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Spirit Tricks - Magic Tricks
( Article orginally published July 1927 )
Under the classification of "Spirit Tricks" come those tricks which closely resemble socalled psychic phenomena.
These tricks should be presented only for entertainment, to demonstrate an interesting phase of modern magic.
Tricks of this type are very popular nowadays, and are well-suited to the impromptu performer, because they are supposed to be performed in the midst of a circle, or in a private home. Therefore they are very useful to the amateur magician.
The performance of such tricks and the fact that people can be mystified by them has no bearing upon the subject of psychic phenomena. That is a subject which must be carefully investigated by trained observers, and a detailed discussion of such matters is beyond the scope of this volume.
1. Two Messages.
Two slates are shown, one at a time, and are placed together. A message appears on each slate.
A cardboard flap is used, painted black to match the slates. A message is on each slate, but one slate is lying with the message down and the other is covered with the flap.
The magician shows the covered slate, and lays it flap side up. He sets the second slate upon it and turns them both over. Then he removes the first slate and lays it with the message down. The flap now covers the message on the second slate, which may be shown on both sides. The second slate is laid on a table and the flap falls there. Then the two slates are quickly placed together, the messages coming between. Someone holds them and when they are taken apart, a message is seen on each slate.
2. Pocket Spirit Slates.
This is an excellent effect that can be shown anywhere-a great advantage for a trick of this type.
Two miniature slates are used. They are about two inches long by an inch across. They are shown blank on both sides; then they are placed together and encircled by a rubber band.
When the slates are opened, writing is seen on one of them. After the message has appeared the slates stand a close examination.
These slates can be made easily from car board, using several thicknesses of color cardboard for the borders. But besides the slates, a "flap" is required, as in the case the standard spirit slate trick. The flap iE loose piece of black cardboard which covc the message written on one of the slates, a makes the slate appear blank.
With these miniature slates, anyone can dispose of the cardboard flap without difficulty. The unprepared slate is shown on both sid Then the prepared slate is shown and is la on the left hand with the flap side down. The right hand picks it up and places it upon the unprepared slate. This action leaves the tiny flap behind in the left hand. The left hand immediately goes to the pocket and brings forth a rubber band to gird the slates. Thus the flap is secretly left in the pocket.
Another system is to wipe off the slates with a handkerchief, taking the tiny flap away with the handkerchief. The flap simply drops in the cloth where it is easily concealed.
The slates are not necessarily limited to the size mentioned; they may be between three and four inches long and from two to three wide.
Very neat slates may be made from black fibre, with red fibre borders. Standard slates are not, of course, made in so small a size.
3. Single Spirit Slate.
In this method, a message is obtained on a single slate, of fairly large size. It is shown blank on both sides and is placed in a paper bag. When it is removed, the message is on it; and the bag is crumpled and thrown away.
A flap is used; but it is made of a sheet of black tissue paper, which is not transparent. A message is written on one side of the slate, and it is covered with the tissue paper flap.
Both sides of the slate may then be shown; when the slate is put in the bag, the tissue paper falls off. When the slate is removed, there is the message, and the bag is easily rolled up and thrown away carrying the paper flap ".
Care must be taken to keep the paper covering on the slate while the slate is bv shown. A few dabs of wax or soap will help this; but too much adhesive should not be used, otherwise the paper cannot be pushed off easily. The fingers can help to remove paper when the slate goes in the bag.
Carbon paper makes an excellent substitute for black tissue.
4. The Spirit Bell.
The magician shows a small bell with a handle. He holds a cloth in front of the bell, and the bell mysteriously rings.
The bell has a hole in the handle, through which runs a piece of black thread. The ends of the thread are attached to corners of handkerchief. When the handkerchief is held in front of the bell, and the upper edge of cloth is drawn taut, the bell will be raised and will begin to ring, when the magiician shakes the cloth slightly.
The ends of the thread should be loosely tied to the handkerchief so that when the magician withdraws the cloth he can detach the thread and let it run free of the bell.
Another method is to have a tiny hook or projection on the bell handle. The thread engages this when the handkerchief is placed in position, and the bell is easily released later on.
5. The Spirit Cloth.
This is another method of making bells ring behind a cloth; but besides the bell, articles are upset or tossed in the air by an unseen force. The trick must be worked quickly, as will be evident from the explanation.
On the upper right corner of the cloth, there is a bent pin. The magician stands to the left of the table upon which the articles are placed. He stretches out his right hand holding the cloth before the objects. Then he shows the other side of the cloth by extending his left hand and bringing his right hand in against his left shoulder. This allows him to quickly hook the corner of the cloth on the left shoulder of his coat. The cloth remains taut because of the extended left hand; and the right hand is free to manipulate the objects behind the cloth.
Then the right hand comes back to its corner, detaches the hook, and the cloth is shown held in both hands, as at the outset. The temporary release of the right hand cannot be served from in front.
6. Choosing a Question.
In having messages appear upon slates, magician must often decide upon something to write. For example, he can have the audience choose the name of a great man, and then the name appears upon a slate.
Or he can simply write something and seal it in an envelope; then he lets people select one of several cards with different names writtten thereon, and the chosen card will bear name that the magician has written on the card in the envelope.
But how is the proper card chosen? That is done by means of a small bag, in which magician drops cards bearing different names. The bag is easily made at home. It is like two bags sewn together-or better, an ordinary cloth bag with a cloth partition in the center. In one side are several cards all bearing the same name. When the magician holds the bag open, he spreads it so the secret side is not disclosed. The varying cards are dropped in, and the magician reopens the bag so that the secret pocket is now in view, and when anyone takes a card it must necessarily bear the desired name.
7. A Spirit Answer.
The magician brings out a book, and asks a person to insert a card anywhere he chooses, in the book, thus determining a certain page.
A sealed envelope is handed to a spectator and then the book is opened at the indicated page. A person is told to read the first line. The envelope is opened and inside is a card bearing the very words that the person has read.
Method: The book used must have a plain cover. The magician chooses a page and writes its first line on a card which he seals in an envelope. Then he inserts a card at that particular page of the book, but when he carries the book, his hand hides the projecting card. A spectator thrusts a card in at the opposite end of the book. While he is handing envelope to a person, the magician calmly turns over the book, revealing the other end with his own card projecting. The spectator thinks that it is the card he inserted, and opens the book at the right page. The magician, of course, secretly removes the spectator's card during the opening of the book.
8. Spirit Table Lifting.
This is a simple method whereby a table may apparently be lifted several feet in air. A light table must be used.
People sit around the table and rest their hands lightly upon it. The magician presses forward on the table and inserts his foot beneath one leg. He presses with one hand rectly over the leg, thus forming a clamp. When he raises his toe, the table will rise mysteriously. When the magician pushes it away from him, it will fall. The foot and the hand act as a sort of clamp that holds the table firmly.