Read an Excerpt
Modern Coin Magic
By J. B. Bobo, John Braun, Nelson C. Hahne
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1982 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
The Classic Palm The Edge Palm The Thumb Palm The Downs Palm The Finger Palm The Front Finger Hold The Back Palm The Back Finger Clip The Back Thumb Palm
The Classic Palm
The coin is held in the center of the palm by a contraction of the muscles at the base of the thumb and little finger, Fig. 1. It is transferred to, and pressed into this grip by the tips of the second and third fingers. Several coins may be held in this manner.
This is one of the most difficult of all concealments to master but it is one of magic's finest secrets. The layman cannot imagine it possible to conceal a coin in this way.
The beginner may experience difficulty in retaining a coin in this position at the outset, but the ability will come with practice. Once the knack is acquired coins of various sizes can be retained.
A minimum amount of pressure is sufficient to hold the coin in place. Too much grip tends to make the hand appear cramped and tense. A coin is not a heavy object, so hold it lightly and the hand will appear natural. Actually it should be held so loosely that a mere tap with the other hand will dislodge it.
An important point to remember is that no one is misled because the fingers are apart. Only when the hand looks natural will it be above suspicion. The ability to palm a coin should be mastered first; naturalness will come later. Make use of the hand that has the coin palmed by picking up something with it, such as another coin, or a small wand or pencil; use it to pull back the sleeve; to snap the fingers or make a gesture. Any of these actions subtly direct attention away from the hand with the concealed coin. Sometimes I grasp a spectator by the arm to draw him closer for a better look, with the very hand that has the coin concealed.
The parlor rug offers an excellent surface for coin work. It is advisable to spread a pocket handkerchief on the rug and place the coins on that, as some rugs have a confusing design, thus making the coins difficult to see. Whether operating from the floor or a table, a natural pose to assume is to rest the fingertips of both hands on the working surface. The hands will then look empty even if something is concealed in one of them, Fig. 2.
In some instances certain tricks must be done while standing and occasionally the spectators will be crowded around you. Just a little thought will solve this problem and make you master of the situation. Watch your angles. Form the habit of keeping the palm of the hand in which the coin is palmed, toward the body. Or, if the hand that has the coin concealed is held parallel with the floor there is little chance of detection. The coin can only be seen from a point directly below.
The Edge Palm
The coin is held in the same spot as just explained, by the muscles of the hand which press together from opposite directions against the edge of the coin. It is not held flat as in the classic palm but in a slanting position of about forty-five degrees, Fig. 1.
This palm is more difficult to acquire than the classic palm, but once it has been mastered this one becomes easier. A fairly new coin with a sharp milled edge is easier to hold than one with a well worn or smooth edge.
To place the coin in this position you must first hold it by its edge between the tips of the forefinger and thumb. Then place the tip of the second finger in front (nail against edge of coin) and third finger behind and grip it with these two fingers as the thumb and forefinger are removed from the coin. Now by bending the two middle fingers inward the coin is carried to the palm, Fig. 2. and retained there while the fingers straighten out again, Fig. 1.
A simple reversal of these moves will return the coin to its starting position.
To palm several coins in this fashion you would proceed exactly as you would with one, but as each coin is palmed it is placed on top of the preceding one with the final coin being closest to the wrist.
To produce them again bend the second and third fingers inward, place the tip of the third finger on top of the coin nearest the wrist and the tip of the second finger underneath the outer edge of the coin closest to the palm. With the tip of the third finger, slide the top coin forward about a quarter of an inch, then grip it between the tips of the two fingers and bring it into view by straightening these fingers.
The number of coins that can be palmed and produced in this manner depends entirely on the ability of the performer.
The Thumb Palm
The coin is clipped by its edge in the fork of the thumb by pressure of the latter against the base of the first finger, Fig. 1. The coin should be held rather loosely to permit the thumb to assume as natural a position as possible.
To place the coin in this position, begin with it between the tips of the first two fingers, Fig. 2. Curl these two digits inward until the top edge of the coin touches the upper palm at the crotch of the thumb, then bring the thumb down and grip it by its edge, Fig. 3, as the fingers straighten out.
To transfer the coin from the thumb palm to the classic palm, bend the second and third fingers inward as you lower the thumb (which action brings the coin closer to the palm), press the tips of these two fingers against the flat side of the coin and press it into the palm.
The Downs Palm
The coin is held horizontally in the fork of the thumb by pressure of the latter and the base of the first finger pressing together against opposite edges. Fig. 1 shows this position but from a different angle than viewed by the audience.
To bring the coin to this position, hold it vertically between the tips of the first two fingers, Fig. 2. Then curl these two fingers inward, depositing the coin behind the thumb, where it is gripped against the base of the first finger. When the fingers are straightened the hand appears empty, Fig. 3.
This concealment is used mainly as a coin vanish and production. The correct moves for accomplishing this are as follows: Stand with your left side toward the audience and display a half dollar held between the tips of the first two fingers as described. Quickly bring the hand down, then up, in a tossing motion. Under cover of this brief movement, palm the coin. Follow the flight of the nonexistent coin upward with your eyes, and if you have executed the moves as described the coin seems to vanish in mid-air. Show the hand empty as in Fig. 3.
To produce the coin, reach out with the hand and seemingly pluck it from the air by a reversal of the above moves.
After you have mastered the moves with a single coin try vanishing several in the same manner. A good number to start with is four. Show them in your left hand and stand with your left side toward the audience. Take the first coin with your right hand and vanish it as described. The remaining three are handled in the same manner but as each coin is placed behind the thumb it goes underneath the preceding one. At first this may seem a bit difficult but if you have spent sufficient time in mastering the moves with one coin the extra number should give you little trouble.
The next step is to show the back of the hand empty and produce the coins again. To do this, turn slightly to the left, and as you swing your arm across your body, curl the fingers inward and touch the tip of the thumb with the tips of the first two digits (which prevents the onlookers from getting a flash of the coins), straighten the fingers and exhibit the back of the hand empty. Reverse these moves, show the palm of the hand empty and proceed to pluck the coins from the air one at a time. As each coin is produced, take it with your left hand, or better still, drop them in a goblet which you hold in your left hand.
A certain amount of care will have to be exercised to prevent the coins from "talking" as they are brought together behind the thumb. The use of old, well-worn coins, such as the Liberty head half dollar, will help greatly in eliminating the noise caused by the coins sliding across each other.
Read Arthur Buckley's description of the Downs palm which he employs in Four Coins to a Glass, (page 160).
A more beautiful coin vanish and reproduction has not been devised.
The Finger Palm
Here is probably the easiest and most natural of all palms. The coin is held at the base of the curled second and third fingers, as in the figure below.
If you will stand in front of a mirror with your arms relaxed at your sides, you will notice that the fingers curl inward naturally. If a coin is placed in the position described above, it can be retained without further movement of the fingers. Apply just enough grip on the coin to hold it in place, for if it is held too tightly the hand will not appear natural. With a coin thus concealed you will find that you can still snap the fingers and use the hand almost as freely as you do normally.
The transfer of the coin from classic or thumb palm to this position can be made during a slight movement of the hand or while the hand hangs naturally at your side.
The Front Finger Hold
The coin is held flat, near the tips of the extended second and third fingers by pressure on its opposite edges with the tips of the first and fourth fingers, The Back Palm, Fig. 2.
The ease in holding a coin in this position depends on the diameter of the coin and the size of the performer's hands. For most hands the half dollar is about right.
The coin can be transferred to this position from the thumb, finger, or classic palm.
The Back Palm
The coin is hidden behind the hand, being held flat against the second and third fingers by the tips of the first and fourth fingers which press together against opposite edges, Fig. 1.
To get the coin in this position start with it in the front finger hold, Fig. 2. Bend the second and third fingers inward, then outward, passing them from one side to the other of the coin, which revolves in this action between the tips of the outer two digits, Fig. 3. When the fingers straighten out the coin will be hidden behind the hand, Fig. 1, as you show the front of the hand empty, Fig. 4. A slight upward movement of the hand as if tossing the coin into the air will cover the action of back palming.
To show the back of the hand, reverse the moves as follows: With the palm toward the front, bend the hand downward at the wrist as far as it will go, Fig. 5, and close the hand as it continues to turn until it becomes a loose fist, as illustrated in Fig. 6. At this point the two middle fingers bend inward and outward, revolving the coin between the first and fourth fingers as the hand completes its turning and the fingers are straightened out. The back of the hand is seen as in Fig. 7. All these moves must blend together in the one action of turning over the hand to show its back.
An alternate and preferred method of showing the back of the hand is as follows: After the palm is shown, begin turning the hand to show its back just as described above until the position depicted in Fig. 6 is reached. Bend the thumb upward over the lower edge of the coin and release it from the fingers so it can be thumb palmed as the fingers are extended to show the back of the hand. In other words, the coin is transferred from the back palm to the thumb palm as the hand turns over. This method is not only easier but has several advantages as a trial will show.
To show the front of the hand again, do this: Bend the fingers inward, grip the coin by its edge between the tips of the first two digits and turn it parallel with the floor as the thumb releases its grip and moves out of the way. Now bring the thumb back and press it against the edge of the coin, holding it in the Downs palm position. Still keeping the first finger below and the second finger above the coin, close the hand into a tighter fist and turn it palm toward the audience before straightening the fingers. The position of these two fingers prevents the spectators from getting a flash of silver as the hand is turned palm outward. At the completion of these moves the spectators see the hand as depicted in The Downs Palm, Fig. 3.
To produce the coin simply pluck it from the air as described in The Downs Palm.
All hands are not the same size, consequently all hands cannot handle the same size coin. For most, a half dollar will be just about right, while others will require a larger coin like the silver dollar. The Mexican Peso is slightly larger than the half dollar and the Canadian silver dollar is a trifle smaller than the American coin of the same value. It is advisable to use as large a coin as can be safely handled.
Many interesting foreign coins can be purchased for small sums at coin shops, some almost as cheaply as palming coins. Most coin manipulators prefer real money over the magic shop variety. Palming coins are usually suspected by the layman as being manufactured for magical purposes and for that reason are not recommended for close-up work.
Foreign coins also offer wonderful patter possibilities. Some of the coins available are quite beautiful and interesting in themselves. Use a few foreign coins and weave a story around them—you will find that the spectators will be much more enthusiastic about the trick.
The Back Finger Clip
The coin is clipped behind the hand by its edge, between the first and second fingers, Fig. 1.
To get it in this position hold it by its edge between the thumb and the fleshy second phalanx of the middle finger. The forefinger rests on the top edge, Fig. 2.
Bring the forefinger down and place it against the lower edge of the coin as the thumb moves away. Clip the coin between the first two fingers and straighten out the hand, which appears empty, as in Fig. 3.
To use this as a vanish, stand with your left side toward the audience and hold the coin as described above. As you pretend to toss it into the air quickly transfer it to the back finger clip. The coin appears to vanish as you apparently toss it into the air. The coin is behind the hand and the hand appears empty.
To show the back of the hand you will have to transfer the coin from one side of the hand to the other. Proceed as follows: Turn the wrist as far as it will go and point the fingers toward the floor. The hand appears the same as shown in The Back Palm, Fig. 5. Now close the hand into a loose fist as you continue turning the hand. The back of the hand is now toward the spectators and it should appear the same as shown in The Back Palm, Fig. 6. With the hand in this position move the thumb around the forefinger and press its tip against the underside of the coin. This is done as the forefinger moves away, and the thumb presses the coin tight against the second finger. Thumb slides the coin inward toward the palm where it is clipped by its opposite edge between the first and second fingers. Open the hand and show its back as in Fig. 4.
To bring the coin from front to back of the hand again place the tip of the thumb against the edge of the coin. Push the coin between the fingers to bring it to the back of the hand as the hand turns over. The thumb screens the coin in this action. Finally the palm is shown empty as in Fig. 3.
The Back Thumb Palm
The coin is clipped by its edge with the thumb and is concealed behind the hand, Fig. 1.
The moves necessary to get the coin into this position are harder to acquire than the Downs palm but this palm has the advantage of being considerably more angle proof. For this reason it is excellent for close work.
There are three ways to get a coin into this position. The first is a method used by T. Nelson Downs, while the other two are my own.
For the Downs method the starting position is the same as The Back Finger Clip, Fig. 1, (page 7). Bend the thumb down and clinch the fingers, Fig. 2. As you raise the thumb and return it to its normal position, move the coin along with it, Fig. 3, and clip it at the back of the fork of the thumb, Fig. 1. Straighten the fingers, keeping them slightly separated and show your hand empty, Fig. 4. Because the coin has a tendency to slant upward the hand must be tilted backward slightly to prevent the spectators getting a flash of silver.
The moves of transferring the coin from the back finger clip to the back thumb palm are made as you make an upward grab at an imaginary coin in the air. Feign disappointment as you open and show your hand empty.
Fix your eyes on another spot in the air even higher than before, then as you make a grab for it raise your thumb and allow the coin to slip into the clinched fist. Triumphantly open your hand and display the coin lying on your palm.
A simpler and easier method with less movement of the hand follows: Stand with your left side toward the spectators and display a half dollar between the tips of the first two fingers of your right hand as in The Thumb Palm, Fig. 2, or The Downs Palm, Fig. 2. Quickly lower, then raise your hand in a tossing motion, pretending to throw the coin upward into the air. Under cover of this movement, bend the first two fingers inward (in practically the same manner as you would for the thumb palm) and clip the coin behind the thumb. The main difference between this move and those used in the thumb palm is that the fingers must clinch tighter and the thumb must go under and not above the coin, Fig. 5. When the hand reaches its highest point it should be open and appear empty, Fig. 4.
Excerpted from Modern Coin Magic by J. B. Bobo, John Braun, Nelson C. Hahne. Copyright © 1982 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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