About Scott

Scott Cervine, guest curator for Magic: The Science of Wonder, was one of the youngest people ever accepted by the prestigious Magic Castle in Hollywood – at age 15. By the time he was 21, Scott was accepted as a full-fledged member of the Academy of Magical Arts. He is the only magician to ever be named “Magic Entertainer of the Year” two years in a row. Scott has appeared on several new shows, blending his unique style of comedy and magic to dazzle audiences. He has performed in over a dozen countries and made several TV and movie appearances.

Magic! Radio Cabinet and Come Along Cuffs

How much do you know about magic? It’s time to see through the illusion! The Magic! exhibit is now open at HMNS. Throughout the run of the exhibit, check back here for exclusive videos and descriptions of the unique items on display from curator Scott Cervine.

Radio Cabinet

This “radio cabinet,” built by Massachusetts illusion builder Charles Catulle, was repainted by CBS artists and introduced into the Harry Blackstone Jr. road show, which had a record-breaking run at Broadway’s Majestic Theater.

A woman is tied into a large cloth bag and placed in the cabinet. The top of the bag is drawn through a hole in a tray inside the cabinet, and all the doors of the cabinet are closed. After rotating the cabinet to show all sides, the top is opened and the cloth bag is pulled through the hole in the tray – the woman has apparently vanished.

Come Along Cuffs

A “come along” cuff, such as these, secures only one hand, but has a handle to keep the cuffed prisoner under control. These cuffs were used by Harry Houdini in one of his breathtaking escapes.

Magic! Doll’s House Illusion and the Crystal Clock

How much do you know about magic? It’s time to see through the illusion! The Magic! exhibit is now open at HMNS. Throughout the run of the exhibit, check back here for exclusive videos and descriptions of the unique items on display from curator Scott Cervine.

Doll’s House Illusion

This classic illusion was invented by British music hall performer Fred Culpitt (1877 – 1944) circa 1927 and quickly became popular worldwide due to its practicality and deceptiveness and remains popular to the present day.

The doll house is opened and shown to be empty (often removing the toy furniture in the process of displaying the house). However, when the door is closed, the roof immediately pops open in the center and a full-sized (generally adult) female doll too large to have been hidden within the empty doll house steps out.

The Crystal Clock Dial

This classic stage effect dates to the 19th century and remained popular into the early 20th century, but is seldom seen today.

In this spiritualistic feat, a number from one to twelve merely thought of by an audience member is divined by the spirits when the freely spinning clock hand mysteriously slows and stops on the spectator’s number.

The Discoverie of Witchcraft

How much do you know about magic? It’s time to see through the illusion! The Magic! exhibit is now open at HMNS. Throughout the run of the exhibit, check back here for exclusive videos and descriptions of the unique items on display from curator Scott Cervine.

In 1563, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a law was passed making the practice of witchcraft a felony. This led to the persecution of many innocents and so outraged a gentleman farmer, Reginald Scot, Esquire (1538-1599) that he decided to publish an exposé of the fallacies of such superstitious thinking.

He had previously written the first known book in English on the cultivation of hops (A Perfite Platform of a Hoppe Garden, 1574).  In 1584, his self-published The Discoverie of Witchcraft became the first book in English “debunking” such superstitions. But it was regarded by many as heretical, since it countered the teachings of the Church of England at the time. King James I of Scotland wrote an entire book, Daemonologie (1597) defending his belief in witchcraft against the arguments presented by Scot and others. When James ascended to the English throne in 1603, he is said to have ordered all copies of Scot’s Discoverie publicly burned by the Royal hangman. Many of the surviving copies, like this one, have severely reduced margins, which may have resulted from trimming away the charred edges of copies rescued from the hangman’s fire.

The importance of Scot’s book to conjuring is due to his extensive discussion of conjuring tricks, explaining their natural—not supernatural—basis by revealing the basics of sleight of hand. That it pained him to expose the secrets of this already ancient art is clear in introduction to this section of his work: “… being sorie that it falleth out to my lot, to laie open the secrets of this mysterie, to the hindrance of such poore men as live thereby, whose doings herein are not only tolerable, but greatly commendable, so they abuse not the Name of God, nor make the people attribute unto them His power…”

Scot had learned much of the magicians’ repertoire from a skilled French-born named John Cautares who earned an “honest living” as a laborer. Scot chiefly discussed tricks with balls, coins and cards, but also apparent feats of self mutilation and even decapitation. In doing so, he gave us an intimate portrait of the 16th century conjuring repertoire and its technical basis. Although Scot’s intent was to expose—rather than teach—magic, his book formed the basis of conjuring literature in English and several other languages (it was quickly translated into Dutch and German) for more than 200 years. It is also said to have been used by Shakespeare as a source for his plays when dealing with the themes of witchcraft.

Magic! The Rapping Hand

How much do you know about magic? It’s time to see through the illusion! The Magic! exhibit is now open at HMNS. Throughout the run of the exhibit, check back here for exclusive videos and descriptions of the unique items on display from curator Scott Cervine.

Rapping Hand

This hand was the centerpiece of a popular late 19th and early 20th Century spiritualistic stage effect.

The carved wooden hand, resting on a sheet of clear glass held by audience members, would rap out answers to questions. Traditionally, the hand would rap once for “yes” and twice for “no”, but it could also respond with numerical answers to personal questions, such as “How many children will I have?” and “How old will I be when I marry?”

The effect could be played straight or tongue in cheek, depending on the performer and audience.