However great the respect which one may have for sleight of hand pure and simple, it is quite undeniable that a set performance is greatly improved by the occasional introduction of some neat-looking, but not gaudy, apparatus. Under this head need by no means be included self-acting machinery, during the performance of which the performer acts as a mere puppet. All the apparatus mentioned in this work will require adroit handling; and the conjuror will do well to practise as thoroughly with each article as he would towards the acquisition of a feat of sleight of hand. Apparatus seems to have a malicious pleasure in going wrong, always on the most critical occasions, and, for this reason, the majority of skilful performers feel most happy when using very little of it. One thing may be taken for granted, viz., that apparatus, exhibited without the assistance of sleight of hand, and plenty of it, causes the performer to degenerate into a mere showman—opening a box here, and taking off a lid there. In introducing apparatus, the performer must lay a very great deal of stress upon the sleight of hand portion of the business, as though therein lay the whole of the trick, the apparatus being a mere necessary evil in connection with it. By engaging the attention of the company with sleight of hand, it is drawn away from the apparatus, the spectators being so convinced of the performer's skill that they do not so readily accuse him of trusting to gaudy boxes and canisters for his effects.
Some of the apparatus described can be made at home, but, as a general rule, it is cheaper and more satisfactory to buy it at a conjuring repository. Low prices are the order of the day; and, as the articles are made by experienced men, they must be superior to those manufactured by persons new to the business.