Are the tricks in the movie The Illusionist actually possible back then?

Yes they were possible back then, but they were not as detailed and well preformed as the movie, obviously because the movie used computer generated graphics.

The orange tree with the butterflies and the hanker chief was created by Houdini. It was created using a series of wined up mechanics. But even though today it doesn't look as smooth and extra ordinary, it is still one of the most impressive things built to this day.

But like I said, nothing as detailed as the movie.

If you search up Houdini Orange tree, on www.youtube.com, than you will be able to view the trick being done, and shown how it is done as well.