A large enclosure with a curtain in the front. Usually, they were big enough to hold a chair and a table. During a séance, a medium would be bound and secured within the cabinet, often tied to a chair or post. Objects such as tambourines and bells would be placed on the table. With the curtain closed spirits would supposedly “come through” the medium in some way to play the instruments, move things around, cause lights to flash, etc. Some magic entertainers have been able to simulate this as part of their show.
Perhaps the most famous use of a cabinet was a variation made by Houdini in an attempt to catch the medium known as “Margery” in fraud. He put her in a box with holes for her head and arms in order to control her. Houdini claimed he proved her to be a fake, but his assistant later admitted to planting false evidence on her by Houdini’s instructions.