decapitation magic trick

llustrations from a Victorian Book on Magic circa 1897

The Ghost Diaries has a new favorite site, PublicDomainReview.org, a wonderful repository of old documents collected from around the world. This site is a treasure trove of amazing content, featuring: the Diagrammatic Writings of an Aslyum Patient, a tour of the Titanic, video of the Hidenberg Explosion, and footage from King Alexander’s assassination in 1934.

What caught our eye this time around was a collection of illustrations from a Victorian book on magic circa 1897. Subtitled Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, including Trick Photography, the illustrations appear to be explaining various magic tricks that were popular at the time. Some of them are quite simple and recognizable from today’s magic parlors. Others offer fascinating glimpses into what must have been mind blowing effects for the time. But some of these illustrations, especially towards the end, are incomprehensible to us. We’re not sure if there’s a magic trick going on or if the authors of the book are just having a bit of macabre fun.

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