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Costume Trunk

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Costume Trunk (or Dress Trunk) illusion begins with a large trunk that is opened and three trays are removed showing it empty. Each tray contains a different costume and the audience selects one of the costumes, which is then placed together with its tray back into the trunk. After closing and reopening the trunk, a lady emerges clad in the costume selected.


In the July 1905 issue of Mahatma (page 91), European Correspondent Herr. N. Osey (a pseudonym of Houdini's) states Cussac Talma, an English magician, was presenting it as the at the Palais d'Hippodrome in Antwerp and that the illusion was original with Frederick Eugene Powell. Talma was presenting it as the "Extraordinary Trunk Illusion" as early as 1902.[1][2]

Bev Bergeron declared in The New Tops, Vol. 17 No. 11, Nov. 1987, p. 21, this illusion was invented by Arnold deBiere.[3]

Apparently, there was a heated debate at the time between De Biere and Talma on who invented the illusion. The debate was reported by "B. W." in The World's Fair (June 22, 1940), siding with Talma.[4]

It was featured by Servais Le Roy was The Dress Box as early as 1906.[5][6]


  1. Stanyon's Magic Vol 02 No 10, July 1902
  2. Mahatma, June, 1902
  3. Conjuring Credits' article on illusion:costume_trunk_illusion
  4. World's Fair (June 22, 1940) article
  5. Servais Le Roy: Monarch of Mystery by Caveney, Mike; Rauscher, William (1999)
  6. The Wizard, Vol. 1 No. 10, June, 1906, page 158