The woman cut in two is a trick that is more than 100 years old

100 years ago a British wizard presented his audience with a new trick. The horrified audience saw the woman’s trick split in two for the first time. PT Selbit was the magician who led a woman into a wooden box with her hands and feet tied. Then he closed the drawer and sawed it in two. Finally he opened the drawer and showed the public that the woman had no injuries. It took place at the Finsbury Park Empire Theater in London on January 17, 1921 and was the stunt that ushered in the era of illusionism.

PT Selbit
By Anonymous – The Sphinx: An Independent Magazine for Magicians (February 1911), public domain,
Details of a magic trick that is still valid

It is known who, where and when he performed the trick they called “sawing a woman”. But where it came from is unknown. There are two versions that tell different stories about it. It is said that it was created in ancient Egypt and the second report that it was first performed in a performance before Pope Pius VII. But no version is certain.

It is a trick that is still valid in the actions of illusionists to this day. But before it reached the present, it went through a few changes that were even bolder than the original. Finally, they used drawers that showed the head, hands and feet of the woman to be mutilated. There were also riskier cases where the woman was cut up without putting her in a drawer.

The Woman Cut in Two was a very successful trick in the 1920s

The trick was very successful, but according to Jim Steinmeyer (magic expert), it wasn’t just because it was ingenious and novel. He believes the trick came at a very specific time. The trend also began that the magician was always accompanied by a woman.

Woman cut in two
By Jasper Maskelyne – Maskelyne’s Book of Magic. David McKay Company, 1937., public domain,

The population was mentally unwell because the First World War had just ended. Therefore, he longed for new things. The woman cut in two tricks lived up to people’s expectations. Another group claims the success had to do with a completely different event.

In 1921 in the United Kingdom women were granted the right to vote. However, a large part of the population did not accept this situation. It can be seen that for all of those who agreed to the women’s choice, there was another who enjoyed having a woman cut in half.

The trick was popular, but the wizard was not. Other illusionists have copied the trick and also perfected it. Horace Goldin was a US magician who not only improved the trick but also patented it. This prevented the other magicians from doing the trick in America, including PT Selbit himself.

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