A long time a very very well respected member of the magishing world, although not really a magish as such.. passed away…

Harry Eng put ‘stuff’.. anything you liked in fact, into bottles.. and then added some more stuff.. just because he could..


His ‘one-gallon jug’ contained a pair of tennis shoes, a pocket dictionary, a tennis ball, a large pair of scissors, a pack of cigarettes, a large Turk’s-head knot, a deck of cards with a rope through a hole in the center and a padlock going through a loop in the rope.

I put up a page dedicated to Harry Eng’s memory a few years ago, along with my thoughts on him. I was very touched to recieve a personal email from his daughter just after his death, thanking me for preserving Harry’s memory. That sites long gone, but I’ll try and sort out the many photos I had of harrys puzzle bottles and post them here..

Since then I’ve followed Harrys directions on putting stuff into bottles


although fairly simple (from harrys point of view..) my two bottles both contain a full set of 52 playing cards. The first is a looney tunes set of cards, glued into a solid block of 52 cards inside their card case (yes I glued them INSIDE the bottle) with a single card sticking out of the glued block with my signature on (and yes it was signed also inside the bottle). The other is an orange juice bottle (about a 1/4 inch neck hole) containing a loose set of 52 playing cards inside their case with the card case left open.

I also did a large bottle containing 27 ping pong balls, although that was smashed a few years ago..

17 Responses to “When a square peg really does fit into a round hole”
  1. Russell Christie says:

    Where can I get a set of instructions on how to do this? I have three daughters and this seems like a great thing to give each of them that will keep them thinking forever. I know it has for me. Please email me with a link or answer please

  2. andrew says:

    Russell, the only place I’ve seen them for sale (not harrys bottles but similar) is at

    As for making them, thats the secret.. You’ll need a pair of chop sticks at the very least, Some things are helped with a mircowave (balls that need to go into the bottle), and you’re basically doing everything from the inside of the bottle, if that helps you..

  3. Jeff Scanlan says:


    First, thank you for keeping Harry’s Impossible Bottles a secret. I found someone a while back who was holding small workshops on how to put basic items into bottles. I emailed him letting him know my displeasure.

    If you haven’t been to my website lately, its changed. I’ve added more bottles totaling 21 bottles now for sale. More new bottles are always being created. I do have a question? Did you actually meet and know Harry Eng? The reason I ask is that you mention things like putting balls into the microwave in order to get them in a bottle. Harry never put balls into the microwave that I’ve ever heard. Every ball that Harry’s put into a bottle I’ve done the same w/o any kind of heating in a microwave. Second, why would you glue the cards in the box? I only mention this because every deck of cards that goes into one of my bottles is perfectly normal. What I mean by this,and I guarantee it, is that if you were to break the bottle you could literally open the deck of cards and find every card (all 56 including the two jokers & advertisement cards) in perfect order. Just like you bought them at the store. Third, why would you leave the deck of cards still open? The point is to have them still sealed. That’s what makes people wonder how you got them in. Finally, Harry always had two trademarks with his bottles. First, he always signed at least one thing that went into the bottle. Second, he always had some sort of knot in his bottles. He, just like me, always signed his objects BEFORE putting them into bottles.

    Just wanted to find out if you actually knew Harry. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I met his best friend and we’ve developed a good relationship. That’s how I know certain things about Harry and what he did.

    Sincerely yours,

    Jeff Scanlan
    America’s Sports Magician

  4. andrew says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post to my blog, Unfortuantly no I never knew Harry, although shortly after his death, his daughter sent me a letter thanking me for the page I had up about Harry and his bottles.
    I used to have quite an extensive page about harry on an old website, but thats now gone. I believe I read about the balls in an very old copy of Magic! I am sure it mentioned the microwave, email me direct if you like as this isnt the forum to discuss what reasoning is behind that, I could also scan the article for you..
    On the glueing side, I wanted my signed card to be sticking out of the deck, and glueing them together into a block with one card above the other was the only way I could think of doing it.
    With my bottles I was purely working out how you might do this, as oposed to physically knowing all of harrys secrets, I’d be interested to talk with you..
    Love your site, I may one day buy a ‘proper’ bottle…



  5. Tim Taylor says:

    Hey Andrew and Jeff,

    My name is Tim Taylor and I make the Ersatze bottles that you might have seen on Hocus Pocus website. Check them out if you have not seen them yet. I belive he has a few more left.
    Andrew, as for making that card stand up, I always make the Joker stand up by putting double stick tape on the card and sticking that to the inside of the card case.
    Jeff, great looking bottles! I guess I am really underselling myself. To date I have probably done about 150-200 bottles. It takes me about 5 minutes to stuff all 3 items into the bottles. I have found that my magic wand really helps speed things up 🙂
    You guys should see what I am doing to a 5 gallon glass water jug, I call it “everything but the the kitchen sink” That is about the only thing that’s not in it. I am working on one now with a western theme.
    Take care,
    Tim Taylor

  6. Carolyn says:

    Harry Eng was my 6th grade teacher. It was the year he had his first heart attack so he was gone for about 2 months. He was the most amazing man and teacher. We didn’t work from books. He had our attention for the entire day and I learned so very, very much. Mr Eng – we miss you!

  7. Jeff Scanlan says:

    Hey Andrew,

    Just wanted to let you know that is now its own website. its been expanded to now include a store, a gallery, and a history which talks about Harry Eng and shows some bottles he’s made. I hope you check it out and enjoy it.


    Jeff Scanlan
    America’s Sports Magician

  8. Christopher says:

    The best I’ve done so far is a deck of cards into a bottle.. looking at knots and scissors now. I was wondering if it would be possible to compare techniques inserting the deck cards? If you could get back to me either way I would appriciate it. Thanks

  9. Mark says:

    Andrew and Jeff,

    The microwave was mentioned in Paul Harris’ “The Art of Astonishment.”

    I’ve done a few of these bottles, I’ve been fascinated by them since I read an article about Harry in Games Magazine many years ago.

    The thing that Harry did that most impressed me was the special vise he made to unbend coins once they were placed in a bottle. Amazing!

  10. Greg Hill says:

    Years ago I called Harry Eng and asked if I could meet him, My sister was a childhood friend of his daughter, Diane. He invited me to his house where I spent an evening in total amazement.I will never forget that night. He was on a level of his own.
    Greg Hill

  11. AJ says:

    Hey Jeff and Andrew,

    I have been very fascinated by Harry’s work as well as what you are now doing Jeff. I am amazed at bottle tricks and always have been. When I was young, I remember my uncle having a ship in a bottle on his desk, and always being amazed. As I found out how that was done, I could never figure out how the cards are put into the bottles. My friend Jimmy and I are both very interested in Magic, and would like to make bottles like yours to give as gifts to friends for Christmas and birthdays and what not, but the only thing we can get in are ping pong balls, coins, and tennis balls. I’ve heard about the vice that harry would use, and was curious as to whether or not that is how you do it Jeff or Andrew.

    Take Care

  12. Hi everybody,

    I have just opened a gallery of impossible bottles from many different makers at

    If any of you would like to see your bottles displayed there, with a link to your site of course, let me know at


  13. Wow!

    This blog has been around since 2004- that’s amazing in itself! Great work in keeping the writing going!

    As for bottles, I was entered into Ripley’s Believe It Or Not last year for my version:

    It was, and is, an amazing experience.

    Thanks for writing,


  14. Phil says:

    I just came across this article – nice work. You can see my contribution to the art form at:



  15. Bob Gurkin says:

    Jeff Scanlan. Harry Eng did (at least once) show how one of his bottles was made. And he used a microwave to do it. It was on a Japanese game show and Harry Eng was featured and many of his bottles were shown. For the show he showed how he put the ping pong balls in the bottles. Im not going to say exactly how it was done, but it was sheer simplicity. Took a matter of seconds to put the ball in the bottle. I too have been working on putting objects inside a glass object, but I am working on putting objects inside a light bulb. So far I have dozens of broken bulbs and very few completed 🙂

  16. M D Eng says:

    WOW – first of all, so glad to see you are still honoring my Dad, Andrew!

    Carolyn – I would love to hear from you!

    Greg Hill – WOW! I had no idea I would find a post from you on here! Glad you were able to visit Dad before he passed away!

    Thank you for keeping his memory alive.

  17. Jeff Scanlan says:

    Hello MD Eng,

    I have been following in your Dad’s footsteps since his passing in 1996. I’ve duplicated 7 of his bottles and am working on more. I would REALLy appreciate if you or your brother would contact me. I have met many of your Dad’s friends since I’ve been making Impossible Bottles. You can contact me by going to and visiting my contact page. I would really like to hear from you.

    Always be your best,

    Jeff Scanlan

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