Magic Trick: The Magi's Brazen Rod

This is a solid brazen rod, one quarter of an inch in thickness. At each end is a brass ball, free (whether solid or not) from any preparation whatever. One ball is firmly fixed, and the other screws off and on. Some ladies' rings are borrowed, and a solid wooden ball, which is subjected to examination, is then passed on the brazen rod, and the movable brass ball screwed on. The ball ends are then held firmly by two of the audience, and a handkerchief spread over the wooden ball. The performer introduces his hands, containing the rings, beneath the handkerchief, and, in a moment, the ball drops from the wand, upon which, on the withdrawal of the handkerchief, the rings are seen.

There are many variations in the details of the trick; but the one great secret in connection with it is that, besides the solid wooden ball which is shown round, the performer has one behind the scenes that is hollow, and is divided into two equal parts, which fit firmly together, like a box and lid. In the box portion is fitted a piece of cork, in which are three slits. Ostensibly to fetch the solid ball, the performer retires behind, and there rapidly places the three borrowed rings, for the possession of which at this stage I shall presently account, lightly into the slits, closes the ball up, and palms it. Returning to the stage, with the solid ball openly in the hand, he gives it to be examined. On receiving it back, he has to exchange it for the prepared one (a feat neither too difficult nor too easy), which is passed on the rod instead, the solid ball being vested. The sequel follows as a matter of course. The solid ball is re-palmed, and secretly introduced under the handkerchief at the same time as the rings (i.e., their substitutes); the hollow ball is opened, thus leaving the rings alone on the wand, re-closed and palmed, the solid ball at the same moment being dropped on the floor. The performer must be careful not to have the wooden balls larger than is absolutely necessary, or he will find some difficulty in exchanging and concealing them neatly when occasion requires. They must be turned with circular grooves, in one of which the opening of the prepared ball is made, so as to escape detection from casual glances. The method of obtaining the rings varies considerably. Some performers put them into boxes with secret openings, and thus obtain possession of them. The simplest plan, if one has a stage assistant, is that described under the heading "Sleights for General Use." The assistant remains on the stage, holding the wand until the rings are required again. The performer then puts them in a piece of paper, ostensibly to "take better care of them," but really to make it easier for him to get rid of them, and they are palmed, along with the dummy ball, when that is taken off the wand. I have seen it attempted to place the dummy rings inside the ball before re-closing it, but the operation took too long by far in execution. If too much paper be not used, and the rings are small and tightly folded together, it is possible to pop the little parcel inside the lid of the ball. The rings could be of such a size as to allow of this. The method for managing the exchange of the rings depends much upon circumstances. The one I have given will be found generally applicable, especially as the trick is essentially a stage one. The handkerchief that is thrown over the rod should be drawn off smartly, so as to cause the rings to spin round, by the hand containing the ball just removed from the rod, which it will assist to conceal. On the completion of the trick, hand back the borrowed rings on the rod itself, and also show round the ball again.

There is no reason why this should be an expensive trick. A brazier could make the rod and knob ends for a very few shillings, and the two wooden balls should cost about 1s. 6d.

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