Magic Trick: The Mesmeric Suspension Wand

The Fakir of Oolu (he is known in private circles by a far less sounding and much more cockneyfied name than that) was the first to introduce this trick to the British public.

The performer is provided with an ordinary conjuring wand, blackened all over. He passes it through one hand, to show that it is not attached to any suspending medium, and then performs a series of feats with it, which apparently entirely upset the laws of gravitation. For instance, when placed horizontally against the under side of the outstretched hand, it does not, as one would expect, fall at once to the ground, but remains in the unnatural position. When placed perpendicularly against a finger or thumb, the result is the same; and it can be just as easily suspended from the tip of the finger by its extreme end. There are three methods in general use for producing these phenomena. One is to have the rod provided with several black pins, which stand out a little from the wand, and are then bent at right angles. The heads are taken off, and the exposed ends left rough. If two of these pins be placed about five inches apart, with the points of each turned towards the other, a hand placed flatly between them will be enabled to sustain the rod in any position by merely opening out the fingers, thereby causing a pressure on the two pins. This is the whole secret of the first method. The conjuror can arrange his pins according to fancy. I find five ample viz., two about two and a half inches apart at each end, and one small one at the actual tip. There is no necessity for more; and the space of two and a half inches admits of the introduction of two fingers, which possess quite sufficient power to sustain the rod. The advantage of using two fingers only is that, by employing the middle ones, those on the outside are left free to be moved about, as they should be, to assist in abolishing the idea of any connection existing. When the wand is drawn through one hand, the action must be quickly executed, and no notice given of the intention to perform it, otherwise the attention of the audience will be sufficiently attracted to the wand to cause it to be noticed that the hand does not actually touch it, although it appears to do so. A serious pantomime of mesmerising the wand by means of a few passes may be indulged in with advantage, according to the ability of the performer in this direction; but he must treat it seriously. If it is at all well done, one half of the audience will remain almost convinced that some influence has been exercised over the rod. The wand should then be taken in one hand, and struck smartly on the palm of the other, to show that it is solid, or it can be done previous to the mesmerism. This is very necessary, as a universal idea exists, amongst those who do not know the trick, that the wand is made of pith, and that the performer has some "sticky stuff" on his fingers. It should next be held horizontally at the end by one hand, and the other passed slowly along it once or twice, the motion becoming slower and slower until it ceases altogether. The fingers will then be between two pins, and, on the rod being released by the other hand, it will apparently cling to the under surface of the one above it. To cause it to attach itself to a finger or thumb perpendicularly, it is only necessary to hang it by one pin on the outstretched member, and the prodigy is accomplished. The pin at the tip is for the purpose of suspending the rod from the end of a finger. This is accomplished by pushing the pin under the nail. No trick could be simpler; therefore the performer must do all he can to make the audience believe in its extreme difficulty. Once or twice, at least, the mesmeric power should fail, and fresh passes resorted to in order to restore it. An effective action to introduce is that of placing both hands above the wand whilst it is in a horizontal position, and then appearing to move them backwards and forwards along it. This is accomplished by fixing the fingers of one hand only in the pins. The hands are then parted, and joined twice with considerably rapidity. The disengaged hand must not alone be moved, but the other as well, otherwise it will be seen that the wand is affixed to one hand, and the other merely moved along it. The care taken by the conjuror will make this trick the more or less successful.

The second method is to have a ring upon the finger provided with a clamp, which receives the wand in its embrace. The only thing to be said in favour of this device is that it enables the wand to be shown round. In all else it is vastly inferior to the bent pin arrangement. The number of positions in which it is possible to suspend the rod are exceedingly limited, and the probability of the ring being accidentally exposed is by no means remote.

As it is decidedly advantageous to give the rod round for examination, it is always well for the performer to devise a method for handing round one rod, free from any preparation whatever, and then exchanging it for a prepared one. This is, perhaps, best managed by concealing the prepared one up the coat sleeve. The one that is shown round is dropped into the tail pocket, which can be specially arranged for such a use without much difficulty. The change behind the table is weak, and a large majority of the audience invariably see through it, in which case all the performer's subsequent actions with the article are looked upon as farcical. When a dummy article is to be exchanged for a prepared one, the change must be perfect, or left alone altogether. If the performer have any doubt about it, let him rather dispense with the examination and consequent exchange, for then the audience can only suspect; but, if any covert action is detected, then the suspicion resolves itself into a tolerable certainty.

The wand for this trick is very easily made, any ordinary wood being suitable, and a packet of black pins, a pair of pliers, and a file will do the rest. It is best as a stage trick, private audiences in small rooms being somewhat too close for safety.