IN " 202 Methods of Forcing " Annemann described a type of box which made it possible to know the number of spots on the top face of an ordinary die which had been shaken inside. The secret was a loose flap which was just big enough to prevent the die from turning over on to another face. This gave me the idea for my DIVIDED DIE BOX which was published in The Wizard for September, 1954. This particular box was made by soldering a semi-circular metal " flap " inside the lid of a round tobacco tin so that the whole box was divided into two separate compartments. If the lid was put on so that the die was shaken about in the deeper compartment it could turn over quite freely, but if it was put on so that the die was shaken about in the shallower one the number on top when the lid was removed was bound to be the one which had been on top when the lid was put on. A small disadvantage, however, was that no one could be allowed to catch a glimpse of the inside of the lid.
When I was clearing out some old tin boxes from my workshop recently I realised that an even better die box with a flap could be made (without any soldering at all) if one happened to have the right sort of boxes available. Both the outside and the inside of this box can be shown quite naturally, and no one need suspect that it is anything but an ordinary box.
You require two metal boxes of the type which have straight vertical sides and a separate sharp edged lid which comes more than halfway down the side of the box when it is properly on. Unfortunately, most round boxes seem to have either a bulge on the bottom half (to catch the bottom edge of the lid) or a lid with a turned over rim (like the average tobacco tin) and you will see in a moment why neither: of these is suitable. I suppose that something could be done by trying different lids and bottoms together, but the box which I am using at the moment was made from two rectangular tins which once contained Horlicks tablets.
Take one of the lids and cut a circular hole, about half-an-inch in diameter, at the centre of it. Then push it on to the bottom of the other box. If you are lucky it will not be either too loose or too tight. If it is too tight you might ease it a little with some emery paper. If it is too loose you might try the effect of making one or two small dents near the edge from the outside with a blunt nail and a hammer.
Now, since each lid would normally come more than halfway down or halfway up the side of the box, it follows that, if the bottom lid is on as far as it will go, the top lid will be only partly on (Figure 1), and, if the top lid is on as far is it will go, the bottom one will be only partly on (Figure 2).
The real bottom and sides of the box can therefore be thought of as a moveable flap. A die in the box in Figure 1 will be able to turn over quite freely, but in the shallower box in Figure 2 it will be able to move only a little way up and down without turning completely over.
In actual use the die is shaken about several times in the box in Figure 1 to show that different numbers come to the top each time. But before the lid is removed when the die has been shaken freely for the last time, the bottom of the box is pushed up into the top lid by pressing with your middle finger through the hole in the bottom lid.
The box is thus made slightly shallower, as in Figure 2, and when the die is shaken again you are able to announce the number on the top before the lid is removed, or the number can be used in some other effect. The main part of the box can be pushed down into the bottom lid at any time before the top lid is replaced.
The box is therefore self-contained, and there is little danger of the flap being lost. The inside of the lid and the box appear quite normal, and the outside can be freely shown if the hole in the bottom lid is covered for a moment with your fingers or thumb. It is just the sort of thing to carry around in your pocket.
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