Suspicious London bobby was the first spectator to see
David Devant’s startling illusion, “The Mascot Moth.”
I love these old illustrations for an article called "The Greatest Magical Illusions of All Time" by magic historian Milbourne Christopher. They're from a 1958 edition of Popular Mechanics.
There's something about this style of illustration that makes these pictures of historical magical deceptions seem both plausible and mysterious. I also like that Mr. Christopher's article appeared in a magazine which featured articles that explained things like “Atomic Submarine Tankers” and “Showcase of Tools – Drill Presses.”
Mr. Christopher doesn't explain the secrets to how any of the illusions worked, and doesn't give enough information so readers can figure out the actual methods used. But I'm sure mechanically-minded readers worked out many of their own methods.
The artist is illustrator Wendell Kling, who ran “Kling Studios,” an advertising and editorial art studio out of Chicago.
All the captions are from the original article.
(Click on any illustration to greatly enlarge it.)
Bearded DeKolta made his wife disappear in view of audience.
Newspapers proved no trap doors were used.
Onaip was a staggering illusion in which a piano and
pianist revolved in midair during musical number.