By SAM BROWN
The after-dinner tricks with
knives and forks described here by Mr. Brown can be performed
with little advance preparation, and they afford sure-fire
entertainment for everybody.
NOTHING so very magical about
knives and forks. Once upon a time there was a man who ate peas
. . . But that’s something else again.
How’s this: The
performer exhibits a napkin. He rolls it up loosely. He pokes a
fork down into the center of the rolled up napkin. And then . .
. abracadabra . . . the fork slowly rises from the napkin,
bowing quaintly to the bewildered spectators.
It’s really too easy. You
have a napkin which is slightly prepared. This preparation
consists of opening up a small portion of the napkin seam along
one side and inserting a two-inch bit of elastic in the hem.
Both ends of the elastic are sewn securely to the cloth. Well,
that’s the idea.
You roll up the napkin. You
hook one tine of the fork through the bit of elastic, as shown
in the photograph. (The photo shows the napkin unrolled for the
purpose of illustration.) You poke the fork, down into the
napkin. You hold it tightly. When you release the pressure of
the hand holding the napkin, the fork rises, quickly or slowly
as you desire, and in a manner truly magical. At the end of its
journey, the fork is removed from the napkin, allowing the
rubber band to slink back to its place of concealment under the
hem. Watson, the next case!
Something simpler: The
performer takes a knife and places it in the center of a napkin.
He doubles the napkin diagonally so that the knife is enclosed
between the folds. He rolls up the napkin, starting at the fold
and rolling towards the corners. Now, just being sensible, you
would unhesitatingly say that if the napkin were unrolled the
knife would still be inside the diagonal fold. Of course! But .
. . Oh my, . . . these magicians! When the napkin is unrolled,
the knife is found outside the fold and not inside where it
The secret is absurdly
simple. When unrolling the knife you should unroll the outer
corner of the napkin for one complete revolution by itself.
Then, proceeding with the doubled napkin, you will eventually
arrive at the knife, outside and not inside the folded cloth
where it was originally placed. This will amaze everybody.
Here’s an easy one: It calls
for five knives. The idea is to arrange four of them in such a
manner that they can be lifted with the fifth knife. The
photograph and diagram on opposite page show the “how.” It’s as
easy as all that!
Another little catch of a
similar variety consists of arranging three tumblers in
triangular formation and bridging them with three knives. A
condition of the construction is that each knife must rest upon
one tumbler only, and at one point. The bridge when finished
must be firm enough to sustain a fairly heavy weight—say, a
plate of the wife’s best biscuits. The marvelous bit of
structural engineering is fully explained by the photograph.
The Disappearing Spots Get
this one: The performer exhibits an ordinary table knife.
“Nothing on this side.” And, turning
the knife over, “Nothing on this side.” To each side of the
knife, then, the magician affixes three small squares of paper,
pressing them down at equal distances along the knife blade
after first moistening
them with his tongue. “Three on this side. Three on this side.”
Now for the trick. Proceeding systematically and efficiently,
the performer commences to remove the small squares of paper,
wiping them off with his left forefinger as he manipulates the
knife with his right hand. “One from this side. One from this
side. Another from this side.
Another from this side …”
And, finally, “nothing on
this side, nothing on this side,” as the performer shows each
side of the knife blade to be entirely innocent of paper
covering. But . . . mirabile dictu . . . the performer requests
a spectator to blow on the knife blade, and . . . Lo! . . .
there they are again: “Three on this side! Three on this side!”
The solution of this
excellent little effect lies in one deft movement of the right
hand which can be easily mastered by anyone. To commence, dab on
the three squares of paper to either side of the knife. Now,
holding the knife in your right hand, remove one of the small
squares, the tip one, with your left forefinger. The second move
is to apparently turn the knife over and remove the
corresponding square from the opposite side of the blade. What
you do, however, is something entirely different— you turn the
knife completely over, immediately brushing your finger over the
empty space on the knife from which you have previously removed
the paper square.
The “deft movement”
before referred to has to do with this complete turn of the
knife so that it will appear to the spectator as if the knife
were but turned half way over. To do it you hold the knife in
your right hand, as shown in the first photograph, palm up,
thumb on the side of the knife handle. Now . . . take a knife in
your hand and go through this slowly . . . if you will twist
your thumb over, you can give the knife a half turn, as shown in
the second- photo. You will also find that if you turn your hand
over so that it is palm down, you can give the knife an
additional half turn, thereby making a complete revolution of
the knife although the two movements, blended together with a
little flourish of the hand, seem to be but the natural movement
required to turn the blade over.
After making the complete
revolution, the forefinger of the left hand immediately strokes
the knife blade as if removing a square of paper. The second
square of paper is then removed and the knife again turned
completely over by reversing the movement—a pull with the thumb
and a turn of the hand—and the forefinger again pounces down on
the knife and brushes away an imaginary slip of paper.
When the three papers have
been removed from one side of the knife in this fashion, you
show the knife completely bare, and then, making only the half
turn, you show the knife again housing three papers on one side;
and then with the double twist you show three squares on the
opposite side. The fingers of the left hand then close about the
knife blade and apparently remove the three paper squares from
Do you get it? It really is
one of the most excellent bits of magic in existence, and not at
all as difficult as all this haranguing would seem to indicate.
An Amazing Sound Trick This
one has to do with “acoustics.” Don’t let the subject stop you .
. . it’s only Greek for playing the fool with sound. The
performer places two tumblers on the table. He picks up a fork.
He plucks the prongs of the fork with his fingers so that it
gives out a sound, and after the sound has died away, he
proceeds to pick it out of the air again and throw it into first
one tumbler and then the other.
The whole basis of the thing
is that the fork continues to “ring” for some time after the
sound has apparently stopped, but inaudibly. If the butt end of
the fork is gently touched to a solid object, however, the sound
will at once become audible again, and the note given off in
consequence is, by association of ideas, at once attributed to
the glass. In an old form of this excellent trick, it was
customary to touch the butt end of the fork to the table top. A
great improvement in the tone of the notes can be effected by
concealing a small matchbox in your hand, as shown in the
photograph, and using this as a sound box. The fork is held
clear of the box until the initial note has died away, and then
touched lightly to the box for the “plucked” notes which appear
to come from the glasses.
is the big, knife-swallowing act! The performer takes an
ordinary table knife and rolls it in a napkin. Then, holding the
end of the napkin to his mouth, he taps the opposite end gently
and lets the knife slip down his throat. Right down! And then …
a reproduction from the region of the vest line . . . and there
It’s all very simple. The
trick is performed at a table. The wrapping of the knife and all
that is fair enough, but just before the knife is carried to the
mouth, there is a brief moment when the mouth of the napkin is
below the table top, and in that fraction of a second the knife
is allowed to slip out and fall to the performer’s knees, as
shown in the photograph.
The swallowing then takes
place, ending with the complete crushing of the napkin to show
that the knife is “all gone.” While the masticating process is
going on . . . steel is “rawther” difficult, you know . . . the
performer is cautiously busy with the task of pushing the knife
up under his vest so that it can be later removed from the
region of the middle button hole.