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The Real Secret Behind
X-Ray Specs

By Brett McCarron, webmaster
The Blame Productions

X-Ray Specs!

Alright, admit it. Who hasn't seen this swell pair of special glasses advertised in comic books and novelty catalogs? Who has actually ordered a pair? And who knows the secret?

It's feathers! Yes, you read that correctly. A hole, approximately 1/4" in diameter, is punched out from two pieces of cardboard. The feather is glued between the cardboard sheets.

If you look through the hole, you are looking through the feather. Holding the hand up to a bright light gives an offset image of the hand. Where the images overlap, the image is darker. It provides the illusion of an x-ray. The rest is pure showmanship. The person wearing the glasses pretends to see through clothing, walls, etc. It's a real hoot!

X-Ray Specs were very popular back when x-rays were relatively recent. Nowadays, audiences are more sophisticated. Or so we like to think!

1940's novelty X-Ray Tube novelty  A precursor to X-Ray Specs was the 1940's-era Wonder Tube joke novelty, made by the S.S. Adams Company of Asbury Park, NJ. It used the same principle as the glasses. Instead of two eye holes, the Wonder Tube featured a single hole (like a telescope). The effect was pretty cool: the prankster allowed the victim to hold their hand up to a light source and look through the tube. They apparently saw the bones in their hand, the graphite in a pencil, etc. The joker took back the tube and pretended to see through the victim's clothing. Of course, the gagster saw nothing, but the victim didn't know that!

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