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Topic: Why do American magicians still use English Pennies?
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Jan 2, 2011 09:07PM)
The copper silver routines are great but the change of currency suggests a switch. I'm using copper plated silver coins for changing the nature of the coin rather than suggesting skill instead of magic by claiming an invisible switch.

For the American magicians who would wish to use their own currency in copper to go one step in that direction, there are copper pennies of the size of a dollar on ebay.

It's nice in a copper silver routine to make a penny grow and them make it change for a silver dollar with some form of Spellbound effect (one handed Marion Boykin's way is naturally even more deceptive)

This offer a misdirecting logic consistency that the use of an English penny doesn't offer
Message: Posted by: Michael Rubinstein (Jan 2, 2011 09:16PM)
I would respond by saying that for copper silver routines, the copper penny offers a nice contrast to the silver half dollar, and the equal size makes for consistancy. for spellbound, what catches the eys isn't the type of coin, but rather the imediate change into another metal. The emphasis is on the color change, not the type of coin. If all the years I have performed spellbound, no one has ever said, "but its a different coin". They inherently know that its a different coin, but the illusion is that of a change. If you have a plated coin, or a painted coin, the thought will still be of a different coin, regardless of the illusion you present. A giant penny is of itself a fake coin, regardless of the equal size to the dollar.
Message: Posted by: Sammy J. (Jan 2, 2011 09:54PM)
Those jumbo pennies are twice as thick as a silver dollar. I bought a few of them. The Sudberries are better, but still somewhat thicker. I have a few of them as well.
I think Michael makes a good point. It is a different coin, but it is a color change.

I do have some copper and gold colored Kennedy halves. I will have to try some spellbound routines with them.
Thanks for your thoughts.
Message: Posted by: Sean Giles (Jan 3, 2011 09:30AM)
I always thought the magic was in the coin changing to a different coin. The contrast in colour helped to illustrated this. For instance, in a CSB routine I don't think the illusion would be helped if the coins were 3 different colours of the same coin. It's the coins changing places that gives it the strength. I think the same is true for copper/silver routines. The switch, rather than the colour change is where the magic is. At least that's how I've always seen it.
Message: Posted by: jim ferguson (Jan 3, 2011 01:24PM)
I think it depends greatly on the effect you wish to create. For a standard copper/silver routine where the coins switch places, using an English Penny and a Half Dollar is perfectly acceptible, and is probably enhanced by the difference in the coins. However if the intended effect is that of say, turning a half dollar to gold, then I feel it is important to keep it to a TRUE colour change. In this case a gold plated Half would be better, rather than just any gold coloured coin. What many magicians seem to miss is that the coins we use actually determine, to a degree, how the audience see the effect. Take the example of turning a coin to gold - I have seen many performers doing this, but they use just ANY gold coin that is the correct size. In my opinion this changes the actual effect. It is no longer a true colour change of silver into gold, it is a transformation of one coin into a totally different coin. Its a subtle, but in my opinion important point that we should keep in mind. jim
Message: Posted by: RS1963 (Jan 3, 2011 01:36PM)
Michael Rubinstein hit the nail right on the head. Any other thought is just magicians thinking too much and for no reason. It's the change that matters. No one cares that the coin is not a U.S. coin when the change happens. Sometimes what magicians think is illogical and needs to be changed doesn't need to be changed. Changing the effect is often what is illogical.
Message: Posted by: jimvines (Jan 5, 2011 09:24PM)
Nobody uses half dollars anymore either, so why not an English penny? My halfs are silver, from the 1920's. An English penny is similarly exotic. Those big US pennies just look like fake coins / gag coins to me.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jan 5, 2011 09:30PM)
Back when Tannen's was on Broadway, there was a coin shop on the block and a friendly jewelry place across the street where they did polishing and plating. Getting things plated sufficiently that they look like solid metal and won't wear down after a few weeks of handling, then toned to where they look right is non-trivial.
Message: Posted by: Dorian Rhodell (Jan 13, 2011 09:34PM)
I can't answer for anybody else here but I only use an English Penny in one effect. And the reason for that is because the premise demands that one be used. In other words, my presentation dictates which coins I use.


Dorian Rhodell
Message: Posted by: Meshuggina (Jan 13, 2011 10:45PM)
I've got some plated coins, and I used them for a bit, but I found people became more suspicious of a copper half than an old English Penny. The copper half has obviously been messed with, so it seems to get them thinking down the path of "something's fishy here, can I see that funny half dollar" instead of just "hey, some old coins" which they can then look at if they wish. I like my Barber halves, so it's also nice to get a fairly well matched and worn English Penny for the set. I did have a couple routines I played around with a bit with coins affecting and rubbing off on each other, in which case the plated coins make sense, because it fits into the routine. I agree that the big pennies also seem kind of fishy as well. I find they work better as a finisher coin for a dime and penny routine than working with a silver dollar, because (imho) it "cheapens" the effect of a nice old Morgan or Peace dollar (or even an Ike).

I find the change of the coin only strengthens the effect. If you start with a coin the spectators haven't seen, then inspect it, then switch it into something else they've never seen, it is even more interesting.

Americans also still have a soft spot in our hearts for England. We WERE a British colonies originally, after all... That just adds further interest and misdirection. A big penny just generates questions of "where did you ever find that big fake penny?"

Just my two (English) cents...
Message: Posted by: Julie (Jan 13, 2011 10:57PM)
I agree. It's perfectly reasonable and sensible to use an English penny in it's natural state with an American half dollar. The contrast is the importent element.

Years ago I had all my gimmicked half dollars remade in 1976 Bicentenial coins. This provides an interesting and logical justification in my presentation for using half dollars.

Message: Posted by: magicalaurie (Jan 14, 2011 12:16PM)
I'm going to say we're talking about magic here. A magician can change a coin into whatever she ;) wants, yes? Including another coin. It's fairly standard to hear, "And it changes... to [b][i]a[/b][/i] copper coin."
An English Penny is [b][i]a[/b][/i] copper coin. I don't necessarily use English pennies, at the moment, but I will.
Message: Posted by: Denis Bastible (Jan 15, 2011 08:56AM)
I always use a little story about the history of the English Penny and what is on each side- people love to look at them and marvel at the dates (some I have go back to the late 1800's. A mini history lesson is a good thing
Message: Posted by: magicalaurie (Jan 15, 2011 12:35PM)
I agree. I do that with my 1949 Franklin halves.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jan 15, 2011 03:46PM)
Message: Posted by: Adam Keisner (Jan 19, 2011 12:06PM)
Why do American magicians still use English Pennies?

Because they have no cents. ;)
Message: Posted by: Merc Man (Feb 5, 2011 06:48PM)
On 2011-01-19 13:06, Adam Keisner wrote:
Why do American magicians still use English Pennies?

Probably for the same reason English Magicians use half dollars - a lack of any creativity!

In the UK, we have a 2 coin that is an excellent size/design for coin magic - not to mention its two-tone metal, weight and a milled edge. To compliment it, we have the heptagon shaped silver 50p and the similar sized copper 2p - I can never remember such diversity in our coinage. Despite this, English magicians use half dollars, old English pennies (that about 50% of our folk haven't even seen) and fake looking magic 'Chinese' coins.

Why do they use these? Possibly because they are influenced (brainwashed?) by the plethora of DVD's now available; and cannot think for themselves. As I said at the outset - a complete lack of creativity.

Maybe that's harsh - I really don't know. All I do know is that I would never use coins for an effect that couldn't be borrowed (if the need arose) from spectators.
Message: Posted by: magicalaurie (Feb 6, 2011 12:16PM)

You've got a point, most definitely, but please allow for the exceptional. ;)

Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Feb 6, 2011 12:37PM)
[b]I liked to use Australian pennies because of the patter possibilities with the Kangaroo on 'em mate.[/b]
Message: Posted by: Sean Giles (Feb 6, 2011 03:16PM)
Merc, are you suggesting that magicians like David Roth, Michael Rubinstein, mike Gallo, Eric Jones and Curtis Kam use English Pennies and fake Chinese coins because they lack creativity? Could it perhaps be that these coins are the perfect size, contrast well and generally compliment each other.
Message: Posted by: PetePennekett (Feb 6, 2011 03:31PM)
Of all the current English coins 50 pence pieces are the only ones that come close to being as visual as half dollars - Put that alongside the fact that our coins are all quite small and you have the reason for English magicians using American currency.

That said I do use normal currency for bar/informal magic because I usually have some change on me but don't carry around my silver coins. It doesn't stop people suspecting that they're faked and they're still less visual (and interesting) than old/foreign coins, it's just a case of convenience. Also in loud environments it's probably easier to use familiar coins since going into an explanation/description of the coins you're using often isn't an option.

I also agree with Magicalaurie in that it's a simple distinction to say that a silver coin changes to a copper one - Much easier than "And now see my 2-toned gold/silver thing turn into a multi sided coin". If the spectator is interested I show them my coins, let them feel them and explain what they are; If they aren't I get on with it.

~ Pete.
Message: Posted by: J-Mac (Feb 6, 2011 03:52PM)
My main reason is that they are fairly easy to obtain. That's it. Sure there are other copper or copper-colored coins but how easy is it to obtain them? I can throw in a handful of English pennies on almost any online magic shop order without having to look very hard. (Granted some are less expensive than others, which is why I shop around). But to find US pennies the size of a half dollar? Sure, search on Ebay where the pricing is all over the place, and then wait until they are delivered to find out the quality of what you purchased. Lotsa junk on Ebay!

If there are better coins available as easily as I can get English pennies please let me know!

Thank you.

Message: Posted by: RS1963 (Feb 13, 2011 10:04AM)
Poker Chips are a good substitute for coins. But nothing can nor will beat using real coins regardless of if they are still used or not. If you have the English Pennies and American Half dollars use them. I'm sorry but using them is not vain, crude, etc..
Message: Posted by: PetePennekett (Feb 13, 2011 10:59AM)
J-Mac - They're not as easy to find as English pennies, but East African 10 cent pieces are the same size and are still cheap/fairly easy to acquire and they also have a hole in the middle. I've not been able to find any worn versions of these, however, so they're no good for soft coin work. I suppose they could be used in a routine with 3 different types of coins, as they are sufficiently different to an English penny. Personally I don't use the ones I have very often, but I feel as though I should...

Howard Hamburg - I suspect it wasn't intentional, but your post comes across as someone descending from the heavens to tell coin magicians everywhere how it should be done. Whilst I am interested to hear different opinions on these things I'm going to continue to use coins and roll up my sleeves.

Briefly on the point of poker chips - Sounds an interesting premise to me, and this could be looked upon as a different prop, so you could bring diversity into a coin-heavy act without really doing anything different? Possibly. To my mind they have the same advantages and disadvantages as antique coins, in that they're interesting & different and lend themselves easily to explanatory (and/or story-lined) patter. That said as a magician from the UK it's likely that the majority of my spectators wont be any more familiar with poker chips than they are with antique coins, so they wouldn't really address this 'problem'.


~ Pete.