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Topic: Margery Crandon's Spirit Bell Box
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Sep 22, 2019 03:45PM)
I am looking for photos, drawings, schematics, etc., of Margery Crandon's Spirit Bell Box that Houdini debunked. I'd like to make a historically accurate (as best I can) reproduction with gimmicks. I understand that it is on Display in London's Wellcome "Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic" display...since I'm in America, a visit to research the box myself is not possible.

Any help or guidance would be appreciated!

Thanx!
Message: Posted by: the Sponge (Sep 22, 2019 07:51PM)
Https://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2014/03/the-margery-box-reappears-sort-of.html

https://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2019/06/inside-smoke-and-mirrors-psychology-of.html
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Sep 22, 2019 08:41PM)
Thank you for responding. I've seen that photo of the bell box. I'm actually looking for photos of drawings of the box, bell, switch, and battery box. Thanx!
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Sep 22, 2019 11:38PM)
I have a photo of the real one on my other computer .. It looks like a small refrigerator. Once you see it you'll know that Houdini wasn't telling the entire truth. I believe the pic is from the Scientific American.
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Sep 23, 2019 12:19PM)
I'm looking for detailed photos or drawings of the little bell box...not the box Houdini placed her in. Thanx!
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Sep 23, 2019 02:30PM)
I've posted a picture on the Houdini's Ghost FB site
You can see Margery in the background.

https://www.facebook.com/973762336033877/photos/a.973765099366934/1079703915439718/?type=3&theater
Message: Posted by: Cleverpaws (Sep 23, 2019 02:41PM)
Heres another page with more info. Iím interested if anyone has measurements as well.
http://www.themagicdetective.com/2010/12/margery-and-bell-boxs.html
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Sep 23, 2019 05:20PM)
[quote]On Sep 23, 2019, Cleverpaws wrote:
Heres another page with more info. Iím interested if anyone has measurements as well.
http://www.themagicdetective.com/2010/12/margery-and-bell-boxs.html [/quote]
The picture in this one is something made by Houdini's staff... Margery used her own box .. The one shown in the picture I've provided. Houdini never caught Margery doing anything.
Message: Posted by: Cleverpaws (Sep 23, 2019 06:15PM)
In the link I posted above thereís two boxes shown, the one with Houdini and a second box several photos down the page that looks similar.
The Facebook photo looks to have margerys box within a special box made by scientific American to block energy or whatever Margery claimed.
Itís difficult to tell what Margeryís box looks like from that photo. (I could be wrong and she carried that huge box within a box with her)
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Sep 23, 2019 07:21PM)
Slim - That's the best info yet. I actually found the original, it's on display at the Wellcome in London. Since I'm in PA, I can't visit the museum (as much as I'd love to!). I emailed the museum, they contacted the owner of the box, and they don't want any design or working info shared about the box, including photos...so I'm at a dead end. That's actually too bad, because from an historic point of view, it would be nice to know how it was built.

The Scientific American box looks nothing like the small box she used...although it may be wired the same and use the same components..it still provides info on period electrics used at the time.

I'm going to build one, based on the info I have and gimmick it for RC...should be pretty easy. Also, I'm going to gimmick it to work with the batteries removed. This will be a sucker box and will go nicely with my story-line.

From what I have read, it's a simple box with an electric bell, operated by D-cell batteries. When the lid closes, contact is made and the bell rings. Sounds simple enough...I just need to get some nice vintage-looking hardware (or weather it myself) and electrics, and reproduce it with the gimmick.

If anyone is able to locate any more info about the bell box, please share! This is very interesting from a historical perspective...not just eerie magic.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Sep 23, 2019 07:57PM)
[quote]On Sep 23, 2019, Cleverpaws wrote:
In the link I posted above thereís two boxes shown, the one with Houdini and a second box several photos down the page that looks similar.
The Facebook photo looks to have margerys box within a special box made by scientific American to block energy or whatever Margery claimed.
Itís difficult to tell what Margeryís box looks like from that photo. (I could be wrong and she carried that huge box within a box with her) [/quote]
She did most of her Seances at her home. She didn't need to move things. Houdini was actually part of the Scientific American committee. There are pictures of the box between Houdini's legs and then a DRAWING of what he claims that Mina Crandon did with her legs. Houdini never caught her doing anything .. In fact it was Houdini that tried to Hoax the experiment with his body box that resulted in the curse that killed him.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Oct 1, 2019 11:28AM)
Did you find everything you need? :phoenixred: :exercise:
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 2, 2019 08:23PM)
I did. Thank you!
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Oct 3, 2019 12:42AM)
EXCELLENT...... :firedevil: :firedevil: :bat: :bat: :firedevil: :firedevil: :bat: :bat:
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 5, 2019 06:14PM)
Just finished v1 of the BellBox. Would I be violating any rules by posting pics of the finished box sans gimmicks?
Message: Posted by: Cleverpaws (Oct 5, 2019 07:47PM)
Please post photos! No rule would be broken showing photos even with the gimmicks as this is your creation, although some on here might say otherwise.
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 6, 2019 09:31AM)
Pics to follow. I tried to make this as period-correct as possible. Simple contact switch made from scrap copper (original had a plunger switch, that I believe was made from a door hinge pin and spring). All hardware was aged, and I stamped "1921" for effect. This also works by RC when the batteries are removed for a sucker effect. I'll post the inner workings in the Crypt when I get access. This was a proof of concept. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Pics to follow.
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 6, 2019 09:31AM)
More photos.
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 6, 2019 09:31AM)
More photos
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 6, 2019 09:32AM)
More photos.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Oct 6, 2019 10:56AM)
Are you going to make the Scientific American picture version???
Message: Posted by: Cleverpaws (Oct 6, 2019 11:37AM)
Looks great! Thanks for sharing.
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 6, 2019 11:59AM)
I'm probably going to stick with this version with a few mods to the electronics. It works best for my needs.
Message: Posted by: Nick Birch (Oct 7, 2019 07:40AM)
[quote]On Oct 6, 2019, OddFellow wrote:
Pics to follow. I tried to make this as period-correct as possible. Simple contact switch made from scrap copper (original had a plunger switch, that I believe was made from a door hinge pin and spring). All hardware was aged, and I stamped "1921" for effect. This also works by RC when the batteries are removed for a sucker effect. I'll post the inner workings in the Crypt when I get access. This was a proof of concept. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Pics to follow. [/quote]
Nice work - I like it a lot!

If you're looking for authenticity my only observation would be to replace the Philips (cross head) screws with slotted, domed head ones. Philips screws didn't emerge until the 1930s. It's nit-picking but it would be worth it.

Nick
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 7, 2019 03:03PM)
Nick - Thanx! I intend to replace the screws and the hinge. I didn't have any straight-slot screws that small. It's funny...hard to find historically correct screws now. Most are Phillips. The straight-slotted ones are flat-headed as well. I always keep an eye open at flea markets for vintage hardware. I actually found a hardware store where I live in rural PA that had a bunch of cut nails of various sizes and bought as many as I could...the old guy behind the counter thought I was nuts! I build a lot of Civil War-era items too.
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 7, 2019 03:04PM)
Thanks to everyone for the positive comments!!!
Message: Posted by: Intrepid (Oct 7, 2019 06:52PM)
[quote]On Oct 7, 2019, OddFellow wrote:
Nick - Thanx! I intend to replace the screws and the hinge. I didn't have any straight-slot screws that small. It's funny...hard to find historically correct screws now. Most are Phillips. The straight-slotted ones are flat-headed as well. I always keep an eye open at flea markets for vintage hardware. I actually found a hardware store where I live in rural PA that had a bunch of cut nails of various sizes and bought as many as I could...the old guy behind the counter thought I was nuts! I build a lot of Civil War-era items too. [/quote]
I'd suggest using google for finding period correct brass hardware. There are a number of companies that specialize in antique and reproduction hardware.
I'm not as active in CW reenacting as I use to be, but it sounds like we have similar interest in period magic.
Message: Posted by: OddFellow (Oct 7, 2019 07:35PM)
I see you grew up in Silver Spring! I was raised in Wheaton, live there and in Olney most of my life, moved to Columbia, and now living in Central PA after retiring in 2016. I am a member of the 2nd MD Inf, CSA. Small world. Houdini has been my "hero" since my teens and I still love the work he did and the contributions he made.