Self-Working Table Magic: 97 Foolproof Tricks with Everyday Objects [NOOK Book]


97 mystifying tricks done with ordinary objects that can be borrowed from the audience. Make coins appear or disappear; matchsticks jump into the air; classic cups and balls; pierce balloons without bursting them; plus tricks with dice, rubber bands, eggs, safety pins, pens and pencils, more. 185 illustrations.
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Self-Working Table Magic: 97 Foolproof Tricks with Everyday Objects

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97 mystifying tricks done with ordinary objects that can be borrowed from the audience. Make coins appear or disappear; matchsticks jump into the air; classic cups and balls; pierce balloons without bursting them; plus tricks with dice, rubber bands, eggs, safety pins, pens and pencils, more. 185 illustrations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486319087
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 6/10/2013
  • Series: Dover Magic Books
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 873,189
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Karl Fulves is one of the most respected authorities in the field of magic. For over 40 years, he has written hundreds of books on the subject and taught the art of illusion to thousands of people of all ages. This legendary figure also edited and published such magazines as Epilogue and The Pallbearers Review.

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Self-Working Table Magic

97 Foolproof Tricks with Everyday Objects

By Karl Fulves, Joseph K. Schmidt

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1981 Karl Fulves
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-31908-7



Everyone carries coins. If you know a few coin tricks, you are always in a position to entertain people with coin magic. The tricks in this chapter represent a collection of some of the best coin routines done without sleights or specially prepared apparatus.


Ask for the loan of a quarter. When you get the coin, remark that some coins of this particular date, unknown to most people, have a low melting point. As a result, the coin has a curious property which you now demonstrate.

The coin is placed under a handkerchief. Immediately the coin melts through the center of the handkerchief. Both the coin and the handkerchief may be borrowed, and the coin may be marked.

METHOD: The trick is accomplished by means of a clever turnover move with the handkerchief. But note that when you borrowed the quarter, you made it seem that the coin was the key element in the trick because it had a low melting point. By making up this story, you focused attention on the coin and therefore away from the handkerchief.

This is the element of misdirection. Audience attention is directed to the object that has very little to do with the working of the trick. In this case the audience will concentrate attention on the coin and forget about the handkerchief. This is all to the good since the coin has nothing to do with the secret working.

Have the spectator note the date on the quarter. You can even have him mark the quarter. When the marked coin is returned to you, hold it between the right thumb and forefinger. Then drape a handkerchief over the right hand. Pinch a bit of the fabric with the right thumb. The situation at this point is shown in Figure 1.

The left hand grasps the end of the handkerchief that is toward the audience and brings it back onto the right arm, thus exposing the coin to the audience's view, as shown in Figure 2.

It is here that the trickery comes into play. The left hand releases its grip on the end of the handkerchief. The right hand then lowers with a quick snapping motion so that the handkerchief assumes its original position, Figure 3.

But although this seems to be the original position, with the coin under the handkerchief, the coin is actually outside the handkerchief as indicated in Figure 4. Thus the trick is over before the audience knows what you are going to do.

Twist the handkerchief around the coin a few times with the left hand. Then, while the left hand holds the handkerchief, the right hand slowly pulls the coin out into view. It appears as if the coin penetrates the center of the handkerchief. The handkerchief can be returned unharmed to the spectator.

"The MacCarthy Hank Fold," described later in this book, allows you to perform the same trick by a different but highly ingenious method.


In this surprising trick you have a spectator hold a penny and a nickel on his outstretched palm. Explain that you will tap either coin with a pencil and that this coin will immediately vanish.

He indicates a coin, say the penny. You tap it with the pencil, but instead of the penny vanishing, the pencil vanishes! The pencil is later found in the pocket.

METHOD: Ask a spectator to remove a penny and another coin from his pocket. Explain that this will work only if one coin is copper and the other silver. Have him place the two coins side by side on his outstretched right palm.

Tell him that he can choose either coin, and that simply by tapping the coin with the pencil, you will cause it to vanish. Thus you will never touch the coin directly, yet the coin will disappear.

Say he indicates the penny. Tap the pencil against the coin and then move the pencil up in an arc as shown in Figure 5. The coin hasn't vanished, so you tap the coin again. This time bring the right hand further up so it moves past the right side of the face.

Again nothing happens. Tap the coin again. This time bring the right hand up quickly and leave the pencil behind the right ear, Figure 6.

Without pause say, "One more try." Immediately bring the right hand down as if to tap the coin, but act amazed that the pencil has vanished. If you stand with your left side slightly toward the spectator, or with the face turned slightly to the right, he won't see the pencil behind the ear and thus will be astonished that the pencil has completely vanished.

To produce the pencil magically, direct attention away from yourself. The best way to do this is to point to the floor behind the spectator and say, "There it is." As the spectator turns his back to you, remove the pencil from behind the ear and drop it in your pocket.

The spectator can't find the pencil. Act puzzled. Pat your pockets, then pretend to have suddenly discovered the whereabouts of the illusive pencil. Remove it from the pocket. Done smoothly, it is a bewildering sequence.


This trick and the next one nicely routine together. The first trick depends on an audible illusion, while the second exploits a visible illusion to produce the desired mystery.

In this first routine the spectator drops a coin into a glass. The coin instantly penetrates the glass. All articles may be borrowed.

METHOD: The trick depends on the sound a coin will make when it drops into a glass. Hearing this sound, the audience assumes the coin is in the glass. As is always the case with magical effects, things are not quite as they seem because the coin is actually outside the glass.

Place a coin under a handkerchief. Ask a spectator to grip the coin through the cloth. Ask him, "Did you notice that they're making glasses thinner and thinner these days? Let me show you."

Pick up a glass and place it mouth-up on the outstretched left palm. Direct the spectator to lower the handkerchief over the glass. Then tell him to release the coin so it falls into the glass. He hears it fall into the glass, so all appears fair. What you really do is this. When the handkerchief completely covers the glass, tilt the glass back at an angle, Figure 7. When the spectator releases the coin, it hits the side of the glass and falls into the left palm. Thus the coin is already out of the glass.

Ask the spectator to release the handkerchief so it is loosely draped over the glass. Grasp the glass and handkerchief with the right hand. Say, "This glass is so thin, a coin can penetrate it like this." Give the glass a shake with the right hand. At the same time, release the coin from the left palm, Figure 8. It appears as if the coin dropped right through the glass. The audience may think there is a hole or slot in the glass, but of course nothing of the kind is used.


If you are asked to repeat "Ghost Coin", or if you want a trick that is an ideal follow-up, "The Backward Ghost" fills the bill. After performing "Ghost Coin," say to the spectator, "I'll make it harder. First we'll pour a bit of water into the glass." Pour about an ounce or two of water into the glass.

The spectator grips the coin through the cloth. He drops it into the glass. The magician lifts the handkerchief and the spectator sees the coin in the glass, resting at the bottom under water.

"The coin is under water so I can't tamper with it. Note that the coin is heads up." The spectator sees that the coin is heads up. "We'll cover it for a moment because these things work better in the dark."

The glass is covered with the handkerchief. When the glass is uncovered a moment later, the spectator sees that the coin is now tails up. It has turned over by itself under water!

Finally the magician covers the glass again and this time the coin instantly penetrates the glass of water.

As before, all apparatus may be borrowed and the coin can be marked. The spectator should be impressed that his own marked coin turned over by itself while under water, and then, for a bonus, penetrated the glass.

METHOD: Basically the secret is the same as in "Ghost Coin" but an extra ingredient has been added. At the start of the routine, cover the borrowed coin with a handkerchief and ask the spectator to grip the coin through the cloth.

Then pour an ounce or two of water into the glass. Hold the glass on the outstretched left palm. Direct the spectator to place the handkerchief over the glass. He releases the coin. As in Figure 7 of the previous trick, the glass is tilted at an angle, so the coin hits the side of the glass and falls into the left palm.

Have the spectator release the handkerchief so it is loosely draped over the glass. Then grip the glass through the cloth and move it forward so that the glass is directly over the coin.

If you now remove the handkerchief and ask the spectator to look down into the glass, he will see the coin resting at the bottom of the glass of water. Of course this is an illusion produced by the water itself, but it looks exactly as if the coin rests at the bottom of the glass and not under it.

Ask the spectator to note whether the coin is heads up or tails up. Then cover the glass with the handkerchief. After the glass is covered, lift it slightly with the right hand, The left fingers then curl in, Figure 9. This causes the coin to turn over.

Lower the glass onto the coin again. Lift the handkerchief away. The spectator looks down into the glass and sees that the coin has mysteriously turned over while it was under water.

Cover the glass with the handkerchief. Grip the glass through the cloth with the right hand as in Figure 8, release the coin and it apparently penetrates the glass.

There is one tip that makes this routine even more baffling. When you pour water into the glass, get a few drops onto the fingers of the left hand. When the coin falls into them, transfer the moisture to the coin. Later, when the coin apparently penetrates the glass, it will be wet, exactly as if it really was in the water at the start of the trick.


A quick trick with a surprise finish. The magician has a coin marked. Commenting that he has a hole in his pocket and that loose change is always falling through the hole, the magician drops the marked coin into his right trouser pocket.

"The odd thing is that the hole isn't in this pocket," the magician says. "It's in the other pocket, so when things drop through…" Here he lifts his left foot to reveal the borrowed coin under that foot.

METHOD: The trick relies more on nerve than magical ability. The key to it is the use of an extra coin. We'll say the coin is a nickel. Secretly place it on the floor and cover it with the left foot. This may be easier said than done, depending on the circumstances under which you perform the trick. An easy way to prepare the trick is to have the nickel in the hand. Drop some other object, say a paper napkin, to the floor. While retrieving the napkin, leave the nickel on the floor. Then cover the nickel with the left foot.

To present the routine, ask someone for the loan of a nickel. Tell him to place a mark on it, adding, "That's so you'll recognize it if you should ever see it again."

Take the coin. Explain that you have a hole in your trouser pocket. Place the nickel in the right trouser pocket. Bring out the hand and show the hand empty. Pat or shake the trouser leg so that the nickel supposedly tumbles down the trouser leg to the floor.

Say, "The puzzling thing is that the hole is in the other pocket, so the nickel ends up here." As you finish this sentence, lift the left foot to reveal the nickel. It is a surprising result.

Immediately reach down with the right hand, pick up the nickel and place it in the right trouser pocket, acting as if the nickel is yours. Leave it in the pocket, but take the other nickel with the right hand. Say, "Is this nickel yours or did you give it to me?" The spectator will say that he gave it to you but that it's still his. Remove it from the pocket and return it to him. Naturally he will check the mark on the nickel.


Removing an envelope from his pocket, the magician says, "Postage being what it is these days, it cost my friend twenty cents to send me sixteen cents worth of coins." The magician removes a dime, a nickel and a penny from the envelope, closes the flap and has a spectator keep it in his pocket.

"But these coins are special. They don't have to travel by mail. Let me show you." The three coins are covered with a handkerchief. When the handkerchief is removed, one coin, say the dime, is gone. The spectator then removes the envelope from his pocket, opens it and finds the dime back inside!

METHOD: There are actually four coins. Aside from the dime, the nickel and the penny, there is an extra dime. Place it inside the envelope near one corner. This is the only preparation. Put the other three coins into the envelope at the opposite side, then fold the envelope to keep the coins separate, Figure 10.

When ready to present the routine, remove the three coins, leaving the extra dime inside the envelope. Fold the envelope and place it in the spectator's jacket. Comment about these being special coins which can travel about as they choose, and at rates considerably cheaper than the postal-service charges.

Hold the three coins between the left thumb and fingertips, but with the dime a bit higher than the other two coins. The right hand then drapes a handkerchief over the coins. Snap the fingers of the right hand.

Grasp the handkerchief at the near end and draw it back so that it slides free of the coins. Nothing has happened. Place the handkerchief over the coins again, but this time grasp the dime through the cloth with the right thumb and forefinger.

This time, as the right hand draws the handkerchief back, it takes the dime with it, Figure 11, and drops the dime into the handkerchief pocket of the jacket. All attention is on the coins in the left hand, so the steal of the dime goes undetected.

Drop the nickel and penny onto the table, showing that the dime has vanished. Then direct attention to the spectator's pocket. He removes the envelope, opens it, and finds the missing dime.


Excerpted from Self-Working Table Magic by Karl Fulves, Joseph K. Schmidt. Copyright © 1981 Karl Fulves. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

1 Quicksilver
2 Mystery Vanish
3 Ghost Coin
4 The Backward Ghost
5 Hole in the Pocket
6 Sealed Silver
7 Merlin's Magic
8 The Escape Artist
9 Million Dollar Mystery
10 Euclid's Triangle
11 Squaring the Square
12 Four Square
13 The Roman Equation
14 A Fish Story
15 Tipsy Cocktail
16 The Little House
17 Worlds Strongest?
18 Who Pays the Bill?
19 Matching Matches
20 The Jumping Match
21 The Penetrating Matches
22 Dice Catch
23 Controlled Dice Shot
24 The Thirteenth Turn
25 Dial-a-Spell
26 The New Dropout
27 Technicolor Dice
28 Mental Die
29 Logic Dice
30 The Red Prediction
31 The Cups and Balls
32 Movie Star Magic
33 Hocus Pocus Puppet
34 An Amazing Apple
35 The Apple Monster
36 The Great Bottle Mystery
37 Mystery Spinner
38 Strong Man Stunt
39 Calculated Capital
40 Balloon Burst
41 Puncture Proof
42 An Airtight Case
43 Loops Entwined
44 The Mind Dowser
45 Left-Handed Thoughts
46 The Psychic Motor
47 Unlisted Numbers
48 Right on Time
49 The Mind Transmitter
50 Clocks
51 The Eight-Object Test
52 Behind Closed Doors
53 The Borgia Cup
54 Twister
55 Tale Twister
56 Slippery Shears
57 Bet a Band
58 The Jumping Rubber Band
59 Double Jump
60 Flying Clipper
61 A Quick Getaway
62 Strange Interlude
63 Not a Knot
64 The Appearing Knot
65 Transposition
66 The Knot Paradox
67 The Second Paradox
68 The Third Paradox
69 Popper Up
70 Comedy Vanish
71 Fourth-Dimensional Hanks
72 The MacCarthy Hank Fold
73 Time Flies
74 Dexterous Digits
75 It Floats!
76 An Optical Trick
77 Whisk Away
78 Looking-Glass Logic
79 Hypercard
80 The Fifth Dimension
81 Safety Pin-Up
82 Swindle Pins
83 The Impossible Unlink
84 The Repeat Impossibility
85 Un-Safety Pins
86 Quick Release
87 Pin-a-Tration
88 Ultra Penetro
89 Buttonholed
90 Loophole Magic
91 The Snapper
92 The Hands Only
93 Invisible Ink
94 Pen Kink
95 Write Off
96 Ink of Another Color
97 Pen Ultimate
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