Sunday, 26 March 2017

Glass Bottle, Bottle Glass.

One of the most widely remembered tricks for laypeople in the UK is the Multiplying Bottles as performed by Tommy Cooper. The trick starts with a bottle and a glass swapping around repeatedly when covered by tubes before multiplying into many bottles, filling the table.

The first part of this trick as performed by Cooper is the traditional Passe Passe bottles where a glass and a bottle swap places while covered. Here is the earliest example of the trick in my collection. Probably manufactured around 1890 this was sold by Blands.


The covers are spun brass with banded decoration and the bottles are painted spun tin, now very worn. Although a very attractive set, they can't have been the most persuasive, the bottles are only about 12cm tall. The shape of the covers also points the audience towards the method in a way a simple tube does not.

Jumping ahead by fifty or sixty years here's a set of bottles that can both be a Passe Passe set and a Topsy Turvy bottle.


The set are relatively roughly made, and would be best performed at quite a distance from the audience! I'm not sure of the manufacturer, they may be made by a competent amateur.


The really satisfying thing about this set is that all the parts nest into one tube for transport.

The last object in this post is also a bit of a mystery. It is a handsome and very large beer bottle.


Again, I'm not entirely sure of the use of this item, it has a liquid tight upper half and a black felt lined interior (looking in from the base). My assumption is that this would be loaded  into a tight fitting tube which could be quickly shown as empty before producing this bottle.

I've scanned the catalogues looking for this type of effect and come up blank, so any help would be appreciated!