Magic “Trick Cup and Saucer”. Circa 1890’s. American


I purchased from an estate a few “magic” items that had been wrapped up since the 1940’s and were shipped from New York City; home to many famous magicians such as “Herrmann The Great”, Robert Hellar, the Houdini brothers, and of late, David Copperfield.  The items may have been wrapped up even longer than that since many of the items are from about 1900 and earlier.

This particular item was used by magicians in the late 1800’s. It is a “trick” cup and saucer with a separation in the cup and a hole in the bottom which lines up with the hole in the saucer.  Both items are made of enameled metal in cream color with blue trim; typical kitchenware of the late 1800’s in America known as “enamelware”. Both items together measure 3 1/8″ high x 6″ diameter of saucer. Condition of both items is pretty good considering the age and the repetitive use in performing the trick. There are no breaks or dents and the finish is in completely original paint.

I almost feel guilty revealing the gist of the trick; albeit, after learning, all would agree it is quite ingenious. The trick is described with specificity, by famous magician, Alexander Herrmann (better known as “Herrmann The Great”) in his book written posthumously in 1903. An excerpt follows;

“The cup and saucer will next require our attention. These are of metal in imitation of the genuine article, the saucer being made double, with a small hole in the center of its upper side, for a purpose that will presently appear. The cup is provided with a perpendicular division nearly in the center, a small hole being drilled in the bottom of that side next the handle (see Fig. 30).

Fig. 30. Prepared Cup and Saucer.

The front and larger side is filled with a mixture of blue and white paper cuttings, and thus prepared, together with the saucer, it is placed on the table. When pouring the coffee and milk into the cup the performer takes care that it goes into the space provided with the small hole, through which it immediately runs into the body of the saucer.

It is usual to bring the trick to a conclusion by apparently throwing the fluid over the audience as already described, but should the performer be provided with a number of small cups and a tray, that portion of the beverage not used may be handed round as refreshments.”

Dealer Clive Devenish Antiques
Date: Circa 1890's
Origin American
Measurements 6" x 3 1/8"
Price $235
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