Magic Trick: The Flags of Old England

Without any visible preparation, and from no conceivable source, the performer produces hundreds of flags with the hands. The flags, which can, of course, be of any colour, but, for obvious reasons, should be red, white, and blue, for preference, are thus made quickly: Procure some sheets of tissue paper, and cut them into slips of equal dimensions. A good size to commence with is 3in. by 1½in., three of which will make a flag of 4in. by 3in., a very nice size. For rapid pasting, place, say, the red slips one over the other, each one permitting just a quarter of an inch of the one beneath it to be seen. With one sweep of the brush a large number can be thus pasted. Perform the same operation with the blue papers, and the white ones will not require any paste at all. Join the three together, and, when dry, paste them on either very thin sticks or wire, or else on bass. The latter is far preferable to any other substance, and can be easily procured. Now make some flags about 6in. by 4in. in the same manner, and, if you choose, a few even larger still. Roll them all up very tightly in two or three bundles, and secrete them about you. I always place a bundle of small flags up each sleeve, the larger ones being either in the vest or in the large breast pocket of the coat. Take a little flag in each hand, and advance with them. Wave them about, and, lowering one hand, allow the bundle to slide into it from the sleeve, care being taken that the back of the hand is towards the audience. Bring the hands together immediately, and continue to wave them about for a few seconds, when commence to unroll the flags, and cause a few to appear first at the top, and then to fall on to the floor. Continue this, all the time moving about, until you find the supply getting low, when, with a downward sweep of the hands, extract the bundle from the other sleeve. This movement will be perfectly concealed by the numerous flags flying about. It will also be perfectly easy to obtain possession of the other bundles from the vest or pocket, if care be taken to raise the flags that are being exhibited, so as to conceal the motion of the hand. When the larger flags are being unravelled, the waving should increase. The effect of a quantity of flags coming from apparently nowhere is always very bewildering to an audience, and this is heightened when the larger ones appear. I remember producing one quite 8ft. in length, with a complimentary motto, allusive to the season of the year, elaborated upon it. There is, however, no necessity to go to such a length as this. Buatier, instead of two flags to commence with, takes a bundle of coloured paper, which he rolls up, and then pretends to transform into flags. This is not at all a bad method, and, if the performer prefers it to my own, there is no harm in adopting it. Buatier decidedly makes a mistake, though, in producing the original paper after he has manufactured several hundreds of flags from it. This is not consistent.

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