Taking Care of Your Coins

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Zach Taylor » 01/26/12 01:23 AM

Friendly greetings!

I recently obtained the first two volumes of the Tarbell course for Christmas, and upon reading up to lesson 3 found that coins of .50 cent size were recommended. I poked around and managed to get a couple rolls of circulated coins from a local bank, and from these rolls I was able to cull three serviceable looking sets of four reasonably well milled matching coins (I think four is the usual recommendation for a set, correct?).

I ran them through some disinfectant, gave them each a good rinse under hot tap water, and then mixed some soft laundry detergent with water and let them soak for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. They came out somewhat shinier, and the milling feel improved noticeably.

Now that I've got them in good shape, I'm curious about what sort of procedures might be necessary to keep a set of coins in good shape. Obviously these aren't premium, vintage pieces worthy of meticulous care (at least in some people's minds) but I feel that practicing good stewardship and developing a respect for my tools has a positive effect on my mental attitude.

With that in mind, what are some procedures that I can use to show respect for my props and keep them in good working order?
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/26/12 07:51 AM

If your objective is to keep them shiny and clean, brushing the coins with an old toothbrush and toothpaste and rinsing well works pretty well and is readily available wherever you are.

If you wish to avoid denting and chipping the coins during the inevitable drops, practicing over a soft surface such as a bed has been helpful to me.

If I may make a suggestion please: half dollars are a comfortable place to start for most of us, but learning to do the sleights with coins that people carry with them is also just as useful (if not more so).

Also, try not to get caught up in the current "designer" coin craze. IMHO, you can fool and entertain people just as well without spending hundreds of dollars on custom gaffs or vintage coins.

Your choice of Tarbell tells me you are off to a GREAT start--keep it up, Zach!
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Postby mrgoat » 01/26/12 08:06 AM

Vinegar is great for cleaning coins.
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Postby Zach Taylor » 01/26/12 06:23 PM

erdnasephile wrote:If your objective is to keep them shiny and clean, brushing the coins with an old toothbrush and toothpaste and rinsing well works pretty well and is readily available wherever you are.

If you wish to avoid denting and chipping the coins during the inevitable drops, practicing over a soft surface such as a bed has been helpful to me.

If I may make a suggestion please: half dollars are a comfortable place to start for most of us, but learning to do the sleights with coins that people carry with them is also just as useful (if not more so).

Also, try not to get caught up in the current "designer" coin craze. IMHO, you can fool and entertain people just as well without spending hundreds of dollars on custom gaffs or vintage coins.


Thanks very much for the idea. The light polishing compound in toothpaste should be perfect, that's a fantastic idea.

I've always considered fifty cent pieces to be uncommon but still pretty...normal. Is your perspective on more common coins on opening the possibility of impromptu effects?

Thank you also for the encouragement to dodge the more expensive elements of coin magic. I can see the value in some of the gimmicks, and I certainly appreciate the appeal of vintage coins, but as you said you can entertain people without them. I'll resolve to avoid them until I have a proper use for them.


mrgoat: Once this set gets gunked up again I'll give vinegar a spin. I presume you mean just plain white vinegar?
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/26/12 08:39 PM

Zach Taylor wrote:I've always considered fifty cent pieces to be uncommon but still pretty...normal. Is your perspective on more common coins on opening the possibility of impromptu effects?


Precisely. :) Magic with borrowed objects greatly increases the impact of the effect because the mere act of borrowing cancels out the notion of gaffed coins in the minds of the spectators. (Thanks, HL!)

With regards to half-dollars: most magicians like them because they are pretty easy to classic palm and to learn basic sleights with them. However, it's been a very long time since I've seen any normal person carrying them around. This, of course, may change if the US government decides to do away with paper money, but the advocates of this idea have fussed about for decades with no success to this point.

PS: I first heard of the toothpaste idea form Bob Kohler.
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 01/26/12 08:55 PM

Hey there
I'm collecting 1964 half dollars at the moment myself. They look very sleek and professional and also their milling is exceptionally good and being 90% silver do not tarnish the way regular half dollars do. Around the edge looks especially nice.
Also these silver half dollars will not break the bank in fact if your lucky you could probable get them (rarely i will admit) at your local bank for 50c each! Other than that you can get em for as little as 99c on eBay but that's the last place I would go to. It is also probably worth noting that the 90% silver coins ware out more quickly than the regular ones due to being softer.

I've noticed tricks in bobo that require seven identical coins. Other than the misers dream of course. :)
Hope some of this helps!
Neil
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Postby Zach Taylor » 01/26/12 10:52 PM

erdnasephile wrote:Precisely. :) Magic with borrowed objects greatly increases the impact of the effect because the mere act of borrowing cancels out the notion of gaffed coins in the minds of the spectators. (Thanks, HL!)

With regards to half-dollars: most magicians like them because they are pretty easy to classic palm and to learn basic sleights with them. However, it's been a very long time since I've seen any normal person carrying them around. This, of course, may change if the US government decides to do away with paper money, but the advocates of this idea have fussed about for decades with no success to this point.


I can the merits of your line of reasoning. I do remember reading, however, in Henry Hay's Amateur Magician's Handbook that if one learns to palm larger coins first it simplifies palming smaller ones. Hopefully I'm not doing too much damage to my technique.

Corneilius Jay wrote:Hey there
I'm collecting 1964 half dollars at the moment myself. They look very sleek and professional and also their milling is exceptionally good and being 90% silver do not tarnish the way regular half dollars do. Around the edge looks especially nice.
Also these silver half dollars will not break the bank in fact if your lucky you could probable get them (rarely i will admit) at your local bank for 50c each! Other than that you can get em for as little as 99c on eBay but that's the last place I would go to. It is also probably worth noting that the 90% silver coins ware out more quickly than the regular ones due to being softer.

I've noticed tricks in bobo that require seven identical coins. Other than the misers dream of course. :)
Hope some of this helps!
Neil


I'll keep an eye out for a matching set of those as a performance set, thanks for the info. The note on the seven identical coins is very helpful too, thank you.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/27/12 07:47 AM

Zach Taylor wrote:mrgoat: Once this set gets gunked up again I'll give vinegar a spin. I presume you mean just plain white vinegar?



Any kind afaik. Over here in blighty, there is a thick brown ketchup like substance called HP Sauce. That is very high in vinegar, and it viscose so can coat the coin easily, I use that.
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/27/12 05:19 PM

Zach Taylor wrote:
erdnasephile wrote:Precisely. :) Magic with borrowed objects greatly increases the impact of the effect because the mere act of borrowing cancels out the notion of gaffed coins in the minds of the spectators. (Thanks, HL!)

With regards to half-dollars: most magicians like them because they are pretty easy to classic palm and to learn basic sleights with them. However, it's been a very long time since I've seen any normal person carrying them around. This, of course, may change if the US government decides to do away with paper money, but the advocates of this idea have fussed about for decades with no success to this point.


I can the merits of your line of reasoning. I do remember reading, however, in Henry Hay's Amateur Magician's Handbook that if one learns to palm larger coins first it simplifies palming smaller ones. Hopefully I'm not doing too much damage to my technique.


No damage at all :) It's much easier I think to palm 50 cent pieces. Just wanted to encourage you to learn to use normal coins as well.

Just remember what Vernon stressed: it's not the props--it's the presentation (i.e. you) that's important.

Have fun!
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/27/12 05:21 PM

mrgoat wrote:
Zach Taylor wrote:mrgoat: Once this set gets gunked up again I'll give vinegar a spin. I presume you mean just plain white vinegar?



Any kind afaik. Over here in blighty, there is a thick brown ketchup like substance called HP Sauce. That is very high in vinegar, and it viscose so can coat the coin easily, I use that.


That HP sauce really sounds delicious. ;)

"Look, it's a coin cleaner! No, it's a steak topping!"

(Showing my age with that joke...)
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Postby Corneilius Jay » 01/30/12 01:06 AM

erdnasephile wrote:
mrgoat wrote:
Zach Taylor wrote:mrgoat: Once this set gets gunked up again I'll give vinegar a spin. I presume you mean just plain white vinegar?



Any kind afaik. Over here in blighty, there is a thick brown ketchup like substance called HP Sauce. That is very high in vinegar, and it viscose so can coat the coin easily, I use that.


That HP sauce really sounds delicious. ;)

"Look, it's a coin cleaner! No, it's a steak topping!"

(Showing my age with that joke...)


The closest thing your going to get to HP sauce over in the USA is A1 Steak sauce actualy. :)
Regards.
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