Magic (Ellis Stanyon)/Chapter 9
Flash Paper.—Having had occasion several times during the course of the present work to make use of "flash paper," I will now describe the manner in which it is prepared. It is not, however, practical to manufacture it at home, as it can be obtained in large quantities at a very small cost.
A mixture of nitric and sulphuric acids, one part of the former to two of the latter, is made, and allowed to stand for twelve hours before using. The experiment should be made in the open air. Ordinary tissue paper is then immersed in the fluid for a few seconds, after which it is taken out and washed well in clear water, until all trace of the acid has been removed. This can be ascertained by the use of blue litmus paper, which when dipped into the water will betray the presence of the acid by turning red. The paper should then be dried in a warm atmosphere, but not near a fire, and it is ready for use.
Flash handkerchiefs are prepared in a similar manner. For this purpose take a piece of fine cambric, wash it well in hot water to remove all grease and other impurities, and then treat it in the same way as the paper.
A New Fire Flash.—This forms a very good opening trick. The performer steps on the stage and, in what appears to be a careless manner, picks up a piece of paper from the floor, rolls it up in his hands, and throws it in the air, where it disappears in a flame, leaving no trace behind.
To produce this effect you must obtain some very fine glass tubing about the thickness of a darning needle, and having broken off several pieces about an inch long, fill them with sulphuric acid. This can be done with the aid of a long piece of india-rubber tubing, the acid being drawn into the glass by suction. The ends of the tube are then sealed hermetically in the flame of a spirit lamp. You must next prepare a powder composed of equal parts of chlorate of potass and powdered lump sugar. Wrap a very small quantity of this powder—about as much as will lie on a penny—together with one of the acid tubes in a piece of flash paper, and all is ready.
When rolling up the paper in the hands the tube is broken; the acid escapes and fires the powder, which in turn sets fire to the paper and produces the desired result.
Caution.—To prevent accidents never prepare the papers or even mix the powder, until actually required for use.
Conjurer's Ammunition.—The magic pistol described on p. 61 is usually loaded with a small charge of powder. This is excellent for stage purposes, but hardly suitable for the drawing-room, where some objection might be taken to the employment of powder, even in a small quantity. The pistol, however, need not be discarded, as it can still be used in a manner that will in no way detract from the charm of the trick. Load the pistol with a piece of flash paper, place a percussion cap on the nipple, and pull the trigger. The paper will take fire and be thrown from the pistol, vanishing in a sheet of flame at the opposite end of the room.
Again, the pistol need not be loaded at all, but just as you are about to fire you appear to understand that the ladies object, and remark—"Oh! I see the ladies object to the report—well in that case I will use the pistol as an air-gun." Saying this, you remove the conical tube and blow through it to cause the supposed transmission.
Smoke from Two Empty Pipes.—Two empty and clean clay pipes are passed round for examination and proved ostensibly to be unprepared. The bowls are then placed one over the other, when the performer, by simply inserting one of the stems in his mouth, commences to blow clouds of smoke from the pipes.
The solution of the mystery is as follows:—A few drops of hydrochloric acid (spirits of salts) are placed in one of the pipes, while the other is similarly treated with ammonia. The union of the two chemicals produces a thick vapor, which has all the appearance of smoke produced from tobacco.
A good combination trick may be formed by preparing a glass tumbler and the bottom of a tea plate, as above described; the plate is then placed over the tumbler, the whole being covered with a handkerchief. The smoke so mysteriously produced from the pipes may now be caused, apparently by some occult means, to find its way into the closed tumbler.
Fire-eating Trick.—This, although a very startling trick, is quite harmless, and can be performed by any one. Small balls of fire are placed in the mouth and, apparently, swallowed, being immediately afterward produced from the ears, or any part of the body that fancy may suggest.
The balls are small pieces of camphor cut to shape, and are lighted in the flame of a candle. They should be tossed from one hand to the other, and finally into the mouth, which should forthwith be closed. This, of course, extinguishes the balls, which should be secretly removed at the earliest opportunity.
The reproduction of the balls of fire is managed with the aid of the acid tubes mentioned on p. 160, which, together with a small quantity of the powder, should be wrapped up in flash paper, and deposited about the person as required. The best effect, however, is obtained by producing them from behind the ears; it is also a very convenient method, as the tubes are not so likely to be prematurely fractured.
Exploding Soap-bubbles.—This is a novelty, and will be found to produce a very good effect. The bubbles are blown in the usual way with an ordinary clay pipe, the only preparation necessary being that the bowl of the pipe must be filled with cotton-wool soaked in gasolene. Bubbles blown with a pipe thus prepared will be found to explode in a flame when approached with a light.
The Tube and Ball.—This is a very ingenious trick, and well worthy the attention of the most fastidious performer. It can be used in several ways.
The apparatus consists of a piece of one and
Fig. 36.—Tube and Ballone-half inch brass tubing about seven inches long, with a cap of the same metal fitting loosely over one end; also two billiard balls about the size of the diameter of the tube. The audience, however, are not supposed to know of the existence of more than one ball. (See Fig. 35.) The tube and cap, together with the ball, are given for examination, attention being drawn to the fact that the ball will readily pass through the tube. After examination the tube is stood on one end on the table and covered with the cap. The operator then takes the ball and vanishes it by means of sleight of hand, when, on the tube being raised, it has to all appearance been passed underneath.
The secret lies in the fact that there is a very small dent in the side of the tube at the centre; also that one of the balls—that given for examination—is slightly smaller than the other. The small ball runs freely through the tube, but the large one will not pass the centre on account of the indentation.
On receiving back the tube the performer secretly drops the large ball into it, which, owing to the force of the fall, is pinched in the centre and will not fall out. In this condition the tube can be turned about in all directions and will still appear empty. When placing it on the table the performer is careful to bring it down rather smartly on the end at which the ball was introduced, when, owing to the concussion, the ball is released and falls on the table.
The tube can be used to cause the disappearance of a ball in the following manner:—Place the ball on a tea plate and cover it with the tube, which in turn cover with a second plate. By reversing the position of the structure the ball falls into the tube, where it is retained in the manner described, and after a little more twisting and turning, to add to the general confusion, the plates are removed and the ball is proved to have disappeared.
The ball can of course be reproduced if desired; or if two tubes are used it may be, apparently, passed from one to the other. In this case, however, it is suggested that round discs of wood be used in place of the plates, as the latter would be likely to get fractured in the act of bringing the tube down with sufficient force to dislodge the ball.
The Ubiquitous Thimble.—This is one of the prettiest sleight of hand tricks in existence, and requires very little practice. For the purpose of the trick, in its entirety, the performer must be provided with two thimbles exactly alike; but very many surprising passes can be
Fig. 37.—The Thimble Trick made with one thimble only. The idea of the trick proper is to cause a thimble placed on the forefinger of the right hand to disappear and be found on the corresponding finger of the left hand, without the hands approaching each other. It is usual, however, in the first place, to execute a number of passes with one thimble only, as by this means the audience will be the less likely to suspect the introduction of the second one. The main thing necessary is to acquire the knack of holding a thimble in the fleshy portion of the hand at the root of the thumb, in which position it can be placed, or removed at pleasure, by simply bending the forefinger. (See Figs. 37 and 38.) This sleight must be executed with equal facility with both hands.
When about to present the trick the performer comes forward with a thimble on the forefinger of the right hand, the second one being in the left-hand trousers pocket. He now appears to
Fig. 38.—Thimble at Root of Thumbplace the thimble in the left hand, but really, when the right hand is in motion toward the left, it is palmed as described. The left hand is then brought down with some force on the head and the thimble produced from the mouth on the forefinger of the right hand. This can be done with perfect ease, as, so long as the hand is kept in motion during the recovery of the thimble, there is no fear of the movement being detected.
The thimble is then apparently placed in the mouth, really being palmed as before, and afterward produced from the bottom of the vest. While doing this the performer stands with the left hand in the trousers pocket and palms the second thimble. Both hands are now held palms away from the spectators, and kept in continual motion. Under cover of this the right-hand thimble is palmed, and that in the left hand produced, when it will appear to have been passed from one hand to the other. This can be repeated as often as desired.
Finally the second thimble should be secretly disposed of, and the trick brought to a conclusion with a pass performed with the one only.
An additional effect may be obtained by the use of two thimbles, one fitting over the other. These should be made in thin metal so as to be, in point of size, as near alike as possible. The two thimbles, which appear as one only, are placed on the forefinger of the right hand, and covered with a small paper cone, with the remark, "You see the cone just fits the thimble; I will now show you a rather extraordinary experiment with the same." The cone is then removed, with slight pressure at the base, and placed on the table on the supposition that it is empty, but it really contains the uppermost thimble. The one left on the finger is then vanished, under cover of a throwing movement toward the cone, which is then removed by the apex and the thimble discovered.
While all attention is drawn to the table the duplicate thimble is dropped into the profonde.
The Mysterious Tambourine.—It is generally understood that, should the silk hat go out of fashion, conjurers would be at a loss for a suitable article wherewith to work the numerous "production" tricks. Should such a calamity ever befall the profession the mysterious tambourine will, to some extent, come to the rescue.
The apparatus consists of two nickel-plated
Fig. 39.—Tambourine Trick brass rings, eight inches in diameter and one inch deep; the one fitting easily over the other. (See Fig. 39.) The tambourine is constructed by placing a sheet of paper between the two rings, and pressing the upper one down over the lower, the edges of the paper being afterward trimmed round with scissors. Thus prepared it is shown back and front.
The prestidigitateur then makes a small hole in the centre of the paper with his wand, and immediately commences to twist out yard after yard of colored paper ribbon, sufficient being obtained to fill a large clothes basket. If the performer desires to add to the effect of the trick the production of the ribbon may be preceded by that of a number of handkerchiefs, also a quantity of spring flowers and other articles of a like nature. Finally a rabbit or a large bird cage containing a live bird may be produced from the pile of ribbon.
The explanation is very simple. The tambourine is put together at the rear edge of the table, and when taking it up prior to trimming the edges, the coil, which was on the servante or suspended at the back of the table, is brought away under cover of the paper and pressed into the ring. The back of the colored coil should be rubbed over with chalk to match the white paper used in the construction of the tambourine, which can then be shown back and front, but but will still appear empty.
The flowers should be done up in three packets of twenty each and laid on the coil, being covered with the handkerchiefs, which should be folded up neatly. The packet is then tied together with thin cotton, which can easily be broken when required.
The rabbit is in readiness in the profonde on the right side, and is introduced into the ribbon when picking it up from the floor.
The cage, which should be a folding one, is suspended behind the back of a chair, over which the ribbon would be thrown while performing a simple trick with one of the handkerchiefs. In the act of taking the ribbon from the chair opportunity would be found for introducing the cage unobserved.
The Bran and Dove Plates.—The trick about to be described, in its primary form, consists of changing a quantity of bran or flour into a live dove. It can, however, like the tambourine, be made available for the production of various articles, and is especially suitable for the magical distribution of bonbons, sweets, etc.
The performer comes forward with an ordinary soup plate filled to overflowing with bran, a portion of which is scattered over the stage to prove its genuineness. The bran is then covered with a second plate, which on being removed reveals a live dove, the bran having entirely disappeared.
The explanation is as follows:—One of the plates is fitted with a tin lining, enamelled white on the inside to represent the china. (See Fig. 40.) The supposed bran is really this tin lining turned upside down with bran gummed all over it; a handful of loose bran being thrown on the top. It is hardly necessary to say that the dove is already in the plate concealed by the bran shape.
The false heap of bran is now covered with the second plate, and while talking the performer, in a careless way, turns the plates over several times, finally placing them on the table in such
Fig. 40.—Trick Plate a manner that the one that was formerly uppermost shall now be at the bottom. All he has to do now is to remove the uppermost plate and take out the dove. The inside of the bottom plate should now be shown, when it will appear perfectly empty.
In place of the dove the plate may be loaded with sweets and small toys, for distribution; or with a list of articles similar to those produced from the tambourine. If a coil of ribbon be used it should be a colored one, with one side rubbed over with chalk so that the inside of the plate may be shown prior to its production.
By using two pairs of these plates, and being provided with two doves exactly alike, the bran in one may be made to, apparently, change places with the dove in the other.
The Wandering Stout.—The feat bearing this title consists of causing a glass of stout to pass through the crown of a borrowed hat. Having obtained the loan of two hats, the performer places them on the table mouth to mouth, and stands the glass of stout on the crown of the uppermost one, covering it with a paper cylinder of the same height as itself. On removing the cylinder it is shown to be perfectly empty, the glass being immediately taken from the lower hat.
For the performance of the trick the operator must be provided with a glass three and one-fourth inches high by two and one-half inches in diameter at the mouth, tapering very slightly toward the bottom. The kind known as picnic glasses will be found the most suitable. In addition to the glass and the paper cylinder a piece of glass tubing of the same height as the tumbler, and large enough to pass easily over the same, will also be required. This piece of tubing must be blackened on the inside to within one inch of the top, and finished with a little white paint to represent froth, when, thus prepared, it will readily pass for a glass containing stout.
The paper cylinder, containing the sham glass, being on the table, the performer comes forward with a bottle of stout and fills the tumbler. He then takes up the cylinder and passes his wand right through it, as if to prove that it has not undergone any preparation, after which he places it over the glass of stout. He then puts the glass, still covered with the cylinder, into one of the hats, with the remark "I will now cause the tumbler to pass from one hat to the other," then, as if struck with a sudden thought, changes his mind, saying, "No, perhaps it would be more effective if I place the hats one over the other, and pass the glass through the crown of the uppermost one." Saying this he, apparently, takes the tumbler, still under cover of the cylinder, from the hat, and places it in the required position. Really, however, the stout was left behind, the cylinder and counterfeit glass alone being removed.
Now, in order to satisfy the spectators that the stout is actually on the crown of the hat, the performer lifts the cylinder and exposes the sham glass, which every one believes to be the genuine article. The cover is then replaced and the tumbler commanded to pass into the lower hat, after which it is again raised, together with the counterfeit, and the wand passed through it as before. The hats are then separated and the glass is produced from the lower one.
A Crystal Water Mystery.—Chemical tricks, as a rule, do not meet with much favor at the hands of professional conjurers. The reason
Fig. 41.—Water Trickis pretty clear, as, in the majority of cases, the modus operandi is too palpable. The one here described, however, owing to the number of changes produced, is an exceptionally good one, and is to be found in the repertoire of the leading performers of the day.
Four empty glass tumblers, together with a glass jug full of water, are arranged on a tray as shown in Fig. 41.
Water poured from the jug into—
- No. 1, is seen to be clear.
- No. 2, changes to stout.
- No. 3, is seen to be clear.
- No. 4, again changes to stout.
- Nos. 1 and 2 mixed equal stout.
- Nos. 3 and 4 mixed equal water.
- Nos. 1 and 2 put back into the jug give all stout.
- Nos. 3 and 4 put back into the jug give all water, as at first.
The explanation, although by no means obvious, is very simple. Glass No. 1 is perfectly clean. No. 2 contains a small portion of pyrogallic acid, about the size of a pea. No. 3 is prepared with half a teaspoonful of sulphuric acid. No. 4 contains the same quantity of pyrogallic acid as No. 2. The jug contains clear water, into which a teaspoonful of sulphate of iron is dropped just before the trick is commenced. The iron should not be placed in the water until actually required for use, as the solution changes rapidly to a yellow color, in which condition it would not very well pass for water. For the same reason the jug should be removed immediately after the trick.
Some performers prefer to use the following chemicals in place of those enumerated above. I will give them in the same order, and then the magician may choose for himself. Glass No. 1, as before, is quite clean; No. 2 contains a few drops of muriated tincture of iron; No. 3, a teaspoonful of a saturated solution of oxalic acid; and No. 4 is prepared in the same manner as No. 2. A teaspoonful of tannic acid should be added to the water in the jug prior to the commencement of the experiment.
I myself always use the sulphuric acid, as I believe it produces the best result, but in the case of a spill it is very dangerous, and on this account the latter method is to be preferred. The changes, in either case, are quite instantaneous, hence the trick produces a most extraordinary effect.
The Wizard's Breakfast.—The magical production of steaming hot coffee has always been a favorite trick with the juveniles, especially when the beverage is handed round for their consumption, and various pieces of apparatus have been designed for effecting this purpose. The most up-to-date method, however, is the one hereafter described:
Two boxes, without lids, sizes about twelve inches by eight inches by eight inches, usually fitting one within the other for convenience in traveling, and containing respectively cuttings of blue and white paper, are introduced to the audience. Two pint goblets, in metal, are then filled, one with blue and the other with white paper from the boxes, after which they are covered with small silk handkerchiefs. On removing the handkerchiefs the blue and the white papers are found to have been transformed respectively into hot coffee and hot milk. The performer then pours a portion of each fluid into a breakfast cup, and makes a motion as if throwing the whole
Fig. 42.—Trick Tumbler over the audience, when nothing falls but a shower of blue and white paper cuttings, every vestige of the coffee and milk having disappeared.
There are in reality four goblets employed in the trick, two of which, containing the fluids, are concealed in the boxes unknown to the spectators. These two are provided with shallow trays fitting loosely within them at the top, each tray being filled with paper of the required color. (See Fig. 42.)
When presenting the trick the performer comes forward with the box containing the white paper, and throwing a handful in the air, calls out, "Out in the cold," which remark is perfectly justifiable, as the paper gives a faithful representation of falling snow. Placing this box on the table, and taking up that containing the blue paper, he scatters a handful over the stage with the remark, "This is the same as the white, only the wind blue it." He now takes one of the goblets from the table and appears to fill it with white paper, but really, while in the box, an exchange is made for the one containing the milk, which, owing to the presence of the shallow tray, will appear to be full of paper. This is then covered with a handkerchief, after which the second goblet is
Fig. 43.—Cup and Saucertreated in like manner.
The shallow trays have each a piece of wire projecting from their upper edge to enable the performer to remove them under cover of the handkerchiefs. The handkerchiefs are thrown in a careless manner over the sides of the boxes, into which, if sufficient paper has been provided, the trays may be allowed to fall.
The cup and saucer will next require our attention. These are of metal in imitation of the genuine article, the saucer being made double, with a small hole in the centre of its upper side, for a purpose that will presently appear. The cup is provided with a perpendicular division nearly in the centre, a small hole being drilled in the bottom of that side next the handle. (See Fig. 43.)
The front and larger side is filled with a mixture of blue and white paper cuttings, and thus prepared, together with the saucer, it is placed on the table. When pouring the coffee and milk into the cup the performer takes care that it goes into the space provided with the small hole, through which it immediately runs into the body of the saucer.
It is usual to bring the trick to a conclusion by apparently throwing the fluid over the audience as already described, but should the performer be provided with a number of small cups and a tray, that portion of the beverage not used may be handed round as refreshments.
The Hydrostatic Tube. This is a trick of comparatively recent invention. It requires very careful handling, and the performer must be possessed of almost superhuman nerve to present it successfully to a critical audience. It produces, however, a most extraordinary effect, and on this account is to be recommended.
A piece of paper is placed at the bottom of a glass tube or chimney used for gas, which is then filled with water, while the top of the tube is covered with a second piece of paper. The right hand is then placed on the top paper and the position of the tube reversed. The papers are then, each in turn, removed, but the water does not fall from the cylinder; on the contrary, it remains suspended without visible means of support. The papers are now replaced, and the top one is pierced with a hatpin, when, on the pin being withdrawn, the water at once falls into a basin placed ready to receive it under the tube.
This surprising result is due entirely to a well-known natural law, viz., the pressure of the atmosphere, and is nothing more nor less than a modification of the old schoolboy trick of keeping a glass of water inverted by means of a sheet of paper. The new arrangement will, however, require special explanation.
Each end of the cylinder is fitted with a glass cap, grooved to fit into and over it at the same time; this is necessary to avoid slipping. The ends of the tube, also the edges of the caps, must be ground, so that the point of juncture shall be air-tight. One of the caps has a small hole drilled through the centre. (See Fig. 44.)
When about to present the trick the two glass caps are laid on the bottoms of two upturned tumblers, where they are quite invisible. The performer then draws attention to two square pieces of paper, which he dips into the water contained in the bowl, afterward laying them
Fig. 44.—Hydrostatic Tube down on the glass tumblers, and over the glass discs. He next shows the tube, passing his wand through it to prove that it has not undergone any preparation. Then taking one of the papers, and at the same time secretly securing one of the discs (not the one with the hole in it), he places it at the bottom of the tube, which is forthwith stood on the palm of the left hand. The tube is then filled with water and covered with the remaining piece of paper and glass cap.
The position of the tube is then reversed, after which it is taken by the centre and both papers are removed. The water will not run out from the small hole in the bottom cap owing to the fact that no air can get in at the top. The glass caps being absolutely invisible, the water will now appear to be suspended in the tube without any natural means of support.
The papers are again placed on the ends of the tube, where, being wet, they readily adhere. The hands are now placed one on each end and the tube is reversed; this is necessary to bring the cap with the hole in it to the top. The top paper is then pierced with the hatpin, which, passing through the hole in the cap, gives the impression that there cannot be anything but the paper covering the ends of the tube. When the pin is withdrawn the air rushes into the tube, and, as a natural consequence, the paper and disc fall from the bottom, liberating the water. The bowl should be half full of water when the cap falls, to avoid fracture of the glass. The cap is then brought away from the top of the tube under cover of the piece of paper, and both are dropped into the bowl, when the tube can be once more given for examination.
The Hydrostatic Tumbler.—This trick, which is similar in principle to that immediately preceding it, is preferred by some as being less cumbersome; it is also easier to work and consequently entails less anxiety on the part of the performer. The effect, however, although pretty, is not quite so startling.
The necessary apparatus consists of a glass tumbler with a small hole drilled in the side one inch from the bottom, the mouth of which must be fitted with a glass cap in the same manner as the tube in the preceding trick. (See Fig. 45.)
Fig. 45.—Hydrostatic Tube The performer having drawn attention to the tumbler, also a small piece of paper, dips the latter into a bowl of water, and lays it down over the glass cap. The tumbler, held with the thumb covering the small hole, is then filled with water from the bowl, and covered with the piece of paper under which, unknown to the audience, is the glass disc. The glass is then inverted and the paper withdrawn, the water remaining suspended without visible means of support. The tumbler can now be turned about in any direction, without the least fear of the water escaping, so long as the thumb is kept over the small hole in its side. It can also be stood on the table, the hand being removed entirely; the water cannot escape through the small hole owing to the presence of the cap.
The tumbler is once more raised and inverted, when the performer undertakes to cause the water to fall at any given number counted by the audience. This last effect, which adds considerably to the trick, is brought about by very simple means; all the performer has to do is to remove the thumb covering the small hole, when the air rushes in and causes the disc to fall. The bowl, as before, should be half full of water, to provide a cushion for the falling disc, which under these circumstances will not be injured, nor its presence detected.
Paper Cone, Watch, Rabbit, and Boxes.—The effect of this excellent stage trick is as follows: A watch is borrowed and dropped into a conical paper bag held by one of the spectators. The performer then loads the magic pistol with a small silk handkerchief; this he fires in the direction of the bag, after which the bag is opened and found to contain the handkerchief, the watch having disappeared. Attention is next drawn to a box, which has been hanging over the head of the performer from the commencement of the entertainment, and which on being opened is found to consist of a nest of six boxes, the smallest of which contains a rabbit with the borrowed watch tied round its neck.
Fig. 46.—Paper Cone The main secret of the trick lies in the paper bag, which is really double, consisting of two pieces of paper gummed together round the edges, the corner of one piece being removed, as in Fig. 46.
At the commencement of the trick a small silk handkerchief is hidden between the two pieces of paper. When making the bag it must be so arranged that the corner at which is the opening is at the top. Under cover of the point of the bag the handkerchief is removed from its place of concealment and dropped into the bag proper, the double side being immediately pulled over to the opposite side of the bag to again conceal the handkerchief. If the bag is well made, and this side well creased over, a casual glance into its interior will reveal nothing suspicious. In this condition the bag is given to a spectator to hold, and he is then requested to drop the watch into it, which he does, as he thinks, into the bag proper, but really the watch falls into the position previously occupied by the handkerchief. The top of the bag is then folded over.
The performer now loads a duplicate handkerchief into the pistol, and, having disposed of it in the usual way, fires in the direction of the bag. He then unfolds the bag and shakes out the handkerchief, being careful to hold the watch so that it does not fall at the same time. He then crumples up the paper in his hands, and in the act of doing so tears out the watch, which is forthwith palmed, the paper being thrown away.
The box, which should be suspended with two cords over pulleys, is then lowered; and when taking it in his hands to place it on the table the performer is able to secretly attach the watch to a swivel hook which is hanging on the side most remote from the audience. This swivel hook is attached to the ribbon round the rabbit's neck, the arrangement being as follows:—The ribbon is tied round the rabbit, which is then placed in the smallest box, the ribbon being allowed to hang outside the box when the lid is closed. The box is then placed in the next larger one, the ribbon still being allowed to hang outside. This is continued until the ribbon is left hanging on the outside of the last box.
The solution will now be clear. As the boxes are removed one after the other the watch is suspended behind that last exposed; and when the rabbit is taken out it will be impossible to tell that the watch was not actually removed from the same box.
The Magical Production of Flowers.—Whenever possible, it is always best to lead up to an elaborate trick with a succession of smaller illusions of the same nature. This is well illustrated in the "Marvelous production of Flowers," which in good hands is a most pleasing and mysterious experiment. Flower tricks always take well, especially with the feminine part of the audience, and ambitious amateurs should strive to have at least one good illusion of this character on their programmes. The magician comes forward, with the announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen, I notice that in my hurry I have neglected to provide myself with the customary bottonhole bouquet, but, fortunately, I have here a quantity of magic seed capable of producing a rose garden if required." Show a small box, which is supposed to contain the seed, while in reality it is empty. "You see I have only to place a single seed here in my buttonhole and after breathing on it a moment, to supply the necessary heat, I touch it with my wand and instantly we have a beautiful rose. Now, if some gentleman will kindly loan me a silk hat for a moment, I will show you a method by which bouquets may be produced while you wait. I only have to place the hat over this glass goblet, which, you see, is quite free from deception, and here we have a handsome bouquet." Remove the hat and find the goblet still empty. "How is this? Ah, I remember now, I neglected to put any of the magic seed in the goblet. I will just put in a pinch of various kinds and try again." Place hat over the glass again and instantly raise it, and discover a large bouquet. "You perceive the seed acts instantaneously."
While saying this brush the hat carefully and walk down as if to return it, still holding the box of seed. Once among your audience you exclaim, "What is that? You don't believe me? Why, see here; by just putting a pinch of the seed into this hat and breathing on it, thus, I will produce bouquets for all present." Show hat nearly full of small bouquets and distribute them. Then return hat saying: "I thank you, sir, for the use of your hat, which seems particularly fitted for raising flowers."
Now for the explanation:—To prepare for producing a flower in the buttonhole, take a piece of black elastic cord about a foot in length and put one end of it through the centre of an artificial rose, from which the stem has been removed, knotting the end to keep it from slipping through. Pass the other end through the buttonhole, also through a small hole made in the coat just behind the buttonhole, and then down and fasten to the suspender button on the back of your trousers. Draw the flower away from the buttonhole and conceal it under the left armpit, and as you touch the spot with the wand raise the left arm slightly, freeing the flower, which will instantly fly to the buttonhole.After borrowing the hat place it over the glass, as above, and after removing let the brim rest on the table a second while looking at the glass. During this brief time slip your finger into the little cardboard tube which serves as a handle to the bouquet, which lies on the shelf at the back of your table and just beneath the hat. By closing the fingers the bouquet is brought into the hat. (See fig. 47). This takes only a fraction of a second, and as all are looking for the bouquet in the bouquets, which are tied together with a weak thread and are provided with a tube like the large bouquet. When you appear to put the seed in the hat, break the thread and shake up the bouquets loosely, and they will nearly fill the hat. Of course you must keep your eyes fixed on the while loading the hat, and never allow yourself to glance toward the left hand which holds the hat, as that would give your audience a hint that something was going on in that quarter.
Fig. 48.—Production of Rose-Bushes
We now come to the production of rose-bushes from flower-pots which contain nothing but a small quantity of white sand. It is Kellar's most famous illusion. Two small tables, draped within a foot or more above the floor, are seen on the conjurer's stage. On each table is a miniature stand on which are flower-pots, (Fig. 48). After the pots have been examined by the spectators, the performer places them on the stands, and plants seeds in them. A pasteboard cone, open at both ends, is exhibited, and placed for a second over flower-pot No. 1. When it is removed a green sprig is seen, which the magician declares has just sprouted. He then places the cone over flower-pot No. 2. Removing it a full grown rosebush appears, covered with buds and roses in full bloom. A second rose-bush is then produced from flower-pot No. 1. The roses are culled and presented to the ladies in the audience. The following is an explanation of the trick:
The tables are open at the back, the drapery not extending completely around them. Attached to the leg of each table is a small shelf, which is of course concealed by the drapery, (Fig. 49). The bushes are stumps, to the branches of which are tied the roses. Each bush has as a base a circular piece of lead, which fits into the flower-pot. The bushes are suspended inside of cones, (Fig. 49 a) which are placed on the secret shelves above described. The performer covers the first pot with the cone in his hand, and drops from his palm the green sprig which sticks into the sand. As attention is being called to the
Fig. 49.—Table for Flower Trick sprout, the magician drops the empty cone, just shown, down behind the table over the prepared cone and rose-bush and brings them up under cover. The loaded cone fits closely into the empty one, but as an additional security is held in place by the fingers of the performer. He goes to the second table and places the cone over the flower-pot. The rosebush is allowed to drop into the pot, the thread which fastens it having been detached. The bush is now shown. As soon as the cone is removed the hand naturally and carelessly drops behind with it over the next prepared cone on the shelf, and the performer produces a rose-bush from the first flower-pot. He now has three cones, one inside of the other. To facilitate the picking up of the cones in succession the back part of each table top is cut out in crescent shape.
Magic Incubation.—To produce a quantity of eggs from an empty handkerchief is a favorite
Fig. 50.—Magic Incubation
Fig. 51.—Incubation Trick
egg used during the experiment.
The Wizard's Omelet.—The recipes for making a magical omelet are numerous and varied. Some magicians produce the eggs from the mouth of a negro assistant following the example of Alexander Herrmann, and make the omelet in a borrowed hat. I once saw a clown in a French circus produce an omelet in a small frying-pan, without using eggs at all—or more properly speaking, without the apparent use of eggs. He stirred his wand about in the pan, holding the latter over a spirit lamp, and presently turned out into a dish an excellent omelet, smoking hot and very palatable. He cut up the omelet and passed it around among the audience. Those who partook of it pronounced it to be delicious and worthy of the chef of the Hotel Grand. This is the way the trick is accomplished: There is no preparation about the frying-pan; that is all fair and square, as well as round. It may be examined by the spectators ad libitum. Not so the magic wand, which is hollow and filled with the contents of several eggs. One end of the wand has an opening which is stopped up with a piece of butter. When the pan is heated the butter melts and the beaten-up eggs run out of the wand and are speedily metamorphosed into an omelet. The stirring of the pan with the wand, supposed to be a part of the conjurer's performance, is really necessary to the trick. The wand is usually made of tin. It must be an exact imitation of the wooden wand used during the course of the entertainment.
The Wonderful Production of Ribbons At The Finger-Tips.—This is an excellent little trick and one very suitable as an introduction to a complete "production" trick, where objects of ever-increasing size, in a compressed condition, are produced under cover of similar objects, of a smaller size, but displayed to the best advantage. The performer having shown both hands unmistakably empty, commences to pull yard after yard of real colored silk ribbon from the extreme tips of the fingers.
The secret depends upon the little accessory illustrated in Fig. 52. This is a shield made to fit the second finger of the right hand, provided with a lid to keep the four coils in position, also with a corresponding number of slots on the front through which the ribbon may be
Fig. 52.—The Accessorywithdrawn. Each piece of ribbon should be about two yards long and of a width to readily pass the slot. Ribbon drawn from the apparatus when in position, see Fig. 53, will seem to come from the finger-tips.
After a quantity of ribbon has been produced in this manner, the magician may very well bring out a larger supply from his vest
Fig. 53.—Production of Ribbon under cover of gathering up the mass of material. An excellent winding up of the trick would be the production of a dove from breast pocket.
Japanese Bird Vanish.—The old Mouchoir du Diable, or Devil's Handkerchief, for vanishing small objects will be known to the majority of my Production readers: at the best it was but a clumsy expedient for producing a magical disappearance, and on that account was very little, if ever used.
The New Devil's Handkerchief, as used by Japanese conjurers to cause the disappearance of a bird, will, on the contrary, I feel sure, be found of practical utility to the magical fraternity. In practice it is merely held by the four corners, ostensibly in the most careless manner possible, and any object as an egg, ball, orange, bird, etc., dropped into the bag thus formed instantly disappears, the handkerchief being immediately shaken out and both sides shown.
Fig. 54.—Bag for VanishingThis seeming prodigy is thus explained.—Two handkerchiefs, preferably of soft silk and rather large (neck handkerchiefs for instance), are sewn all round their with the exception of a portion at one corner as shown by the dotted lines in Fig. 54. The handkerchiefs are also sewn together from the said corner to the centre as further indicated by the dotted lines in the figure. A bag is thus formed into which the object is actually dropped. The introduction of the object into the bag is facilitated by the insertion of a couple of whalebone strips in the silk at the mouth of the bag. These strips keep the mouth of the bag closed until pressure be applied at their ends, when the bag will open, receive the object, and, on the pressure being removed, will close again, keeping all secure.
New Fire Trick.—The writer is indebted to Mr. Martinka for this novel experiment. A thin glass tube, in the end of which is secured a small piece of metallic potassium, is pasted between two pieces of tissue paper. So prepared the paper is shown from both sides, being apparently a plain piece of white paper. This is rolled into a cylinder, not unlike an exaggerated cigarette. The performer opens his mouth to show that nothing is concealed there, and then proceeds to blow through the paper tube, when the far end bursts into a flame of more or less intensity.
Explanation.—While pretending to blow through the paper cylinder, the performer brings some saliva into the glass tube. When blown through the tube, the saliva comes in contact with the potassium, which ignites and sets fire to the paper. To produce a larger flame and sparks, a small piece of gun cotton, sprinkled with powdered aluminum can be placed near the end of the tube. The potassium metal has to be kept in a bottle and covered with kerosene. Whenever required for the trick a piece is cut off with a knife. Care must be taken not to make the mistake of putting the wrong end of the tube in the mouth. When the paper bursts into flame it is crumpled into a ball and dropped on a plate. The thin glass tube is crushed into small bits by the above operation, and is not seen by the audience.
The Ring On The Wand.—A very pretty and graceful parlor trick is the ring on the wand. Suspend a plain gold ring to the centre of a handkerchief by means of a short piece of silk thread. Come forward with the handkerchief in your pocket, and borrow a ring as much like your own as possible. Pretend to wrap up this ring in your handkerchief, but substitute for it the fake ring. Give the handkerchief with ring in it to some one to hold and ask him if he still feels the ring contained therein. He will reply in the affirmative. You now get your wand from a table. While doing this take the opportunity to slip the borrowed ring which you have in your hand over one end of the wand, keeping it concealed. Approaching the individual who holds the handkerchief request him to place it over the middle of your wand which you hold horizontally by its centre, having slid your hand (with the concealed ring) along its smooth surface. Now request two spectators to hold either end of the wand tightly. Explain that you will cause the ring in the handkerchief to appear upon the wand, despite the fact that the latter is firmly held by two persons. Remove your hand from the wand and take hold of the handkerchief. With a hey presto, give the handkerchief a quick jerk and shake it out. The borrowed ring on the wand will spin around in lively fashion, as if it had really left the handkerchief and by some magical means appeared upon the wand. Your handkerchief with the fake ring attached must be pocketed as speedily as possible. It might be well to borrow a plain white handkerchief from some one in the audience and exchange it for your prepared handkerchief.
Disappearing Glass of Water.—This clever illusion is a favorite with many performers, and is particularly adapted to drawing-room entertainments. It was invented by Colonel Stodare, originator of the famous "Sphinx" trick. Since Stodare's time many improvements have been made in it, one idea, emanating from the fertile brain of Dr. Elliott. Stitch two silk handkerchiefs, preferably of a dark color, together in
Fig. 55.—Silk Handkerchiefthe manner shown in the diagram (Fig. 55), having first inserted in the triangular space between them a disc of thin tin, of the same diameter as the mouth of the glass used. Now to the middle
Fig. 56.—Fake on Finger of the under surface of the tin fake solder a little band of tin just large enough to snugly fit over the tip of the second or index finger of your left hand, (Fig. 56). This constitutes Elliott's improvement. Exhibit the handkerchief to the spectators, calling attention to the fact that it contains nothing. Twist it rope fashion, and pull it through your left hand, thereby demonstrating that nothing could possibly be concealed in it. This you are enabled to accomplish by grasping the tin fake and retaining it in the right hand. Finally shake out the handkerchief, releasing the disc, which will now fall to the centre of the handkerchief and be kept in position by the triangular stitching. At the rear end of your table
Fig. 57.—Handkerchief in Position you have a glass filled with water. Spread the handkerchief over the glass, bringing the tin shape over the mouth of the same. Lift up the fake, and under cover of the handkerchief lower the glass upon the shelf behind the table. The handkerchief, distended by the tin disc, will present the appearance of having the glass of water under it. Now step forward as though holding the glass of water. Place the left hand beneath the handkerchief, and quickly insert the index finger into the little band soldered beneath the disc, the right hand bearing down at the time to facilitate matters. To an audience it will seem that you hold the glass of water on the palm of your left hand, presenting a very illusory appearance indeed, (Fig. 57). To vanish the glass completely all you have to do is to catch one corner of the handkerchief with your right hand, give it a sudden flick in the air, which releases the hold of the finger of the left hand, when lo and behold! the glass of water has melted away. To reproduce it, take a duplicate glass of water from your coat-tail pocket. "But!" says the dubious reader. Ah, we are coming to that! There is no danger of spilling the water, for the mouth of your glass is tightly closed with a rubber cover. All you have to do is to remove the cover before exhibiting the glass.
Anti-Gravity Wand.—The use of the wand has been sufficiently explained to the student. In calling attention to the fact of its being endowed with peculiar properties, similar to the magic wand of Bulwer's "Coming Race," the conjurer might execute a few tricks with it as a prologue to his programme. The "Anti-gravity wand," invented by that clever magician, Dr. Elliott, would prove useful in the above instance, (Fig. 58). It consists of a piece of brass tubing made to correspond with the performer's ordinary wand but with square ends. In one end of this tubing is inserted a cylindrical lead weight made to fit nicely. At each end of the weight is glued a piece of felt, so as to prevent noise while the fake is working. With this trick wand you can apparently defy the law of gravity. It is divided
Fig. 58.—The Anti-Gravity Wandinternally into three compartments, two small ones at either end, and a larger one in the centre, by means of the partitions, which do not, however, extend completely across the wand. A quantity of quicksilver is inserted in the wand and the ends sealed up. In the normal condition, this will remain in the central space, but if the wand is tilted either way, the mercury will flow into the little pocket at the lower end. Should this end be laid upon the table, the weight of the fluid metal would more than counterbalance the remaining portion of the wand, and it would therefore be suspended apparently in space. By reversing the wand, the other end would perform a like phenomenon.