Author Options:

Make a stamp disappear? Answered

I'm planning a mystery dinner party. There will be a postage stamp on display. I have a way to trigger a lights-out remotely (just by plugging the lamps into a remote-control switch). During the blackout, which will last a few seconds until I can "find the fuse box," the stamp needs to disappear.

I could of course just walk over and steal it myself, but I'm looking for other suggestions. Print the stamp with some kind of ink that will vanish if hit with a camera flash? Some sort of motor-and-string attachment that could pull the stamp into a hidden chamber in the display case?



7 years ago

I think the 'sliding panel inside the picture frame' sounds pretty easy, as it has only one moving piece, doesn't require electricity, and has been widely used in pop-up books for a long time. I think I'll mount the stamp on a piece that slides/rotates and pull it behind the mat.

Thanks for all the input.

Now to decide whodunit.

There is no butler.

It's a gathering of the world's six greatest detectives - Sam Slayed, Miss Marbles, Charlie Sham, Jessica Stretcher, Hemlock Bones, and Nancy Prude, invited to the mansion of billionaire game-company owner and eccentric recluse Brother Parker. They're supposed to be protecting the priceless Inverted Jimmy, a unique postage stamp worth $12 million.

There's a hiccup in the electricity, and when the lights come back on, the stamp is gone! Is one of the party a thief? What dark secret could drive one of these champions of law and order to do such a dastardly deed? Your skin will crawl! Accusations mount! Cast of stars and 1000 elephants!

I spot your Pratchett reference, and claim my 5AMD

The the "stamp" actually a photo in a digital photo frame.

Take the photo on a black background - when you cut power to the frame, the stamp will simply disappear.

Shouldn't the stamp disappear if power is cut regardless of background? :p

Yes, but using a black background for the picture will make it look the same with or without power. In a perfect world, you might even take the picture using a background the same color as an unpowered LCD display (kind of a charcoal grey).

Ah, I see.

Why bother using any background at all? Just crop it to the very edges of the stamp.

(Although I must say, it feels really...transparent to do it with a digital photo frame; I don't think I'd be mystified at all...)

It's just a prop, which can be easily made and easily re-purposed.

Yeah, I know - it just seems to ruin the suspension of disbelief. :p

With a remote control, the stamp could disappear during a flicker of the lights, never mind a "blown fuse".

or possibly use some dielectric glass like they use in those "hidden TVs".

with it being something as flat as a stamp, i'd imagine that if you made a shadow box type display case with a mirror as the bottom, then the stamp directly on top of that mirror then the sheet of dielectric glass above that, that most people wouldn't notice the layers when they're looking at the stamp (though, it would be even better if the dielectric portion of the glass was exactly the same size as the stamp....that might be hard to come by though). when y ou want people to see the stamp you'd power up the glass, and when you want it to disappear you'd turn the glass off and it would go back to looking like a normal mirror.

of course, i'd also imagine that everyone coming knows this is a mystery dinner party (have you ever been to a "surprise mystery dinner part"...they suck really badly), so i don't know how intricate your trick really needs to be, part of the fun is suspension of disbelief so it doesn't have to be a rock solid illusion.

i've got another lower tech idea, but i don't know how to explain it...so here goes.

you build the display case like a picture frame. it would have two backs. one against the wall that would be a full sheet of whatever (like plywood or foam core...doesn't matter) then the second back would be placed a distance in front of the first (maybe 1/8"...depends on the material used) this back would have a rectangle missing in the middle (horizontally). so paint the first back a different color than the second back (like the second back would be red and the first back would be black....something that would contrast with the stamp). you mount the stamp in the center of this rectangular void on the first back. then you would get a strip of your material that's the same width as the rectangular void but a little taller and slip it between the two backs. you'd have to put a pin in the side of the box that would hold the strip above the void with a string attached. when it's time for the stamp to disappear just pull the string and the strip will fall into place covering the stamp, but since it's the same color as the back no one should notice the difference in depth.

You need to have one of your secret accomplices near the display case to pull the hidden string or set off a spring/mousetrap device to pull the stamp off into a hidden chamber. Rig up the display case with camera flashes and alarm that goes off in the dark to further "blind" the guests and to alert them that the stamp has been stolen.

Unless you want to build the useless machine with a sticky gripper to pull the stamp off, keep it simple.  Good luck.

Sounds like fun. I am not a techy person so my idea would be; Get a guest to remove it whilst you are obviously scrambling about to fix the light.
Have a shallow "box" as part of the table decor and slip it inside. Obviously the Stamp will be either enlarged or framed to show it off. If it could be laminated or in a plastic envelope it would be easier to handle "disappear". Even a false slot in the frame to slip it into? Good luck I wish I could see your result.