Magic Trick: The Servante

At the back of the conjurer's table is usually a padded shelf technically known as a servante, a French word that means dumb waiter. The name, however, is not appropriate in this case, for so far from being dumb it answers the performer's purposes very effectually. This shelf extends nearly the whole length of the table. On it the conjurer lays such articles as he may need to pick up without being seen by the audience. He also drops on it articles he may want to get rid of. The servante is made in different shapes according to the needs and fancy of the performer. Sometimes it is only a strong paper bag reinforced by muslin strips and hung at the back of a chair. At other times it is a canvas bag fitted to a wire frame and suspended by small hooks to the back of a chair or a table. One performer, Ducrot, when entertaining in a private house uses an ingenious servante, made to resemble a handkerchief, and this he throws carelessly on top of his table. It is arranged on a small metal frame so that part of it forms a bag that will hold a large orange. Two small pieces of spring steel serve as clamps to hold it on the table. Extending about it on all sides is a dark silk handkerchief. When the performer is done with it he deliberately folds it up and sticks it in his pocket without arousing the slightest suspicion.

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