A Spirit Cabinet is a box used to section off the magician from the audience. The magician is generally bound hand and foot in the cabinet while seemingly impossible phenomena manifested around them.
It appeared during the heyday of Spiritualism and were used by mediums as part of the Séance. Although spirit cabinets later became the standard for mediums, it was first introduced into the Spiritualist movement by the Davenport Brothers in the middle 1850's. None of the earlier mediums in the movement, including the Spiritualism's founders, the Fox Sisters, ever used such a device.
The Davenport Brothers, Ira and William, first got the idea as suggestion from an audience member. This person asked if they could produce their phenomena in a sealed container to prevent any sort of collusion by accomplices.
The Davenport's cabinet was seven feet high, six feet wide and two feet deep. It sat upon sawhorses that kept it a foot off the floor. A hole was cut into the middle door for air (and for spirit hands to protrude). Behind the doors, the Davenport's were bound hand and foot by audience members and musical instruments were placed on the floor. Once the audience was satisfied that the Davenport's could not move about, the doors were closed. Within moments, hands appeared through the hole, the musical instruments began to play. When the doors were opened though, the brothers were found to still be found tied up.