Magic Trick: The Banker

In "Drawing-room Magic," a method for collecting coins from the air, &c., and passing them into a hat through the crown, was explained. Before larger audiences, the trick is capable of being much more elaborated. Going down amongst the audience, the performer collects quantities of coins from the heads and persons of the audience. There are various methods of executing this. One is to keep a coin palmed, and then produce it from the hair, whiskers, beards, sleeves, elbows, &c., of different spectators, a motion of throwing it into the hat being made each time it is produced, and the hat shaken, to cause the resemblance of a coin falling into it. Another method, which I hardly like as well, although successfully adopted by some good performers, is to dip the hand into the hat, and gather some coins quickly in it. These coins are kept in the palm of the hand, and concealed by the two outside fingers, and the thumb pushes one forward as it is required for production. The coins, in this instance, are actually tossed in the air and caught in the hat, which is of itself a great advantage, but the chances of detection are considerable. Nevertheless, the effect is very fine when the conjuror moves rapidly about, picking coins indiscriminately from everyone around. It is possible to hold a great number of large coins in the hand without detection ensuing. The third method is somewhat similar. The coins are gathered in the hand from the hat, but, instead of being reproduced singly, they are all swept from the head of a spectator into the hat. Coins invariably drop on the floor when the latter method is adopted, and the conjuror is enabled to take a fresh dip into the hat unperceived, whilst busying himself about the recovery of his property. What I recommend is a happy mixture of all three methods. Whichever is adopted, the performer must be exceedingly rapid in his movements, never stopping in one place, and accompanying his movements with a running commentary, such as, "Ah, one more on your nose, sir. Thank you, sir, just a few in your hair. Madam, a little one hiding itself under your bow, and, I declare, another in your fan." A lady's muff, when handy, can be well employed. It should be taken in the hand containing the coins, which are allowed to run through into the hat. A good variation, too, is to snatch a hat from a person's head or elsewhere, and dropping a few coins into it, immediately toss them about, and then pour them into your own hat. The larger the audience, the better this money collecting will succeed. It is a great feature in a performance, and always takes well.

A little piece of apparatus which, although I never use it myself, many find very useful for the magical production of coins, is what is known as the "money tube." This is a long flat tube of tin, japanned on the outside. It is just wide and deep enough to admit of the coins in use passing easily through it, and no more. At one end, on the outside, it is furnished with a broad flat hook, for the purpose of suspending the tube from a buttonhole or slit in the interior of the performer's vest or coat. The bottom end is furnished with a lever arrangement on the outside, which for half-crowns would be thus constructed: In length it would just exceed the width of a half-crown, and each end be furnished with a peg about a quarter of an inch long. In the centre is drilled a hole, and on the tube is a bifurcated projection, also with a hole through it. The lever is placed in its position, and a pin passed through it and the projection. A joint will thus be formed very similar in appearance to the centre joint of an umbrella rib. In the tube (exactly underneath the pegs, which must be towards the tube) pierce two holes, and under the upper half of the lever fix a small piece of spring, tolerably strong. The apparatus is then complete. The spring causes the upper half of the lever to rise, and, as a natural consequence, the lower half to be depressed. The lower peg thus prevents anything that may be in the tube from passing out at the end. So soon, however, as any pressure is put upon the upper half of the lever the lower peg rises and allows the coin to escape. The upper peg, descending at the same time, prevents the escape of any other coins that may be in the tube. The method for using the tube is to fix it securely under the vest or coat flap, with the bottom end all but exposed. When the performer requires a coin, all he has to do is to curl his fingers under the mouth of the tube, and press the upper portion of the lever, when a coin will fall into his hand. As the operation is invariably accompanied by a slight clattering, however careful the performer may be, the hat should always be shaken for the purpose of smothering the sound made by the tube. A small band of elastic on the coat or vest will serve to keep the tube steady. The lever lies transversely across the tube, and not straight along it. This enables the little pegs to pass into the triangular spaces left between two coins, the edges of which are touching. It is not advisable to produce many coins in a short space of time by this method, as the frequent repetition of the movement of the hand might easily be noticed.

An effective continuation is to apparently cause the coins to pass through the crown the reverse way, i.e., from the inside to the outside. For this purpose, the performer must retire well up the stage, concealing, as he does, so several coins in the palm of the hand, one being shown at the ends of the fingers. The hat is held out, crown downwards, in the other hand, and the coin in the fingers then tossed high in the air. Whilst it is descending the thumb gets another coin in readiness, and as the coin in the air falls into the hat the one brought from concealment is put against the crown and instantly pulled sharply away from it. The effect is as if the coin thrown in the air had passed through the crown of the hat, and was caught by the performer as it came through. Considerable practice must be undertaken, as it is indispensable that the fall of the descending coin into the hat and the production of the fresh one at the crown be precisely simultaneous, otherwise the effect will be weakened, if not altogether spoilt. The hat must contain some coins at the commencement, otherwise the accumulation of those thrown into the air and subsequently caught in the hat, would, of course, be noticed. The effect is improved if the crown of the hat be turned slightly towards the audience at the moment when the coin is supposed to come through it. As the eyes of the spectators always follow the coin in the air, the slight motion of the thumb in getting a fresh coin in readiness is never perceived. Large coins tell best, and about six should be used.

When the performer has sufficiently amused the audience in this way, he can proceed with the trick under notice. For it he will require—at least, he will find it advisable to have—an oval tray of japanned tin. To all appearances, the tray is only an ordinary one, but it has a double bottom, the space between the two bottoms being a little more than the thickness of a half-crown, or whatever coin the performer may be in the habit of using. The rims of the two bottoms are joined all round, with the exception of a portion at one end, which is left open to the extent of a little more than the width of the coin in use. Two strips of tin, soldered firmly in their places, extend from each side of this opening, in parallel lines, to the other end of the tray, and so form a passage between the two bottoms capable of receiving a quantity of coins, ranging in number according to the length of the tray or the will of the performer. When the tray is tilted to any extent, the open end being the one that is depressed, the coins will naturally slide out one after the other. If the space between the double bottoms is too deep, the rearmost coins will overlap those in front, and so cause an obstruction. The tray is loaded with (say) five coins, and so brought on. Fifteen (a few more or less will not matter) coins are then taken from the hat, and placed upon the tray, which is then put into the hands of a spectator, who must be enjoined to rise for the purpose, and to keep very steady, so as not to upset the coins. A boy's cap is then borrowed, and put into the hands of another spectator, who is placed in a position close to and facing the holder of the plate. In the absence of a cap, a handkerchief, held in the form of a bag, will answer as well, if care be taken to arrange it so that none of the coins can escape and fall to the ground. The performer retires to the stage, and explains that, when he counts "three," the holder of the tray is to pour, as rapidly as he can, the fifteen coins into the cap, the holder of which is directed to close the cap immediately this is done. As the performer has taken care to place the tray in the assistant's hands, with the opening from him, it follows that, when the fifteen coins are poured from the surface into the cap, the five from the concealed receptacle will accompany them. A very distinct mark should be made upon the tray so that the performer can readily distinguish one end from the other. When the cap is closed, the performer counts five more coins into his hand, and "passes" them into the cap, the holder of which is then requested to count out the coins upon the plate, to show that the number has been increased by five. All counting of coins should take place both before and afterwards, or the audience may fail to perceive what has been done. The trays sold at conjuring repositories are nearly always round; this is a bad shape, as there is nothing to induce the holder of the tray to tilt it as the performer desires. When it is oval, it is only natural to pour the coins off the narrow end. It is also impossible to notice from any distance if a round tray has been shifted, accidentally or otherwise. A couple of inches difference will cause the trick to fail, for the coins will not pour out; and some people who are in the secret are malicious enough to be capable of wilfully turning the tray round for the purpose of spoiling the trick. The name of "The Banker" is given to the trick, because the performer supposes the holder of the cap to be the banker, and he then shows how he pays in his money. The great effect of the trick is derived from the fact that the performer never approaches the custodians of the money after once giving it into their hands.

Index of Magic Tricks | Previous Trick: The Invisible Transit | Next Trick: Hold them Tight!