Imagine, it's your birthday. You had to get through the whole day, and dinner before you were allowed to open a single present, but it was worth it. You got lots of practical things like books and clothes, but your Mum and Dad knew that you were really interested in magic and illusion and managed to find a special sort of a box, a revelation box. You've not seen one before, but you look forward to amazing your friends as you make their coins appear and disappear!
When I took this revelation box to show the children, they were quite taken with it. They, as are most children, are very interested in magic and magic tricks and delighted in watching the coin appear and disappear. Soon enough though they were itching to know how it worked and when I handed the box over to them it didn't take long before they had it worked out. There is a small wooden protrusion inside the sleeve of the box, which, when the box is slid inside, pushes a 'secret chamber' back and forth revealing either the hole and the coin or an identical but empty hole. Although a simple trick, and one which, on closer examination was easily puzzled out, the box provided great delight and entertainment with the children playing with it for ages!
'Magic' has existed, in various forms, for thousands of years and in that time our fascination for 'magic' has not changed, though the types of magic have. In the beginning magic was part of religion and festivities, used to appease the Gods and gain a good harvest, health or success. Often kings and leaders employed their own makers of magic (called a variety of names from magician to witchdoctor) and used them to please the Gods and ensure success in all areas of life. Magic often involved the elements, nature and the world and was not the type of magic most of us think of today. Others though practiced the art of illusion and tricks, and these are more like magicians who entertain us today.
The art of illusion and trickery also goes back centuries, right to Ancient Egypt where over 5000 years ago magicians entertained the Pharaohs. One magician apparently cut the heads off various animals and then reattached them! In ancient Greece magicians performed on the streets and there is reference to one who individually hid pebbles under three cups and then revealed them all under the one cup and later in his mouth! This type of magic illusion, similar to the type used in the Revelation Box I showed the children has been popular throughout history and even when 'witches' who practiced 'real magic' were feared and killed, illusory magic was allowed. There were even books which explained some of the tricks so you could tell the difference between somebody who practiced witchcraft and somebody who practiced the magic of illusion! If you would like to learn more about the history of magic, click here.