I devised the following effect over a dozen years ago, and it was published in the September 1986 M.U.M.; it also appeared in my 1994 book MYSTERIES.. It is designed for closeup performance in a restaurant or at the dining table.
EFFECT: From the table’s salt shaker you pour a small pile of salt. You add to this pile from the pepper shaker, stirring up the two condiments with your finger.
You take a spectator’s hand and place it over the pile of granules. Both of your hands are seen to be empty, and you place one under the table. You ask the spectator which she would like, salt or pepper. She says “Salt.”
“Very well, then,” you say, “you have the salt…”
She lifts her hand at your indication. The salt remains, but the pepper has vanished.
“…and I have the pepper!” You bring your hand up from beneath the table and open it to show the pepper.
METHOD: Of course, it is equivoque as to salt or pepper; the effect is always the same, that of the pepper penetrating through the table. You have an extra pile of pepper in your lap.
And how do you make the tabled pepper vanish from the pile of salt?
You are wearing a ring with an amber stone. Just prior to taking the spectator’s hand — with your ring hand, of course — you rub the ring on your pants leg. This builds up a charge of static electricity in the stone.
As your palm-up hand guides the spectator’s hand over the pile, for a moment the amber stone is directly above the pile. The pepper alone will be attracted to the stone and leave the pile.
When you place your hand under the table, you wipe the pepper from the ring against your pants and then pick up the pile of pepper from your lap. The effect is done, except for offering the `choice’ to the spectator.
You can, of course, scrape the pepper from the ring into your lap and then use that pepper for reproduction, if you haven’t had time to `load’ your lap. When possible, however, the procedure given above makes for smoother handling.
copyright c 1994 by T. A. Waters