While some magicians shy away from the Okito and other coin boxes because they appear to be magic apparatus, the fact is that the Okito Coin box was developed from a very common, everyday item.
For many, many years pharmacists dispensed pills and ointment in little round, metal or cardboard canisters (pill boxes). Joe Klein, Theo Bamberg's partner in a magic shop at Broadway and 28th Street in New York City, kept such a cardboard box on his desk in the shop. Containing pills to combat indigestion, the box never attracted any attention. One afternoon (the year according to Okito was 1909; according to J.B. Bobo's
version of the story it was 1911), Bamberg -- who we know as the marvellous Okito -- picked up the box and began to toy with it. The box had two white tablets in it, but when shaken it rattled as if it were full. Okito inadvertently placed the lid on the wrong side of the box, yet the box looked the same as though the lid were placed on it correctly. Klein noticed Okito playing with the box and asked him what he was doing. Okito then came up with an impromptu trick, where the pills appeared to vanish from the sealed canister only to appear in his other hand. Klein thought there must have been a hole in the box, so when Okito handed him the lid and the rest of the canister and they were ungimmicked, he was totally fooled.
Always the businessman, Klein suggested they should find a way to sell the trick. But Okito dismissed the idea at first, thinking the trick to be just a silly one. However, on the way back to Brooklyn that evening, Okito rethought the idea and came up with the notion of crafting a metal box the size of a half dollar and developing a trick using a marked coin. He then developed some very nice moves to incorporate into the handling. Okito made the first box by hand in his own workshop. Klein was so impressed
they then had a gross of them manufactured by machine...all of which sold out almost immediately. More were ordered yet demand was so great for the Okito Coin Box (which sold for fifty cents back then) that they were barely able to keep up with their orders. It has remained a part of the coin workers repetoire for almost nine decades!
Okito's original handling can be found in Okito on Magic, written by Bamberg and Robert Parrish and published in 1952. Bobo's Modern Coin Magic contains a very solid chapter on coin boxes and -- as has been mentioned -- David Roth's Expert Coin Magic is an excellent resource. As I recall Richard's CoinMagic has some very good material as well.
[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Michael Edwards ]