Magic tricks, 16th century

Magic tricks, 16th century

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Caption: Magic tricks. Pages from a 16th-century book on witchcraft, showing false and real bodkins (blunt needles, left) and knives (right) used by entertainers. The text describes how these devices were used. The central bodkin retracts into a hollow shaft, and the knife at right is designed to be placed over the nose. The left-hand devices are similarly designed to deceive those watching. The right-hand bodkin and centre knife are genuine. Artwork from 'The Discoverie of Witchcraft' (1584) by Reginald Scot (1538-1599). This book, which attempted to show that belief in witchcraft was irrational, also explained the tricks used by charlatans and conjurers.

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