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The Afghan Bands / Les Anneaux Mysterieuse

This page is being used to collect information about the history of the paperfolding magical effect known as the Afghan Bands / Les Anneaux Mysterieuse. 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 Afghan Bands is a self-working magical effect in which three apparently identical long loops of paper (or sometimes cloth) are cut (or sometimes torn) lengthwise to produce first two separate loops, then a single double-length loop, and finally two interlocked loops. The first loop is a simple untwisted loop, the second a Mobius Strip and the third a fully twisted loop.

According to 'The first professional magician to perform the effect was Felicien Trewey in the late 1800s' and 'Percy Selbit was the first to describe the Möbius strip as a method for a magic trick in the English language in 1901, coining the name 'Afghan Bands'.' I have not been able to find the original source for this information.



As far as I am aware the first publication of the effect, under the name 'Les Anneaux Mysterieuse' appeared in 'La Nature' 709 of 1st January 1887, in an article headed 'Recreations Scientifique' and subheaded 'Les Anneaux de Papier'. This article is attributed to Dr Z...'. I do not know whose nom de plume this is. The effect subsequently appeared in the 5th Edition of 'Les Recreations Scientifiques' by Gaston Tissandier which was published in 1888.


'Neues Spielbuch fur Madchen', by Jeanne Marie von Ganette-Georgens, which was published in Berlin in 1887 contains a small section which explains how to make two rings out of one (Zwei Rings aus einem machen)


The Afghan Bands also appear:


As 'The Paper Rings', in 'Scientific Amusements' by Henry Frith, which was published by Ward, Locke and Co Ltd in London, New York and Melbourne in 1890.



As 'Los anillos de papel' in 'Repertorio Completo de Todos los Juegos', which was published in Madrid in 1896



In 'Le Livre des Amusettes' by Toto, which was published in Paris by Charles Mendel in 1899.



As 'Les Bandes de Papier' in 'Les Bon Jeudis' by Tom Tit, which was published in Paris in 1906.



In issue 1503 of the Boy's Own Paper of 2nd November 1907.



As 'The Mysterious Bands' in 'Home Fun' by Cecil H Bullivant, which was published by Dodge Publishing Company in New York in 1910.



In 'Ciencia Recreativa' by Jose Estralella, which was published by Gustavo Gili in Barcelona in 1918.



In Will Blyth's 'Paper Magic, first published in London in 1920, as 'An Episode of Mere Man'.



In 'Houdini's Paper Magic' first published in New York in 1922, as 'Trewey's Paper Rings'.



In 'Fun with Paperfolding' by Murray and Rigney, published in New York in 1928, as 'The Mystery Loops'.



In 'Winter Nights Entertainments' by R M Abraham, which was first published by Constable and Constable in London in 1932, as 'Cutting the Paper Rings'. The effect is described but no illustration is given.



As 'The Mystic Paper Rings' in 'More Things Any Boy Can Make' by Joseph Leeming, which was published by D Appleton-Century Company in New York and London in 1936.



As 'The Magic Paper Rings' in 'Fun with Paper' by Joseph Leeming, which was published by Spencer Press Inc in Chicago in 1939.



As 'La Cinta Magica' in the extended version of 'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1951.



As 'The Afghan Bands' in 'Paper Folding Fun' by Robert Harbin, which was published by Oldbourne in London in 1960.