Does Coin Magic...

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by Morgan B, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. #1 Morgan B, Apr 25, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2008

    Okay, so I got your attention – coins don’t suck – but there is a problem with them. Let me explain what I feel the inherent problems are. Before I continue writing, I ask one thing. Read slow…read slow enough to ask questions while you are reading. I am not trying to trash the concept of coin magic, but show a limitation in one medium of our art. Something, I believe can be changed – but we must bring it to our attention.

    To understand the problems, we have to agree on a few concepts – first – the spectator inherently wants to know how an effect is done. They are a thinking audience and are trying to NOT be fooled, so many are looking for the method, until they exhaust all options and give up looking or find an out. Second, it is important that effects have logic in them that gives reason to the magic happening – although not always necessary, is very important for the concept of strong magic to occur and for people to see it as more than just “a trick”. Lastly, magic effects, can be boiled down to three different levels of involvement – we will categorize them as:

    1 “Look at you (the audience)” magic – where the magic moment happens in their hands or they do the magic, example: participant cuts to aces or sponge balls - arguably, very strong magic and most often the most convincing, because of its hands off nature.

    2 “Look at us” magic – where the magician has the magic happen in their hands, but the participant is involved throughout the process – sign the card, pushed it in, shuffles the deck. Involvement ranges, but more than just holding something or examining an item. Example – (depending on its structure) – ambitious card, crazy man’s handcuffs. This type of magic has people involved, and the magic is happening with them – but not in their hands. This kind of magic is not as strong as “Look at you”, but is still strong in impact – not reaction, as anyone can get reactions – but I digress, as this is another essay.

    3 “Look at me (the magician)” magic – where the spectator is just watching the magician, like they do a TV. I say “spectator” instead of “participant” because they are just watching or observing. This magic can gain reactions – but the impact can be limited, depending on the effect. Again, still strong magic – yet, I argue not as strong as the two other kinds. Examples are plentiful – floating bill, flourishes/cardistry, many card routines, and yep - coins effects…almost all of them.

    If you agree with this – please continue reading, if you don’t – then, I have nothing to share with you.

    So what is the problem with coins? In short, they are a poor medium. Here is why:


    Many look at me effects can still be enjoyable, when they are given an emotional hook or reason to occur. Let’s take a look at one of T11’s effects for sale – PROPHET – it is a look at me effect where five $1 bills turn into five $100 bills, but the emotional hook is the question. What would you do with this money if you could do magic? They say turn it into $100.00 or make it more. This is the emotional hook that is needed, and often doesn’t exist in coin work. Often, a magician makes a coin vanish and reappear for no reason, then uses another method to do the same thing, or he makes the coin appear somewhere illogical. “Look the coin is gone – now it’s in my sock” WTF? Why in the world did it end up there? Much magic suffers from this problem, but none more than coin work.

    Will effects like these get reactions? Sure – but if that is all you want – take a crap on your neighbors’ lawn – I want magic to do magic in a way that appears more natural and logical. I don’t know what is logical or natural about an Okito box or why you would make 3 coins vanish from one hand just to appear in the other…when you could place them there without magic. Really – when you see an effect, like 3 fly (Sorry Mr. Kenner), you have to ask – what are you claiming you can do that lay people cannot? (Magician) I can make 3 coins go from my left into my right hand. (Audience) so can I. (Magician) Yeah, but I can do it so you can’t see it happen. (Audience) whoopee? So, the effect is you can make coins travel invisibly a short distance?


    We should strive to make magic with coins exist for a reason – it is the card equivalent to colour changes for no reason, when you see spellbound routines. I can hear you guys saying, “Well, I say it happens for this reason”, but I also ask that you check that your reason isn’t verbal diarrhea that isn’t illogical rationale for illogical magic.

    Here is the difference in an example:
    Coins to coin purse presentational ideas:

    Verbal diarrhea concept – these coins have wings on them, so they will fly from one hand to the coin holder – and…lame.

    More connected and logical concept – What is the laziest thing you do…or should I say don’t do? For example, I have a friend so lazy – he won’t capitalize words when he types because the shift key is too much effort. I am pretty lazy too – I am so lazy that when I get change back from buying something…I don’t want to put it in this change holder. I usually just throw it away – which is why I have to work here now – but then figured I could put it away using magic.

    Heck – even the above example isn’t that great, so please don’t trash me – I never said I have the solution – I just notice there is a problem. It is a very hard concept to come up with logical reasons for coin magic to occur and an emotional hook to the effect.


    Coin magic doesn’t usually involve the spectator – you can often only use them as a table as they hold or examine the coins, or load something on them. In coin magic, you are often just using your audience’s eyes, but are not their brains, their emotions, often not even their ears? Coins don’t engage as many senses as other mediums, like cards, do. Not that I am starting a card versus coin debate, I think that is like comparing apples to oranges. I believe that doing “look at me magic” can sometimes appear, wrongly, as a challenge effect, because you are fooling people (and they can feel stupid) and it appears as if you are showing off. Also, because it looks like a game of what hand is it in…which leads me to:


    We all agree that coin magic is one of the hardest mediums to make look good. This is because the methods used to do coin magic usually involve hiding coins in your hand, sometimes multiple coins – and they are supposed to look empty. David Williamson once talked to me about the difficulty of coin magic and how it was hard to connect with coins…because people realize it’s a game of hide and seek. Where is the coin? Hmm, perhaps behind your big meaty hook of a hand! If one of the most talented magicians in the world struggles with this – it is obviously not an easy task.

    What ways do you think we can make coins more enjoyable to watch – where it doesn’t appear like skill, but something inherently interesting – but like magic – with no explanation? When you aren’t engaging the crowd, you are not playing on the strength of our craft – the interactive and inclusive nature of close up. This is one thing, of many, that can make us better than movies and TV shows.

    I want to end with one last thought – WHAT THE F IS A JUMBO COIN? How illogical is that…look…a man-hole cover! HUH? Proving once again that coin magic uses shock value rather than creating mystery.

    So – how do you propose we elevate the medium and make coin magic leave as strong of an impact as cups and balls, engage the senses as much as cards and have an emotional hook as strong as a bill change? Is it possible?

    A couple side notes: there are a few guys…like Nate Kranzo, Troy Hoosier, Brian Roberts and a few others that can make coin magic look so good that you don’t care where the coin is or what happens – However, all these guys do their best to find ways to make coin magic more than just eye candy, and am sure they would agree with the limitations and difficulties in presenting coin magic.
    Tibbz likes this.
  2. digital dissolve?
    umm...forgot the name but danny garcias trick where its a coins across from his hand to your hand and then he uses your ring?
    your gonna tell me 3 fly isnt magical enough?
    matrix's and their barehanded cousins, those arent crazy awsome?

    i think your wrong.
    im sorry your outlook on coins is messed up because you have never experienced it. i got into magic because of a coin trick. oh my, it was 3 fly. and i still remember watching it.

    well, thats me.
    Tibbz likes this.
  3. Very nice argument, I'm more of a card man myself and pretty much an absolute novice when it comes to coins, but I think the point of magic is to do things that are "illogical." Magic is something that can't be explained, doing the impossible. Vanishing coins is impossible, and clean vanishes are incredible without the "hiding it in the hands thing." As long as the spectator is entertained, who cares? When I was a laymen, I was always impressed by coin magic - the pros made it look impossible. I also agree that coin magic is limited in comparison to card magic. Generally, with coin magic you have transpositions, transportations, coin to impossible location, and vanishes. Very few other concepts... where as with cards, they have the suits, the numbers, and these extra features make more effects more possible, which is a good reason card magic is the most popular. Card magic is also illogical too when you think about it... why does the card change? how did the cards fix themselves after being shuffled face up into face down? etc... Though with coin magic, I must admit, some parts of it irritate me... like pulling a coin from your elbow, the air, then your pants or something. I disagree with coin magic "sucks," but I do agree that card magic is far superior.
    Tibbz likes this.
  4. #4 Morgan B, Apr 25, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2008
    Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.
    Tibbz likes this.
  5. I think this is one of the reasons that T. Nelson Downs had so much success. He performed a routine (Miser's Dream) that had an emotional hook. Who doesn't want to be able to pull money out of air. What's more, people came to watch him BECAUSE they knew that it was possible to catch him. They KNEW it was a game of cat and mouse, and in their minds, they were thinking "Oh, if i catch him, that will be the end of my financial troubles. once i know how its done, i'll be rich."
    So Downs magic became a success.

    One thing that i think is overrated is emotional hook. the question "what would i do if i could do real magic" is an unneeded one. the spectators KNOW that you are not doing real magic. they may think you are doing something that they can not, and that is impossible, but in the back of their minds, the KNOW, that it is a trick.
  6. #6 RichmanMatthew, Apr 25, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2008
    1. Miser's Dream
    2. Personal Safe
    3. 3 Fly
    4. Shadow Coins

    Those are some of the best routines I've ever seen! For any type of magic. Sure, coin magic takes practice, but it can be some of the most entertaining pieces of magic out there.

    I've edited out the rest because I was all wrong...

    Sorry Morgician.
    Tibbz likes this.
  7. #7 Morgan B, Apr 26, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2008
    Obviously, the danger is not in the actual act of reading itself, but rather, the possibility that the texts children read will incite questions, introduce novel ideas, and provoke critical inquiry
  8. I've never been a big fan of coin magic either. While there have been individual tricks that have intrigued me, as a genre they tend to lack audience engagement. I recognize the level of skill they require, I recognize their history and legacy in the world of magic. It's clear that the people who love them really love them, but for me and I suspect for many other people the feeling is...meh. (Don't hate: I've also never cared for cups & balls, doves and rabbits, and zombie-type levitations. Again, there are some striking individual effects out there, but as genres they veer into camp far too often for my taste.)

    The coin tricks that I've enjoyed the most have been effects where a coin has been given to the magician by an audience member--with the date recalled or an identifying mark made--and the coin has ended up in an impossible place (like inside a sealed water bottle) or the date on the coin has been predicted somewhere/somehow, or the coin has transformed into another of a larger/smaller denomination but with the same date or identifying mark. These provide more opportunities for audience connection and interaction. But most other coin tricks, to me, are like what card flourishes would be if they used only one or two or maybe three cards.
  9. #9 Morgan B, Apr 26, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2008
    Deleted today
  10. Coin magic is super fun at high school cafeterias. Try it.

    'Hmm lets see, I know I only have 1 dollar, but if I waaaave my hand over it, I get two dollars, enough to pay for this coke'

  11. I'm not sure that it's logical in the strictest sense, but there is such a strong tradition of magically placing or revealing items in impossible places--particularly if it's an item that is unique and can't be duplicated. It is more than just a disappearance/reappearance. The biggest problem with coins in this regard is that they're just not that unique. It's not hard to find two, four, ten coins that are all the same date--and there's a limit to how you can mark or 'sign' them to make them appear to be unique. The assumption will always be 'oh, he swapped my coin for his coin' or 'he has two coins with the same date/mark--one in his hand and the other in his sock'.

    We're also used to seeing flourish effects with a lot of visual drama and flair--and even the most beautiful or skillful coin magic lacks that because you don't generally work with the same number of coins as you do cards (for example), coins are not as large as balls/silks/doves/roses so they don't have the visual oomph, and coins just aren't as valuable as they used to be--so the stakes are different.

    If someone takes one of my $100+ rings and makes it disappear or travel from palm to sock, that has a far greater feeling of uniqueness and personal investment (and raises considerably more anxiety) than if someone does it with a quarter, a silver dollar or even a gold doubloon. (Unless the doubloon is mine in which case WTF am I bringing it to a magic show for??)
    Tibbz likes this.
  12. I implied "fooled" when I said "entertained." Coin magic does fool... otherwise many top pros would not use it. You just gotta know what tricks to pick.
  13. I think one of the main reasons that coin magic is as popular as it is, is that it is fun to practice. Sure, the audience may not particularly like it, but the magician sure does!

    True, coins are not as "large" as cards, doves, elephants, or minivans the some might produce, but the have somthing unique. Most people have not seen coin magic before. EVERYBODY has seen their father, or grandfather, do a card trick. this father/grandfather, has generated the same amount of amazement, as you would doing a ... card to spectators mouth...

    Then, amazemnt with cards becomes something regular.

    That's when i pull out my coins. Or my mentalism stuff... (there isn't really much to pull out when you do mentalism, is there?)
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  14. Read my post again...
  15. That Serious?

    I dont really get why Morgician is trying to talk down to some of the other guys on a forum over coins.
    After I got into magic from a friend after doing a card trick. I personally wanted to try and get into coin tricks because they seemed to appeal to me. Well i started looking into the market of coin tricks and watching videos and alot of my interest dimmed down. There are great coin tricks that have been listed and the one that i currently use is the superman coin bend, simple but many people around my school ask me to do it for them, have not been caught yet. Some of the older moves like coinbite really dont work as well with so many different state quarters but thats imo. Coin tricks are very cool such as Justin Millers silver dream video, absolutely killer, great job and nice use of the smoke 2000, did not use it to much but when he did it just put the effect into the next level. I like some of the sleeving i have seen and some other tricks but not for me, to all those that do a good job at coin tricks congrats and best of luck to you.
    Tibbz likes this.
  16. Interesting thread. However, Morgician, you can take everything that you said about coin magic and put it towards any type of magic. I feel the same way about cards now (especially the rather pointless ambitious card routine). I'm tired of hearing the same damn presentation for the ambitious card routine that every generic magician does. They either just state that the card goes to the top or the whole Harry Houdini storyline. Same goes for the torn and restored concept. Why would you tear a card into four equal pieces only to put them together, which leaves no proof that it actually happened unless you have it on video. Seems rather pointless to tear a card and put it together don't ya think?

    Cups and balls...everyone does it the same way (minus Jason Latimer and Penn and Teller...they use CLEAR cups!). What's the point of making the balls travel from one cup to another (Same point as why do we do coins across or 3fly)? What's the point of putting one ball under each cup and then showing that they're all under one cup? What's the point of changing the balls to fruit (DD, spellbound, etc)? What's the point of having a giant fruit at the end (jumbo coin)?

    I can go on and on with other types of magic (manipulation, illusions, etc). You can ask all these questions about why we do what we do and how we can make it better for our audience. I used to ponder for long periods of time during my slump in magic. I had no motivation to perform because I didn't see the point of any of the tricks that we as magicians do. Then I talked to a friend of mine about this (we were specifically talking about torn and restored effects). He agreed with alot of my thoughts, yet there was one answer that he gave. It was the reason that I had gotten into magic in the first place, and it has been totally lost in my thoughts...he said that magic doesn't have to have a point. Magic is what you make it out to be and it's up to you to make your audience filled with wonder and astonishment. Why would we tear a card and put it back together? Why would we pull coins and cards out of nowehre? Why would we multiply billiard balls in our hands? Because it's magic, and we do it for the sake of it being magic.

    In regards to coins and making them interesting and entertaining for our audience, look at Curtis Kam and Kainoa Harbottle. They're the guys that got me into coin magic. They were able to take a coin and turn it into an entirely different experience. I had never seen coin magic done they way they do it from anyone else. They must have the best presentation for coins (and magic in general) that I have seen so far.

    As for people going for shock value rather than an emotional hook, isn't shock an emotion? Just another thing to think about.

    Also regarding this quote:

    To be a magician you MUST fool - entertainment is important...but if you don't fool...think what you want, you are not a magician.

    Yeah you can fool people, but that does not make you a magician at all. Look at people like Peter Popoff, Sylvia Brown, and John Edward. What about card cheats or the people that play the shell game? They're fooling people all the time for their own benefit. Does that make them magicians? They sound like scam artists to me. A magician is someone who does magic. Magicians do things that have no explanation, while at the same time having the audience believe that there is no explanation. And if there's no explanation for the magic, then there's no need to fool anyone. When you don't have to fool anyone, then you know that you've created real magic.
    vinod 1 and Tibbz like this.
  17. Sorry...double post.
  18. Chris Capehart is also very skilled with coins.
  19. when you spoke to Dave Williamson was it in a dream?

    logical magic? good luck with that.
  20. #20 Morgan B, Apr 28, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2008
    You can cage the singer but not the song

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