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Table Tricks - Magic Tricks

( Article orginally published July 1927 )

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There are certain tricks which are especially suited to performance at the dinner table; partly because the objects used are always there; and partly because the tricks can best be presented before a seated group.

Dinner table magic is almost an art in itself. Some tricks which are ordinarily effective cannot be presented at the table, where people are viewing `the performer from various angles, and he is at a disadvantage. Yet the dinner table is the very place where the magician is often called upon to give an impromptu performance.

Now just as there are certain tricks which cannot be shown at the table, so are there certain tricks which cannot be presented elsewhere; in other words, tricks which have been invented for the sole purpose of close-up work, with the audience on all sides.

Needless to say, the disadvantages of cramped quarters are offset by certain advantages which the performer has at the dinner table. For example, he can drop objects in his lap; and he also has an advantage in that the audience looks down from above. Therefore, the conditions of table performances allow the use of certain principles not found in other tricks.

Furthermore, spoons, knives, forks, etc., are not ordinarily good articles to use in tricks. At the dinner table, their use is appropriate.

1. The Vanishing Salt Shaker.

The magician sets a salt-shaker on the table, and covers it with a folded napkin. He lays a coin on the table and puts the shaker upon it. He lifts the shaker and the napkin, but the coin is still there.

He replaces the shaker and the napkin and suddenly strikes the napkin with his fist. It collapses. The salt shaker is gone! The magician then produces it from his inside vest pocket.

Method: In lifting the salt-shaker beneath the napkin, the magician looks at the coin for a moment, and brings his hands to the edge of the table, letting the salt-shaker fall in his lap. He replaces the folded napkin which 'retains the shape of the shaker. When he strikes the napkin, it collapses. Reaching in his lap, the magician pushes the shaker up under his vest, and then produces it by reaching down in the top of his vest.

If desired, he can merely bring the shaker up from beneath the table, as though it had been knocked through the wood.

2. Traveling Lumps of Sugar.

This is one of the finest of all impromptu tricks-it is admirably suited to the dinner table, and it can be learned without a great deal of practice.

The magician lays four lumps of sugar on the table, so that they form the corners of a square.

He covers two lumps of sugar, one with each hand, and wiggles his fingers. When he lifts his hands, two lumps are beneath the left, while the lump of sugar has gone from the right!

Without hesitating, the magician places one hand over a single lump, and the other hand over the two lumps. Again the single lump passes, and three lumps appear together!

The last single lump is covered, and all four lumps appear together!

The process is immediately reversed. The four lumps are covered with one hand, and the other hand is placed at one of the empty corners of the imaginary square. When the hands are lifted, one lump is back at the corner, and only three remain in the group. This is repeated, until there is a lump at every corner. Then the hands are shown empty and the sugar may be examined.

Method: We will call the lumps of sugar A, B, C, and D. Besides them, there is an extra lump of sugar which is hidden in the left palm. It is held there by pressure at the base of the thumb, and with a little practice it can be retained with ease.

The right hand arranges the visible lumps thus:
Everything is ready for action. Each movement must follow quickly after the before.

The right hand is placed over lump A; left over D. The fingers are wiggled, and right hand "palms" A, while the left hand leaves its lump with D. The hands are raised (without showing the palms) and lump has disappeared, two lumps being at D.

The left hand immediately covers B, while the right goes to D. The fingers are wiggled and are lifted, the left palm gripping lump B, while the right hand leaves the lump that it carried from A.

The empty right hand now covers C, wl the left hand covers the three lumps at When the hands are lifted, the right D; picks up C, and the left hand leaves the fou lump at D.

The process is immediately reversed. The left hand covers the four lumps and picks up one, while the right hand deposits a lump at C. The left hand goes to B, and leaves its lump there while the right hand is covering the three lumps and removing one from D. Then the right hand goes to A and leaves the lump there while the left picks up one of the two lumps at D.

The left hand is lifted an instant before the right; and as the eyes of the spectators naturally go to the right hand, the left hand drops the odd lump of sugar in the lap or in the pocket.

3. The Magnetic Knife.

A table knife is placed against the palm of the hand. It remains there, as though magnetized to the hand, which is held in a vertical position, with the fingers pointing straight forward.

To do this, you need the proper kind of a knife and you must study the correct position. Set the knife point downward against the fingers of the left hand. The knife must have a heavy handle, with a bulge where the blade starts; and this bulge, or projection, rests upon the joint of the left little finger. The hand is not quite vertical; it is tilted backward imperceptibly. The weight of the handle rests against the fingers, and the knife firmly in position, although its situation seems precarious.

4. The Obedient Spoon.

A spoon is placed upon the tips of fingers, and it remains there for a short time. At the performer's command, the spoon suddenly turns over.

The spoon has a hump in the handle; it is set on the fingers so that the hump is downward. The spoon is actually balanced there, but it is not difficult to keep it from turning over.

When the hand is tilted imperceptibly, spoon loses its balance, and turns overparently of its own accord.

5. The Jumping Candle Flame.

This trick can be performed anywhere; when there are candles on the table, it m a good dinner-table trick.

The magician lights a match from the candle flame. Then he blows out the candle. A moment later he holds the match above the candle-wick, and to the surprise of everyone, a portion of the flame leaves the match and jumps to the candle, where it immediately lights the wick!

The secret lies in watching the curl of thin smoke that goes up from the candle immediately after it has been blown out. Set the match flame so that it encounters this slender stream of smoke, and the flame will travel down to the wick in a most astonishing fashion. Sometimes a candle may be reignited this way several minutes after it has been extinguished; and the flame will often travel a distance of several inches.

6. Vanishing Salt.

A napkin ring is laid upon the table, and salt is poured into it. A small piece of cardboard is laid over the ring, and the ring is lifted. The salt is gone!

Method: Take a circular piece of white paper and glue it to the bottom of the napkin ring. This paper matches the table-cloth and will not be detected. When salt is poured in and the ring lifted, the salt comes along. The piece of cardboard hides the salt in the ring. The ring should be pocketed, with the salt.

7. The Enchanted Seed.

A grape seed is dropped into a glass of ginger-ale. It sinks to the bottom of the liquid.

At the magician's command, the seed rises to the top of the glass, and remains there until he tells it to sink. Down it goes again, and comes up when it is told to rise.

This is a very curious and interesting experiment. It is caused by the air-bubbles in the ginger-ale. The seed naturally sinks, but as soon as a few bubbles cluster around it, it comes to the top. There the air-bubbles escape, and down goes the seed, only to rise again in a few moments.

The performer must time his commands when he has observed the bubbles forming or disappearing; yet the average onlooker will not detect the cause of the peculiar behavior of the seed.

8. The Orange to the Apple.

Changing an orange to an apple is not a difficult trick, if you know the secret. The orange is placed beneath a napkin, and when the cloth is removed, there is the apple instead.

Method: Cut an orange into quarters and carefully remove the peel. Fix them around an apple, and if you do a neat job, no one will suspect that the fruit is not a genuine orange.

When the supposed orange has been covered with the napkin, reach beneath and quickly remove the peels, carrying them away in the folds of the napkin, leaving the apple there instead.

9. The Vanishing Knife.

A table knife is wrapped in a napkin. The napkin is rolled up and then unrolled. The knife is gone!

Method: Roll the napkin around the knife, and have the handle of the knife toward the edge of the table. The napkin is rolled loosely, and in tilting it up, the knife slides out, unobserved into the lap.

Another napkin should be on the lap to keep the knife from falling to the floor.

10. Swallowing a Knife.

A. knife is placed on the table, parallel to the edge. The magician picks up the knife with both hands, and appears to swallow it The knife is gone!

This is done in picking up the knife The hands are placed upon it, finger tips to finger tips. This position is taken two or three times, and finally the hands appear to scoop up the knife; but as they do so, they slide it to the edge of the table and let it fall into the lap. The hands are immediately raised to the mouth.

If this is done neatly, all eyes will follow the hands, thinking the knife is still there.

11. The Bridge of Knives.

Using three tumblers as bases, the magician states that he can form a three-way bridge, with three knives, each one coming from its base an inverted glass.

The blades of the knives are interlocked, and the handles rest upon the tumblers.

They have been placed in their proper groups, and will be easily recognized by the reader.