Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

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Jack Shalom
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Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Jack Shalom » November 20th, 2022, 1:59 pm

Is it like doing thimble magic or cigar magic?
How many people know what JFK half dollars are anymore?
Are coins about to become curiosities?
Does it matter to magic?
Inquiring minds want to know.

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AJM
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby AJM » November 20th, 2022, 2:14 pm

I would suggest coin magic has more of a future than tricks featuring a pocketful of pen-knives.

Was there ever a point in history when folks just happened to carry for 4 or 5 pen-knives on their person?

In the UK, you’d be drawn over the coals by the Old Bill if they found even one in your possession.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » November 20th, 2022, 2:43 pm

Jack, I don't think it's comparable to doing cigar or thimble magic. Coins are still money, and that has an intrinsic attraction for people. There are plenty of great tricks that can be done with highly recognizable coins, such as quarters and other familiar coins. As for coins that are out of circulation, yes, there are probably many people who would not recognize or possibly never even heard of Kennedy Half Dollars, or other obscure coins, such as the various silver dollars. But that doesn't mean those coins are not viable, even desirable, for tricks nowadays. There are plenty of creative patter possibilities around the older coins, specifically because they are old and from another period in history. Plus, unlike cigars or thimbles, they are beautiful works of art, made from precious metals, and they bear the images of prominent historical figures, eagles, dates, etc. and they have a lure and intrigue all their own.
Last edited by MagicbyAlfred on November 20th, 2022, 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 20th, 2022, 2:51 pm

I'm just writing about this in Greater Magic. I've recently tried doing a trick that required borrowing a quarter several times, but no one carries change anymore.
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Tom Moore » November 20th, 2022, 4:31 pm

I’m in my early 40’s- I haven’t carried “change” for several years. There’s a slight grey-zone but anyone under 20 right now won’t have any meaningful concept of coins.

If you’re presenting coin magic then unless your effect is just as powerful if the coins could be replaced with “cookies” you should be dropping the material. There is no “value” in coins any more.
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Ian Kendall » November 20th, 2022, 4:41 pm

Coin magic will be here for many years to come. It's daft to assume otherwise.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby JHostler » November 20th, 2022, 4:51 pm

Jack Shalom wrote:Is it like doing thimble magic or cigar magic?
How many people know what JFK half dollars are anymore?
Are coins about to become curiosities?
Does it matter to magic?
Inquiring minds want to know.


If I were a layman, I might be equally suspicious about why so much magic is done with playing cards - which are just as uncommon as coins for younger folks to encounter and handle in day-to-day life. But as long as there are games of chance and money, a sufficient understanding of these objects should persist - at least during our lifetimes.
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Robert77
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Robert77 » November 20th, 2022, 5:34 pm

Perhaps it's even greater reason to use real silver coins in coin magic. They have inherent worth, and sound good when clicked together. They also look better.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Bob Farmer » November 20th, 2022, 5:48 pm

Any rare object will elicit interest, so if coins are now in that category, that's good. With the collapse of bitcoin, that intangible thing of now no value, many patter possibilities relating to hard currency are possible.

Cigars might be appropriate in the right circumstances (e.g., smokers' convention).

I always thought thimbles were dumb. What the Hell is that guy sticking thimbles on his fingers for? However, the thicker Highlighters have a cap that works just fine and doesn't look odd.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Michael Rubinstein » November 20th, 2022, 6:09 pm

I would argue that coin and money magic are more relevant than any other form of close-up, because it is logical (IMHO) to do magic with money as an impromptu form of entertainment. Richard makes a point that he tried to borrow a quarter but was not successful. But no one would be surprised if you pulled a handful of change out of your own pocket, and contrary to Richard’s observation, i am not the only one who has change in my pockets (you don'tuse a credit card for everything, and if you pay with cash, you get change). It would be harder to borrow a deck of cards and more surprising to produce a deck of cards and perform as opposed to doing something with quarters. Now of course I am talking about casual impromptu work here.
In a professional setting, anything goes, and I would argue that whether you do a coin trick with half dollars (bigger so logically better for show work over quarters) morgan dollars, foreign coins, or cards, sponge balls (or any prop), you can get great reactions with all.
But hey, I'm just a coin guy and don't know my ace from my elbow :lol: (and I hope you all enjoyed the coin routine I just did on Fool Us!)

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Diego » November 20th, 2022, 6:19 pm

Cartoon in THE SPHINX shows man in balcony of theater looking thru specs saying to his date, "He just produced another thimble."
That cartoon was referenced in THE AMATEUR MAGICIANS HANDBOOK, and noted coins can attract attention as everyone is interested in
money and (still) knows what coins are and used for. Whether half-dollars or larger silver dollars or foreign currency, people get it.
Is coin magic obsolete? No. Boring, unentertaining magic with ____ (whatever) is obsolete. I have read T. Nelson Downs coin act, (that started a wave/fad of coin magic) wasn't just technically good, but very funny as well, that the audiences remembered.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 20th, 2022, 8:14 pm

Michael, I literally cannot remember the last time I paid for anything with cash or coins. It's been several years. It never comes up. Credit card or Apple pay. More convenient, quicker, simpler.
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Larry Horowitz » November 20th, 2022, 9:08 pm

Anybody watching Armondo Lucero perform is not wondering what Quarters are.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Tarotist » November 20th, 2022, 9:13 pm

I get really annoyed with the stupidity of people not carrying cash any more. I consider it the end of civilisation as we know it. I do believe that coin magic will be around for a long time nevertheless. People still know what coins are even if they are daft enough not to carry them around any more.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 21st, 2022, 3:10 am

Coins may be obsolete, but thank goodness little red crocheted balls are still commonplace.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Tom Moore » November 21st, 2022, 6:08 am

Michael Rubinstein wrote:I would argue that coin and money magic are more relevant than any other form of close-up, because it is logical (IMHO) to do magic with money as an impromptu form of entertainment. Richard makes a point that he tried to borrow a quarter but was not successful. But no one would be surprised if you pulled a handful of change out of your own pocket, and contrary to Richard’s observation, i am not the only one who has change in my pockets (you don'tuse a credit card for everything, and if you pay with cash, you get change).


If a 50+ year old man pulled change out of their pocket you're correct - no one would be surprised...
but a 50+ year old woman... they'd wonder why it wasn't in her purse
an under 20 year old and everyone would be thinking "that's odd" and they'd probably get a nickname from their friends for doing such a weird, "old man" thing.
Pull a handful of change out of your pocket in much of the middle east, India, Africa, parts of Asia and they'll look at you like you're an alien because paper money and digital micro payments have been their primary forms of currency for years.

That coins can be use /for/ magic theoretically forever isn't in question; but the emotions and assumptions your audience attach to coins has changed dramatically and so the performance must take that into account. Bending a coin, magnetising a coin, deforming a coin are all effects that derive most of their power from the fact that your audience has regular experience with coins, ascribe a literal value to them and knows from day to day experience that coins don't /normally/ do those sorts of things thus what you are doing is "impossible" - as that knowledge and familiarity dwindles any effect which rests on those baseline assumptions needs to be radically re-thought to ensure that the impossibility we might assume is actually being experienced by the audience.

Again i think one should be looking at any coin trick as "would this still work if it was a cookie?" - making cookies jump from hand to hand
or in a matrix still works as an effect, making cookies fold, shoving objects through them, even levitating them isn't automatically magical because the audience knows little of the solidity and permanence of the cookies in use just like many (indeed an increasing number) have no actual experience of how solid coins are or what they might weight.
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Diego » November 21st, 2022, 11:19 am

This may not be relevant depending on the demographics of your audience, but while even many homeless, disenfranchised people on the bottom of the economic ladder use debit/credit cards, there are those who don't have access to bank accounts, credit/debit cards, etc. and cash their checks at check cashing stores, pay everything in cash, put coins/bills in bus/subway fare machines, etc.
Granted Covid/shutdowns have further eliminated cash use for many more. When I worked for a cellular retail company, some locations would receive hundreds/thousands of dollars in cash for payments, but other more upscale locations could go the entire day without one penny in cash ever used.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » November 21st, 2022, 12:31 pm

Familiarity with elementary school level science and/or common everyday experience, is all that's required on the part of the spectators (a/k/a participants), to enable a magician to frame the impossibility of an effect and/or to make magic with a coin(s), or other solid object. To wit, virtually everyone who is about 4 years old or older knows that objects don't come from nowhere (production) dematerialize (vanish), move themselves (transposition), change into other objects (transmutation), permit other solid objects to go through them (penetration), float/suspend in mid-air (levitation), or multiply.

So, to me, it's irrelevant that certain demographics or age groups may be unfamiliar with coins. Coins need not be borrowed; they can be examined to establish they are solid ungimmicked objects. Or if you want to use a gaff, then a good switch can do the trick after the examination (the way cigarette through quarter has been done forever - even when quarters were super commonplace). And certainly people generally aren't familiar with metal cups (as in the classic cups and balls or chop cup), or with sponge balls, or with big (or for that matter, small) metal rings or, as someone pointed out, with little balls wearing a crocheted sweater. Many people don't play (or play with) cards, some don't know spades from clubs, yet card magic has long been, and remains, one of the most, if not thee most prolific prop of close-up magicians.

All of this being said, I can't wait to get my hands on an Oreo cookie to see how a retention vanish looks with one.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Dave Le Fevre » November 21st, 2022, 1:01 pm

I’m genuinely astonished by the premise of this thread. It may sound facetious when I ask whether this is solely a US thing, but that honestly isn’t my intention.

I always have some coins and some banknotes with me. And usually a credit card too. Most UK shops and cafés, when I ask whether they prefer cash or plastic, reply that they accept either. During the worst of covid, people used plastic more in order avoid handling coins and notes, but that has changed somewhat.

The first magic that I learned was a coin vanish, 65 years ago. And I’ve always loved coin magic, both as a performer and as a spectator. Do I borrow the coins? – no, because I usually perform with UK pre-decimal pennies. (For those unfamiliar with old UK currency, they’ve been out of circulation for about fifty years, they’re copper coloured, and they’re roughly the diameter of a US half dollar.)

Some other countries used the same coins but with a different image on the face side. Irish ones have a chicken or a harp and probably other variants, Australian ones have a kangaroo. So they can be entertaining to perform with.

Along with elastic bands and safety pins, coins are the most everyday item that I use. And certainly more everyday than sponge balls, linking rings, or a finger guillotine.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Tarotist » November 21st, 2022, 1:27 pm

Dave Le Fevre wrote:I’m genuinely astonished by the premise of this thread. It may sound facetious when I ask whether this is solely a US thing, but that honestly isn’t my intention.


Along with elastic bands and safety pins, coins are the most everyday item that I use. And certainly more everyday than sponge balls, linking rings, or a finger guillotine.


I am sure it is indeed an American thing. After all we British are an older and wiser nation. And your last sentence makes perfect sense. My favourite trick is the Dotty Spots paddle trick and although it looks like nothing on earth it gets great reaction. People at least know what coins are even if they are daft enough not to use them so there are no problems whatsoever using them for magic.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 21st, 2022, 1:41 pm

Challenge Coins, Mardigras tokens, Poker Chips, Buttons, AA Sobriety Chips, washers, slugs, wooden nickles....

Protocoins, cryptocurrency...

Very old trick using very old coins?
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » November 21st, 2022, 2:10 pm

"Some other countries used the same coins but with a different image on the face side. Irish ones have a chicken or a harp and probably other variants, Australian ones have a kangaroo. So they can be entertaining to perform with."

OK Dave, now you've got the wheels turning (creaky and in need of oil though they may be). Eureka! An animal matrix, where 4 animal magician friends want to meet in the English countryside for a party in an old barn (party animals, as it were), but they are separated by great distances and without passports, visas (either kind), or money (even spare change). Fortunately, they are able to transport themselves by magic. Magic words such as ""Jump" and "Bawk-Bawk" come to mind. If anyone wishes to use this incredible idea, however, it's gonna cost big money. What I mean is that I would probably have to pay YOU to do the trick.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 21st, 2022, 2:52 pm

Dai Vernon used Australian coins with a Kangaroo for various tricks and took advantage of the patter possibilities.
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Edward Pungot » November 21st, 2022, 7:09 pm

There is a David & Goliath like quality to having 6 Barber Half-Dollars neatly tucked away together in your Levi’s jeans coin pocket.

The core primary effects of magic are more clearly expressed with coins and balls rather than 52 playing cards.

Plus your props are lifetime and have a silver certificate.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby JHostler » November 21st, 2022, 8:08 pm

Larry Horowitz wrote:Anybody watching Armondo Lucero perform is not wondering what Quarters are.


This.

And we should give our audiences more credit for not being complete idiots; they know what hard currency is.
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby erdnasephile » November 21st, 2022, 8:22 pm

I'll play slightly devil's advocate for a sec:
1) While there do seem to be less coins in people's pockets lately (CC, Venmo, inflation, pandemic, etc.), pretty much every adult living today knows what a coin is (and kids still learn about US coins in public school). Therefore, I doubt doing a coins across is going to bother any of them as anachronistic in 2022.
2) Some religiously feel that magic must be done with everyday objects. While I do most of my magic with EDO's, Jim Steinmeyer's bone picking with that notion has made an impact on me, as well as Roth's Okito box presentation ("It's a magic box" [get over it]). Besides, why would it be out of place for a magician to have unusual, interesting objects on his/her person?
3) For years, I've just said "I used to collect coins when I was a kid" (true) when I need to introduce a group of old coins. No one bats and eye.
4) IMHO, the true threat here is to tricks requiring borrowed coins (or for that matter, borrowed bills). Further, I've not had any non-magician spectators to ever have a deck of cards on them away from their homes. So, all the stuff about how using a borrowed deck greatly improving the impact of the magic, is not a strategy that I have been able to often apply.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Tarotist » November 21st, 2022, 9:34 pm

erdnasephile wrote:4) IMHO, the true threat here is to tricks requiring borrowed coins (or for that matter, borrowed bills). Further, I've not had any non-magician spectators to ever have a deck of cards on them away from their homes. So, all the stuff about how using a borrowed deck greatly improving the impact of the magic, is not a strategy that I have been able to often apply.


I have often thought this. It is true that magic with a borrowed deck is stronger but I don't suppose I have borrowed a deck more than 6 times in my entire life. People don't carry around decks of cards with them so how the bloody hell are you supposed to borrow them? I suppose on the odd occasion you might be visiting someone's house and they have a dog eared incomplete deck of cards lying about somewhere but I rarely visit other people's houses anyway and even if I do they may not have a deck handy anyway.

I suppose if you are showing magic to other magicians you might borrow one of their decks but magicians know whether you are using trick cards anyway. Besides, showing magic to other magicians is akin to incest and I do not approve of it.

Harry Lorayne is a big advocate of using borrowed decks and he goes so far as telling a host in advance of his visit to their house to go out and purchase a deck or two. It works for Harry but I think for most people it is an impractical procedure. If you perform with your own cards over an extended period to the same people after a while they begin to realise you don't use trick cards anyway.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Michael Rubinstein » November 21st, 2022, 11:06 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:"Some other countries used the same coins but with a different image on the face side. Irish ones have a chicken or a harp and probably other variants, Australian ones have a kangaroo. So they can be entertaining to perform with."

OK Dave, now you've got the wheels turning (creaky and in need of oil though they may be). Eureka! An animal matrix, where 4 animal magician friends want to meet in the English countryside for a party in an old barn (party animals, as it were), but they are separated by great distances and without passports, visas (either kind), or money (even spare change). Fortunately, they are able to transport themselves by magic. Magic words such as ""Jump" and "Bawk-Bawk" come to mind. If anyone wishes to use this incredible idea, however, it's gonna cost big money. What I mean is that I would probably have to pay YOU to do the trick.


You might want to take a look at MIGRATE, my coins across routine where 4 Bear commemorative half dollars (or 4 poker chips with a bear design) travel from one hand (cave) to the other, finally travelling into the hand of your spectator. It is rather "punny." Here is a link to the poker chip version:
https://youtu.be/QY84oZRYGtU

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 21st, 2022, 11:17 pm

If you need half dollars you can buy them from Vanishing Inc. for $1 each.
What a deal!
:roll:

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » November 22nd, 2022, 7:11 am

Michael Rubinstein wrote: You might want to take a look at MIGRATE, my coins across routine where 4 Bear commemorative half dollars (or 4 poker chips with a bear design) travel from one hand (cave) to the other, finally travelling into the hand of your spectator. It is rather "punny." Here is a link to the poker chip version:
https://youtu.be/QY84oZRYGtU


Fabulous! Very creative. The most entertaining coins across routine I've seen - and I say that without koalafication.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Joe Lyons » November 22nd, 2022, 7:27 am

Great points all, erdnasephile.

I collected coins as a child as well - there is something intrinsically magical about old and/or foreign coins, they transport you to another place or time.

I don’t usually believe in passing out gaffed or ungaffed props for inspection, collectible coins are a rare exception.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Tarotist » November 22nd, 2022, 8:55 am

Brad Jeffers wrote:If you need half dollars you can buy them from Vanishing Inc. for $1 each.
What a deal!
:roll:


I have something better than that. I purchased about a hundred of them in a flea market very cheaply indeed. They are silver souvenir coins made for various events (some Canadian government events). They are the same size as half dollars, have rimmed edges and ideal for sleight of hand. They have an unusual strange advantage over other coins. For some odd reason they are cold to the touch even if they have been in your pocket for a while. When coins are cold, I find for some reason they are better for sleight of hand moves, particularly coin flourishes. When coins are cold they seem to move even faster and easier when you do coin rolls. Don't ask me why.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » November 22nd, 2022, 9:46 am

Sounds like a classic case (or palm) of "cold cash," Mark. I noticed on the Vanishing, Inc. site (and it may well have been unintentional) that the illustration in the ad shows a 1964 Kennedy half dollar. I can't say for sure, but I doubt whether you would get twenty (if any) 1964's in the rolls they are selling. That was the one year that the Kennedy halves contained 90% silver, as opposed to 40% in the other years they were minted. In any event, it's hard to think of a better example of inflation than paying one dollar for a half dollar, but I have a solution to turn the tables. When I order, I'll pay by check...

...made out and signed in vanishing ink.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 23rd, 2022, 9:22 am

Along the lines of poker chips; Whist counters :) and the little box which may as well be an Okito box ;) .
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 23rd, 2022, 10:51 am

I don't care for using poker chips instead of coins. They are plastic, and I think a lay person is much more likely to think they can be gimmicked than a piece of metal like a coin.
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Leo Garet » November 23rd, 2022, 12:34 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I don't care for using poker chips instead of coins. They are plastic, and I think a lay person is much more likely to think they can be gimmicked than a piece of metal like a coin.


On the money. Coins, that is.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Tarotist » November 23rd, 2022, 4:04 pm

I am not overly excited by Poker Chips either. I do have a ton of them but I never use them. Mind you, I suspect they might be useful for colour changing purposes. I actually have a book (I can't remember the title or the author) full of fancy flourishes with poker chips many of which are identical to coin flourishes. If I ever find the book I will post a link to it. Of course some of you may know of the book already.

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 24th, 2022, 8:37 pm

A wooden nickel, a washer, and a poker chip …

Silver Dollar sized dollar coins went away in 1978.
There are some commemorative half dollar coins. One state coin, a 1936 half dollar, has a bear. Which is fine if you want to show off your coin collection. Way back when doing well meant $20 a week. Thing is our society is not stuck in the1890’s.

However, folks do know about silver eagle coins, bullion, antiques road show, things found at flea markets … hoarder troves, family heirlooms, … slippery slope into bizarre magic :)
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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby RobFromNZ » November 25th, 2022, 12:30 pm

I was just watching a video of a good card to wallet effect. Similarly, large "pocket book" type wallets look unusual now, many people just have small card holder wallets.

And as for keeping anything in the "breast pocket of your jacket"...

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Re: Is Coin Magic Obsolete?

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 25th, 2022, 12:57 pm

Few men in the United States used those large breast pocket wallets that I know of.
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