This is a remarkably effective coin trick. Several coins are inclosed in a little box, which is stood in a position close to the audience. An empty tumbler is placed upon a chair or table far away on the stage, and the performer, abstracting the coins one by one from the box, "passes" them into the distant glass, into which they are heard to fall. On the glass being brought forward, the coins are poured from it, and the box into which they were put is found to be empty.
The tumbler used should be coloured and opaque, or semi-opaque. Into it is fitted a zinc plate, depicted at Fig. 46. This plate is, it will be seen, divided into two unequal portions, which are then hinged together. B is an arm which, in the position shown in the sketch, prevents the flap C from opening; and E is a tiny pin fitted into C for the purpose of preventing the arm B going too far, and so becoming difficult to control. At D is a pin which, first connected with the arm B, runs through the plate, and then through the bottom of the tumbler. Underneath, it is provided with another arm (A, Fig. 47), the position of which should correspond with that of B. The pin D should be considerably larger than the holes (they should be round ones) in the glass and zinc plate, and those portions of it which are to pass through the said holes must be filed down to the necessary thinness. By this means two shoulders will be formed, which will prevent the plate from coming down too far, and thus keep a space clear between it and the bottom of the tumbler. This space should be about three quarters of an inch in depth. The best method for fixing A to D is to have a tiny hole through the protruding end of the latter, through which a cross-pin can be passed. It will be seen that so long as the arm B is kept against the pin E, or anywhere near it, the flap C cannot possibly open, even though the tumbler be inverted. The shifting aside of the arm A will cause a simultaneous and equal movement on the part of B, and, when the glass is again inverted, whatever has been concealed in the space beneath C will fall out.
The performer will also require two little boxes, resembling each other in every particular. If nothing else be at hand, then little fancy cardboard boxes may be used, but it is by far the best to have a couple turned out of some light wood. The turner should receive directions to turn them both out of the same length of wood, which should have some slight imperfection running through it, as this will cause each box to be naturally marked in a similar manner. Should one lid have a little knot in it and the other be without such a blemish, it can be faithfully imitated by making a hole in the wood and running a little shellac into it. The boxes should be turned as lightly as possible, consistent with strength, and should just admit a half-crown. The interior depth should be that of six half-crowns. One of these boxes the performer conceals under the vest band. The tumbler he loads with four or five half-crowns, placed in the space under C, and the arm B is turned into position against E. This glass is placed upon the table. In one outside trouser pocket is a half-crown.
The preparations made, the performer advances with five other half-crowns and one of the little boxes, and gives the whole into the hands of a member of the audience, with the request to have the box examined and the coins placed in it. Whilst this is being done, the concealed box is got down from the vest into the left hand. The box, with the money in it, is taken by the right hand, and apparently put into the left. It is, however, palmed, and the empty box shown instead. The performer executes this movement as he is passing to another portion of the audience, to whom he will explain matters briefly. This passing about the room is highly essential in concealing many movements, and the conjuror's actions should be well mapped out beforehand, and not left to accident. As I am describing the trick, the money should be put in the box by someone on the conjuror's right. It then becomes natural for the performer to place the box in his left hand, in order to exhibit it to those on that side of the room. The learner will find, as he progresses, how highly important it is to pay attention to these apparently small, but by no means insignificant matters. The performer's motions should balance, as it were; and his great study should be to make actions that are absolutely indispensable to him appear to be perfectly natural, if not the only ones that could be suitable to the occasion.
The empty box is then placed in the fingers of the right hand, in which the box containing the half-crowns is still concealed. The performer brings a chair close to the audience, and places upon it the empty box, first shaking the hand once or twice to show that the money is still inside. The coins rattling in the hidden box will appear to be in the one which is really empty. Care must be taken to keep the back of the hand towards the audience, and to allow it to hang down considerably, so as to do away with any possibility of an accidental exhibition of the palmed box.
The performer now proceeds to his table, pocketing the box with coins as he does so in as noiseless a manner as possible. He then takes the tumbler in one hand, and, rattling it hard with his wand all the time, turns it upside down to show that it is empty. On turning it back again the rattling must be repeated. This rattling, the reader will readily comprehend, is for the purpose of covering the slight clinking of the coins that are confined within. It is a good plan to have a piece of baize or cloth on the bottom of the tumbler, inside. This will deaden the sound of the clinking when the tumbler is being replaced upon the table The performer now returns to the little box, previously getting the half-crown from the pocket into his palm, and feigns to abstract one coin from it, the palmed coin being shown. This, with appropriate explanation, he "passes" into the tumbler, into which it is distinctly heard to fall. The whole of the coins are, one by one, abstracted from the box, and made to pass into the tumbler. The methods of extracting them should be varied. One can be taken out by means of the wand, another caught in mid-air, the next be found at the tip of someone's nose, and the next in somebody else's hair, whilst the last will probably be found attached either to the performer's elbow or to the sole of his boot. This variety of movement keeps the audience amused, and, consequently, distracts their attention, which might, perhaps, be employed in watching other matters somewhat too narrowly. The same system of variation should be observed in "passing" the coins, three or four different passes being brought into use. The last "pass" may be effectively made with the reverse palm, by the method described on page 8 for throwing the coin away. The palm can then be shown perfectly empty, the coin being recovered as the performer proceeds towards the glass.
The mystery of the coins being heard to fall into the tumbler has yet to be explained. The explanation is, that the conjuror's stage assistant is concealed behind the scenes, in a position as proximate to the tumbler as possible, with another glass and some coins. The performer and assistant must have an understanding between them, and when the assistant hears the word given he drops one coin into the glass, allowing a short time for the supposed journey. The word "pass" is the one commonly used, and is the best, for the conjuror is using it all through the performance, and it does not, therefore, excite any particular attention. It is as well to vary the speed with which the coins travel. The first two should occupy from a second and a half to two seconds in travelling from hand to tumbler. The next the conjuror should say will take a little longer, it being a very old coin and, consequently, weak. Five seconds will be quite long enough for this, and the next can be despatched with the command, "Presto, pass!" This should arrive at its destination in half-a-second. If no arrangement on this head has been made beforehand, the performer must take care to speak loudly and distinctly. This co-operation of performer and assistant has already been explained in connection with The Shower of Gold.
Sometimes, with the view, I imagine, of making the trick appear still more difficult, the tumbler is covered with a borrowed handkerchief, pocketbook, programme, &c. When this is done, the assistant must cover his glass with a handkerchief, and so cause the sound of the falling coins to be muffled. I have seen an assistant commit an absurd error of using only one coin. The sound caused by one coin falling upon others in a glass is very different to that of a coin falling into an empty glass.
The use of the two little boxes in this trick is an idea of my own. Other conjurors invariably use a box with a hinged lid, which has a horizontal plate on a level with its upper rim. This plate has four slits in it, and into each slit is placed a half - crown. By an exceedingly ingenious mechanical arrangement, a coin is made to drop into the body of the box each time the lid is shut down. The performer affects to abstract one in the manner just described. The chief objection to this box is its great expense; otherwise, it is a very good piece of apparatus.
Another piece of apparatus that is also frequently used in conjunction with the trick is what is called the Half-crown Wand. This is a hollow tin wand, with a sliding piston inside it. One end is divided into two parts, which are hinged. A half-crown, that has been cut into three portions, is concealed in this opening top, and by means of a complexity of hair springs, and the action of the piston, moved by the thumb from the outside, the three fragments are pushed out, and, ranging themselves side by side, cause the appearance of a half-crown on the end of a wand. All I can say about this piece of apparatus is, that it is a pity the inventor's ingenuity was not directed towards making something else. I believe, though, that the article sells well, as it does away with the last piece of sleight of hand left in the trick, and so gives lazy people and duffers a chance.