The Davenport Collection
- a growing resource on magic and entertainment history

Grand Illusions

Flowers in a pot pop-up card

Flowers in a pot pop-up card

This impressive pop-up card was a Christmas gift from Tim Rowett in 2023. Tim is an expert on toys and novelties and has a world class collection which he shares with people on the Grand Illusions YouTube channel. Inside the pot of the pop-up card is a simple but effective cardboard device that keeps the card fully open. The card comes in an envelope, also illustrated here, which has an unusual butterfly shaped closing device. The card is manufactured by www.origamo.com.

Silver SwitchPen made by Crushmetric

Silver SwitchPen made by Crushmetric

This is a remarkable object. By flipping the switch on the plastic top of the pen, the shape switches from a silver cylinder to a uniformly crushed surface. The change is reversible. CRUSHMETRIC is a design and production company established in 2019. It was co-founded by artist/inventor Noah Deledda. Their first project, the SwitchPen was launched in January 2022. The company is an interesting one and more details on its formation and other products can be found on its website www.crushmetric.com. This particular pen was a gift from Tim Rowett who works with Grand Illusions and is well known for his amazing collection of toys and novelties. In 2023 the pens are available from Grand Illusions at www.grand-illusions.com.

“Surfer” design of the GeoBender Cube

“Surfer” design of the GeoBender Cube

This well made cube consists of twelve pyramids which are hinged together and which contain magnets. The initial puzzle is how to open it up. Once open, it can be flexed to create many different shapes. Click on View Details to see examples of the shapes which can be made. This example was purchased from Grand Illusions in the UK. The product is made under licence in the Peoples Republic of China for www.geobender.com.

Somersaulting top

Somersaulting top

The Austrian company Mader Kreiselmanufaktur makes many high quality spinning tops. This most unusual somersaulting top was purchased through Grand Illusions in the UK. Tim Rowett of Grand Illusions has made a very useful video showing the strange way in which this top behaves. In 2022 this video was available here. The first interesting thing is that the top will not spin on its sharp point, as most tops will. This one will promptly fall over. It will, however, spin very well on its flatter end. As Tim says, this is not the main trick of the top. The instructions which came with the top explain: ‘Spin the top normally, i.e. with the point downwards, and it will immediately fall on its side. However it will remain spinning, and it will also slowly rotate as it spins on its side. If you reach in and use your fingers to give it a nudge in the opposite direction, it will initially spin the other way, but still on its side, and it will then hop up onto the blunt end and spin happily in that orientation.’ There is a knack in getting this to happen and it is very instructive to watch Tim’s video.

Non-toppling top

Non-toppling top

This top behaves in a strange way. It has a very low centre of gravity, so that if you spin it fast and try to knock it over with your finger, it unexpectedly pops up again to a vertical position and continues to spin. Purchased in 2020 from Grand Illusions in the UK. www.grand-illusions.com. The top is made in Japan by Swany Co. Ltd. www.swany-ina.com.

Magnetic Torpedoes

Magnetic Torpedoes

These are two very strong magnets. One dramatic trick you can do is as follows. Separate the two magnets in your hand by about 25mm (holding them firmly otherwise they will just lock together) and then throw them in the air together. Initially they will rattle in the air before they join together. The rattling sound is amazing – something like a demented cicada. At one time these were advertised on www.grand-illusions.com.

Hyperscope optical device

Hyperscope optical device

The Hyperscope is a viewing device that uses a system of mirrors to increase the apparent distance between your eyes, so that they see as if they were further apart. This allows you to see the world in a different way, more exciting and with more depth. This one was purchased in kit form from Grand Illusions Ltd in 2015. www.grand-illusions.com. Design and concept by Terry Pope www.phantascope.co.uk.

Optical illusion Zu lang zu breit?? (Too long too wide??)

Optical illusion Zu lang zu breit?? (Too long too wide??)

This is a well made wooden example of a well known optical illusion. The wooden construction allows for the two wooden table tops to be interchanged. The table tops are in fact of an identical shape and size. This looks impossible, but swapping them over proves that the table tops are indeed identical, although your brain finds it impossible to believe this. Purchased from Grand Illusions Ltd in 2010. www.grand-illusions.com.

Nitinol wire in the shape of the word HOT

Nitinol wire in the shape of the word HOT

When the wire is cold, you can bend it into any shape you like. When you then heat the wire above about 40 degrees Celsius, for example in fairly hot water, the wire will spring back into the position that has been set in its memory, so spelling the word HOT. To repeat the trick, just put the wire in cold water, or hold it under a cold running tap, and you can then bend it into whatever shape you wish. John Davenport bought this from Grand Illusions Ltd (www.grand-illusions.com) in 2008.

“Hurricane Balls”

“Hurricane Balls”

This was a gift from Tim Rowett to John Davenport and other attendees at James Dalgety’s puzzle party on 9 June 2001. The idea is to spin the two ball bearings (which are welded together) on a flat surface, and then speed up the spinning rate by blowing on them using the pipe. The balls can be accelerated to an incredibly high rotational speed. The Hurricane Balls were sold by Grand Illusions with LED torches to create amazing illumination patterns.

Luycho memo pad: A Fine Line between Love and Hate

Luycho memo pad: A Fine Line between Love and Hate

This pad creates an amazing optical effect. The inside lid of the case which contains the pad has 1,280 micro-mirrors in a 32 x 40 array. The mirrors are at different angles and they interact with the colours on the pages to produce different images. Purchased by John Davenport from Grand Illusions in 2015. https://www.grand-illusions.com

Three Card Box Illusion

Three Card Box Illusion

An excellent illusion. One pack of cards appears to be heavier than three packs. Purchased by John Davenport from Grand Illusions in 2015. https://www.grand-illusions.com