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THE PALM PROPER—THE FINGER PALM—THE THUMB PALM—THE REVERSE PALM.
Method 1. The Palm Proper.—Hold the coin firmly between the thumb on the one side and the middle and third fingers on the other, the first and little fingers taking up graceful positions, as it were, to cover the movement about to be made (Fig. 1). Remove the thumb to its ordinary position of repose, and, at the same instant, let the two fingers (second and third) press the coin into the palm of the hand, half way down the root of the thumb, the muscles of which must be brought to bear against the edge of the coin, so that it is held firmly and forms a bridge over the hollow of the hand (Fig. 2). A backward and forward swing should be given to the hand whilst the coin is being palmed, as it not only covers the movement, but also facilitates the operation in a marked degree. In pressing the coin home, it will be found that the third finger will be more used than the middle one. The instant the palm is effected, the hand must be made to assume the most natural position possible under the circumstances, the little finger being well thrown out, after the dainty manner ladies affect when holding a cup, so as to give the hand breadth. Some beginners think that in holding the hand perfectly flat they are effecting a very beautiful palm; but this is not the case, as can be seen at once by looking at the hand without any coin in its palm. That is the model the conjuror must copy: any unnatural position at once betrays the fact that something unusual is going on. For this method, the florin will be found the best coin, its edge affording a better hold than that of any other piece.
Method 2. The Finder Palm.—The coin is held between the thumb and forefinger, and the latter then slid aside, so that the coin rests upon the side of the middle finger. The forefinger then takes the place of the thumb, and the coin is held as in Fig. 3. The action is simplified if the coin is held in the first instance between the thumb and middle finger, but it looks awkward and suspicious. This method will be found particularly adapted for concealing coins of the size of a shilling and less. Larger coins should not be treated thus, except in emergencies, when anything is allowable.
Method 3. The Thumb Palm.—This palm is not generally known, which is to be wondered at, for it is a very safe and easy one. The coin is simply held between the thumb and forefinger, and then slid to the root of the latter, where it is held, as in Fig. 4. The only objection to this palm is that it keeps the thumb a close prisoner, to the manifest loss of grace, but it is exceedingly useful for large and slippery coins, such as half-crowns, pennies, and crowns.
Method 4.—Two, three, and four coins may be palmed by the first method, but the method shown at Fig. 5 is the safer. There is a rather unnatural disposition of the thumb about it, but the fingers are left free play.
Method 5. Reverse Palm.—It is sometimes required of the performer to show that his hands do not contain any coin. If a coin is palmed in one of them, he must first exhibit the other open in a very ostentatious manner, and, whilst the audience is momentarily engaged in looking at it, press the coin, by means of the thumb, through the fingers of the hand in which it is held, so that it protrudes at the back, and cannot be seen from the front (Fig. 6). Some performers have brought this palm to a great state of perfection. One very telling effect is to pretend to throw the coin away. For this purpose, it is held between the tips of the first finger and thumb, whilst lying upon the side of the middle finger. As the action of throwing is imitated, the forefinger is slid over the coin, the thumb being removed, and the coin thus made to protrude at the back of the hand.
Other fanciful methods of palming exist, but they will be of no practical use to the conjuror, so I have omitted descriptions of them.CHAPTER 2
TRICKS WITH COINS.
TRICK FOR PALM PRACTICE—HOW TO "PASS" A COIN INVISIBLY—HOW TO CHANGE A COIN—THE USE OF THE WAND IN PALMING—TO PASS A MARKED COIN THROUGH A TABLE—METHOD FOR CONCEALING MANY COINS—THE AERIAL VISIT AND JOURNEY—TO "PASS" SEVERAL COINS—HINTS ON PRACTICE—TO CAUSE A COIN TO VANISH FROM A HANDKERCHIEF—ON BORROWING A HANDKERCHIEF—THE DANCING COIN—A MYSTERY WITHIN A MYSTERY—TO CAUSE A FLORIN AND A PENNY TO CHANGE PLACES—TO PICK A MARKED COIN FROM A NUMBER, BLINDFOLDED—THE MARRIAGE—TO INVISIBLY EXTRACT A COIN FROM OUT OF A GLASS OF WATER—TO PASS PENNIES INTO A BOTTLE—TO CAUSE EXPOSED COINS TO CHANGE PLACES—TO "SLEEVE" COINS—HINTS ON MARKING COINS—THE BEST COINS TO USE.
THE uses of the palm will make themselves manifest in every trick in which money is used as a medium, but the beginner can astonish his friends, and, at the same time, make himself perfect, by any of the following minor tricks:
(a) Throw the coin backwards and forwards, from hand to hand, three or four times, in a careless manner, always taking care that the left hand is shut well over each time the coin is contained in it; and then make a feint of throwing, but, in reality, palm the coin after the method that best suits its size. The hand (in most cases it would be the left, as the majority of conjurers palm with the right; with left-handed people it would be, of course, reversed) which is supposed to receive the coin must be closed smartly, so as to make a noise similar to that caused by a coin thrown into the palm. This is effected by the ends of the two middle fingers striking the fleshy part of the thumb (Fig. 7). If this is properly executed, the illusion is perfect, and all eyes will be directed to the left hand, when the coin can be quietly placed in a side or tail pocket, to which receptacle it may afterwards be made to pass from the left hand, where it is supposed to be, in a magical manner. I would recommend the beginner to practice this movement sedulously in private, as it teaches quick and neat palming, and will prove a most useful auxiliary to many important tricks. By "passing a coin from place to place "in a magical manner" is implied the act of pretending to do so; it being an accepted axiom amongst conjurers never to "pass" anything invisibly to any given spot until the article is already safely located there. This practice will, of course, commend itself to all as avoiding untoward mistakes. To "pass" a coin from the hand, wave the wand over it, and say whatever you think will go down best with the particular audience you have before you. A sharp rap on the knuckles will complete the operation, but always take care to show the hand empty, otherwise the trick is spoilt. If the wand is not handy, pretend to rub the coin away between the fingers, or affect to give it to one of the audience. (See Figs. 8 and 9 for an effective method.)
(b) Have a coin palmed in the left hand, and borrow a similar one from the audience, and have it well marked (always have coins marked where possible, "to prevent changing"). Make a movement as though you placed the marked coin in the left hand, but in reality palm it. At the same time, open the left hand, and the coin that has been snugly concealed there will look as if it had just left the right hand. By this means a change is effected which you can utilise according to circumstances. By fidgeting about among the audience, you may be able to place the marked coin under one of them; the other coin being held by someone who is directed to hold it "very high, sir, very high, so that everyone can see it"—the real object being to keep him from examining it too closely. By standing the holder of the coin on a chair, an opportunity for slipping the palmed coin into his pocket presents itself, and should be taken advantage of. The marked coin being once safely hidden, it is an easy matter to palm the unmarked one (which, of course, the audience has been led to believe is the marked one) and make it "pass" invisibly to wherever the other may be. The conjuror's own coin should always be provided with a very distinct mark—a cross is invariably a safe one to employ—as it is rarely that one meets with people who can refrain from instituting an illicit investigation so soon as the conjuror's back is turned. When the holder of the coin is seen to be surreptitiously examining it for the mark, the conjuror should not prevent him, but call the attention of the audience to the fact, and ask if the mark be visible. The holder, seeing the cross, will answer in the affirmative; he not being aware, of course, that the borrowed coin was possibly marked with a very different sign. This incident will add to the effectiveness of the trick.
In tricks a and b the wand will be found very useful. It should always be carried under the arm, after the manner in which soldiers carry their canes; and when any palm has been effected, and the coin has to remain concealed in the hand, the wand should be taken in the hand containing the coin. Beginners, especially, will find this of great assistance, as in the case of a somewhat defective palm the coin can be pressed well home by clenching the wand hard. Besides this, the fact of carrying a wand in the hand keeps the idea of the coin being there from the minds of the audience; and the mind is what the conjuror has to deceive.
(c) Have a coin palmed in the right hand (Palm No. 2), and procure a similar one, marked, which hold up to the audience by the left hand. Pretend to take it in the right, but let it fall into the hollow of the left hand (Figs. 8 and 9); the unmarked coin in the right hand being exhibited. In order to effect this daring change naturally and without detection, the thumb of the right hand must be passed through the ring formed by the thumb and forefinger of the left and the coin held between them, and the fingers closed well over the coin, which will appear to be grasped by them. Now place the left hand under the table, the right hand remaining above. Covered by the action of bringing it on the table, execute Palm No. 1 with the right hand, but keep the fingers formed as though they still held the coin, which you then pretend to lay on the table with a sharp "click." This "click" is made by the coin in the left hand, under the table, in order that the illusion may be perfect. The right hand will then affect to rub the coin through the table, and eventually the one in the left hand, which has in reality never been out of it, will be produced. The noise of rubbing is also made by the coin under the table, only it must not be continued too long; and care must be taken that the two hands act in perfect unison, as it will not do for the noise to continue when the action of rubbing with the right hand has ceased. This trick is not so difficult as it looks on paper, and is very effective. The whole trick consists in pretending to take the marked coin from the fingers of the left hand without doing so.
(d) Conceal a number of coins in the left hand. As a quantity cannot be easily palmed, they must be held in the hand with the wand. If that is not handy, hold the flap of the coat; but care should be taken that the wand is at hand for this trick. Borrow a hat, taking it in the right hand (in which a solitary coin is palmed), and transfer it rapidly to the left in such a manner that the crown is always towards the audience, and the fingers holding the coins are inside. The coins must not be jingled, or the trick will be exposed. Tell one of the audience that he must be very rich if he can afford to carry money about in such strange places as you perceive he does. Surprise will, of course, be expressed on his part, when you will fumble about in his hair, and eventually find the coin which you have had palmed. This is a much better method of commencing than merely saying, "I have here a shilling." It is sure to amuse the audience, and put you on a good footing with them; besides which, it is always well to mingle as much with them as possible, as then people go home and say, "Oh! he came right down among us, and found money in people's heads," &c. Also take care to find the money in an elegant and inoffensive manner. Having spun the coin in the air, in order to show that it is a real one, retire to the end of the room, as far away as you can, if the room is small, and hold the hat, still in the left hand, before you, with the crown towards the audience. With the coin in the right hand, make a pass at the hat, palming the coin (Palm No. 2), and letting one from the left hand fall. You will then appear to have passed the coin from the right hand into the hat, by way of the crown. Should the coin by accident fall on a soft place in the hat, and make no noise in so doing, shake the hat about to show that the coin really is inside, or no one will know what is supposed to have taken place. Now advance a step or two, looking cautiously forward as if you saw something in the air, and suddenly make a dart out with the right hand, at the same time bringing the coin to the extreme ends of the fingers. The idea conveyed is that the coin has been caught in the air (Fig. 10). Pass it through the hat, letting another fall from the left hand, and shaking the hat so as to ensure the two that have been dropped jingling together, and find another in the air a little farther on. Proceed in this way till all the coins in the left hand are exhausted (varying the proceedings by occasionally finding one at your elbow or foot), and then show the hat with coins to the audience, a member of which will doubtless have "just one more" seated on the tip of the nose, which coin is put into the hat in the ordinary way. The beginner should use shillings, seven or eight only in number, for this trick, although larger coins are certainly more effective at a distance. It is best to use two palms, viz., the finger palm when the coin is to be caught in the air or in the flame of a candle (a very pretty effect), as it is more readily brought to the ends of the fingers from that position; and either of the others (No. 1 for choice), when the coin is to be found on the body or elsewhere. It is as well to occasionally pretend to put the coin into the hat in the ordinary way, instead of through the crown. Some conjurors object altogether to passing through the crown; but this is merely a matter of fancy. It sometimes happens that the person in whose hair you find the first piece will, from his being a "funny man," or otherwise privileged person, ask you to give him back his property. Acquiesce at once with his request, of course after your own manner, which will be to palm the coin, and pretend to give it to him, much to his discomfiture. In borrowing the hat, be sure that it hides the left hand in the act of being taken, so that any accidental exposure of the coins held there, which might occur through inexperience, will be covered. Also observe the greatest caution in dropping only one coin into the hat at the first pass. After the first coin has fallen, it does not matter if two or more are accidentally let fall at once, as the error could not be detected; but at the commencement it would be simply fatal to do so. Under cover of the hat it is easy to separate one coin from the rest for the first drop. If the number of coins is very limited, you must give the hat a short, sharp shake, which will serve in lieu of letting one fall; but only do this now and then. This trick will be treated in an enlarged form, under the head of "Grand Magic." When any number of coins are required for any other trick, they should always be collected in this manner, it being a most effective method. Always take a step in advance each time a coin is found. For this reason the performer should stand well to the right on the stage on commencing.
Excerpted from SLEIGHT OF HAND by EDWIN SACHS. Copyright © 1980 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Posted February 21, 2014