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Charm given to first woman magically ‘sawn in two’ sells for thousands

The charm, which weighs one and a half grams, is small with an engraving which reads "Sawing Through a Woman with P.T.Selbit’s Compliments."

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The charm was given by magician P. T. Selbit to brave audience members who agreed to take part in the now-famous “Sawing Through A Woman” illusion in 1921. (Fellows Auctioneers via SWNS)

By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

A gold charm given to a woman who volunteered to be “sawn in two” in the first ever performance of the famous magic trick, has sold for more than 50 times its estimate.

The charm, made from nine carat gold, was given by magician P. T. Selbit to brave audience members who agreed to take part in the now-famous “Sawing Through A Woman” illusion.

He came up with the trick, where a woman is apparently divided into two or more pieces, and first tried it on audiences in 1921.

Volunteers who agreed to take part in the trick were given a little gold saw charm during the performance.

One such charm, given to Gladys Eveline Curtis, was expected to fetch between £30 and £50 ($36- $61) at Fellows Auctioneers but instead sold for £1,885 ($2,301).

She had watched him perform the trick at the Finsbury Park Empire theatre in London on January 17, 1921.

The charm, which weighs one and a half grams, is small with an engraving which reads "Sawing Through a Woman with P.T.Selbit’s Compliments."

The charm was given by magician P. T. Selbit to brave audience members who agreed to take part in the now-famous “Sawing Through A Woman” illusion in 1921. (Fellows Auctioneers via SWNS)
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Gladys’ daughter Eileen said: “This gold saw was given to my grandmother by the Magician P.T. Selbit for “assisting” in his sawing through a woman in half act at his show at the Finsbury Park Empire in 1921.

“It has been kept by my family ever since.

“Members of the audience were invited on stage to help with the act and my grandmother took part.”

Jewelry auction Manager Alex Duffy said: “I had to rub my eyes watching the bidding go up just to be sure it wasn't an illusion, but what a great result.

“It was fantastic to see enthusiasts fighting over this rare piece of magic history and I am delighted to know it will be going somewhere it can be truly appreciated."

P. T. Selbit was born Percy Thomas Tibbles in Hampstead, London in 1881.

He was apprenticed to a silversmith who leased space to magician Charles Morritt.

It was here where he learnt card tricks and illusions from Morritt’s collection, often studying them while the older man was away.

He soon decided to write and perform under a pseudonym derived from his own name and he reversed the order of the letters in his surname and removed one “b” to become P. T. Selbit.

His most famous illusion act associated with the magician is Sawing A Woman In Half, which has become a world-famous act performed by countless magicians across the globe.

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