Originally posted by Glenn West:
I was always told that it refered to the sound of coins coming together. Thought it was kinda ovious. Like chink, clink, tink, ding, dang, dong, thud, thwap or anyother 'sound words.'
The original version of the trick we know as Chink-a-Chink was done with cubes of sugar. The use of coins was of course introduced by David Roth. Therefore the sound of coins clinking together would have had nothing to do with calling the trick Chink-a-Chink.
The first time I came across the term Chink-a-Chink was the Mohammed Bey (Leo Horowitz) routine in Stars of Magic. The trick is also closely associated with Max Malini, but I don't know who coined the term Chink-a-Chink.
On his Expert Coin Magic video, David Roth says, "the effect is also known as Chink-a-Chink, because this is said to be the the sound the magician made while performing it."
I took this to mean a sound the magician made with his mouth, sort of to accentuate the mysterious actions of the sugar cubes.
I also felt this was probably said in order to divert any thoughts that the title of the trick may have actually been based on an ethic slur.
Anyway, whether you perform Chink-a-Chink with sugar cubes, bottle caps, dice or coins, the objects themselves should make no noise. They move around silently.
One other point about Richard changing the name of the trick (in the Roth book). His intent was good, but I think that changing a trick that is commonly known as Chink-a-Chink to The Original Chinese Coin Assembly just furthers the association of the two words chink and Chinese. Why not just call it The Original Coin Assembly. After all, I don't think the trick was written up using Chinese coins!