Personally Speaking – Nov07 – Part 2

By Robert Harbin

Way back in December 1947, I was commissioned to create several different magical effects for the theatrical version of The Wizard Of Oz, which Mr. Gordon Stewart decided to stage. The production was presented on a small stage and amongst the effects which we used, The Sentry Box was one which I knew would and could do further things.

Here, in a different disguise and with a new design, I offer a production box which is capable of producing two or three live doves. In fact the prop I am about to describe is really a transformation for there is a definite change in the effect.


  • A square box with an open front and an upper lid is shown to the audience.
  • The front lid is slid out to show that the box is empty, and replaced again.
  • From a clear bowl, many hundreds of white feathers are cascaded from and into the box, through the opening in the top lid, which hinges upward. Endless streams of feathers seem to pour into the box.
  • Upon sliding up the front lid again, the audience can now see two or three live white doves, taking the place of the loose feathers which only a moment ago were scattered inside the box.
THE APPARATUS: The box is made of ply, has three sides and a base. See illustration showing the main part of the box. The upper lid, consisting of a hinged lid within a top, is beaded so it fits over the sides correctly. In place, it is a simple matter for the performer to open the inner hinged lid to get to the inside of the box.

As for the front of the box, this appears to be open fronted. Sliding down two grooves, one each side of the box, goes a hardboard panel.


So far we have detailed just an ordinary wooden box of the type which could hold things… but what can it do? How can it produce or exchange one set of things for another, you may ask… here’s the answer!