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Leslie Melville
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Profile of Leslie Melville
For many years now, I have been presenting a routine originally devised by the late Scottish magician, Roy Scott. The routine involves producing banknotes from a production box that is usually used to produce silks.

I have always known this box to be described as a 'Jap' Box, and assumed that it was because the popular quality silk of the early days of its use was Japanese Silk.

Earlier this week, in a conversation with Donald Bevan, recently retired editor of The Abracadabra magazine, he told me that he and magical historian, Eddie Dawes had done some research on this topic and had concluded that the box, which seems to date from the early 1800's, was originally made in metal and came from Germany.

The models that were produced in those early days were finished in 'Japanned Lacquer', an artificial imitation of Oriental Lacquer.

The box in fact, is neither Japanese nor is the name intended as reference to the type of silks produced therefrom!

The name refers to the painted finish of the original box!

Does anyone else have any information about the origins of this prop?
Stories....?....That's telling!
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Profile of Spellbinder
Glenn Gravatt, in his book "Jap Box Tricks" (1937) was of the opinion that the box was designed to simulate traditional Japanese rice boxes. This always sounded logical to me, but so does naming the box after the japanning laquer finish, since many of the old books refer to trays as "Japanese Trays" when they are simply japanned laquered trays.

There is a lot of misinformation that this is the box Hoffmann describes as "The Japanese Inexhaustible Box" in his book "Modern Magic", but that box is really a double tip-over affair, having nothing in common with what we today call the "Jap Box."

Posted: Nov 29, 2007 8:08pm
Interestingly enough, Mikame of Japan calls their version simply "Silk Production Box."
Professor Spellbinder

Professor Emeritus at the Turkey Buzzard Academy of Magik, Witchcraft and Wizardry

Publisher of The Wizards' Journals
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