Dirty Coins

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Dirty Coins

Postby Guest » March 19th, 2005, 1:14 pm

Hello all,
Hope this does not sound too stupid but I was wondering, what do you coin guys out there use to shine your silver coins? I recently saw Roth lecture in NYC and his coins looked like little discs of mirrors.

Also, I just recently began learning Daryl's 3 Fly III routine and acquired a set of old, "soft", Morgan silver dollars and was wondering whether it would be best to shine them up or perform the effect with dingy coins?

Many thanks,

Bill McFadden
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Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Bill McFadden » March 19th, 2005, 2:13 pm

Hey Roberto, now you're a coin guy? There are any number of solvents available at any drug or hardware store to keep silver shiny. I strongly suspect,however, that David Roth starts with uncirculated coins.

This may be heresy to coin workers, but just as on TV, a bottle of Tarn-X will also give the coins an express shine.

In the Fingertip Coins Across, I subscribe to the opinion that the coins should reflect as much light as possible. Nice shiny coins will show up well, even in a dimly-lit environment.

If your coin work is anything similar to your cards, Roberto, then the world better get ready for a big double-kill. :cool:

Rob Signs
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Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Rob Signs » March 19th, 2005, 8:44 pm

Toothpaste and a washrag works as well. Just cheap white toothpaste shines them up pretty nicely and isn't a harsh chemical.

Dan Trommater
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Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Dan Trommater » March 19th, 2005, 9:18 pm

I believe that coin collectors will tell us that any abrasives (toothpaste, baking soda) are a bad idea. I used baking soda and water to make a paste that I rubbed on my silver dollars for years. Sure, it made them shine, but it irreversibly changes the surface of the coin. Go to a coin shop and look at a pristine silver coin. It's really not what one would call 'shiny'. It has a slight surface texture to it that is damaged by abrasive treatment.

I recently bought a gaff to match my Morgan set from Jamie Schoolcraft (incredible workmanship! look him up at http://www.coingaff.com) and it doesn't match my coins because I had 'shined' them. Now I'm forced to either baking soda my gaff (which I refuse to do) or replace my set.

I think it depends on the condition of the coins to begin with. If you start with old, worn coins, then I don't think it matters what you do to them (and the baking soda method is as good as any). But if you start with a coin with a good surface, I'd hesitate to go for a glossy shine.

I suspect that a trip to the coin store and a chat with the proprietor would yeild excellent advice.

Greg McNeil
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Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Greg McNeil » March 20th, 2005, 9:29 am

With all due respect to the opinions contrary to my own, I'd like to make this contribution to the subject. To my way of thinking, which has often been seen as too practical (is there such a thing?), the advice of a coin collector would only be valid if we are keeping these coins as part of a collection. Most of us aren't coin collectors; we are magicians. With only a few exceptions, from a numismatist's perspective a shell coin or other gimmick has already been completely destroyed, and its value has been reduced to nearly nothing.

This doesn't apply to all of us of course, but most magicians are using these coins as tools. Here is a comparison from the world outside of magic... If I buy an old Stanley & Norris wood plane to place in a museum I will treat it entirely differently than I would if I were buying that exact same plane to use as a woodworking tool. If it is a tool I will sharpen it and oil it, and sometimes it will be filled with wood shavings. If it is a museum piece I may decide to never alter it. I might even keep it behind glass and only handle it while wearing cotton gloves.

If we have a need to polish our coins, to make them more visible or to make them match other coins in our toolboxes, by all means we should do it. If the old soft silver coins make a trick work better for us, then we should locate and use those coins. We may use shiny or tarnished coins. We might choose borrowed common coins or exotic foreign ones. We might use these because one or the other is more appropriate to our performing persona. We might select them simply because we like to use certain coins.

In my opinion we should do whatever we like with our magician's coins, with little or no regard for the concerns of coin collectors. Their concern is legitimate within their field. Our concern should apply to our needs and our use of the tools.


Oliver Corpuz
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Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Oliver Corpuz » March 20th, 2005, 9:58 am

The best stuff to polish coins is MAAS Polish or Simichrome Polish. These polishes will give you an amazing mirror like finish to a coin.

I collect coins and do magic with coins. To polish a "collectable" coin would destroy its numismatic value... never ever polish a collectible coin. The slightest imperfection in a mint state coin will dramatically reduce its grade and value accordingly.

Coins used in magic generally are not mint perfect collectibles, but are the exact opposite. Highly worn, junk silver coins, only worth the current spot price of silver in them are best for routines where the coins must slide against each other or against a surface. So go ahead and polish them up... as these coins have no numismatic value.

Coins (and gaffs like shells) used in magic routines need to be able to be seen by the audience or there is no magic. So in my opinion, shine them up realy nicely to a mirror finish and jiggle them so the light reflects off them so the audiene can see the coins and the magic.


Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Guest » March 20th, 2005, 4:56 pm



Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Guest » March 20th, 2005, 11:06 pm

Thank you all who responded with your great suggestions. Incidentally, I visited a jewelry shop today that specializes in sterling silver. They didn't sell any silver polish but they sold me a silver polishing cloth. I tried it on a Kennedy half I had on my person and the thing did a great job so I purchased two clothes.

Bill, how the heck are you buddy? Good to see you on the forum and thanks for the kind words. But to answer your question, I am far from being a coin guy. I just fell in love with the 3 fly effect especially after seeing Jamy's version. Although, I like the fact that Daryl's version allows you to end clean.



Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Guest » March 21st, 2005, 5:27 am

Use an eraser.

Pete McCabe
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Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Pete McCabe » March 21st, 2005, 7:51 am

Use poker chips. They are much more visible than coins, especially if you are doing any kind of spellbound or copper/silver transpo effect. I don't care how shiny your coins are, in a dimly lit room it is very hard to tell a half from an English penny. With poker chips the difference is unmistakable.

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Re: Dirty Coins

Postby cataquet » March 21st, 2005, 10:20 am

I use a silver polishing cloth. Before I put the coins in my pocket, I just give them a quick polish. Making this a ritual means the coins never get any tarnish.

Once, I got stuck without a cloth, so I went to plan B - ketchup. This works really well (apply the ketchup, leave for a minute or two and then rinse with water), but it's messy (the smell remains for a short time on both your hands and the coins).

Both of these options are non-abrasive, and won't wear down the coins. Toothpaste and Baking soda are mildy abrasive, and may actually scratch the coins (although these scratches will be microscopic).

Ira Rush
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Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Ira Rush » March 23rd, 2005, 9:45 am

In my humble honest opinion....

Why in the world would you want to polish your coins (gaffed or non-gaffed)?

I have found that a shinny coin will more than likely have the audience wanting to grab at the coins to see if they are "gaffed".
A super shinny mirror like coin screams "GAFFED"

A dull dirty coin is more natural and less likely to get that reaction.

For my coin work I used old, "soft" dirty coins, such as "Walking Lberty halves, Morgan Silver dollars, real "brass" chinese coins with the hole, the old manhole sized English pennies tarnished to the point they are almost black.

Just my opinion...


Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Guest » April 26th, 2005, 3:02 pm

Letting them go through the wash will do it.

'couse, not with your three fly set.

Miss Pete

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Pete Biro
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Re: Dirty Coins

Postby Pete Biro » April 26th, 2005, 4:18 pm

Wright's Silver Cream. End of need to go farther.
Stay tooned.

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