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Steve Stubbs' "third possibility" about the cup & saucer materialization

Mar 10, 2002 08:12 AM
by Daniel Caldwell

Writing about "possible" explanations for the
materialization of the cup and saucer at a Simla,
India picnic, Steve Stubbs offers what he calls a
"third possibility". I give his specific text on this
possibility BELOW in order to comment on it in my next

"That said, there is a third possibility, not broached
by Emma, Sinnett, Henderson, or anyone else. We know
Sinnett was an incredibly lazy man, as were all the
other Englishmen in India, or, as he would have
preferred to say it, that he was a gentleman of
leisure. He had a full time job as editor of the
PIONEER, but only worked a couple of hours a day. 
When he was fired, he blamed that on his Theosophical
connection, but the truth could very well be that his
boss decided to replace him with someone who could be
expected to shake a leg."

"So here we have a very hot day in India. It is
proposed to take a shovel and dig into hard ground
which is impacted with tree roots in the middle of a
boiling hot day. I can guarantee you that Sinnett did
not turn a hand in that operation, but entrusted the
job to one of the Indian servants, while he laid back
as usual."

"The servant, who is not a confederate, then spends
some considerable time trying to break through hard
ground and tree roots. This is not very entertaining
so Sinnett and the others get bored. At some point
they are easily distracted by conversation. The
digging goes on but nobody is watching what is

"Suddenly, one of the chelas walks up and quietly
offers to take over so the servant can have a rest. 
By this time there is a hole large enough that a cup
and saucer can be inserted in it. While nobody is
looking, the chela inserts the objects, then calls the
attention of the previously distracted Europeans to
his "find". It was not necessary for the original
servant to conceal these objects on his person because
they were brought to the scene by the chela."

"If he wanted to get really slick about it, he could
have filled a small pan with mud, then inserted the
cup and saucer in it. He could have then cooked the
system slowly, so as to dry the mud without turning it
into brick. He could then insert the whole thing into
the ground, so that the observers could watch the cup
and saucer being dug out of packed earth. If they
were extracted properly, there would be no evidence of
how the trick was done."

"Now I hope nobody is cynical enough to think this is
how the deed was actually done, as opposed to an
astonishing and unexplainable miraculous
materialization of a cup and saucer out of thin air. 
But I do think as historians we can dismiss theories
#1 and #2 above completely out of hand, since they are
both wildly impractical. This new theory of mine
would be a way of producing the phenomenon by trickery
if one wanted to do so, and as Maskelyne once said, it
could be done by 'the merest tyro in conjuring.' It
wouldn't take a Houdini, in other words."

"...And it is also likely the cup and saucer
was just a trick."

The above is extracted from:

The same text is also found at:

Daniel H. Caldwell
"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at
their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and
hears both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision."
H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.

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