Old And Sold Antiques Auction & Marketplace
Antiques Digest Browse Auctions Appraisal Home

Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Rope, String and Ribbon Tricks

[Fundamental Tricks]  [Card Tricks]  [Tricks With Coins]  [Mind-Reading Tricks]  [Rope, String and Ribbon Tricks]  [Impromptu Tricks]  [After-Dinner Tricks]  [Odd Tricks]  [Advanced Tricks]  [Do-It-Yourself Magic]  [More Magic Tricks] 


This is a Houdini-type trick in which you escape. You will need a handkerchief and a piece of clothesline about 6 feet long.

Have a spectator tie your wrists together by tying each wrist with an end of the handkerchief. Put your hands together, but don't cross them.

Now have him pass the rope between your wrists, and pull the rope so that its center is between your wrists, while he holds the ends. Tell him to hold the ends tightly so you cannot escape.

Turn away from the audience, and as you do this, get a hold on the rope and pass a loop of this through the circle of the handkerchief around your right wrist. Push this loop through from the inside, out towards your hands. Pull the loop up to the front, pass it over your hand and down the back of your hand. A slight tug will pull it out of the handkerchief at the back of your hand, and you will be free.

Hold the rope for a moment as you turn back to the audience. The audience sees the spectator still holding the ends of the rope, and your wrists still securely tied. Then drop the rope on the floor. This sounds quite simple, but it is really very baffling to the audience.


You show a piece of brown twine and have a spectator cut it in two. You hold the pieces far apart so that the audience can see clearly that the pieces are actually cut. By making a magic pass the string is restored.

You need a length of ordinary brown wrapping twine and some beeswax, sometimes called "magician's wax." Beforehand taper each end of the twine to a point with sharp scissors or a knife, and apply a daub of wax to each end. By rubbing it well, the wax will become soft, and it may be easily worked into the twine.

Now show the string, and have a spectator cut it in half with a pair of scissors while you hold the ends. Hold your hands far apart, one piece in each hand so that the audience can clearly see that you have two pieces. Switch the twine from hand to hand so that you end up with the waxed end of each up, one piece in each hand.

Now bring your hands together so that the waxed ends meet, and allow them to overlap. Squeeze the ends together tightly and roll them together between your thumb and fingers. This will cement the ends together because of the wax. Now take one of the free ends and hold it up next to the waxed ends, and pretend you are going to tie a knot. Say: "Most people would tie the pieces together, but a magician just drops the center and the string is restored." Let the center drop, still holding the one end in your hand and show that the string is restored.


You tie a spectator with two lengths of rope. You and someone from the audience hold the ends of these ropes. As you pronounce some magic words, the spectator walks through the ropes and is free.

In advance, get two pieces of soft rope about 6 or more feet in length. Lay the ropes together on a table, and tie a piece of thin white cotton thread around both ropes in their centers. Roll the two ropes as one, into a neat bundle. Now your trick is ready to perform.

Ask two spectators to come up and help you. Unroll the two ropes, and hold them up by the ends. Have the first spectator stand at the center of your stage, and the second at the far side. Hand the ends of two of the ropes to the second spectator while you hold the other ends, without letting him see the thread in the centers. Ask him to pull to see if the ropes are strong and then drop his ends.

Take the ropes by their centers, your hand hiding the thread, and walk behind the spectator in the middle of the stage. Hold the ropes by the centers, at the back, and slightly separate them, but do not break the thread. Apparently, bring the ends of both ropes around from the back to the front of the spectator. What you actually do is to bring the two ends of the same rope around one side and the two ends of the other rope around the other side of the spectator.

Now tie a half-knot in front of the spectator using both ropes as one. Have the other spectator hold one set of ends and you hold the other set with the tied spectator between you.

Ask the spectator holding the ropes to drop either one of his ends, and you drop one of your ends. It doesn't matter which end is dropped. Now take the two dropped ends and simply cross-do not tie-them, giving one of your ends to the spectator and taking one of his. Tell the spectator holding the ropes to hold tightly, and when you signal him, to pull hard. The spectator who is tied is to step back two steps on the signal.

Give the signal, and pull on your two ends. The rope will seem to penetrate the body of the spectator and he will be free. The ropes will hang dawn in front of him held by you and the other spectator. What happens is that when you pull, the thread breaks, and the ropes merely slide around the spectator's body. Have the spectators look over the ropes. Be sure to ask the spectator if it hurt when the ropes went through his body!


You are able to place a solid ring on a string while the ends of it are in full view of the audience.

Use a piece of string about 3 feet long and stretch it out on a table. Make a loop on the string and place a safety pin through both sides of the loop. Borrow a finger ring and lay it on the table next to the loop. Now, place a handkerchief over the ring and string, leaving the ends of the string in view.

Put your hands under the handkerchief and open the pin; release one side of the loop and close the pin again. Take the ring, and thread it over the safety pin and enclose the other side of the original loop in the pin. Place your index finger in the new loop formed by the ring and take your other hand out from under the handkerchief.

Take the end of the string on the side nearest your uncovered hand, and pull it so that the other end goes under the handkerchief and out on the other side. Be sure and hold your finger securely in the loop as the string is pulled, as this action threads the ring onto the string. In other words, the loop must pull through your finger easily, so that it does not stop the action of pulling on the string. Now show how it is impossible to remove the ring without opening the safety pin and sliding the ring off the end.


A large ring or bracelet is examined by the audience, and your wrists are tied together with a piece of rope. The ring is handed to you and you turn your back for a moment. When you turn around, the ring is on the rope. The rope must be untied to release the ring.

You will need a 3-foot length of rope, and two duplicate rings or bracelets large enough to slip over your hand easily.

Before you start, slip one of the rings over your left wrist and slide it up your arm under your coat sleeve out of sight.

Let the audience examine the ring to prove that it is ordinary. Have your wrists tied together by a spectator, leaving about a foot or two of rope between your wrists. Then take the ring and turn your back. Slip this ring into an inside pocket of your coat and bring the duplicate ring down your arm and onto the rope. Turn around and show the ring securely on the rope. Have the knots examined, and also the ring. Show that it is impossible to remove the ring without untying the knots. Have someone untie you, and thank him for helping you.


Thread a ring on a string. Two spectators hold the ends of it and when a handkerchief is thrown over the ring, you are able to remove the ring!

You can use two duplicate rings (finger ring size) or two skeleton type keys, or two Chinese coins with holes in their centers.

We will suppose you use the rings, although the action is the same for the coins or keys. Beforehand place one ring in your left coat pocket. Have a spectator examine the other ring and string. Ask him to thread the ring on the string, hold one end, and give the other end to another spectator to hold. Throw a handkerchief over the ring and string, and as you do this, remove the other ring from your pocket, in the finger-palm position, page 9. Place both hands under the handkerchief and ask the spectators to hold tightly to their ends of the string but to give you some slack.

Take the duplicate ring and push a loop of string through its center, and loop it over the top so that it will stay on the string. At first glance it will look as if it were threaded. Place your right hand over the ring that is actually on the string and tell one spectator it is necessary to swing the string back and forth. Slide your right hand to the end of the string and take the end from the spectator for just a moment to show him how to swing the string. Hand it back to him, and as you do, slide the ring off the end of the string and you can put it in your pocket. Remove the handkerchief, and say you thought they might like to see the trick done without the handkerchief. Place your hand over the ring as you remove the handkerchief with the other hand. Take the loop off and the ring will appear to melt right through the string. Let the spectators examine the ring and string once again.


By the use of a magic ring a piece of twine is restored after having been cut in two.

Take a 3-foot piece of twine or wrapping cord and lay it out on a table. Separate the strands of string in the center and pull them out in a direction perpendicular to the twine. Twist them so they look like the ends of the twine. Now pick up the string by the middle and pull the two twisted strands so they look like the real ends. Wax the real ends as you did in the trick "A Piece of String," page 49. Roll the ends together so that they look like the middle of the string. What you have done now is to make the center look like the ends and the ends like the center.

To begin the trick, hold the string by the fake ends (those you have pulled out from the center) in your left hand, your thumb and fingers hiding the joint. Let the waxed "center" hang down. Have a spectator cut the part that hangs down with a pair of scissors, right through both pieces at once. Put the cut piece in your pocket so no one can see the waxed ends.

Bring out your "magic finger ring," any ring will do, and thread it over one of the cut ends, drawing it up to the twisted end in your hand. Lay the ring and twisted ends in your left palm and close your hand over them. Have a spectator hold one cut end in each hand. Say that if you opened your hand the ring would fall, but he is to pull gently, but firmly on each end. As he does so, run your hand, with the ring, back and forth along the string to flatten the strands. Remove your hand, and show that the string is restored and the ring is hanging on it.


A rope or string is cut in two, and restored.

Use a piece of rope or string about 3 feet long. Cut a 3- or 4-inch piece from one end. Loop this small piece, and place it in your left hand in the finger-palm position, with the loop part towards your fingers.

When you are ready to start the trick, with the small loop in your hand, hold up the large piece, one end in each hand. Now take the center of the rope in your right hand and place it in your left with the ends hanging down. You will seem to pull up the center of the rope through your left fist with your right hand, but you really pull up the small loop so that it appears to be the center of the long piece. The real center of the long piece will be held by your third and fourth left fingers, while the small piece is held by your thumb and first finger.

With your right hand, hand a pair of scissors to a spectator and ask him to cut the rope in half. After he has done this, take the scissors from him and cut away all remaining pieces of the small loop. Take the rope by the ends, one in each hand, and let the center swing down, showing that the rope is restored.


A large ring is thrown into a knot while the ends of a piece of rope are held in your hands.

Make a single, simple, large loose knot in a piece of rope about 4 feet in length. The knot should be in the center of the rope, while one end is held in each hand. The loop formed by the knot in the center of the rope should be larger than the ring you use.

Use a fairly large ring or bracelet and let the spectators examine it. Pick up the ring in one hand, and say that you are going to try to hang it on the rope. You are still holding the ends of the rope, one end in each hand. Make a throwing motion at the knot with the ring. As you do this, slip the end of the rope in your hand through the ring without letting anyone see you do it. Just keep your fingers closed over the ring and rope. When you actually throw the ring, be sure it goes through the loop of the knot. Now, when you pull on the ends of the rope, the ring will be tied on the rope.

This requires a little practice, but if you make the knot large enough it will work easily.


Your wrists are tied tightly behind your back, but you are able to escape almost instantly, or you may appear to be free, but when the knots are examined, you seem to be securely tied.

Have two spectators come up to assist you. Have one stand on your right and one on your left. Face the audience and extend your left arm, palm up in front of you_ Have one of the spectators tie your left wrist securely in the center of the rope with a tight square (double) knot. This will leave the ends of the rope hanging down.

Now place your hands behind your back and as you do this, pick up a loop of slack with your left fingers. Hold this securely between your wrists, by placing your right wrist under the knot on your left wrist. This is all done very quickly. Now turn your back to the audience, and have the ends of the rope brought up over top of your right wrist and tied tightly.

It now appears as if you are tightly tied. Turn around and face the audience. You will find that your right wrist can be instantly released and replaced in the loop of slack.

When you replace your hand in the loop, bend your left fingers inward, pick up the slack, give it a twist and place it against your left wrist. Now press your wrists together, and hold the rope in place.

After you have been tied, stand facing the audience between your two assistants. Have them stand close to you. Release your right hand from the loop, and reach out and touch the spectator on your right, on his right shoulder. He will turn around, and of course the audience will see your hand and laugh. As soon as you have tapped him on the shoulder, replace your hand in the loop and turn around and show that you are still securely tied.

Repeat this one or two times, and then walk over to the right side of the other spectator and repeat this with him. Always show your hands tied after you have tapped one of the spectators.

To end the trick, either have your hands untied by the spectators, or release yourself. I think it is better to have yourself untied as it makes the trick more mysterious.

The best kind of rope to use for this trick is a piece of sash cord about three or four feet long. You should handle it before doing this trick so that it will become soft and pliable.


You borrow a ring and cause it to vanish. Then push a pencil through the sides of a paper bag and the ring is discovered on the pencil.

Take a cheap ring and place it in the corner of a heavy handkerchief. Sew a small square of material that matches the handkerchief over the ring so that a closed pocket is formed, concealing the ring. Have a small paper bag of thin paper lying on your table with its end open. Have a long pencil in your outside coat pocket.

Borrow a ring from the audience, and place it under the special handkerchief. Get the corner with the sewn-in ring under the center of the handkerchief and let a spectator hold this. He will think he is holding the borrowed ring. As you remove your hand from under the handkerchief, keep the borrowed ring in your hand concealing it from view.

Pick up the paper bag with the hand that holds the ring. Put your fingers inside the bag with the ring, but keep your thumb on the outside. With the ring between your fingers and the side of the bag you can let the audience look into the bag and see that it is empty. Take the pencil in the other hand and push it through the side nearest the ring, at about the center of the bag, and get the ring on the pencil. Continue pushing the pencil through the bag so that it comes out on the other side of it. Have a spectator hold one end of the pencil in each hand, with the bag hanging down between the ends of the pencil. Close the bag by twisting its top. Now grasp the handkerchief by one corner and whip it from the spectator's hand. Shake it to show that the ring has vanished. Go over to the spectator who is holding the bag and pencil and grasp the bag by its bottom. Pull it quickly downward, tearing the paper away from the pencil. The ring will be found hanging on the pencil while the spectator still holds the ends of the pencil. Return the ring to its owner.


A hair ribbon is cut into several pieces, and these are dropped to prove the ribbon is really cut. You then restore it.

Use a fairly heavy ribbon, a yard or more in length, and 1 inch or more wide. Cut off about 5 inches from one end. Pin this short piece to the center of the long piece with straight pins. Use one pin at each end of the short piece. It will look like the original ribbon when it is held up, and the piece won't show.

To begin the trick, take the ribbon by its center and draw it up through your closed left fist by its center. As you do this, the short piece will buckle. That is the piece that you pull out of the top of your fist. The audience, of course, believes the short piece they see is the center of the long ribbon. (This is similar to the trick, "Cut and Restored Rope or String," page 57.)

Cut in half the short loop of ribbon that sticks up from your fist. Cut it several more times, letting the small pieces drop. Continue cutting until the short piece is cut down to the pins. Pretend to adjust the ribbon, and pull out the pins-just let them drop on the floor, unnoticed.

Now all you need to do is reach down with your right hand and grasp one of the ends of the long ribbon. Let the center of the ribbon drop out of your left fist, and the ribbon will hang dawn, completely restored.