The Mysterious Conjuror: How did he make those balls vanish?

The Conjuror: A famous painting by Hieronymus Bosch, a European painter of the Middle Ages.

The cups and balls feat was already ancient when this ancient man gave it rave reviews. 

If you had a magic set as a kid (as I did), it undoubtedly had a trick with cups and balls as props.  This may be where you first learned how the vanish—and reappearance—was accomplished.

     A man who witnessed this conjurer’s trick in the third century AD recorded his impressions:  “It left me almost speechless.  A man came forward and placed on a three-legged table three small dishes under which he concealed three round white pebbles.  And then, I do not know how he made them appear all together under one.  Other times he made them disappear from the dishes and appear in his mouth.  He did some more feats, then, he made the stones disappear from the sight of everyone.”

     The man reporting these feats was Alciphron, an Athenian commentator and rhetorician.  Then he added:  “I would not invite this conjuror to my home because he could steal everything I have, my farm and all it contains.”

     This cups and balls feat was already ancient when this ancient man gave it rave reviews.  There is a 4,190-year-old hieroglyph in an Egyptian tomb that even depicts it.

     The Prince of Wales was inducted into the Magic Circle in 1978.  This is the elite conjurors society in Great Britain, but he needed to perform a slight-of-hand for the honor and he chose the cups and balls as his feat.

     The story is not so big a mystery if you remember it from your magic set, but it is a wonderful opportunity for me to include one of my favorite works of art by fifteenth-century Dutch artist, Hieronymus Bosch. 

There is so much going on in this image: pickpockets, curious children, pet owls, and dogs in bizarre outfits.

     There is always so much going on in any painting by Hieronymus Bosch.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of It Rises from the Pee Dee: Please click HERE to find the novel on Amazon.

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