Magic Trick: Coin Trick 14

A very pretty trick, though rather difficult to learn, is performed, with the aid of the Reverse Palm (Fig. 6), as follows: Borrow from two separate persons two coins of the same denomination. Take particular pains to have the marks quite distinct on each, so that the two are distinguishable from one another. There is no objection to the performer superintending the marking, in order to insure its being properly done. One coin, for instance, might have a single stroke marked upon it, or a cross, whilst the other could have a small circle or an initial. The numbers 1 and 2 could also be efficiently employed; and, for facility of description, I will now suppose them used. Palmed (Fig. 2), you have another coin of your own, similar to those borrowed. You place two chairs or settees a little distance apart, between yourself and the spectators. Take coin No. 1, and, standing behind one of the chairs, facing the company, act as though you tossed it upon the cushion. What you really do, however, is to palm the coin by the reverse palm, following the instructions on page 8, for throwing a coin away into the air; the coin that has been concealed in the palm being released, in its stead. This action must be assiduously practised until it can be performed with complete certainty and smoothness. Practise first tossing a coin on a chair from a distance of a couple of feet, and then imitate that action as nearly as possible whilst making the change. The toss must be made with a steady, smooth swing, neither too hurriedly nor too slowly executed. When the manœuvre is finished, the palm of the hand must, of course, be towards the audience. A half, or whole, turn of the body must now be made, to enable the performer to get the coin from the back of the fingers to the palm proper. The way to ensure the safe execution of this is to put the thumb over the first finger, so that it grasps the coin, assisted by the middle finger. The first finger can then be drawn out of the way. With coin No. 1 in the palm, take coin No. 2, and repeat the changing operation, at the completion of which the state of affairs will be: On chair 1, duplicate coin (supposed by spectators to be coin No. 1); on chair 2, coin No. 1 (supposed by spectators to be coin No. 2); in performer's palm, coin No. 2. Any fanciful form of causing a magical change to take place may be gone into, and the performer then asks a spectator to examine the coin on chair 2, which is found to be coin No. 1. As only two coins are known to the spectators, it is taken for granted by them that the one on chair 1 is coin No. 2; but it will be as well for the performer to incidentally remark, "And, of course, there is coin No. 2," and then at once proceed to show the trick over again, "for the general satisfaction of those present." For this purpose, coin No. 1 is taken from the person who examined it, and ostensibly replaced upon chair 2. Instead, however, coin No. 2 is placed there. Under the plea of placing the chair a little closer, so that a better view may be obtained, the performer takes up duplicate coin from chair 1, and, in apparently replacing it, substitutes coin No. 1. The coins have thus been made to regain their old positions, and may now, of course, be freely examined, the performer not touching them again. If the performer feels any confidence in himself in this rather difficult trick, he may use three marked coins, when, by skilful manipulation, he may make all sorts of changes. By working changes with only two of the three at a time, he always has one lying dormant, which is not liable to inspection, and may, therefore, be the duplicate one. It is not advisable for him to prolong the trick, unless it be going very well. He must keep his wits about him, however, or he may find that he has forgotten the precise whereabouts of his own coin. A very bold, but remarkably effective, way of bringing about the final change is to pick the coin from the chair, and, instead of moving that closer, toss the coin into a lady's lap. The lady should be sitting upon the extreme verge of the other spectators, or else must be shielded by some article of furniture, or the coin palmed at the back of the hand is not unlikely to be seen. The very boldness of this action is, however, its chief safeguard, only there must be no sort of hesitation in its execution.

A performer with large and muscular fingers can use half-crowns for the trick, but for the beginner shillings and halfpence will be sufficient. Copper coins are not so effective as silver; but an accidental exposure of a portion of them is not so readily perceived as is the case with the brighter metal—not that there is the least excuse for such exposure.

Before returning the duplicate coin to the pocket, the performer may produce one or two other effects with the reverse palm. Let him borrow a hat, and a coin similar to the one concealed. Standing sideways to the company, let him have the duplicate palmed reversely in the hand that is farthest from the audience. Say it is the left hand. With the right hand place the hat into the left one, the thumb on the brim, the fingers inside. As the company have seen the palm of the left hand open, not the slightest suspicion will be entertained that it holds anything. The borrowed coin is now made to perform an ærial journey, being palmed. The performer's eye follows its imaginary flight, and then catches it in the hat, the coin in the left hand being of course released, when it will be heard to fall. After showing this coin, reverse palm the other, under cover of the hat, and repeat the operation. To do this, the performer must be able to palm equally well with either hand. If the trick be repeated, it should be varied each time by some such device as finding that the coin had taken refuge in a gentleman's hair, lady's handkerchief, &c., on its way to the hat.

By the time the learner has proceeded thus far with success, he will have acquired a proficiency that will enable him to amuse a circle of friends for an hour or two by means of coin tricks alone, without much fear of detection, especially if the rule of rehearsing in private before exhibiting in public be adhered to. The security afforded by a good palm can scarcely be over-estimated, as it enables the performer to attempt the most barefaced impromptu experiments with comparative impunity. These impromptu interludes are always conducive to success, for the audience can generally discover originality.

But, before taking a temporary leave of coins, I must put my readers up to a few wrinkles in connection with the use of the sleeve—a portion of the conjuror's attire which is but rarely employed, notwithstanding the popular exclamation of "Up his sleeve," which is usually made use of when the operator has vanished some trifle in the shape of a cauliflower or rabbit, for the reception of which articles the sleeve of a dress coat is so admirably adapted. No; the sleeve is only used when its coadjutorship is unsuspected; and, in the case of coins, only when the palm is suspected of containing the coin. So many people have a misty idea of palming, that one frequently hears whispered, "In his palm." Should the whisperer be wrong, of course you will at once prove him to be so by exhibiting your palms empty; but should he be right, you will then feign not to hear the whisper. Sometimes, though, the announcement is not made in a whisper, but in the form of a challenge to you, and this you must be prepared to meet. Suppose the coin is palmed and you are challenged; you are close to or among the audience, and the challenger is importunate. Nothing remains but to sleeve the coin. This manoœuvre is executed by shooting the arm straight out, the palm open and downwards, with such force as will carry the coin up the sleeve. Of course, you must not stand in middle of the room shooting your arm out, or the audience will either divine what you are about or will think you are taking leave of your senses. The action must be covered by an advance towards the challenger, which must be done as boldly as if you had never even seen the coin, much less concealed it in your palm. As you advance, say something; for example, "What! in my palm, sir? I don't understand you. How can anything be in my palm? If you don't believe me, see for yourself." With this, make the shoot, and turn the hand over. Care must be taken that the arm is quite level, or the coin will slide gracefully on to the floor. You must not stop here, but say, "Perhaps you would like to see my other hand as well, sir" (show left hand, at same time allowing coin to fall back in the right, where palm it), "or maybe you think the coin is up my sleeve." Shake both arms vigorously, which, as the coin is again in your palm, you can do with impunity, and ask someone to feel your sleeves. An extra effect is given by your asserting that the cause of the gentleman's anxiety was that he himself had basely pilfered the coin, and wished to pass the odium on to you. With this remark, produce the coin from some part of his person. Barring the disturbance to the equilibrium of one's feelings of security whilst the performance is going on, this little interlude, promptly carried out, is as good as any set trick. Of course there must be no bungling. Should the sleeves be turned back, as they often will be, they must first be unrolled, with great deliberation. In such an instance you would, of course, show that your sleeves are guiltless of any deception, before exonerating the palm. Practice will enable you at once to perceive the nature of the objection about to be raised, so that ordinarily you can anticipate, and turn down one sleeve at least. It is not often that the exigency occurs, but it will infallibly do so at some time or other, so one must be prepared to meet it, or be looked upon as an impostor. A second method for sending a coin up the sleeve is to place it almost on the ends of the fingers (Fig. 16) palm upwards, and, turning the hand rapidly over, close it (Fig. 17). This will throw the coin up the sleeve, whereas the appearance is that it is enclosed in the hand. A third method is to hold the coin between the thumb and middle finger (Fig. 18) and "flip" it up the sleeve. A fourth method is to place the coin on the edge of the table and cover it with the ends of the fingers, which draw smartly back and shut, when the coin will be shot up the sleeve. This somewhat resembles the second method. A fifth method is to spin the coin high in the air, and as it descends make a "grab" at it as if catching, but in reality allow it to fall down the sleeve, keeping the hand shut as though holding it. This is one of the most thorough deceptions I know of. It is so perfect that the operator himself cannot see the coin enter the sleeve. I am quite aware that it seems improbable, but a trial will be conclusive on the point. A pleasing variety of the first method is to place a coin (the heavier the better) on the palm of the hand. Turn the hand over briskly, at the same time thrusting it well forward, and the coin will slide up the sleeve. In performing any of these tricks be careful to have the shirt cuff pulled well up and out of the way, and do not wear large links or solitaires, against which the coin will infallibly clink, if only for the simple reason that it is not wanted to do so. No one but a bungler would use the sleeve in his regular performances, except when driven by necessity; but it is highly essential for a conjuror to be perfect in all the minutiæ of his art, and he must practise them as the pianoforte-player practises the scales which he never plays to the public.

Fig. 16

Fig. 17.

Fig. 18.

In using marked coins, always take the greatest care that the marking is done in such a manner as to render it impossible for the coin not to be recognised on making its reappearance; and also let several people see the mark. It is very disheartening, when you have performed an elaborate trick, in which a Mr. Interference has given you no end of trouble, to hear the owner of the coin say that he cannot recognise his mark. I have seen people put some trivial mark on a coin in pencil, which would rub off immediately. It is also advisable to have a quantity of cheap coins by you. In such tricks as trick d, large, thin, and showy silver Turkish coins are the best. They possess every advantage; the milled edge gives a firm hold for the palm, whilst the substance of the coin allows of a large number being held in the hand. Besides this, thin coins give a good business-like clink; whilst a large coin is always more effective than a small one. Pennies plated over make very fair substitutes, and do not entail much loss of capital if kept aside ready for use, as they always should be, which can hardly be said to be the case with florins or half-crowns.

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