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Topic: Do You Think Coin Magic Needs To Be Updated?
Message: Posted by: Christian Illusionist (May 4, 2006 10:44PM)
Perhaps this topic has been covered before and if so, I apologize.

I did try to do a search and didn't come up with much.

Here's my question: Is our coin magic relevant to today's world? Do you think it needs updated?

Let me explain.

When getting involved in coin magic, the palms for different coins are learned.

We often focus on halves and dollar coins.

The thing is, these coins are no longer in circulation.

In this way, is it possible that the audience views them as gaffs, even though they may not be?

In most of the classical magic books, the coins were relevant to the day in which the book was written.

In Tarbell and Bobo's day, the coins were still in circulation and so it might've seemed more magical that they were using something from the everyday and creating magic with it.

However, in today's world, showing a Morgan Dollar or a Barber Half will get a great amount of interest even without a trick because nobody knows what they are.

So my question is also this: Should we focus more on tricks that involve quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies to make the magic more relevant to the times?

Does it matter at all?

I realize that from a magician's point of view the answer would be to hold with the classics since that is more skillful of an art, but is it still as applicable?

I apologize if this seems ignorant or ill informed.

It's just something that's been going through my mind a lot lately and wanted some more opinions on it.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (May 4, 2006 11:21PM)
Worried about what coins to use? Use Poker Chips.
Message: Posted by: Spydur (May 5, 2006 02:02AM)
Wow thanks Pete. I have not heard that one yet. But seriously...if you are going to use poker chips you have to...HAVE TO check out Lee Asher's "Three Stylin" it is amazing.

C
Message: Posted by: Daegs (May 5, 2006 03:26AM)
I don't think it matters, unless you make it matter.

The coins are mearly visible objects for us to work our magic upon, we could use rocks, dimes, candies, whatever else if we wanted but we choose to use coins.

I really see no differnce between coins and sponges... we do the same things(making them vanish, making them join, multiplying, etc) and magically they are about the same effect on the spectator.

We all learn to count at a young age so if you have 4 objects, its easy to follow them traveling to a place, no matter what they are.

I think if you see the coins as mere objects to work your magic upon so will the audience...

In my mind asking a magician why he uses the coins is like asking a juggler why he uses clear balls instead of bean bag balls(or whatever), they are just tools.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (May 5, 2006 03:38AM)
Half dollars and silver dollars not in circulation? Somebody better tell my bank that, then.

I get them there all the time.

As to updatig coin magic, in the past fifteen years or so, I would suggest that coin magic has seen a real rennaissance, what with the likes of Mike Gallo, Chris Kenner, Curtis Kam, David Roth, a certain underground animal doctor and so many others who have come up with so many new and creative coin plots and routines. Look at things like the Gallo Pitch, 3-Fly, Hanging Coins, the Invisible Hole, Shadow Coins and so many other new idea coin routines.

Then look at the move toward poker chip magic that seems to be making a come back...

Needs updating? From where I'm sitting, it's been doing that, right along.

Respectfully,

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Marvello (May 5, 2006 04:16AM)
I agree to an extent - rare coins do create an interest, which can create a problem since it is natural for the spectator to want to look at the Barber or Walking Liberty and inspect the gaffed coins simply because they have not seen them before, though proper audience management should handle this, and you can turn that interest in to interest in the effect.

Poker Chips are fine, but I think that they are more prone to suspect for being gaffed than coins in the mind of the spectator, no matter how well made they are, IMO (but then again audience management is key).

Lee is naturally correct also- coin magic has made some serious strides in the last 2 decades, and if you are not aware of the magicians or effects mentioned in his post then you owe it to yourself to check them out.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 5, 2006 06:56AM)
Let's see: Roth's work (published) was in the 1970s, the trick you keep calling "three fly" was also from the 70s, Lou Gallo's pitch made the rounds in the late 1970s and hit print in the 1980s as did Jimmy Wilson's grip (JWGrip) ...

Yes there is a missing generation there.

Making magic with coins as MONEY needs a little updating to get the stuff working with quarters. Notice how Armando's routine is done with quarters? Same for my coins across.

Roth's chink-a-chink (shadow coins for those who are still clueless) and his winged silver work beautifully with real money.

What's left is to make the cognitive and formal connection between special coins for doing magic and magical coins. That need not imply "fake" to the audience. If you treat your special coins as what they are, real silver and precious to you, you should be just fine.

Yeah I know you can't borrow a silver dollar or half dollar anymore. Or a pocket handkerchief or hat most of the time. But you can borrow an ipod, a PDA, a cell phone... and life goes on for those who pay attention.

Most simply: Pay attention to the world and use the tools in our literature to make contextually relevant magic.
Message: Posted by: Dan Watkins (May 5, 2006 08:36AM)
It depends on what you are trying to do. A coin is just a prop. If all of your magic is performed impromtu while hanging out with your buddies and you want to use borrowed props, then you will want to use quarters, or bill money magic, etc.

If you don't need to borrow stuff, then you can use different coins whether they are silver or brass or copper or painted washers with Chinese characters on them. It is just a prop. Heck, carrying a deck of cards is a prop, unless you are in someone's house, you will not be able to borrow a deck of cards either. Who wears rubberbands on their wrists? Who carries hanks of ropes around? Who carries sponge balls around? Or purse frames? Or shot glasses?

If your magic is limited to only using borrowed objects from your environment, then yes, focus on using coins in circulation. If your magic is not limited by that, then by all means use big old silver dollars that more of an audience can see...

Personally, I rather use my coins for a greater variety of effects. Also I prefer coins that are bigger and easier to see and will tell that to anyone who asks why I use those coins.

I do know routines done with borrowed coins, it is always good to know how to do this so you can truely perform some impromtu stuff if you need to.
Message: Posted by: Vaderbreath (May 5, 2006 09:21AM)
I use mainly half dollars (you can't find any silver dollars in my area anymore...the banks don't even have any!) and no one has ever questioned why I use them. If asked I would simply say that I use them so they can see them better. I agree with Mr. Townsend that you can take the "old" principles and modernize them to today's stuff.

-Corey
Message: Posted by: airship (May 5, 2006 10:38AM)
This is a topic I've been thinking about a lot since I got back into magic, so I'll chime in with a few words.
I think it's mainly a case of PRO vs. AMATEUR.
If you're a professional magician - stage, restaurant, or busker - people expect you to use 'magic' items. You can get away with using giant cards, silks, and those funny -looking big old-fashioned coins, and people will be properly amazed.
But if you're an amateur doing tricks for friends at a bar, restaurant, or party, I think you're much better off working with 'normal' objects. Or objects that look normal, anyway. If you pull out a stack of Walking Liberty halves, or a bright yellow Bike deck, people will immediately be put on their guard.
Don't get me wrong - even though I'm a rank amateur, I still love my 'magical' Walking Liberties, both halves and dollars. But I don't often drag them out for public view. My folding quarter gets me plenty of 'oohs' and 'aahs' that I really don't think I'd be getting if I used a folding half.
Just my two cents.
Message: Posted by: Jaz (May 5, 2006 02:57PM)
I agree with Dan. To a degree there will be some suspicion of now uncommon coins.

However.. introducing uncommon coins in an impromptu situation plays a part in how people will view the coins.
I also agree with JT. If they're uncirculated or foreign coins there will be curiosity. Allowing them be looked at (if possible)and having a little story about them can help.
Another way is to transform common coins into more uncommon ones or produce the the uncommon coins magically.

There are quite a few coin effects and some gaffs using quarters and other common coins.
Message: Posted by: airship (May 5, 2006 03:06PM)
Jaz, your genius once again amazes me. I hadn't given a thought to transformations, and of course that creates a perfect reason for the appearance of an unusual coin, be it foreign or antique. Maybe I'll bring out my Walking Liberties after all!
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 5, 2006 04:37PM)
Just a tip, coins you produce by magic are not "ordinary" in the sense that anything else you do with them is also kind of "normal" for those coins. Changing ordinary stuff into old coins however, like a midas touch, would leave the door open for further amazement when stuff happens using the coins.

The muggle logic goes something like: if you made them appear, then making them go where you want is just doing the same trick and vanishing them at the end just goes to show they were always "tricky" coins. This is a fine premise if you are doing somethign like the Kurtz routine "Misty Like a Dream".
Message: Posted by: Paul Wingham (May 5, 2006 06:00PM)
Maybe it's just because I'm english and Casinos are not that bigger thing at the moment.(role on the english version of vegas) But I'm going to get much funnier looks whipping out a set of poker chips than I ever would with the liberty halfs. like Daegs said it only becomes a problem if you make it one.... plus if that's what they are thinking about, your doing it wrong.
Message: Posted by: Jacob Smith (May 5, 2006 06:41PM)
Think about this,too.before you were a magician did you have a clue that a gimmicked coin existed?there is some food for your thoughts.
Message: Posted by: Noel D (May 5, 2006 09:14PM)
I use quarers simply because I prefer to use them. I can do all the coin sleights I know with a half dollar and practice with one, but wouldn't use one in an actual performance.

Of course, it's really all about image. I know if I was a 47 year old strolling magician and I pulled out some half dollars, it would certianly make much more sense than me, a meager 14 year old conjuror having them.

Luckily, I can still do copper silver routines due to the sacajewea dollar that the US currwency has. It's slightly bigger than a quarter, btu not enoghu to actually matter.
Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (May 5, 2006 09:44PM)
Nice post...but like it has been said..doesn't matter with what coins you perform...but the technique.
Message: Posted by: wsduncan (May 5, 2006 11:42PM)
[quote]
In Tarbell and Bobo's day, the coins were still in circulation and so it might've seemed more magical that they were using something from the everyday and creating magic with it.
[/quote]
In both books you will find references to Mexican coins and English pennies. I don’t think the average layman of their time considered those coins to be “everyday” coins.

[quote]
Does it matter at all?
[/quote]
No. No more than using Tally Ho cards instead of Hoyle or bridge cards with puppies on them instead of Bicycles.
Message: Posted by: juan king (May 6, 2006 07:15AM)
I am using the spanish coins because I am from Spain.

My friend Enko uses Italian coins is being from Italy (still is a euro as spain is but is different looking)

My friend Jimmy from UK uses UK money.

My friend Seb is being half australians and half africans is uses coins from australias and from africa so is using two options for him.

Sometime though everyone is using American money.

I have half dollar and one dollar and sometimes is using them instead. But then I am wearing some big brash shirt and talking all loudly and am thinking I am the better then anyone else. Ha ha.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 6, 2006 07:23AM)
[quote]
On 2006-05-05 19:41, magician 336 wrote:
Think about this,too.before you were a magician did you have a clue that a gimmicked coin existed?there is some food for your thoughts.
[/quote]

Yes, certainly from spy gadgets used in world war I and II. Hollow coins were used to hide and carry stuff. Also double headed coins were used for bets. And this is common knowledge. The conceptual jump from a double headed coin to a C/S very small. Likewise the jump from a coin that opens into a lid and a container to the ] for conjuring is very small.

What really makes it register for people is how the coins are handled. If it does not ring like silver and it is handled like fragile object... it becomes suspect.

But I'm sure most of you already know all of this so let's move on.
Message: Posted by: airship (May 6, 2006 10:34AM)
[quote]But then I am wearing some big brash shirt and talking all loudly and am thinking I am the better then anyone else. Ha ha.
-Juan King[/quote]
Juan, the only reason we Americans think we're better than everyone else is because we are. And we're humble, too. :)
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 6, 2006 11:06AM)
Instead of belaboring the obvious here, I'm going to tip something useful:

What sort of person would carry coins from all over the place and from different times?

I found an answer in a BBC series that came over here in the 1970s, but over there it's been running since 1964. That character has pockets full of stuff from all over the place. If there is one perhaps there are others. Travelers who just happen to be here for a little while and are not above sharing some amusing diversions for a few minutes on their way.

I found another sort of character in the works if H. P. Lovecraft. A darker and more sinister visitor, perhaps not even truly human in an emotional sense.

Once I found a couple of these characters I found more in my readings. They are all over the place. Displaced innocents, wandering strangers, travelers, emissaries, observers and scouts.

If you are going to take this path, spend some time getting your basics and back story together. Then learn how to tell stories without explaining or narrating, IE by showing what is pertinent instead of describing or explaining it.

To summarize, the small scripts we have in our books can be treated as scraps from which to build a quilt. What we need is the basic design and a frame.

Who are you?
Why are you telling me this?
Why should I care?

Three questions the audience asks the performer.
Message: Posted by: onebark (May 7, 2006 04:14PM)
[quote]
On 2006-05-06 12:06, Jonathan Townsend wrote:

To summarize, the small scripts we have in our books can be treated as scraps from which to build a quilt. What we need is the basic design and a frame.

Three questions the audience asks the performer.
[/quote]

Jon, this is probably one of your best posts...again.
Message: Posted by: rickmagic1 (May 29, 2006 10:08AM)
If I may, I always go back to a statement someone once made that helps me with anything I'm using...if you have an explanation, no matter how small or insignificant, it will cover about 90% of the situations.
For instance, when I begin doing anything with coins (I use walking liberties and 1940's era English pennies), I mention that my grandfather was a coin collector and garnered quite a collection during WWII, and then explain that he left his collection to me when he passed on. This not only explains the coins, but gives a personal appeal that immediately covers anyone grabbing the coins. No one in their right mind is going to be rude and just grab something of sentimental value that belonged to my grandfather...

Rick
Message: Posted by: snowboard (May 29, 2006 12:09PM)
[quote]
On 2006-05-06 12:06, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Instead of belaboring the obvious here, I'm going to tip something useful:

What sort of person would carry coins from all over the place and from different times?

I found an answer in a BBC series that came over here in the 1970s, but over there it's been running since 1964. That character has pockets full of stuff from all over the place. If there is one perhaps there are others. Travelers who just happen to be here for a little while and are not above sharing some amusing diversions for a few minutes on their way.

I found another sort of character in the works if H. P. Lovecraft. A darker and more sinister visitor, perhaps not even truly human in an emotional sense.

Once I found a couple of these characters I found more in my readings. They are all over the place. Displaced innocents, wandering strangers, travelers, emissaries, observers and scouts.

If you are going to take this path, spend some time getting your basics and back story together. Then learn how to tell stories without explaining or narrating, IE by showing what is pertinent instead of describing or explaining it.

To summarize, the small scripts we have in our books can be treated as scraps from which to build a quilt. What we need is the basic design and a frame.

Who are you?
Why are you telling me this?
Why should I care?

Three questions the audience asks the performer.
[/quote]

Hi Jonathan I can not fully understand what you mean at the post. But What I read is be a good actor. Is that right?
Message: Posted by: Ray Haining (May 29, 2006 01:00PM)
I've done copper and silver with an English penny and half dollar for over 30 years, but only in the past few years have I heard the explanation that I'm using "heat-activated" coins.
Message: Posted by: BooRadley (May 29, 2006 04:20PM)
I think there is a lot of valid information here. I definitely agree with the point made by several that if you are doing very informal effects with friends or at a bar where you want them to think it's impromptu, then you want to stick with normal, readily available currency: quarters, dimes & nickels.

Pros can and should use whatever interesting coins, poker chips or other materials that will enhance their routine. To me, the real key is the patter and the performance. Giving a REASON why you are using whatever coins you use is as important as what you intend to do.

For me, it's all about establishing a reasonable rationate for what they are about to see. I like to turn something into a 1964 Kennedy half dollar. Then I pass it out and mention its rarity and some of the reasons it's special and desireable to collects...which leads me into my bit. Of course the coin they examine may or not be the same coin that starts jumping to strange places...but I've established a platform of information for them in the beginning.

It doesn't have to be true, it doesn't have to be complete and it doesn't even have to make sense...because it's all part of an illusion. But it has to have context.

I think. I could be wrong.

BooRadley
Message: Posted by: Dan LeFay (May 30, 2006 04:15AM)
Some differences I noticed while working:
There are coineffects where the very validity (?) of the coin is not suspected. I mean effects where the coins are objects that (for instance) move from one place to another. Like in coins across or coin assemblies. I think that in the spectator's mind these illusions could also be done with other small flat objects. It depends on the performance-character if use of curious coins is motivated or not.

On the other hand there are effects where the very substance of the coin is altered in some way. Think about spellbound, cig-thru-coin or even C/S transpo. These routines, in the eyes of a layperson, would scream "gimmick" if unknown, curious coins would be used.

Come to think of it I only use effects of the first kind, so I can use whatever coins I feel appropriate. I do prefer beautiful large silver coins or ancient orientals though.
(I've mentioned before, one benefit of using antique coins is that they may add "production-value" to your professional work.)