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With the move away from theater-based grand illusion shows to smaller club venues in the 1960s, magicians needed a smaller and more portable version of the guillotine illusion, which led to the invention of the so-called "Head Chopper" versions. In these, the apparatus is reduced in size by the elimination of the tall uprights, leaving just the stocks, and a smaller blade which is thrust through the stocks manually by the magician.

A recent development of the illusion has seen the previously opaque stocks replaced by clear perspex, which allow the blade to be seen as it passes through them. In this version, a large blade is used, which completely fills the stocks when inserted, in place of the narrow blade used in earlier versions.

The device described above is patented under the US patent number 5605508.

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