Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Magic trick - 'Grandmother's beads'

'Grandmother's beads'

  • Object:

    Magic trick

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, made)

  • Date:

    20th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood and string

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Palfreyman

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

'Grandmother's beads', used in stage conjuring tricks.

'Grandmother's beads' was one of the tricks described by Reginald Scot in his book The Discoverie of Witchcraft, published in 1584. Scot, a justice of the peace, intended to expose tricksters who claimed to practise magic, and in so doing wrote a book now regarded as the first work on conjuring. A number of versions of the bead trick exist. In the one most commonly performed, the beads, which are threaded together, are magically removed from the string while its ends are held by a spectator.

Physical description

Three wooden beads, oval, threaded together on a string.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, made)


20th century (made)


Unknown (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Wood and string


Length: 3.5 cm bead approx., Length: 45 cm string approx.

Descriptive line

'Grandmother's beads', used in stage conjuring tricks


Wood; String (fiber product)




Entertainment & Leisure; Magic


Theatre and Performance Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.