Book of the Month: CoinMagic

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/17/02 12:16 AM

"The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it."
--Elizabeth Drew
It was the first time I had read the word paradigm. And though Jon Racherbaumer would give a brief definition of the word in his foreword to Richard Kaufman's CoinMagic (Kaufman and Greenberg, 1981), I still wanted to look it up for myself (in case you haven't noticed, I love words). Over two decades later, and having been bandied about by executives and salespeople with reckless abandon, the word is now as empty as the "suits" that abuse it. But in 1981, it had teeth and in this case it was used properly. Racherbaumer was describing Bobo's Modern Coin Magic (J.B. Bobo; Carl W. Jones, 1952), truly the "paradigmatic text" on coin magic.

Prior to its publication in late 1981 no major text on sleight-of-hand coin magic had been released since Bobo. The trend in coin magic in those days seemed to be going in the direction of gaffed coin effects, with coins and sets of coins of a near self-working nature providing miracles. Some small treatises found their way to magic shop bookshelves, and Al Schneider on Coins was published (self-published in 1975, and to this day remains one of my favorite books in all of magic), but these were individual works, focused on certain effects and/or moves or, as in Schneider's case, the author's work; not collections from multiple sources with ideas and techniques used by contemporary practitioners of numismatic magic. Kaufman's CoinMagic was the beginning of a paradigm shift away from the "old modern" (Bobo) to the new, and a reminder that sleight-of-hand with coins could be as magical looking as anything possible with any locking/magnetic/shell gaff set. This is not to say that gaffs have no part in CoinMagic; they do, but sleight-of-hand is the focus of the book, even where gaffs are present.

CoinMagic also represented the first major release of material from a man that would become the most important coin worker since T. Nelson Downs. David Roth's material set the new standard, especially in the area of close-up coin magic. In his introduction to the book Kaufman said of him, "Roth is to coin magic what Hofzinser was to card magic." No truer words could be conveyed, and nearly 25% of CoinMagic is devoted to his material which, as we would later find out with the release of his monumental David Roth's Expert Coin Magic (Richard Kaufman; Kaufman and Greenberg, 1985), was a mere drop in the bucket.

Other individuals who have sections devoted to them are: Sol Stone, Geoffrey Latta, Edward Marlo, and Slydini. Among the many other contributors are Wesley James, Tom Gagnon, Herb Zarrow, Ken Krenzel, Derek Dingle, Danny Korem and John Cornelius. In all, there are over 260 large format pages with clear descriptions and exceptional illustrations covering over 150 sleights, effects, and sleights within effects.

The book does not necessarily stand on its own. It is assumed that the reader has Bobo at least which to refer. CoinMagic never tries to replace the foundation, only build upon it. However, there is a short section devoted to some basic technique unique to the works presented later in the book. And any technique outside the realm of Bobo – and there is a wealth of such technique – is included and completely and clearly explained. CoinMagic is not meant for the beginner, and even advanced magicians will be challenged by some of the material. But, in my opinion, the crowning achievement of this work is its ability to take the intermediate coin magician and set him/her on a course toward the lofty atmosphere of advanced coin magic almost painlessly. For the most part, if the reader doesn't "get it," it is not due to a lack of clarity of the text or illustrations. By the time Kaufman wrote this book, his individual style (originally influenced by Harry Lorayne) was all but fully developed. Describing magic tricks in print is a difficult and tedious job to do well. CoinMagic is well written, and the accompanying illustrations come to life before your eyes – another Kaufman hallmark. There are sequential illustrations throughout that have an animated quality about them, making the written descriptions that much easier to follow.

The material itself remains as exciting today as it did in 1981. Roth's "Hanging Coins Plus" is a must learn effect if only (as in my case) for the self-pleasure of doing it, while, for some time, Geoffrey Latta's "CopSilBrass" was a part of my repertoire. The effects in CoinMagic range from the very commercial to "for magicians only" effects (which is always pointed out in those effects' opening remarks). While much of the material is suitable only for the table, there is quite a bit that is for stand-up situations. And there are instances where the table material is adaptable for stand-up, and those adaptations are provided in the text.

CoinMagic was not ahead of its time; it was a book for its time. The magic world was ready for, and in desperate need of, this book. It rejuvenated a type of magic that seemed to be becoming relegated to the world of gaffs and gimmicks alone. CoinMagic breathed life into the art of sleight-of-hand with coins and it continues to steamroll on today, with the likes of Reed McClintock, Shoot Ogawa and several others coming to the forefront with stunning coin work of their own. They stand on the foundation provided by Bobo, but CoinMagic gave them – gave us all – a further leg up.

Enjoy revisiting it and joining in the conversation.
Dustin
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Postby Guest » 10/17/02 12:48 AM

Great review Dustin!

I purchased a second hand copy from Richard Hatch last year and every page is a treasure chest of wonders. It should be in the library of every serious coin worker.

best, Graham
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Postby Sean Macfarlane » 10/17/02 04:45 AM

I always liked the effect on Page 226" The Melting coin" by Les Shore, a very cool effect where a coin visibly melts after holding a lit match to it. You actually see the silver drip off the coin, it then completely melts and is a complete vanish. There is so much hot stuff in this book. I think that I saw Curtis Kam do the visual drop switch on page 185, and it looked great. That was on the POS video that he had out a couple of years ago, Can anyone confirm this?
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Postby Alain Roy » 10/17/02 07:49 AM

By the time Kaufman wrote this book, his individual style... was all but fully developed.
This is the first book we're discussing where we can talk to one of the creators of the book. Mr. Kaufman, you've written a lot since CoinMagic came out. I presume you've developed as a writer. How do you feel about the book, looking back on it now? Would you do anything differently if you wrote it today? What was is like writing the book?

Thanks in advance for your insights.

-alain
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Postby mike cookman » 10/17/02 01:11 PM

Coinmagic is one of my favorite books. I would have bought it just for the Geoffrey Latta section. His Wild Coin No. 3 is lots of fun.
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Postby Guest » 10/17/02 03:51 PM

There are a few thing about coinmagic that I love. First of all you have large collections of material by Geoff Latta who doesn't have tons of stuff in print. Then the fact that it is great for learning. You get to learn some of the major tools that different Magicians work with and then see them in action. Mr. Roth uses the shuttle pass a great deal and Mr. Latta has some great applications of his Ultimate HPC. Secondly you get to see multiple versions of effects by different magicians such as Wild Coin, Spellbound, Open Travellers, and copper silver sequences. Awesome book Richard.

Noah Levine
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Postby Guest » 10/18/02 07:35 AM

Out of interest, does anyone please know if Mr Latta appears on tape anywhere? I'd love to see him work after reading his wonderful material in Coinmagic

best, Graham
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Postby Guest » 10/19/02 03:36 AM

Are there any plans of reprinting this and other great Kaufman & Greenberg books? I am thinking of Cardmagic, CArdshark, Expert Coin Magic...
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Postby Brian Marks » 10/20/02 08:35 AM

As far as I am concerned, this is the best set up for magic books. There are just so many books out there in which the magician who is the subject of the book runs out of material and throws alot of junk in it. I also love Card College, ton of material but over a 4 volume set its quite expensive. Its well worth it but a book like Coinmagic gives you a cross section of sleights and tricks of several different magicians who are all qualified to have entire books of their own. Everyone in coinmagic does. Roth, Slydini, Dingle, Krenzel and Ed Marlo all have published books while Sol Stone and Geoff Latta have unpublished books. Wesley James should have a book if he doesn't already. I suspect he already has.

I learned the most from this book than any other on the sublect of coin magic. A close second is Roth Expert Coin Magic. Together they are my favorite 2 books in magic.
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Postby Rene Clement » 10/20/02 08:51 PM

I remember when Richie was writing this book. He always said that there was really only one true book of coin magic and that of course was Bobo's. He wanted to give the magic community the next "must have" book on coins. He talked to many of the finest coin workers of the time and convinced them to contribute to this effort. Some of them you only first heard of by reading this book.
Luckily for us, twenty plus years later we can still be talking and praising the high quality of this tome.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/20/02 11:17 PM

CoinMagic was the first book I wrote that consisted almost entirely of material by other people. My previous large book, CardMagic, consisted mostly of my own stuff.
I had no idea how CoinMagic was going to sell, or that the only other large book on coin magic to come after it in the last 20 years would be my other large coin book, David Roth's Expert Coin Magic.
At the time, in 1980, I was simply excited about all of these incredible coin tricks people were doing in New York--lots of people, inspired by David Roth, Derek Dingle, Sol Stone, and Slydini. It seemed like a natural idea at the time.
I was very lucky to be there, and lucky to find Roth just at the right moment when he was ready to begin releasing some of his stuff. Really lucky to be there when kids like Scott Wiser and Les Shore, who would both drop out of magic completely only a few years later, were coming up with interesting stuff (and, yes, Melting Coin looks astonishing!). Really lucky to have grown up with Geoff Latta so he would let me print his tricks (Stephen Minch will be publishing his book).
It was a horrific amount of work, done while in my final semester of college at NYU. That's one of the reasons why no one else has done a book like this: it would cost too much to produce if you couldn't write it, do the drawings, and lay it out yourself. At the time I was just crazy--did the 1000 drawings in five weeks!!!!! Yikes!
Figure it out: to pay someone to do the drawings, even if it it was only $10 a drawing, would cost $10,000. To pay someone to do the layout would be another $2,000 to $3,000 at least. That's $13,000 BEFORE the printing cost. Who can afford it? These days most magic books sell like dead dogs. You won't see many big books like CoinMagic, Complete Works of Dingle, Collected Almanac, or Secrets of Bro. Hamman come out any more. Too expensive, too much work, too easy to make a DVD.
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Postby Guest » 10/21/02 01:07 AM

How topical! I logged in this morning specifically to ask about two books - and they were both mentioned in this post! I have been offered a leaving present by my colleagues and have narrowed it down to either Coinmagic or Roth's Expert Coin Magic, but not being able to look through either one in advance makes the choice difficult.

Apart from the fact that one is Roth's own work and one is a compendium, what are the differences in the following areas:
-quality of illustrations and ease of explanation
-focus on sleights versus actual tricks/routines
-level of practitioner suitable for
-reliance on gaffed coins

...and any other differences you can think of. This would help me make an informed decision on which to ask for!
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Postby Sean Macfarlane » 10/21/02 03:43 AM

Thanks Richard for being a crazy kind of guy! I really love this book, there is more than enough cool magic in this tome to last a lifetime.

What a pity that books aren't selling these days, It's such a nice feeling to have a library full of quality books on the subject ready for reading at any moment. My library is one of my prize possesions and I wouldn't give it up for the world.

Go nuts on those Jennings books Richard, just lose it and make them appear. :D
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Postby Guest » 10/22/02 03:14 PM

I've said it before, and I'll say it again here...Cop/Sil/Brass by Geoff Latta is one of the best "nongimmick" coin routines that I've ever seen or performed. (I qualify that because in my mind it relies more on sleight of hand than on the gimmick itself, as in the Copper-Silver-Brass trick.).
Rick
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 10/29/02 09:58 AM

Thank you for originating this post on Coinmagic Dustin. I went out to Barry's Magic last night and snagged a copy. I now realize what I was missing. :)
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Postby Dave Egleston » 11/08/02 06:37 PM

I'm sorry it took so long for a response to this month's book selection - But I just can't come up with any superlatives that haven't already been applied to this book

Locally the dealer that had this book for sale was using Sol Stone's HUNG COIN to push sales - Worked - The first non-gimmicked coin trick I ever learned was HUNG COIN - so you can see I have an affinity for this book -

Though I was a beginner (now I just suck) at the time, I found this book to be easy to read and learn from - a refreshing change from The BULLS EYE COIN MAGIC pamphlet-(good book- but not at the time) The other non-Bobo coin book I had at the time.

Though I'm not a scholar - I can see very little difference in Mr. Kaufman's writing style - I think Mr. Kaufman is a little more relaxed and at ease with his style now - or I could be full of crap - just a personal observation, not a criticism

This was the 2nd or 3rd K&G book I had bought (It's a 2nd printing) and was already aware that I wasn't going to be disappointed in this publisher's products - It was the first time I saw the "swoosh" lines a minor but good touch in the drawings - This is one of the books that made me not give up this "hobby", like so many of the others that are sitting in my garage, untouched

Once again - In my mind - this is one of the best, if not, the best coin compendiums on the market

Dave
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/16/02 11:08 PM

Yes it is, and I'm working on it. The research has turned into a bit of a bear (but don't get me wrong - I love it or I wouldn't do it). The origins of the next book are just a little fuzzy right now. I just dug up some information that blew another piece of "first hand" information I received right out of the water. So, I have some more work to do, because I have to get it right.

Why?

Because I've got to, mister!
(Sorry - I watched Star Trek and Ace Ventura today...)

Dustin
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/17/02 02:00 AM

Originally posted by Dustin Stinett:
[b]"The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it."
--Elizabeth Drew
Dustin[/b]
Would you explain what you believe the author of the quote was expressing?
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Dave Egleston » 11/17/02 11:31 PM

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it."
--Elizabeth Drew
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dustin
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Would you explain what you believe the author of the quote was expressing?

Mr Townsend:
May I try to explain what that author was trying to say in my opinion?
Obviously the simplistic answer would be; any book, or essay that would make you think about and change your life would pass the test Ms. Drew putting forth - Wouldn't any thought theoretically intensify life?
I can modestly say, I have read thousands of books in my life so far, and hope to read thousands more, but only a handful have made me think deeply into my life or mankinds in general. Out of that handful, most were fiction and of course are considered classics by most standards.
Some of these are: 1984 - ANIMAL FARM - FAHRENHEIT 451 - A SEPARATE PEACE - all high school books and mostly Science Fiction.
Since High School - I've become more jaded and less idealistic - therefore less apt to be moved by what I read, some literature will make me sad or happy or angry. One book I've read recently that really affected me was titled EARTH ABIDES - by George R. Stewart - This was published before WWII, I believe - Some reviewers call it a triumph of human spirit - But I found it to be one of the saddest books I've ever read - I hope you're familiar with it - Essentially it's an "end of the world" story - A strange disease wipes out almost the entire human population - But unlike so many of the other books that have this theme - There is no "survivors pulling together to make a better world" through peace and understanding - In this story I find the survivors to be lazy and mistrustful and that laziness has devolved society back to the stone age and turned the human race into a race of scavengers and isolationists.
Now to get back to Mr Kaufman's book and and Mr. Stinett's quote from Elizabeth Drew.
Though this book is a stand alone study and one I refer to when "researching" magic tricks - I don't think it really intensified a major part of my life
Mr Stinett will be much more eloquent in his explaination. I'm sure when he writes to your query, I'm going to say "Yeah, that's what I meant!" I always hesitate to join in a discussion that takes thought and intelligence because of the mensa-like participants on this forum - I hope I didn't offend any of them with this posting.
By the way - I'm glad you've "returned" - I've read and heard about you for the last several years - and your "return" seems to have made some of the most respected magicians in the world very happy.

Dave
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/18/02 01:20 AM

I cannot fully answer because, unfortunately, I do not have the complete text from where this quote was extracted (if it is indeed from a greater whole), thus any underlying context is missing. I had written the quote down months ago, as I am want to do, and it just so happens that it fit in here perfectly. Of course, trying to explain anything Elizabeth Drew writes would be a chore for anyone not tuned in to her view of politics! That being said, her work that I have read proves to be quite straight forward, with no hint of ambiguity, so I suspect this quote to be representative of the rest of her work. In other words, it means what it says.

For me, and the reason I jotted it down in the first place, its meaning was this: Fine literature should, on some level, touch the very being of the reader. Be it educational, emotional (in the broadest sense of the word), philosophical, ideological etc., one must take from it something of lasting value, no matter how profound or insignificant; just lasting. Reading a book that provides several evenings' worth of entertainment is not of lasting value. It might be a really good book, and one may even read it more than once, but its only value is that of instant gratification: some need, perhaps a need to be merely entertained, has been satisfied. But a book that changes an outlook in some aspect of one's life, affirms (or reaffirms) a belief, or in some way enlightens the reader, that book becomes more than nightstand fodder - it becomes literature (and yes, fiction can have, and most certainly has had, such an effect on someone).

So is CoinMagic literature? Absolutely, and for the reasons I stated in my essay: in my opinion, it changed the way a generation was approaching coin magic.

Dustin
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/18/02 02:08 AM

Originally posted by Dustin Stinett:
"The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it."
--Elizabeth Drew
It is unusual to read a writer of books on current politics making a simple statement regarding the measure of value one might attribute to a work of art. The crafting of the sentence is clearly political with its use of "we" and the lure of discourse presented with "I suppose". Taken in context of our current political environment the sentence becomes as opaque as Mr. Clinton's supposed understanding of the word "is".

I feel enriched by the book CoinMagic. It sets a milestone in the progress of our craft towards a place among the criticaly recognized arts.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Lance Pierce » 11/18/02 06:32 AM

There's more than one Elizabeth Drew! The first was a writer born 1887 and passed 1965 who authored such works as Poetry: A Modern Guide to Its Understanding and Enjoyment. The second is a journalist born 1935 and who is a journalist and political commentator. I suspect that many quotes attributed to the second were actually written or spoken by the first.

For example, I found one web page that has five quotes by Elizabeth Drew (including the one Dustin gave us), gave her date of birth as 1935, cited her work in political journalism, but also provided the sources for the quotes, two going back to 1926! They're just as confused as we are. Since the quote about "the test of literature" was from 1926 (The Modern Novel), we know that this was not the political Elizabeth Drew, but the poetic one.

Okay, then. ::::dusting hands and walking away.::::

Cheers,

Lance
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Postby Steve Bryant » 11/18/02 08:26 AM

Lance, thanks for clearing that up. I always wondered if the "poet" Elizabeth Drew, whose Modern Guide book I frequently turn to, was some young English major who went on to writing political news for the New Yorker. Indeed her 1959 book was actually published quite late in her life, and they are different people after all.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/18/02 09:49 AM

I love the fact that really smart people are here to cover my rear. I would have bet cash-money it was the same person.

Thanks Lance!
(Still believes what he wrote in regard to the quote.)
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Postby Lance Pierce » 11/18/02 09:55 AM

Hey, I just found out myself this morning. Something about the discussion of the quote didn't sit right, so I did some checking, and voila!

Dustin, you're doing a fantastic job...keep it up!

L-
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/18/02 12:11 PM

Originally posted by Lance Pierce:
There's more than one Elizabeth Drew!
Yes there are/were two. One has a middle initial of 'A'. I keep finding odd quotes from one, and no citation of works.

Then again, I did find the context of the quote about 'voyage of discovery ... new eyes' and so wanted know what the context of the above quote was.

Or, perhaps we have found a real mystery?
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Guest » 11/20/02 07:10 PM

to: Rene Clement
you said "I remember when Richie was writing this book. He always said that there was really only one true book of coin magic and that of course was Bobo's."
I recently learned an interesting fact about bobo's book
is that almost all of the material from the book was from Milton Kort. and somehow, he was never give Credit to contributing most of the information.

Has anyone looked at, (book)
"KORT The Magic of Milt Kort" by Stephen Minch?
A very good book on all types of magic. My favorite is called "Wanna Try" This is actually sleigh-of-hand with an unprepared razor blade! :eek:
Man o man is this fun to show magicians!

Chuck
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Postby Guest » 11/21/02 08:41 PM

i last wrote
"...book was from Milton Kort. and somehow, he was never give Credit to contributing most of the information."
well i am wrong about that.

I now realized that Kort did get credit for having some help in BOBO's book
I was wrong on what I posted.
sorry
I make mistakes some times.

Chuck
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Postby Guest » 05/21/04 01:11 PM

Gosh, am I late to the party or WHAT?

I remember well when Coinmagic came out. I was working at the late, lamented Al's Magic Shop in Washington, DC, and was heavy into coins at the time. Bobo was the bible of course, but I knew about some of the newfangled stuff coming out of the New York area (some of Roth's work had already in print in Apocalypse, if I'm not mistaken). The time was absolutely ripe for a "Bobo II," if you will, a new standard bearer for the field of coin magic.

This book definitely had a huge impact on a lot of close-up guys, myself included, describing a whole host of new sleights and techniques, along with a newer, hipper, edgier presentational style. K & G became THE reference standard, against which all future magic books were (and continue to be) judged.

To learn that Richard was a senior at NYU when he did it -- that's humbling!

Passionately recommended to any and all with an interest in coin magic.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/21/04 05:51 PM

I was in an off off off Broadway NYU student presentation of "The Odd Couple" (playing Oscar) during the evening, and laying out CoinMagic during the day: the summer of 1981. That's ... a loooooonnnnnnnggggg time ago.
Don't overlook Les Shore's "Melting Coin!"
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Postby Pete McCabe » 05/21/04 10:47 PM

Richard's Herculean labor did not go unnoticed. In Visual Explanations, Edward Tufte's seminal work, there is a chapter titled "Explaining Magic: Pictorial Instructions and Disinformation Design", co-written by none other than Jamy Ian Swiss.

Explanations of magic involve pictorial instructions demonstrating a sequence of performance, a step-by-step description of conjuring activities. To document and explain a process, to make verbs visible, is at the heart of information design.
(Emphasis in the original.)

Two different illustrations from CoinMagic are featured in this chapter. Other classics of magic are represented as well.

Very few books take on more of a challenge of documenting and explaining complicated processes than does CoinMagic. One of the more remarkable achievements in this area is the description of Sol Stone's "One-Hand Triple Spellbound No. 2" (p 104). The six-drawing graphic on page 105 (reproduced in the Tufte book) and the 9-drawing one on page 106 are remarkable achievements.

The move itself is not bad either. The first change is not that difficult to achieve if you are already familiar with coins, but like all coin magic, it takes quite a lot of practice to make it look like you're not doing anything.

Finally, in Cliff Green's Professional Card Magic, an Ed Mishell illustration shows a hand with six fingers. (On page 128, I don't know which trick that is). Fortunately, the extra fingers don't hinder the effectiveness of the illustration.

Take a look at page 260 of CoinMagic.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/22/04 04:51 PM

The six-fingered illustration by Ed Mishell in Cliff Green's book is the first figure in the description of the Vic Sendax handling of The Interlocked Card Production.
It doesn't affect one's attempt to learn the production (fruitless as that may be).
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Postby El Mystico » 05/24/04 02:09 AM

Has anyone got a copy of CoinMagic they no longer want for some reason?
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Postby Steve Mills » 06/07/04 09:51 AM

A REALLY small item - I've seen Coinmagic in white and red dust covers. As far as I can tell, the white is the first printing and the red is the second printing. Both the first editions.

Is this correct?

Steve
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/07/04 04:55 PM

All printings of CoinMagic are identical except for a few cosmetic changes.
The white dustjacket (with black cloth) is the first printing: 2,000 copies.
All subsequent printings had a burgandy cover (with red cloth), though one of the printings was in softcover, though the cover appears the same as the second printing dustjacket.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 06/07/04 05:19 PM

As Richard has pointed out a few times in other posts, there are some gems in that book.

You will get reactions from the 'melting coin' that actually drips before it vanishes into a puff of real smoke.

:D
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Postby Guest » 06/10/04 03:07 PM

What a fantastic book! In every chapter, you will find no less than 2 tricks worth the proverbial price of the book. My only complaint is...as many times as I have read Coin Magic...I still can't find the Mike Gallo chapter ;(

Mike
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/10/04 04:03 PM

Mike would have definitely had a chapter had he been living in New York City when I wrote the book. But, he was not, alas, and so we are all still waiting for Paul Cummins to finish his book! :)
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Richard Kaufman
 
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