Cylinder and Coins- and where the good stuff is!

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by scottbaird, Sep 2, 2007.

  1. Mickey Hades lives in Calgary.

    Don't know who Mickey is? Google him. He's been in magic FOREVER, as an inventor, performer, and collector. Look up his table; it's brilliant.

    He lives three or four blocks from the magic shop where I work.

    And Brent, the owner of the shop, just bought every single issue of Apocalypse magazine ever printed from Mickey for a buck a piece. Don't worry; Mickey still has three of them all. :)

    Don't know what Apocalypse is? It's a magazine that ran from 1978-1998, published by Harry Lorayne. It had the latest tricks from the brightest minds in magic inside, with Harry's thoughts and twists to them included. The magazines were originally 3 bucks apiece.

    Don't know who Harry Lorayne is? Get out from under that DVD player and read something!


    I was flipping through the stack of musty mags and came across the July, 1982 volume, and guess what's on the cover.

    Jonathan Townsend's version of John Ramsey's Cylinder and Coins.

    If you do any coin magic at all, you know that that's the holy grail of coin routines. The cylinder and coins that Ramsey performed is now a classic; it could take a lifetime to learn every detail of that routine.

    I now have some learning to do. And I'm totally excited.

    The point of this thread?

    Go find some old magic books!!! It's where you find the good stuff.

    I'm sure you've heard that before, but I'm proving that it's true right now!

    And now, I will vanish for a few hours, to read...

  2. And that is why they say: if you want to hide something, put it in print.
  3. You're certainly right about the best stuff being in old books. Expert Card Technique by Marlo is packed full of sleights, and controls, and tricks etc. you'd have trouble learning all of the stuff in a lifetime.

  4. good post scott, currently im working on carneys version of the routine
  5. Books, don't you just love them? I got my start reading Harry Lorrayne's "The Magic Book" there weren't any magic stores around and there certainly wasn't an internet like there is today.

    I pick up books anytime I get the chance and go over them. It's funny but even though I have read all three AoA (art of astonishments) cover to cover I always seem to find something new inside. It's as if every time I open those volumes there is a new effect I never read before.

    There really is a wealth of magic in the pages of books and magazines old or new. I recommend everyone give it a try. Even you "visual" learners can pick up things from a book. you know there are pictures in them. :)
  6. #6 Brundo, Sep 8, 2007
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2007
    Thank you very much. I've had Apocalypse Vol. 1-5 for quite a while and never noticed this. Jonathan's version is called 'Easy Ramsey!'

  7. This trick to me is more interesting as an academic study than an actual modern performance piece; it feels and looks antiquated (I place Cups and Balls in the same category). The only interesting performances of it I've seen are derivative of Tim Conover's work and place it in a historical setting, which justifies the antiquated feel.
  8. interesting view aaron. personally i disagree. im in almost disbief if you think people don;t enjoy the cups and balls. cylinder and coins can be a big hit, and the whole thing just seems immpossiable with a LOT of magic going on

    4 coins vanish, reappear in the cylinder under a object. then the object and the coins transpose. what more could you want.

    i don;t want to rant about your personal opinion but please explain to everyone why you the trick in a mere antique and not a show peice.

    if you mean rock music in the background wouldn't fit then your right. then again i don;t agree with the street magic "hey you let me show you somthing" mantility.
  9. The only modern performances of Cups and Balls I've ever enjoyed and that I'd consider a legitimate piece are Johnny Thompson's and Ricky Jay's from his 52 Assistants show. Both of them put the piece in a historical context, so that it is not a representation of magic of the times, but rather a point in magic's past.

    Every other performance I've seen of the Cups and Balls, while amusing and some even having strong magic moments (e.g., Tommy Wonder's) lack a relevant image or feel that makes it seem that it has a place in a modern show. It's lighthearted lounge-singer-quality performance at best.

    Jamy Ian Swiss, in Shattering Illusions, commented (and this is one of the very few things I agree with Swiss on) that he's hard pressed to find performers whose shows he can look at see them as being representative of the times. To me the slew of performers doing Cups and Balls is a perfect example of this (Fitzkee even commented in his trilogy that it's a classic because everyone can do it). Visually the piece just lacks a relevant connection and if you're going to stick with cups that look like antiques the only reasonable thing to do is to give it the antiquated context (like Jay and Thompson).

    This phenomenon was widely written about in the theatre community in the 50s and 60s, and it's surprising to me that magicians are still passing it by. The mad genius Antonin Artaud wrote in The Theater and Its Double(one of my favorite books), "If the age turns away from the theater, in which it is no longer interested, it is because the theater has ceased to represent it."

    I'd gather that this is the reason many people have turned away from magic. During Vaudeville, magic was the most popular form of entertainment. Since then it's lost legitimate ground. One of the main reasons, and this is an issue I've discussed with theatre people extensively, is that magicians for the most part are operating in a Vaudeville-esque mindset and style. And that style died awhile ago.

    Peter Brook, probably the greatest living theatre theorist, got at this point when he commented in hisThe Empty Space that if people do not constantly reconsider their form, e.g., theatre, dance, magic, and its relevance, the form will take on cliches and decline due to lack of relevancy.

    If you need an example of how extreme this is in magic: Fitzkee in Showmanship For Magicians lamented that people were still using a table that made its debut in C. Lang Neil's The Modern Conjurer (1902) over 40 years later. The really surprising thing is that magicians are still using that table.

    Back to the main point: Coins and Cylinder. The magician's wand automatically puts the user in line with an archetypal image of the magician, and links it to old myths (Ricky jay wisely plays on this issue in his performance of the cups and balls when talking about Bosco and Erasamus). The cylinder itself does not look like an item that has its place in a modern context; I'm not sure it even did when Ramsay introduced it over 60 years ago. But putting it in a historical context (as the Conover-influenced do) even if it isn't historically true makes it emotionally feel that it's use is understandable and gives the piece a relevant value that it otherwise lacks. Otherwise you're just the out-of-place magician performing with out-of-place props.

    Now of course the challenge is making something like that fit into the framework of the whole performance. Ricky Jay's context for the cups works great in this regard; his whole show is a history lesson.
  10. thanks you have interesting points, but if the problems i see with it is this. if i effects one, it effects all.

    cards, old silver coins all not as used as much ect ect

    i friend of mine busks with cups and balls and takes home up to 500 a night.
    if people were bored why did they pay.

    ramseys cylinder was made form card board it never was a "real" item

    i understand what your saying but it just does not translate so "grimly" when performed. i like the wand, if it makes people have some fantasy about magicians of old... well whats wrong with that

    it seems to me if your logic is true we need to do computer magic.... and maybe some replace cards with a stack of ipod nanos
  11. What on earth gave you the idea that playing cards aren't used as much anymore?
    The World Series of Poker has, by itself, launched poker and card games in general into the public eye moreso than they've ever been in the past.

    As for the old silver coins, that is unfortunately true. They've become historical objects rather than contemporary objects.

    Still, there is a large body of modern effects with paper money, and some coin magicians are even using poker chips. While I much prefer the aesthetic and feel of a silver dollar, poker chips are undoubtedly more modern and topical.

    Even John Carney said this about the idea of using poker chips in a coins and cylinder routine;

    "Casino chips actually make more sense than coins, depending on what you choose as your presentation. They are naturally slick, and they are more real to people today than halves or silver dollars (more common in Ramsay's day)........ Then there is instant interest if you talk about Vegas.............stacks of chips........drama.......winning and already have a tableau before you.
    As for the wand, it depends on what audience you're performing for. The only REAL reason for the wand is to give you extra cleanliness during the routine, not because it's aesthetically pleasing, or because it adds something as a prop.
    The fact of the matter is that if you pull out a wand in front of today's audience, you're starting yourself off going uphill. There's a certain stigma that comes with it, there's definitely a connection in the public eye between wand and hokey magician.
  12. Just because someone makes $500 a night does not make it a legitimate, relevant piece. It might be a lighthearted diversion and get the money; but that does not make it equate to being taken seriously. Most people will tip a Busker $1-10 for giving them an enjoyable few minutes. I seriously doubt those same people tipping him would be willing to spend an hour to an hour and a half in a theatre watching the same guy for a $50 ticket price.
  13. i can agree with much of that aaron, but define legitamate. are we entertainers or just "artists" i think a few mins of enjoyment is what its all about. maybe poeple just have different goals in magic.

    i guess we just have different views, the thought of being a hokey magician does not bother me, but maybe if i was in a different position it would i don;t know.

    it seems to me that even tho its old to us, its brand new to the laymen, so i am not sure why there is so much stive to be "fresh or hip"

    anyway, iv enjoyed the discussion thanks aaron =)
  14. I am currently working on cylinder and coins from John Carney's book, so I'm a bit partial to the effect right now, but I completely understand and for the most part agree with the point Aaron is making. There is a lot of magic out there that just doesn't make sense to people because the props simply don't fit in our world any longer.

    I talked to a magician who opened for my stand-up act about this. He did the "Color-changing Plumes" as part of the act, and I know that the few magicians that came to the show loved it. Everyone else thought it was just a trick feather.

    The problem is not with anything he did. The magician is flawless. It's that feather dusters just aren't part of pop-culture any more, and people see them as something of a foregone time.

    The saving grace, as Aaron pointed out, is in context, which will mostly rely on your character and scripting.

    I'm working on several plots for the cylinder and coins. For example, at the bar, I'm going to play it as an old bar bet, substituting a pen for the wand and borrowing a bill which I'll lay on the bar and put the cylinder on top of. It's starting to come together, and it feels more "me" than if I were to do it straight.

    This routine is a beast, though.

  15. #15 Mic Wong, Sep 15, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2007
    I do believe there is a value in studying the context of presentational flaws of an effect, than to perform the effect "as is", just because every Tom, dick and Harry does it. And the reason to not dismiss that is for the sake of Progress and reflection for the art?

    Your point isn't valid because it's like saying we can dismiss the elemental side of music if all I want is fun from playing the paino or sth. You can be entertaining, but it doesn't mean you brought real "magic" to the table, and magic is more than entertainment itself.

    And it's not about "hip" or not, it's about being appropriate. Sure, as long as magic is new to lay people, it is seemingly justified.....but then think again. What does the Design of the cup itself has meaning the the whole act? IF there is no meaning to it, why do you think it's not necessary to find out which design could be more appropriate, and see if it gives enhancement to the effect?

    Think of this..........Why hasn't people like Copperfield or Cyril ever performed the Cups and Balls yet.

    Just study his Choice of magic. I can tell you (and many others could as well) it's what made them famous and popular-- they gave serious concerns on what message he give with every bit of influence produced with his props --Cyril had explosion custom made in 100 yen instead of 1964 Kennedys. David always gave a reason for his choice of props, and circle each and every effect around the story. Refer to his Moon Rock water effect and others.

    It would surely still bring great applause and entertainment to spectators without those changes, but consider that as a thought on presentational structure.

    As for defining legitimacy, I think the thing to realise is the difference between taking magic as a Hobby and magic as a serious Art. IT can be served in both ways, but certainly the element of art is not to be dismissed at the first place.
  16. #16 joshua barrett, Sep 16, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2007
    think what you will its not my job to "sway" you. i performed the trick 4 time this week, along with some routines sold here, and some other work. interesting enough C & C were what people talked about ( a few did talk about the DD transpo ) i value what you guys have to say but until i see what your saying reflect the real world results, im gonna disagree.

    ill let Mic's sig say it best for me ;)

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