Phantom Penetration: glass chimney penetration by a playing card

The magician shows a stand on which is placed a wooden frame which has been shown to break into two across the hole in the centre of the frame. The magician hands out a card for examination and then demonstrates that it fits inside the frame, the hole in the card coinciding with the hole in the frame. The card is placed back on the table. The magician then shows that the glass chimney fits through the hole in the frame, where it is left in position and a silk handkerchief pushed through so that it hangs out from both ends. The magician again picks up the card and pushes it into the top slot in the frame. It should of course come to rest when it hits the top part of the chimney but, with the correct magic word, the card is pushed right through the chimney and handkerchief and down to the bottom of the frame. The apparatus can be shown all around. The final applause comes when the magician removes the top half of the frame and lifts out the card and chimney, showing that the card really is threaded onto the chimney.

With help from Chris Cross and Philip Treece, the inventor of this trick has been identified as Brian Godfrey. In the ‘Demon Telegraph’ of October 1933 (illustrated) the trick is advertised as Brian Godfrey’s PHANTOM PENETRATION. This is the first mention of the trick we have found. The trick makes use of a glass tumbler rather than a glass chimney. A few years later Goldston and Stanyon advertised the trick. In America, the same effect called ‘Improbability’ was sold by the National Magic Company and Sherms. They do not credit the inventor. The trick is written up in ‘Goldston’s Magical Quarterly’ of September 1935. Bob Albo describes the effect in detail in Volume III of his Classic Magic series.


Size Length of glass chimney 265mm. Height to top of the stand is 310mm.
Date Probably 1930s to 1950s.
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Ref no N2608