money Vanisher".



The earliest publication of this effect that I know of is also in 'The discoverie of witchcraft' by Reginald Scot, Esquire, first published in 1584, and immediately follows the description of the Fold and Switch Effect.



The effect is also found in 'The Whole Art of Legerdemain or Hocus Pocus in Perfection' by Henry Dean, which was published in London in 1722.



Two presentations of the Buddha Papers effect were included in 'Enganos a Ojos Vistas, Y Diversion de Trabajos' by Pablo Minguet E Irol, which was published in Barcelona in 1733.

How to change a blue ribbon into a red one


Howto change a portrait of a lady to a skull and crossbones



This effect was also published in 'The Conjuror's Repository', which is undated but thought to have been published c1795.



'The Boy's Own Book' by William Clarke, which was was published by Vizetelly, Branston and Company in London in 1828, includes the effect under the name of 'Sudden Metamorphosis'.



A version of the effect appears in 'Hanky Panky' by W H Cremer, Jun, which was published by John Camden Hotten in London in 1872.



Reference to a version of the Buddha Papers appeared in 'Bright and Happy Homes' by Peter Parley, Jr, which was published in Chicago and New York by Fairbanks, Palmer and Co in 1882. My thanks to David Shall for this information.

No illustration yet available.


A version of the effect using three nesting envelopes appears as 'Le paquet magiique' in 'Les Petits Secrets Amusants' by Alber-Graves, which was published by Librairie Hachette in Paris in 1908.



A version of the effect from a 3x3 square appears under the title olf 'Magic Purse' in 'Paper Magic' by Will Blyth, which was first published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1920.



A version which used the improved method of nesting wrappers under the title of 'The Spirit Communication' appears in 'Houdini's Paper Magic', which was published by E P Dutton and Company of New York in 1922.



A version of the effect, which is used to swap a dime for a quarter, appears in an article titled 'Tricks and Twists with Paper', written by Sam Brown, in the February 1928 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine.