Bruce Ballon, along with Christopher Taylor, has had an effect out for a while called "Death Toll". After about six months of research ( which included help from several Café members...thank you all) I bought one and I want to tell everyone how pleased I am with it.
"Death Toll" is a hotel desk bell. You know, the one where you press the plunger to get the clerk's attention. A lot of hotels don't have these any more (so mine is an "antique" ), but some do as well as some business establishments, doctors' offices, etc. Although the number is dwindling, there are enough around that I have seen to make it possible for you to present this as either a current item or a rather old one.
The bell is made of brass with a wood base. There was a rumor going around on another board that the base is plastic. It is not. It is wood.
You can press the plunger and make the bell ring legitimately if you so choose. You can even take it apart to show this inside ( the clapper, et al) and nothing suspicious will be seen.
I bought this bell for a seance I am putting together, but it has many more uses than that. The bell comes with a DVD which contains a 34 page PDF with several ideas on it. My favorite is the "Curse of Machiavelli", but that's because I am a devious and bizarre leaning fellow . :)
"Death Toll" will work for several performing styles including bizarrists, mentalists, strolling and even children's show workers. Yes, there is a routine idea included for that.
The bell is totally portable and can even be placed in a spectator's hand for the routine and/or denouement.
Below is Christopher's web page for "Death Toll". If you scroll down that page, you will see a trailer for it. That's exactly what is seen and heard.
Notice that when the bell rings, the plunger goes down also. This adds to the effect a great deal.
The bell in the trailer looks silver to me, but mine is brass and that is how I prefer it.
I love this bell and will be using it not only in the seance, but in special shows as to really make an impact and, of course, depending on the client and venue.
In my opinion, Christopher and Bruce have a winner here.
Here is the link: