Magic Trick: The Money Changer

This trick is accomplished by means of the first deceptive fold described in Hold them Tight! Its simple nature may cause it to appear easy of execution; but let not the learner foster this delusive idea, for the slightest bungle will spoil the trick, which depends entirely upon sleight of hand.

In the left hand the performer has three pennies concealed. Three half-crowns and three pennies, all marked by various members of the audience, are then borrowed. The three half-crowns are first collected in the right hand, and given into the custody of one of the audience. The pennies are next collected, in the right hand also, and then the performer begs the further loan of a couple of handkerchiefs. Just as he is stepping forward to take the proffered articles, he says to one of the audience, "Would you kindly hold these pennies for an instant?" and, making a "pass" (Fig. 11) towards the left hand, exhibits and hands the coins therein concealed. The idea conveyed by the performer is that, the coins being in his way whilst borrowing the handkerchiefs, he wants to be rid of them for a short space of time. This covers the action of the pass, which might otherwise appear suspicious, as being unnecessary and meaningless. Take the first handkerchief in the right hand, and let the second hang over the left shoulder. Now go at once to the holder of the half-crowns, and, taking them from him, place them in the centre of the handkerchief, previously spread over the right hand, which contains the marked pennies. Turn briskly to another member of the audience, executing as you do so a single turn only of the coins in the handkerchief with the fingers of the right hand, the coins that are in the hand itself going over as well. Take that portion of the handkerchief which contains the coins in the left hand, grasping the whole securely. Remove the right hand from underneath, and with it grasp the handkerchief some four or five inches from the coins, and then reverse the positions of the hands, handkerchief and all, the right being above and the left below. The pennies which were recently in the right hand will now be in a bag, as it were, formed by the handkerchief. The half-crowns are still on the outside, hidden by one fold of the handkerchief, and held by the fingers of the left hand. Request the person to whom you have advanced to stand up, and inform him that you wish his right hand to take the place of yours, and that he is on no account to relax a firm hold for an instant, or to allow any coins either to enter or escape. As you say this, dance the coins two or three times up and down in the left hand, which hollow as much as possible, and the half-crowns will fall into it. Their clinking will not signify in the least, as it will be attributed to the coins in the handkerchief. Then give the handkerchief into the custody of the person selected, the left hand simultaneously finding its way to the handkerchief hanging from the left shoulder, which it takes. The same manœuvre is then repeated, the handkerchief being spread over the left hand with the half-crowns in it, and the right eventually securing the substituted pennies. All that remains to be done is to command the coins in the handkerchiefs to change places, which feat is apparently accomplished. The great peril of the trick lies in the necessity of repeating the action of folding. To avoid detection, the performer must be always on the move, and endeavour by gesture and speech to continually direct the general attention of the audience to the persons whom he is addressing. The most dangerous person is he from whom the coins are taken before being put into the handkerchief. The best method for disarming him is to be very profuse with thanks for his kindness. By the time you have done thanking him, your object has been accomplished. It is strange what a trivial thing is required for the purpose of distracting the attention of the audience, whether collectively or individually, if the performer can only assume an appropriate expression of countenance. On the other hand, the least appearance of anything approaching to bewilderment only tends to make the audience doubly sharp. "Hallo!" they will think, "he is in a fix," and forthwith the minutest action is devoured.

In this trick, the effect of manner will make itself manifest in a marked degree. It is evident that, if anyone in the audience fix his eyes intently upon the performer's hands from the commencement of the trick to the finish, never removing his gaze for an instant, he is bound to notice the turns that are made. Now, it is impossible for a conjuror even to keep his eye upon every member of his audience for the purpose of noticing who is and who is not watching him. The utmost he can do is to make such diversions as are best calculated to accomplish his ends in a general way. If anyone in the audience be particularly sharp, and will not be taken in, it cannot be helped.

I make these remarks in this place because a good opportunity presents itself: they are of universal application. It is only another sermon on the old text, misdirection.

It is as well to borrow either very thick handkerchiefs or else coloured ones for this trick. Thin white handkerchiefs will reveal the nature of the coins contained in them under certain conditions of light. The person who temporarily holds the substituted pennies should be enjoined to close his hand. This is to prevent him from whiling away the time by seeking for the marks. A person might do this merely out of curiosity, and without any malice whatever. When practising, it is best to commence with a single coin of each sort, then two, and finally three. Four coins would only make the trick more difficult, without increasing the effect. With one coin only, the trick is very poor; besides, it naturally appears to the audience to be more difficult for the performer to transmit a number of coins from one spot to another than to perform a like feat with a single coin.

Index of Magic Tricks | Previous Trick: Hold them Tight! | Next Trick: The Crystal Plateau