Magic Trick: The Egg Bag

This is a bag which, although repeatedly shown to be quite empty, continues to give forth eggs. In its smallest form, it consists of a square bag, made from chintz, or similar material. One of the sides is double, and thus forms a secret compartment, the mouth of which is at the bottom of the bag, inside. The bag can be taken and turned inside out, to show that it is empty, and yet have an egg inside the compartment. The bag, on being turned back again, can be held upside down and shaken without the egg falling out, for it will still be sustained by the inner lining. To produce the egg, all the performer has to do is to put his hand inside the bag and take the egg out of the compartment. He can then replace it, and cause it to disappear. Sometimes the inner lining covers only about three-fourths of the real side of the bag, but it is best to have it almost the same size. If, in turning the bag inside out, the double side were accidentally shown to the audience, they would infallibly notice the mouth of an inner bag, if it were placed about three-fourths of the way down one side; but if it came on a level with the bottom of the bag itself, it would rarely be noticed.

The larger egg bag, for the production of many eggs, is a very different affair, and requires some making. There are various patterns, the best of which I give: No. 1 is a chintz bag, about two and a half feet long, and of proportionate breadth. There is no double lining to it, but it is barefacedly provided with as many little pockets, each just capable of containing an egg, as one side can be made to take. These pockets have buttons, and the eggs are placed in them, and they are then fastened, their mouths being, of course, downwards when the bag is held in its proper position. The performer brings on the bag; and, after explaining that he has simply an ordinary chintz bag in his hands, proceeds to show that it is quite empty by turning it first upside down and then inside out. In performing the latter operation, that side which is provided with the pockets must naturally be always turned towards the performer. The bag is then turned back again, and waved about, and, saying that he fancies something has been put into his bag by the fairies, the performer puts his hand inside, opening one of the pockets rapidly as he does so. The egg thus released is produced, and the bag again waved about. The operation of producing the eggs is continued until all are exhausted. It is perhaps better to open the pocket sometimes as the hand is withdrawn with an egg. This will enable the performer to compress the material round the egg, thereby released from the outside, before inserting the hand again to extract it, and exhibit its contour to the audience, who will then see that the egg is not placed into the bag by sleight of hand just previous to being withdrawn. No. 2 is made of any opaque material, a soft one for choice. Besides the ordinary mouth, it has two smaller ones, each some sizes larger than an egg, at the bottom corners. They are best made by simply cutting the corners off. The double lining is very small, it being only of sufficient breadth to take an egg. It is situated at the mouth of the bag and runs along the entire length of it. It has only one opening, a slit across the centre, and the eggs are put in through this. For safety's sake, it is as well to have the opening secured with a button. After the bag has been duly turned inside out and back again, and the slit (if closed) opened, the fingers are run along the top of the bag, where the narrow strip of inside lining is situated, and an egg squeezed out through the slit. This egg falls into the bag proper, which is then tilted sideways over a plate or a basket, or even a hat, and the egg thus caused to roll out of the open corner. No. 3 is similar in principle to No. 2, but has a net underneath, into which the eggs drop with very pretty effect. The corner openings are dispensed with, and the hand is inserted into the bag when an egg is to be taken out.

What puzzles audiences as much as anything is that so many eggs are manipulated and yet not broken. The secret of this is that the eggs used are, with the exception of the one first produced, which is broken on a plate as a specimen, guiltless of the possession of any interior, the performer having taken the precaution of blowing them. This enables the performer to throw the bag carelessly on the floor and then to trample on it. Of course the trampling would be equally fatal to both blown and unblown eggs if the performer did not carefully avoid that portion of the bag which contains them; but the mere act of throwing a bag full of eggs in their original state on the floor would alone be disastrous to many of them. The method for holding a bag for the purpose of taking out an egg is to hold one corner between the teeth and the other in one hand stretched out. This leaves the other hand free for operation. Ordinarily, conjurors do not produce more than eight eggs. If the amateur wishes to perform the trick in really good style, he should have a bag made capable of producing at least two dozen eggs. For this, a large-sized chintz bag is recommended.

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