Take a penny, in good condition, and make, or have made, by a competent person, a groove, quite &frac316;in. deep, all round the outer edge. This is very easily and most efficiently managed by means of a lathe; but, wanting that useful machine, a piercing-saw and flat needle-file will answer. When the groove is completed, with the piercing saw cut the penny into three pieces of equal width. Now take a very fine indiarubber band, obtainable at all shops where rubber goods are sold, and stretch it round the groove. The illustration shows the penny in three pieces, and also the band—actual size before being stretched. In putting on the band, commence with the centre piece, and then fit in the side pieces, the greatest care being necessary not to allow the band to get twisted. The result of these operations, when concluded, is that the penny can be folded up and made to occupy a space in width one-third of its usual diameter. When held at a little distance from the spectator, the incisions are not observable, especially before the penny is used for a trick, the issue of which, being unknown, does not lead the suspicions of the audience into any particular groove. As the act of folding causes a sharp strain to be put upon the band at the junctions, the groove at those points must be carefully filed, so as to completely do away with anything resembling a cutting edge, or a disaster may very easily occur. Invariably, before using, the band should be minutely examined, and, if the slightest signs of wear manifest themselves, it should be changed.
The prepared coin (which need not necessarily be a penny) is generally used in conjunction with a bottle, into which it is made to pass, viâ the mouth. In order to make the trick at all satisfactory, a marked penny should be borrowed, and exchanged, by any of the previously described methods, for the prepared one.
A soda-water bottle has been previously handed round for examination, and this is taken in the left hand. With the right hand show that the penny is at least as broad again as the mouth of the bottle, and then, folding it up quickly whilst making a covering movement, and hidden by the body of the hand, let it fall through. Show the bottle round to the spectators, continually shaking it, as if to convince them that the coin is solid and real, but really to prevent the possibility of the slits being seen. The trick can now be finished in two ways, viz., the bottle may be broken, or the coin can be shaken out again. I fancy the breaking of the bottle is the more effective, as the shaking out method impresses too forcibly upon the mind of an intelligent company the fact that some mysterious, if ingeniously concealed, preparation exists in connection with the coin. But the performer in this instance, as in very many other cases, must be guided in his actions by the mental calibre of the spectators. To shake the coin from the bottle, the latter should be taken horizontally in the right hand, the fingers of the left hand closing round the mouth, leaving a hollow in the palm for the coin to fall into. A not too violent sweeping shake is then given, bringing the mouth of the bottle downwards, when the coin should pass into the left hand. Some little practice will be required to insure this operation being brought off at the first attempt. Having to shake the bottle three or four times looks unskilful, although it does not absolutely spoil the trick. I have directed the use of a soda-water bottle because it has sloping sides, which facilitate the operation of getting the penny out very considerably, and also because it is made of white glass. If a coloured bottle were used (which it must not be, if possibly avoidable), the spectators would suspect that a coin had somehow been concealed in the interior before the trick began. However the coin may be regained, whether by breaking the bottle or by shaking out, it must be immediately re-exchanged for the borrowed penny, which will then be returned. It is quite possible to have that coin palmed during the whole operation; but if the performer lacks the necessary skill for this, it should be carried in the ticket pocket of the coat. The conjuror should have every coat he wears (excepting his dress one) furnished with this ticket pocket, and it will be greatly to his advantage to have one on each side. It should not be too deep, so that coins and other articles may be speedily reached with certainty, and it should not have a covering flap.
The penny can also be prepared by omitting the groove, employing instead holes, made completely through, across the slits, through which elastic is passed, and fastened. As, for this purpose, flat elastic is immeasurably superior to any other form, some trouble is entailed in making suitable slits through; but, once accomplished, the article is far better than one prepared in any other way. The elastic should run quite freely through the centre piece, and be fastened with glue to the outside pieces only, first being slightly stretched, to insure the whole being brought closely together. The grooved penny can be purchased at a much less cost than would be incurred in making it, and, in addition, is more likely to be correctly constructed.
The following is a development of the use of the folding penny, which is even more startling than the foregoing, one or more pennies being made to pass into a bottle, which has been examined, and which has the mouth stopped by a large cork. In this case, the cork (Fig. 15) is a delusion and a snare. It is just 2in. long, and 1&frac116;in. broad at the top, tapering to &frac1516;in. at the bottom. Viewed from the exterior, it is a cork; in reality, it is made of brass, with a thin veneer of cork glued on the outside. The measurements given include the cork skin. The bottom opens, flap-like, on a hinge, but is kept normally closed by means of a fine spiral spring, running the whole length of the inside, and soldered on the top and bottom. Protruding through a hole drilled in the top is a pin, which also runs the whole length of the interior (carried inside a small tube), and, when pressed, pushes open the bottom flap, thus allowing any contents there may be to fall out into the bottle. When the pressure upon the pin is removed, the power of the spring closes it again. This cork is charged with one or more folding pennies (three or four are generally used), and concealed in the hand, a genuine cork being handed for examination. The latter is changed for the "property" cork, which is then placed in the bottle, which must be white, and, of course, have a very wide mouth. The performer now produces some pennies, which he may "pass" into the bottle in any way he pleases. A good method is to use the two boxes described in "Grand Magic" as then the performer's hands are free. But the pass shown at Fig. 11 may be employed, the bottle being taken in the hand in which the coins are actually concealed. When the coins are being "passed," the bottle must, of course, be held in one hand or the other, and pressure given the pin by a finger at the proper moment. Where one coin only is used, it may be simply palmed, which method would also apply where the performer is skilful enough to palm several coins at once. In this case, the coins would merely be held in one hand, and the bottle in the other, and the coins thrown into the bottle.