Wanted: Ramsey Cylinder & Coins

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Postby malbright » 10/11/01 10:35 PM

Anybody got a pristine set they want to part with?

Silver dollar size preferred, but anything is better than nothing!

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Postby Guest » 10/18/01 09:34 AM

I had my set made by hand. Took 4 Morgans, sent three to Sasco, had them bore a hole through center the size of Centavo, Then epoxy the top, whole coin. There's your gimmick. You don't need it to pivot, believe me. A local leather worker made the cylinder for me, and I use 4 regular Morgans. It's easy, and it looks incredible!! Whole thing cost me around $150, but I perform this routine at every show and it KILLS!! Good luck.

[ October 18, 2001: Message edited by: ChrisDavid ]

Postby Guest » 10/18/01 08:18 PM

If you'll e-mail me privately, I have a set of half dollar sized coins that are done exactly like Chris described. Unfortunately, I don't have the cylinder, but that should be easier to find.

Postby Guest » 10/20/01 07:34 AM

Cylinder and Coins is pure magic, in my opinion. Do you have a favorite version? or are you working on an original handling? I think Ramsay used half dollars, but dollar size is the way to go if you have the hands for it. For me, the entire routine comes down to that moment before you lift the cylinder to show the coins beneath the stack. I like to pause and build suspence,(Ortiz's credo, "make them care, then make them wait" in full glory) with my hand around the cylinder, this always gets everyone's full attention because they cannot believe that the coins are under there. It's a wonderful moment.

Postby pduffie » 10/20/01 10:51 AM

Hi Chris

Ramsay used well-worn British Half-crowns which were bigger than half dollars, but not as big as dollars.

Best Wishes

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Postby Guest » 10/20/01 01:37 PM

Thanks Peter. That's interesting information. I'd like to see one of these coins, maybe I'll track a couple down.
Take care,

Postby Guest » 10/20/01 02:55 PM

If Michael isn't interested, and someone else would like to purchase the stack that I have, I'll gladly sell it.
I had a machinest specially make it for me...then I saw Bob Kohler perform it. I decided I didn't even want to try.
Bob's performance of this fantastic effect just killed me. It is one of the most magical things I've ever seen. :eek:

Postby Guest » 10/20/01 02:57 PM

Where did you see Bob Kohler perform cylinder and coins? Is the routine in print?

[ October 20, 2001: Message edited by: ChrisDavid ]

Postby Guest » 10/20/01 08:42 PM

No, I saw him perform it in at the World Desert Seminar back in 93 or 94. It's actually on the video from Collector's Workshop.

Postby Oliver Corpuz » 10/28/01 11:00 PM

Versions of Cylinder and Coins that are in print (that I know of) are found in David Roth's Expert Coin Magic and Lewis Ganson's The Art of Close-Up Magic vol 1. In Gansen's book, it is suggested by Vernon to use poker chips instead of coins and a rolled bank note to make the cylinder.

Out of print, the routine was originally published by Victor Farelli in 1948. (I unfortunately don't have this incredibly out of print book-- anyone want to sell it to me?) I also know that the routine is very well described in Andrew Galloway's The Ramsey Classics. In Galloway's book, there is a detailed 25 page write-up of Ramsey's handling with lots of illustrations and a short history of how Ramsey developed the effect. This is the source that I used to learn the routine. Does anyone know the differences (if any) between Farelli and Galloway's explanations?

Also, does anyone else know of any versions of Ramsey's cylinder and coins that are in print (or even out of print?). Please let me know.

- Oliver

[ October 28, 2001: Message edited by: Oliver Corpuz ]
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Postby Frank Yuen » 10/29/01 07:05 AM

John Carney has a version in his book, Carneycopia and Michael Gallo has a version with his Siamese Coins video tape. I believe that there is a version in The Collected Almanac as well though it might be Gallo's version.

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Postby Guest » 10/30/01 07:11 PM

the version in the almanac is called covering ramsey, in my opinion the effect in the routine that is based on the cylinder in coins is not as good as the versions I have seen with the stack, cork and cylinder.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/30/01 07:46 PM

Oh Noah, I'm crushed! If I recall, the routine (by Mike Gallo?) involved using a shot glass wrapped in newspaper for the routine, and then you crushed the newspaper at the end and the glass vanishes.
Frankly, the allure and logic of using the little piece of cork has always elluded me. It seems to be something that magicians would fancy.
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Postby Guest » 10/30/01 08:13 PM

Probably one of the greatest leaps in terms of "the cork", has to be Eric DeCamps' use of a Life Saver.

"Frankly, the allure and logic of using the little piece of cork has always elluded me"

Richard, the cork IS more allure than it is logic!

Ramsay used it brilliantly however, both to casually show the cylinder empty, and as a sort of talisman, which drew the coins to it.

Why a cork?

Perhaps its innocence. Aesthetically, the cork is very appealing. Wood (wand), leather(cylinder), silver (coins), and cork, are all natural objects. Very earthy.

But I'm biased.

Postby Guest » 10/30/01 08:18 PM

I do agree that the piece of cork seems a bit odd, Chrisdavid I saw mr. decamps do his version of cylinder and coins a few years ago and it was so beauftiful.

Postby Guest » 10/30/01 08:19 PM

Mike Gallo's production of the three coins from purse in "Covering Ramsay" is pure artistry.

Does anyone know if Gallo's version of the gimmick (3 coins glued together) is original to him?

Dave Neighbors uses the same gimmick in several routines.

Postby Oliver Corpuz » 10/31/01 12:01 AM

Originally posted by ChrisDavid:
Why a cork?

Galloway wrote in the "Ramsey Classics" that Ramsey based his cylinder and coins effect off of versions of the "pence and cap" effects found in Hoffman's Modern Magic and L. Graham Lewis' The Modern Conjuror. A die was used in those effects.

"Ramsey liked the simplicity of the paper cap, but eventually came to use a small cardboard cylinder made by removing the bottom from a pill box...He never liked using a die, as it seemed to him too much like a conjuror's prop. So instead he would cut a slice from a wine cork, which was readily available in the shop."

Ramsey worked at and eventually owned a grocery shop. "He did simple tricks with common objects which became miracles when related by his customers."

[ October 30, 2001: Message edited by: Oliver Corpuz ]
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Postby Guest » 10/31/01 05:52 AM


I used the word "innocence" to describe the cork. Same thing. He DID use a paper cylinder; did he ever use leather?

Apparently Ramsay was a tough, earthy, hands on kind of guy; not afraid to get a little dirty. He was active in sports and tended his own garden.

Jon Racherbaumer wrote an essay not too long ago, linking Ramsay's rock-like demeaner with his ability to misdirect.

Trivia question: According to Galloway, what was Ramsay's favorite routine?

P.S. It's spelled Ramsay, not Ramsey.

[ October 31, 2001: Message edited by: ChrisDavid ]

Postby Oliver Corpuz » 10/31/01 08:58 AM

az two ramsey's favoright trik triveyah qwestion (acording two galoweigh), mie guesss iz tripel reztoration (tohrn aynd reztored tizzue). sawree, i noe i kant spewl two goad. especialie afftur midknight. :)
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Postby Guest » 10/31/01 01:07 PM

i believe one of his favorites was the three coins in hat. on heck of a hard routine. I am not sure if that is the exact title.

Postby Guest » 10/31/01 04:59 PM

Very nice Oliver.
And yes, triple restoration was supposed to be Ramsay's favorite (according to Galloway)

Postby Guest » 10/31/01 06:07 PM

I also got to see Kohler perform his version of Coins and Cylinder a couple of years ago at the Atlanta Harvest of Magic. To me it was pure magic. Recently, I have been studying Carney's version from Carneycopia, "Streamlined Coin and Cylinder." I have a friend who made a stack for me using soft Walking Liberty halves. One thing has me stumped, however. I want to use something besides the cork. I like it from a classical sense, but it just seems illogical and a bit old-fashioned. Anybody have any ideas? What was DeCamps's motivation for using the Life Saver?


Postby Oliver Corpuz » 10/31/01 08:28 PM

Originally posted by Jamie:
I want to use something besides the cork. I like it from a classical sense, but it just seems illogical and a bit old-fashioned. Anybody have any ideas?

How about using a big red button? A red button would be pretty visible, everyone knows what they are, and you can say something like "buttons are a thing that's used to keep things, like your shirt or pants, together. But watch what happens when I put a button on these coins and cover them with this tube, blah blah blah". If you want to use a more common darker color button, I can imagine that it would be cool to rip the button off your jacket to use for the routine and then when you're done, magically restore the button back on the jacket, Malini style. Just a thought.

I still like the original slice of cork, but if you couldn't tell from the Malini reference, I like my magic "old school."
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Postby Guest » 10/31/01 09:21 PM

If I remember correctly, Eric DeCamps took out a sealed package of Life Savers, perhaps a spectator opened it...say, yellow was the color on top, so "yellow" is now your cork.

I'm partial to John Carney's version and use it for every show. I use Morgans, better visibility.

Postby Jeremy Medows » 11/01/01 10:11 AM

The cork in the Clylinder & Coins makes complete sense. The purpose of the cork is to make the trick more difficult for you.

Just because the sliver of cork may not be commonplace, it doesn't mean that it doesn't make any sense. The only difference between the lifesaver (a fine substitute) and a sliver cork is that perhaps, a lifesaver is more common. A leather cylinder, 4 silver dollars, and a magic wand aren't commonplace items either, but I believe that most audiences accept them as valid instruments which you can perform with.

If you make a joke about the cork, it may help you forget about any perceived problems about the cork. Here's my line: "This is a piece of cork from the first bottle of wine I ever had...actually, it's from the second bottle of wine I had...the first bottle was a screwcap." Your audience will chuckle and you've justified (via a laugh) the cork.

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Postby Guest » 11/01/01 02:11 PM

you could use a stack of smaller coins. I had this Idea of doing the coins in cylinder with a clear cylinder and not covering it. what do you guys think of that?

Postby pduffie » 11/02/01 01:48 AM

Re- the piece of cork:

I don't think it matters what you use, so long as it doesn't 'talk' during the manipulation of the cylinder and stack. In that respect, cork is perfect.

Noah's idea of using a clear cylinder sounds like an interesting challenge.

Best Wishes

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Postby Joe M. Turner » 11/02/01 07:47 AM

Originally posted by Jamie:
I also got to see Kohler perform his version of Coins and Cylinder a couple of years ago at the Atlanta Harvest of Magic. To me it was pure magic.
I will never forget seeing his cylinder & coins, ultimate 3-fly (pre-release), and rising cards. That was one heck of a great show.

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Postby Guest » 11/02/01 06:13 PM

I've been doing the cap and pence with quarters, and I use a penny that has a slight bit of adhesive on the heads side. When I put that on the top of the stack, it adheres to the stack, becomes part of it, and doesn't make any noise when they are picked up in the cone.
Works great for a convincer, especially when there is a "blemish" in the same place on the second penny.

Postby Guest » 07/27/02 12:52 AM

Nothing like reviving an old thread...

I also love the Cylinder & Coins and am fortunate enough to have had Bob Kohler teach me his version, though I have adapted it somewhat to suit my own style.

As someone else pointed out, none of the props really make much sense; the coins are old, the wand can only be for magic and the cylinder seems to serve no logical purpose. In fact, the wine cork is really the only "normal" prop in the bunch. I present the routine as a demonstration of John Ramsay's most famous and baffling trick and the props I use are rather elegant; the cylinder is handmade from high-grade leather with rolled edges and stitching (like a dice cup) and has hand-turned Cocobolo caps for each end. The coins are 1923 Peace Dollars and the wand is a two piece Ebony beauty with Ivory, Abalone and Silver inlays. All the props speak of antiquity, so the wine cork fits right in.

BTW, Bob Kohler pointed out once - though no one seems to remember - that John Ramsay would openly cut the small piece from a full wine cork at the beginning of his presentation. Kohler does this - as do I, of course - at the beginning of the routine, and in the experience of watching the small piece cut from the full cork it seems to make perfect sense to the audience. Ultimately the cork serves as a simple "something" for the coins to transpose with (assuming one does the ENTIRE routine, including the coin reproductions). As an added bonus, the act of preparing the small piece of cork right in front of the audience subtley belies the idea of a duplicate chunk-o'-cork, IMO.

Thomas Wayne

Postby Guest » 07/27/02 04:54 AM

As legend has it, when Ramsay performed the coins and cylinder he would state that he was going to use five coins and a cylinder. Upon examination, there was only four coins...hence the cork. He would cut off a piece of cork as the fifth coin substitue

Postby Eric DeCamps » 07/27/02 08:18 AM

Mike, that makes a lot more sense to me. Thanks for sharing the story.

Chris, the motivation for the use of a lifesaver for the routine is a bit different than what you posted.

I would like to add that the wands that Mr. Wayne makes are without a doubt the most stunning I have ever had the privilege of seeing. They are a work of art. The only problem you may experience if you should be as lucky as obtaining one is that you will feel guilty using it for fear of damaging it. However, if you do decide to perform with it, you will want to make sure that you your work is reflective to justify using such a fine-looking tool.

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Postby Curtis Kam » 07/27/02 07:35 PM

If you're thinking about changing the cork for something else, you might consider a small, flat piece of sponge. You lose the "organic" theme inherent in the other props, but the sponge makes no noise, is highly visible, and is ridiculously easy to conceal during the second phase. Oh, and it does allow you to steal the sponge from the cylinder, ala the "three shell game". Someting to thing about...
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Postby Guest » 07/27/02 07:38 PM

When I was working on the cylinder and coins I didn't have a hollow stack, so I glued some silver dollars together and used two squares cut from sponge balls instead of cork, it worked pretty well.

Noah Levine

Postby Guest » 07/27/02 10:35 PM

Wesley James has a wonderful version that uses a small charm (as in charm braclet) instead of the piece of cork. He also uses no pinned "stack", working instead with EIGHT loose coins(!). His routine, with all the technical challenge you can stand, will be published in the future within a book called "Hard Currency" (though I am fortunate to have been given an advance copy of the routine).

Meanwhile, (as mentioned above) Eric DeCamps' version has the brilliant use of a Lifesaver candy and uses a secret gaff that I personally think he should develop and market (don't ask, I'm sworn to secrecy).

Thomas Wayne

Postby Jim Riser » 07/27/02 11:52 PM

Sorry to be so late in joining this discussion - I've been on the road with rather iffy internet connections. I'll add a little info about the gimmicks.......
I've machined quite a few sets over the years and am currently making a small quarter size for a dimunitive female performer (very small hands). There have been several variations of the gimmicks I've made:
1. Coins bored through the center and soldered or epoxied together.
2. As above but not soldered and with a brass pin so stack can be "spread". (over kill IMHO)
3. As above but all coins loose (worn coins to reduce noise). Coins were actually artificially "worn" as required. The larger the coin, the easier these are to use in a performance. Dollars are perfect here.
4. My favorite...each coin held slightly off center in a 4 jaw chuck on the jeweler's lathe - then bored. The inside hole of each coin is lined up when stacking them and everything soldered together. This creates a stack of coins which are slightly offset or jagged and natural looking when stacked (but the interior hole is smooth walled). If anyone is interested, I can take a jpg of the current quarter stack and post it for all to examine. It is my humble opinion that this is the best form of gimmick for the effect.
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Postby Guest » 08/06/02 02:25 AM

John Ramsay's Cylinder & Coins...A routine well worth all of the practice and thinking required to successfully fool and entertain both magicians and normal folks.

First of all I'd like to give thanks to Tim Conover for getting me started on the routine by teaching me several of his versions many years ago.

I know Tim is not often seen by magicians, but those who have seen him do it will agree with me that he can not only do it as well as anybody, but he can do it EXACTLY like Ramsay's published version perfectly.

His thinking is still a major part of the routine I'm currently performing. It also has some nice touches added by Michael Forbes from LA.

I always loved Mike Gallo's routines based on the cylinder. I think they are brilliant. If you run into him (you'll have to go to Buffalo, NY) ask him to do his version with a toilet paper roll. He'll also fool the hell out of you. First, he won't tell you his name until after he's wacked you with a few routines. The hot tip is the sneaky bastard is left handed...

John Carney's work on the routine is also smooth as glass. His published routine is very clever, check it out in Carneycopia.

The rage of working on the Cylinder as a "test piece" for serious coinmen came across the pond with Scotty York. Buddy Smith and Scotty taught it to Tim. Tim taught it to me. I taught it to Eric DeCamps...and it goes on. Everyone who spends time with this routine adds something great to it...it's that kind of a trick. Once you start working on it, you just can't stop.

I agree with Richard that it's more of a routine for magicians...but I'm not saying you can't do it for a "money" audience. Most of the magicians I've mentioned have done and still do it on a regular basis as part of their act. All of us have modified the handling and perhaps a more important feature...the presentation to make the audience care. If you can work up a presentation that has a hook, you're there.

All magicians should learn this routine for the simple reason that John Ramsay's books will teach you misdirection. Get them before they're all on the shelves of collectors who will never crack them open.

Get Andrew Galloway's tapes on Ramsay, he's a direct pipeline back to John.

So get a good kit together. Use an offset stack of dollars sized coins. Get Todd Lassen or Jim Riser to make it. Get Thomas Wayne to make you the cylinder and wand. You'll be broke but you won't need food for a couple of weeks. Use your personality to sell the effect. If you don't have a personality, get Bill Malone's new DVD's. Last but not least get a mirror and after a couple of months try it out for people you don't know. There's nothing like having a handful of coins and telling the audience that "They're gone"!

Postby thecardman » 08/06/02 10:29 AM

Originally posted by Oliver Corpuz:
Also, does anyone else know of any versions of Ramsey's cylinder and coins that are in print (or even out of print?). Please let me know.

Paul Wilson also has a version in Five Times Five, Scotland, published by Richard Kaufman (and Co.) and authored/edited by Peter Duffie. Might be worth checking out!

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Postby Pete Biro » 08/06/02 09:48 PM

I have a stack of silver dollars that move back and forth when stacked because they are around an alloy cylinder inside -- but I don't have the chops for the Ramsay work, and use it for the cap and pence.

Davenport's (in London) may still have the original sets with the cardboard cylinder. It was red... I had a few but traded them away some time ago.
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Postby Guest » 08/07/02 01:44 PM

Hey Bob,

Thanks for tipping that I'm left handed...until now, some folks actually thought I was good. But now the truth is out (so sad). One point I would like to mention though...Coins and Cylinder does play as well for layman as it does for magicians! It just depends on your presentation!!!


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