Created January 07, 2020
Refinish project by Michael Baker
Seven checkers are shown to be separate and unprepared. Six are red; one is white. Each has a hole through the center.
The checkers are threaded onto a tall chrome rod attached to a base. They are ordered with the white checker at the top, above the red ones. A decorative tube is used to cover all the checkers.
When the tube is lifted, the white checker has magically travelled to the bottom of the stack. Again the checkers are shown to be separate and normal.
The white checker is moved to another position and it again travels to a different place in the stack.
Finally, the tube is lifted to reveal a stack of variegated checkers, some red, and some white.
Some history of The Blue Phantom, quoting Bill Palmer's post on The Magic Cafe...
Here is some history behind The Blue Phantom. It was invented by Hans Trunk, a Viennese director, sometime before WW II, possibly before WW I. I don't have the exact date. The method was revealed in Das Wunderbuch der Zauberkunst which was translated into English by J. Barrows Mussey (AKA Henry Hay) and published as Illustrated Magic. I've owned a couple of them. The ones made in the US by Thayer and Owen were, in my opinion, in my opinion, far less convincing than the ones from Germany and Austria, because of a change in the method. The change allowed the magician to show a few of the checkers loose after the first transformation, but the gimmick was obvious from as far away as 12 feet. My favorite is the one that was manufactured by ZZM. It was a close-up version of the original. The name "Blue Phantom" is not an accurate translation of the original name "das blaue Wunder" which means an absolute miracle, a nasty surprise, or a real shock. It was probably named after the bridge in Dresden which bears the same name, although I see absolutely no connection at all between the two, other than the fact that the bridge has survived all sorts of disasters.
The Refinish Project:
I acquired this piece used. I do not know who made it, although the inner mechanics are very similar to those made by Owen. The quality of the wood used to make the checkers and base doesn't seem to be of the highest quality hardwood, as some grain shows through. The paint was worn and the tube decor was simple stencil designs.
I decided to repaint and step away from the typical color pattern of yellow checkers with one blue "phantom" checker, as was this one. I used all red, with white for the odd checker.
It works very well and all the gimmicks fit and operate as they should. The metalwork is as good as any I've seen.
The tube (originally red with generic stencil design) was repainted black with gold pin stripes, and an added decal image with a Russian fairytale theme. I chose this color so the red and white checkers would really pop with contrast to the tube.
The special ending is known as the CLIMAX BLUE PHANTOM, created by the late TOMMY WINDSOR of Marietta, Ohio, and published in "The New Tops Trick Annual" (1962). It's a beautiful and surprising finish to a very puzzling routine.