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P. T. Selbit

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P. T. Selbit

Cover of Sphinx (Feb. 1911)
BornPercy Thomas Tibbles
November 17, 1881
Hampstead, London
DiedNovember 19, 1938 (age 57)
CategoriesBooks by P. T. Selbit

P. T. Selbit (b.1881-d.1938) was an English magician and inventor who is credited with being the first person to perform the illusion of sawing a woman in half.


His birth name was Percy Thomas Tibbles and he was born in Hampstead, London. He learned magic at an early age and became a professional illusionist in the early 1900s. He has been reported as working a "pseudo-Egyptian" act under the name Joad Heteb between 1902 and 1908. Later he created the stage name P. T. Selbit by spelling his last name backwards and dropping one of the "B"s.

He was a prolific inventor of illusions. In addition to his famous sawing illusion performed for the first time on January 17th, 1921 at Finsbury Park Empire, he is credited with devising Walking through a Wall (1914), Girl/Man without a Middle (1924), Through the Eye of a Needle (1924), Million Dollar Mystery (c. 1927), Stretching a Girl, and Avoiding the Crush, The Mighty Cheese, Selbit's Blocks and possibly also the Siberian Chain Escape.

Selbit was even asked on an occaision to use his skills to produce fake seances.[1]


Published work


  1. Sydney A. Moseley, An Amazing Seance and An Exposure (London and Edinburgh: Sampson Low, Marston & Co Ltd, 1919). p112
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  • P.T. Selbit "Sawing Thro' A Woman" in The Magic Wand, Vol. 9, no. 108, February 1921.
  • Eric C. Lewis & Peter Warlock, P.T. Selbit: Magical Innovator, Magical Publications (1989), ISBN 0915181193
  • Jim Steinmeyer, Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear, Carroll & Graf, (reprint August 2004), ISBN 0786714018
  • Jim Steinmeyer, Art and Artifice: And Other Essays of Illusion, Carroll & Graf, (September 2006), ISBN 0786718064
  • P. T. Selbit, The Magician's Handbook: a Complete Encyclopedia of the Magic Art, (various editions, including: Marshall & Brookes, 1902; 3rd edition Dawbarn & Ward, 1904)
  • Conjuring Credits' article on illusion:selbit