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Topic: 3 Fly or VCA?
Message: Posted by: Decker (Mar 10, 2004 07:41AM)
Text removed by Decker
Message: Posted by: James Harrison (Mar 10, 2004 08:24AM)
Alrighty then, what should it be called? and who deserves the credit?
Message: Posted by: mjb16 (Mar 10, 2004 08:43AM)
I think we might need some information to back up your statement Decker. To my knowledge it's a Jonathon Townsend idea and Chris Kenner took it to the fingertips, but then again I could be wrong. But I'm sure Jonathon will post on this topic soon...
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Mar 10, 2004 09:05AM)
I believe that the title has become synonymous with any stand-up, at the fingertip, coins across routine.

It is like calling all colas “Cokes” (they’re not) or all copies “Xerox’s” (they’re not) or all vacuum bottles a “Thermos” (they aren’t). Even after years of brand name protection suits some names just become generic to the class. In magic we have “Three-Fly”, “Matrix”, “Triumph”, and so forth to talk about a class of tricks that are (or seem to be) similar in effect. Spoken language is full of “short-hand” words that convey a clear mental image of what is being talked about. (By the way, “short-hand” is another example).

When someone tells me he/she is performing their own version of “Three-Fly” I at once know what they are talking about. They could say, “I perform my own version of a stand-up coin trick where the coins magically transfer from one hand to the other with the coins seemingly melting away, one at a time, from one hand as they appear in the other and all the time the coins are held visibility at the fingertips in front of my body.” Me? I think that saying “I perform my own version of Three-Fly” gives me the same mental image and understanding.

So what exactly is your complaint?
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Mar 10, 2004 09:22AM)
For a generic term, how about Visual Coins Across? Makes a simple acronym (short-hand) of VCA. No hard feelings attached to that term.

Re: In magic we have “Three-Fly”, “Matrix”, “Triumph”

"Matrix" is a specific routine invented by Al Schneider. A tabled coin assembly using four cards as covers. Al published his routine and got the ball rolling for coin Assemblies as we know them.

"Triumph" is a specific routine invented by Dai Vernon as an answer to a card problem. Dai published a workable version for his routine in Stars of Magic and got the ball rolling for the face up/face down shuffle tricks.

"Three Fly" and "Menage et Trois" are the titles given to a routine that is not original nor based upon published material. It effectively exposed a new premise in coin magic to the fraternity... Which would be more wonderful if it were given with permission of its creator.

In magic, ideas or basic premises are property and usually kept private and secret. I'm happy you were impressed with what Chris and Bob showed you. Likewise that many have adopted the idea and are exploring the basic premise. If for a moment you think of an idea as a child... then you can follow the analogy to how I feel about this sometimes.
Message: Posted by: Rob Elliott (Mar 10, 2004 10:06AM)
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery -- especially in the magic biz. The Matrix may be Al Schneider's baby, but the fact that there are so many versions of his effect speaks volumes about its validity and worthiness in the world of coin magic. The same is true for 3 Fly. You should be proud of the fact that, since you came up with the idea, virtually EVERYONE wants to incorporate some form of it into their repertoire. We all tailor effects to fit our personality, performing style, etc. My Wild Coin is not the same as David Roth's but it is based on his basic premise.
Message: Posted by: Jason Wethington (Mar 10, 2004 10:19AM)
Rob the issue isn't comparable to Roth's wild coin. Jon's routine was never published.
Apples and oranges Rob.
Message: Posted by: Rob Elliott (Mar 10, 2004 10:38AM)
So you're saying his idea was stolen? I didn't realize that. That's just wrong.

Thanks for clarifying, Jason.
Message: Posted by: Dan LeFay (Mar 10, 2004 10:45AM)
To stay at the anologies, how does Al Schneider's Matrix relate to (I think)older version where 4 coins and two cards were used?
This might be the same for Jon's Visual coins across, and Kenners vertical fingertips coins across.

Jon deserves all the credit's for the visual nature of the coins across plot. In Kenner's book he gets those credits as well (though no permission was asked obviously).
It seems that Kenner brought the visual coins across-routine in front of the face. It is this very picture that is so widely adapted. I have yet to see someone do a routine that resembles Jon's routine...
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Mar 10, 2004 11:52AM)
Re: How does Al Schneider's Matrix relate to (I think)older version where 4 coins and two cards were used?

The Sympathetic Coins trick dates back in print to the Downs book, and there it is credited to Yang Hoe. The trick uses two covers and a handkerchief, and the coins take a trip under the hank to arrive under one of the covers.

The 'other' early version of a modern coin Assembly is Derek Dingle's "Four Coins in the Counting", published 1976 in Dingle's Deceptions. Great routine. If memory serves, he credited the both Ross Bertram for the sucker vanish from Stars of Magic, and the trick from the Downs book.

On another positive note, Chris Kenner made a rep for himself doing routines very well. He has a vanish for the last coin in his handling of the Visual Coins Across that he may wish to share. He did a version of David Roth's 'Original Chinese Coin Assembly' on the carpet at the convention in 87. It was impressive to watch the shadows of his hands on the carpet. Another item of his he may wish to share.
Message: Posted by: Dan Watkins (Mar 10, 2004 02:19PM)
Chris Kenner saw Jonathan's routine, where the coins start in a fan and arrive in a palm up hand.

Chris changed the structure of what he saw to have the coins start in a fan, and arrive at the fingertips in a fan as well. Chris published this routine as "Three Fly", his book and handling was very popular.

Often, a routine or move gets attributed to the first person to publish or popularize an effect. As an example calling the Tenkai Pinch (originator) the Goshman Pinch (popularizer).

In this case, Jonathan originated the visual concept, and Chris popularized the Fingertip to Fingertip concept.

As an interesting aside, here is an excerpt from my Coinvention coverage where David Roth offers his insight to the routine: "Immediately after the panel discussion, David and I spoke regarding key elements in history that have some relation to Three Fly. One is a T. Nelson Downs poster circa 1900 that shows Downs holding coins in a fan that has a caption “before the pass” and another picture showing Downs holding the coins in a fan with one coin in the other hand. The caption on the second image states, “after the pass” indicating that Downs may have had a Three Fly type routine – however there is no way to know by which method Down’s coin pass worked, he may have completely concealed all the coins during his pass and the pictures only depict the initial and final display.

Another interesting fact David mentioned was that in Professor Hoffman’s MORE MAGIC (1890) there is a method to un-shell a coin and display the coin and shell at the fingertips. This may be the earliest piece to depict a Three Flyesque sequence.

It was interesting discussing such things with David, but he made it clear that he feels that Chris Kenner really deserves the credit for making the version of the routine as we have all come to know it. If Chris had not published his version, the effect would never have become as popular as it is today."

Soon I believe we will be able to read a very informative book providing every detail Jonathan's progress to create the original concept that started the whole thing. No one disputes that Jonathan is the originator, Kenner's modified routine is the one that popularized. One could argue good or bad about what Kenner did, but that seems to be the way history was written.

Around the same time as the Kenner book, Gary Kurtz' book also came out with his own handling as part of his "Trio" routine.

All the subseqent versions (Hooser's, Kam's, Kohler's, McClintock's, Neighbor's, etc.) came after the Kenner/Kurtz publications.
Message: Posted by: Stuart Hooper (Mar 10, 2004 03:09PM)
Mr. Watkins, just because someone popularized a stolen idea, doesn't make it right. Right and wrong are strange terms...but it hardly a good example to young magicians...oh...I can steal something...but since I made it popular...and every other published version came after mine...that makes it okay? Excuse me? Just because honor seems to be a scarce quality today, does not mean it should be discarded!

Message: Posted by: Dan Watkins (Mar 10, 2004 03:37PM)

I wasn't making any comments regarding right and wrong, I was just commenting as to the history.

I never said it was okay that he popularized it, only that it is the historical fact that he did.

History is history.

Jonanthan is about to bring the whole thing full circle once his manuscript comes out, and establish the historical origins that created his routine.
Message: Posted by: Chris S (Mar 10, 2004 03:49PM)
I question whether Roth would have had the same view if he had held tight to the Portable Hole concept and was beaten to publication by someone who had seen the routine.

Right and wring is ALL this is about. The history is not in question.
Message: Posted by: Curtis Kam (Mar 10, 2004 04:05PM)
Dan, the first coin in Jonathan's routine goes fingertip to fingertip. Always has. The palm up production is only used when there is already a visible coin in the hand, a constraint that reflects the state of the art at the time the routine was devised.

Chris Kenner did bring the action up to face level. That difference is primarily reflection of the difference between Jonathan's and Chris' performing personalities. That difference in personality is also reflected in the way they interpret the basic effect. I don't think I can cover it sufficiently here, but when you look closely, the two effects (regardless of finger/coin postioning) are very different.

I'll leave it to Jonathan to explain fully, when and if he feels it's appropriate. Briefly, however, one of Jonathan's goals (and he's said this before here at the Café) was for the hands to fade into the background, so that the coins appeared to move on their own. Chris Kenner's bolder, "in your face" style is antithetical to this, albeit successful in its own way.

Regarding what we should call the effect, I'd suggest we strive for accuracy. If you're talking about a routine that is intended to achieve the overall illusion Jonathan sought, it's a variation of "the visible coins across" (i.e. VCA). If you're talking about a handling that is designed to challenge the audience, it's probably more accurate to call it a variation of "3Fly". If you have no idea what I'm talking about, well, you might as well call it "3Fly". Jonathan has yet to publish, and you can't claim to be doing a variation of his routine unless you've seen it.

At least, this makes sense to me. Rest assured, all will become clearer once Jonathan's book is published.
Message: Posted by: Dan Watkins (Mar 10, 2004 04:05PM)

The original post made two statements:

1. The routine is not called "3 Fly"
2. Kenner gets no credit for it.

All I am saying is, Chris Kenner published a routine, which was tilted, "3 Fly". This publication became very popular.

That means a routine called "3 Fly" does indeed exist, and Kenner published it. Therefore when referencing Kenner's published version, it is valid to call it by its name and publisher/author.

That is ALL that I am saying. Nothing more, nothing less.

Should Chris have recieved permission to publish a routine which was HUGELY influenced by Jonathan - I don't think there is anyone who would say no. Chris did not, so there is some fault here.

Chris is acutely aware of his tresspass and said publicly that he regrets that he published it fourteen years ago.

Does it make what he did squeeky clean and right? Nope.

All this does not change the fact that there is a routine in a book from Chris Kenner that is called "3 Fly". One may wish that this routine by this name does not exist, one may wish that it wasn't published by Chris Kenner, but the reality is, it exists, and he did it.


I just read Curtis' post above mine - he wrote it as I wrote my reply. I agree with Curtis.

I have read Jonathan's draft. If one is referencing Jonathan's original, it is not right to call it "3 Fly" - it is not.

If one is referencing Kenner's variation, that is what is called "3 Fly".

I am in total agreement.
Message: Posted by: Curtis Kam (Mar 10, 2004 04:10PM)
Sorry, Dan, rereading my post above, the latter comments are not directed at "you" in particular, or even at all. I shifted focus without much warning there.
Message: Posted by: Dan Watkins (Mar 10, 2004 04:19PM)
No apology needed Curtis, your writing is accurate regardless of who it is directed to!

[url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/search_post.php?topic=60552&forum=37&post=3591769]HERE[/url] is a very intersting post, it seems as though he acknowledges the existence of this specific routine and the author.
Message: Posted by: Stuart Hooper (Mar 10, 2004 05:20PM)
All I'm saying is that my particular understanding of the situation is that much was stolen outright by Mr. Kenner from Mr. Townsend. Dan you claim not to be saying it's right or wrong...that's exactly my point.

I'm saying it's wrong.

Message: Posted by: Dan Watkins (Mar 10, 2004 05:27PM)
No arguement here, though the original post was about not calling "IT" (which is ambigious), "3 Fly" and Kenner gets no credit. I think Kenner gets credit for "3 Fly" insomuch as "IT" is defined as this particular routine published.

Tangential to the main topic, stealing is wrong.

Though as Curtis pointed out, Kenner's routine is pretty different in focus than Jon's. What I do think is clear is that publishing a routine wherin you credit someone else's unpublished routine without permission is wrong.

I am not willing to start throwing stones a decade and a half later. I myself have done some things a decade in a half ago that today I feel are repulsive, and I know I have changed greatly in a decade and a half.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Haas (Mar 10, 2004 06:51PM)
Back to Matrix...

The key difference between the original Sympathetic Coins and Matrix is the concept of the effect.

In Sympathetic Coins, you spread a handkerchief on the table, you put four coins at the corners, and then cover the coins with two cards. The effect is that you pick up a coin, bring it under the handkerchief and make it pass up through the handkerchief to join one of the coins covered by a card.

I learned a version of this and it's still quite effective. The coins make a nice clink when they gather under a card.

Al Schneider's idea was to dispense with the handkerchief, and to simply use the cards as covers. No fancy flipping the coin up in the air, no using the card as a fan...you just cover the coins, gesture, then uncover them and one has moved. Apparently you do nothing.

This is also related to the Chink-A-Chink routine, where you have four objects in a square on the table, cover them with your hands, and they move. There's a version in Stars of Magic. But since you cover them with your hands, it's potentially suspicious. (Although that may not really matter...it still plays well too!) I once saw Al Goshman do the routine with bottle caps. It works well with non-dairy creamers, too.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that Al Schneider first published Matrix in 1961.

Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Mar 10, 2004 09:31PM)
I'd like to go with the convention that a coins across where you close your hands is 'classical' and one where you don't close your hands is 'visual'.

These terms are not emotionally loaded and can help make our discussions more productive.

It happens that what was a secret, that it is possible to do routined magic without resorting to closed hands, was let out of the bag and spread far and wide. The 'it' alluded to above is a basic premise about what is possible. 'IT' is no longer a secret. 'IT' was like a cat let out of the bag so to speak. A great loss that what should come as a surprise has been lost. Now instead of the surprise of 'what' he are discussing the 'how'. A true loss to the art as far as magicians are concerned.

Chris's published version of the Visual Coins Across is problematic to discuss in that it is unauthorized and takes much of its mechanics from uncredited sources.

There are issues which can be discussed among concerned parties about the uncredited mechanics exposed in that routine. Such is not really appropriate for a public forum, as the premises, sleights and routines referenced are * underground * and should stay there till the owners/authors choose to publish. Such is their right.

I am curious to see what others have found in their explorations of the options for doing visual coin magic.

As we discuss our findings, I would consider it a favor if we could use the less emotionally loaded language and differentiate between the premise of a 'Visual Coins Across' and the contents of a particular published routine.
Message: Posted by: Chris Berry (Mar 10, 2004 09:37PM)
On 2004-03-10 20:52, Decker wrote:
Let me clarify "IT": The generic class of this effect. The idea was Johnathan's and now that we know that, (and since he is a regular here) maybe we could stop being ignorant and call the genre VCA. If you mean Kenner's specific handling from his book, then call it Menage Et Trois... he also released the "3 Fly" manuscript.

I am new to this line of reasoning, but I do believe it is reasonable. I think we should be considerate of Johnathan's artful contribution and AT LEAST recognize that "3 Fly" is a handling of Visual Coins Across as is "Menage Et Trois" etc.

You have ANY idea how much time and argueing you would have saved if you explained yourself in the first post?

Yeah, I can understand what you are trying to do. But the way I see it, it is a one man battle. Magicians all over the world are still going to call it 3 Fly no matter what.

All I can say is congratulations on starting a thread full of bickering and not explaining yourself throughly.

Message: Posted by: Dan Watkins (Mar 10, 2004 11:15PM)
With Decker's clarification I agree with his reasoning. A little more description goes a long way, more than a few phrases opening a thread.

From reading Jon's draft and private communications with him, I can see his viewpoint.

I think it will be a good thing when his book is made available, and I believe that everyone that even has even the tiniest interest in the VCA plotline should start with his history lesson. Fans of the plot will obviously need the text for completion.
Message: Posted by: Decker (Mar 10, 2004 11:19PM)
Text removed by Decker
Message: Posted by: Doug Conn (Mar 11, 2004 07:52AM)
Hey, let's not forget Gary Kurtz... He was the first too publish a 'VCA' routine (Kaufman printed it within the 'Trio' routine... found in "Unexplainable Acts".)

For more info on the origins of VCA/Trio/3 Fly: There's a lonnnnnnnnnnng/informative thread on this subject over on the Genii forum;


David Ben mentions that Kurtz was working on the effect in the Early 80's...

Johnathon: Curious, when do you develop your handling?

Sidenote: on that thread, there's an interesting mention of a Kaps routine, which seems to predate EVERYONE:

"In Phase I of the Kaps routine, four coins are produced from Down's Palm. One-by-one, they appear at the right fingertips, are taken by the left hand and disappear, only to appear again at the fingertips of the right hand."
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Mar 11, 2004 08:01AM)
Doug you are a bit late into the discussion...

Gary visited NYC and 'borrowed' some of what he saw there. This is not the place to get into details... just suffice to say there weren't that many folks working on that kind of coin material at the time. As to Kaufman's publishing a 'borrowed' move that should not have seen print... well that is an issue between the inventor and the publisher.

If it's important to folks, I can date the three coins going from hand to hand, one a time at the fingertips to 1977.

If you look at the Kaps routine, let us know if he has coins vanishing from a fan at his fingertips. If memory serves, he was doing a Downs/Buckley type thing which involved closed hands and so would not be doing any sort of VCA... more classical. This would be the routine with the glass?

Hope this helps
Message: Posted by: Doug Conn (Mar 11, 2004 08:48AM)
"Doug you are a bit late into the discussion... "

Late? This thread started yesterday (less than 24 hours ago!) Anyway...

I thought mention of Kurtz was appropriate to the subject at hand (as he was the first to print a "VCA" style routine.)

Thanks for 'the scoop'... Your 1977 date clears up alot.

Re Kaps: The quote I mentioned is another magi's interpetation (not mine.) Alas, my copy of "Routined Manipulation" (where the Kaps routine was published) is long lost. Perhaps someone else will take a look and give us their viewpoint?
Message: Posted by: Jason Wethington (Mar 11, 2004 10:00AM)
Upon further consideration of the Kurtz routine the last phase isn't visual. It is the classic style. The coins of the left hand are allowed to fall down into the closed hand. After the vanish they are pushed to the fingertips. As far as the routine itself is concerned I think it warrants some merits as far as methodology (first to use a shell, First to use the Ramsay vanish of a coin). Kurtz allowing Kaufman to publish the Latta vanish is a travesty. None of this changes my thinking that Kurtz was D'Man when it came to his routines. And "Unexplained Acts" is still one of my favorite hardcore sleight of hand books.

When Jon's manuscript comes out we will be able to see his progression through the effect. The time all this occured was a tumultuous one for coin magic. Wait for the manuscript you won't be disappointed.
Message: Posted by: Randy Sager (Mar 11, 2004 07:13PM)
In reffrence to the kaps routine,Coins In Glass.

The coins are not held at the finger tips in a fan and vanished one at time at any point in the routine. There may have been another coin routine that Kaps did that maybe did that but it certianly is not the coins in glass.