The Chinese Burning Tapes

This effect has been very popular in Magic. It adapts itself to Oriental acts and to Occidental as well.


Performer holds two tapes about ten feet long. Assistant lights a match and sets the tapes on fire in the middle. The tapes are burned in two and the two ends are held apart to show them separated. Burned ends are then brought together and opposite ends are held by assistants. Performer fans burning tapes and suddenly they are restored completely.


1—A roll of white tape, one inch wide.

2—Small box of matches.

3—A small Chinese or Japanese fan. SECRET:

To Prepare:

Cut off two lengths of tape, each about 9 feet. Cut another piece about 27 inches long.

Fold over each piece of tape and crease slightly in the middle. Sew the doubled short piece of tape at each end to the folded end of each of the long tapes. Use just a loop of white thread to fasten the tapes so that it can be broken easily.

Figure 63.

Figure 63.

Figure 65.

Hold tapes at the two joinings in crotches of both thumbs and stretched across from hand to hand. When held this way, they look like ordinary unprepared tapes.

Figure 63A.

Roll or fold tapes and place them aside in readiness for experiment.

Some performers like to fireproof folded ends of long tapes where joinings are made. This is done by dipping ends in a solution of alum or of chloride of zinc. This allows the middle tape to be burned up entirely and eliminates the necessity of palming the remains of the short tape.

To Perform:

Bring forth the tapes. Unroll and hold in hands as in Figure 63A. Thumbs cover the joinings. Throw out the tapes so that audience can see the whole length of them. If you keep them in motion, joinings will not show. Then hold them up in crotches of thumbs again.

Now bring fingers down and hold tapes as in Figure 64. Have assistant light match and set fire to middle piece.

When tapes are burned apart, hold the burning ends away from each other to show audience that tapes are actually separated.

Figure 65.

Bring burning ends together again and let them burn down for a while. Figure 66.

Have two assistants pick up free ends of tapes. One must take ends B and E and the other, ends A and F. See Figure 63. You can aid assistants in getting right ends. You may put special marks on tapes to help assistants distinguish ends which they are to hold. The important thing is to get one of the right-hand ends over to the left and one of the left-hand ends over to the right.

When assistants have tapes, bring out fan with right hand. Strike burning ends with side of closed fan to extinguish the fire. As you do so, steal the remains of the short piece of tape with right hand. Pinch these pieces between thumb and base of forefinger, break thread and pull off the pieces, palming them in right hand. (If you have fireproofed large tapes, and allow short tape to burn away completely, this part is not necessary.)

Figure 67.

Figure 67.

Open fan with right hand while you close left hand over supposedly burned portion of large tapes. Assistants pull tapes tight. Fan left hand, being careful not to expose palmed pieces in right hand. Slowly open left hand and show it empty with fingers wide apart. Assistants hold tapes far apart to show them completely restored.

Figure 68.

Figure 68.

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