Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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The Rattle Box

Boxes with double bottoms that contained between them an item that rattled, to mislead spectators into believing an object like a coin or finger ring was inside the box, began to appear in conjuring texts by the late eighteenth century. See Herman Boaz's rattle box in The Juggler's Oracle, 1820, p. 32. A Rattle Box with a locking mechanism that stopped the rattling at will is described in Henri Decremps's La Magie Blanche Dévoilée, 1784, p. 17 of Hugard's English translation. This gives the magician control over the rattling when the box is handed to a spectator.

Dice cheats also added false rattle bottoms to dice boxes. As the cheat shook the box, other players would hear what they thought were the dice inside. In reality, the dice were held out in the hand under the box. When the box was turned over onto the table, the dice were loaded underneath with the predetermined sides up. This deception was detailed in Jonathan Harrington Green's An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling, 1843, p. 91.

Also see: Coin Rattle Gimmick.