Magic Trick: The Three Handkerchiefs

When the performer begins there are on his table three cut glass tumblers and three silk handkerchiefs, a red, a white, and a blue. When the handkerchiefs have been examined, so that the people of the audience may be satisfied they are not double nor prepared in any way, each is dropped into a separate tumbler. The tumbler containing the blue handkerchief is placed on a little pedestal, so that it may more easily be seen, and over the mouth is laid a plain glass disk, just a trifle larger in diameter than the top of the tumbler. On this the performer stands the tumbler that contains the white handkerchief and covers it with a second disk, and on this goes the third tumbler, in which is the red handkerchief. Over this pyramid of tumblers is dropped a cardboard tube open at both ends, and long enough to cover the tumblers completely.

Waving his hands over the pyramid and repeating some cabalistic words, the performer lifts the tube, and to the wonder of the audience it is seen that the tumblers have changed their positions. The one with the blue handkerchief is on top, the one with the red is in the middle, and the one with the white is at the bottom.

The tumblers are now placed in their original positions: the one with the red handkerchief on top, that with the white in the middle, and the third with the blue handkerchief at the bottom. They are covered again with the tube and when, shortly after, it is taken off, the tumblers have changed places again, the white handkerchief is now on top, the blue, in the middle and the red at the bottom.

The glasses are now placed so that the one containing the white handkerchief is at the bottom, the one with the red handkerchief in the middle, and the one with the blue handkerchief on top. Again they are covered with the tube and when it is removed for the third time, another change has occurred. The glass that was on top is now in the middle, the one that was in the middle is now at the bottom, and the one that was at the bottom is on top. To conclude, the glasses are arranged so that the blue handkerchief is on top, the red in the middle and the white at the bottom. For the last time the tube is slipped over them and when it is taken off the glasses are seen to be in their original positions.

As our readers may guess, each of the tumblers has a polished, plated brass partition like that described in the preceding trick, the edges being concealed by the pattern cut on the glass. Behind the mirror that is to hold the red handkerchief is concealed a blue handkerchief; back of the partition in the tumbler intended for the white handkerchief is a red one, and back of the third tumbler, a white handkerchief.

The tube is without preparation, but the pedestal on which the tumblers stand has for its top a disk that revolves on a pivot. A black silk thread operated by a concealed assistant causes this to make a half revolution, in this way turning the tumblers just as the performer is covering the tumblers with the tube.

With a little study the ingenious conjurer may arrange the pedestal so that he can turn it himself and dispense with the aid of an assistant. A pedestal might be made to resemble a box, which would be a very natural thing for a performer to use. The revolving disk might be arranged where the lid would be.

Index of Magic Tricks | Previous Trick: A Succession of Surprises | Next Trick: A Silk Handkerchief Placed in a Cornucopia Disappears, and is Found Tied Around a Candle