Professor Harbin’s Curious Cabinet by Limited Edition Magic

(c. 2014) (Submit Review) (Submit Update)

This sold out release in the Limited Edition Magic line is a wonderful version of one of Robert Harbin’s rarest effects. Harbin created brilliant magic and this offbeat fooler is a fun one to perform. Harbin created two versions of his “Fourth Dimension” c. 1941. One was a much larger cabinet that rested on a thin table, and the other was this streamlined model which duplicated the same routine but in a size that was much easier to handle.

I was proud to own Harbin’s actual prop for a few years, the only one he made, and so we were able to replicate the apparatus perfectly … but with quite a few improvements which will be noted below. It’s a truly offbeat routine.

Effect: The performer displays a simply constructed thin box like cabinet. It looks like a relic from an old carny sideshow. The front and back are decorated in vintage looking green/gold stripes with a mysterious bold “question mark” in the center. There are holes on each side/top/bottom of the cabinet. The spectators can look through the holes and see there is nothing concealed inside.

The performer explains that this Curious Cabinet contains mysterious power which may be demonstrated through a series of experiments. He begins by displaying a length of rope which he loops around his hand and then feeds through the cabinet. As it emerges, there are now a series of knots tied along the rope. The rope is tossed to the audience. He then displays a long wooden magic wand which he runs through the cabinet. The wand is clearly longer than the width of the box.

Invoking the powers of the cabinet, he again pushes the wand inside. This time however, the wand enters the one side but never exits out the other! It somehow mysteriously vanishes inside the cabinet. When the wand is removed, it is now once again full size! He then displays a length of thick soft rope. The rope is run through the cabinet from one side and out the other. It comes out limp as expected.
Once again the performer calls on the mysterious powers. This time when the rope is pushed through the cabinet it comes out the other side completely stiff!

The final experiment is the kicker. The performer displays a long solid metal rod which may be examined. A spectator may once again look through the cabinet from both ends. Despite the fair conditions, when the rod is pushed through the hole in the side of the cabinet, it is seen to exit out the top! Somehow the solid metal rod warps or bends at an impossible right angle inside the thin cabinet! The rod may be pushed and pulled repeatedly. To finish, the solid metal rod can be removed and immediately dropped clear through the holes in the cabinet from side to side and top to bottom!

It’s an offbeat and fun presentation. While a few sequences might not puzzle many magicians, they would definitely fool the muggles. Using the classic stiff rope and vanishing walking stick/wand in this context is a great idea. It’s the final sequence which would puzzle everyone, especially since you can look through the holes in the cabinet at the start and finish of the routine.

The simple appearance of the cabinet belies the clever construction. When I first examined Harbin’s original prop, I had no idea how the last sequence was possible.

And Harbin’s solution is brilliantly simple mechanics. Nothing high-tech, so
nothing to go “wrong”.

This Ltd Edition features some nice improvements:

  • Harbin originally called for a “walking stick” to be used for the vanishing sequence which we’ve streamlined by using a long magic wand
  • the stiff rope has been specially modified so it operates with ease
  • the original routine involved a length of broomstick to bend mysteriously inside the cabinet. We’ve changed this to the metal rod.
  • the cabinet is now made to open in the back so you could remove the ropes from inside when needed during the routine, giving the impression that there’s nothing inside except your props.

The cabinet as Harbin finished it had plain green sides with a gold wood trim. In keeping with the carnival/sideshow feel of the routine, we finished the front and back in a retro “carnival/circus” striped pattern with a bold black question mark in the center. The artwork and the overall finish of the cabinet has a deliberate “distressed” look, so it now resembles an antique “mystery box” used in a classic sideshow performance! An additional bonus is an eye-catching custom enlargement of a sideshow style sign advertising “Prof. Harbin’s Curious Cabinet”. It looks terrific on display and is a nice tip-of-the-hat to the routine’s creator.

Included are:

  • the cleverly designed mechanical cabinet
  • the necessary props to perform the vanishing wand, stiff rope, and dimension-defying metal rod. Use any rope for the knotting sequence.
  • the custom printed carnival signage with a metal easel
  • instructions explaining the easy set-up and working

We hope you enjoy this interesting piece of Harbin magic. It’s a unique effect which you can display proudly but perform often. A limited edition of only eighteen pieces.

(Description supplied with permission by Joe Long)

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Approx. Price: $595.00 (2015) ***

Notice: I am not a dealer and this item is not for sale on this site. It maybe available in the links below or at our sister site:, but not from here so please do not ask.
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