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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » A Hundreth Pleasant Conceipts - by Curtis Kam » » The "Erdnase " of Coin Magic? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Curtis Kam
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To begin at the beginning, Modern Coin Magic was not intended to include every sleight and technique in use at the time. By 1952, J.B. Bobo was an experienced performer who had developed his own ideas of what did and didn't work. His intent was "to cover this important segment of the subject in all of its practical aspects." (emphasis in original) (Preface to the 1964 edition) He warns us at the outset: "there are dozens of coin pinches, grips, palms, vanishes, changes, acquitments and even a few wierd (sic) finger contortions for which any use would be hard to find." And those things he found unsuitable, he left out. Thus, it seems reasonable to ask at the outset...what's missing?

The copyright page reads 1952. That was the release date of what is now the ubiquitous Dover reprint that seems to have convinced a generation of magicians that all of coin magic sprang forth from an empty void on that date. But the truth is otherwise. By 1952 Downs' Art of Magic had been out for 43 years, and Sach's Sleight of Hand for 85. Magicians of the time also had access to Greater Magic since 1938, Hugard's Coin Magic since 1935, Buckley's Principles and Deceptions as early as 1948, Ramsay's Cylinder and Coins in 1948, the first two volumes of Ganson's Routined Manipulation series in 1950 and `51, and the first eleven lessons in the Stars of Magic series.

Taken in context, we see Bobo was true to his word. More editor than cataloguer, his selections reveal his aesthetic preferences. While we view these decisions in hindsight, and certainly there are also considerations of incentive and permission, it's safe to say that the material in MCM does not always reflect the best of what was available at the time.

The handling of the Utility Switch, for instance, with its palm-down dumping action, is hardly as casual and deceptive as the Ramsay handling evident in the Cylinder and Coins routine. For that matter, Bobo applauds Ramsay's famous finger palm displays, but only describes a very primitive application that misses the mark by quite a bit.

By 1952 Dai Vernon was already legendary. He was lecturing widely, and his "Spellbound", "Kangaroo Coins", and the Malini and Leipzig studies from Stars of Magic were fresh in everyone's minds. However, Bobo includes nothing new from Vernon. The description of the Vernon retention vanish (p. 30 of the revised edition) is reprinted from Greater Magic, and "Expansion of Texture--Expanded!" comes from a Vernon lecture Bobo saw "a few years ago."

One of the "pinches" Bobo seems to have found impractical is the concealment we now know as "Deep Back Clip". While he describes a back pinch between the index and second fingers, there is no mention of clipping a coin between the second and third. This technique was known in 1952, having previously appeared in Downs' Art of Magic. See "Every Man his own Mint" and "Miser's Miracle", in which the reader is instructed to "secretly push one coin down with the thumb between the second and third fingers, backpalming it by the edge."

Another is the thumb palm in which the coin or coins are held flatly along the length of the thumb, parallel to the floor, gripped by bending in the tip of the thumb. Described by Hoffman as "a specialty of the elder Frickel" this concealment has been put to great use by Ross Bertram, Gary Kurtz, among others. It receives only one mention in MCM, (see "The `Heads and Tails' Vanish") and Bobo even describes a version of the DeManche change that suffers greatly for the lack of this grip. (See "One-Hand Switch")

There's more, and don't even get me started on Edge Grip. Suffice it to say, MCM is still a book full of treasures, but it does not contain all of the coin magic of any given period, nor can it claim to catalog "the best of" what was available when it was written. Even with these two caveats, MCM is an invaluable source of inspiration for the serious student. I would differ, however, with those who hand it to beginners with the proclamation that it is "the bible" and "all you need to know about coins".

On with it then, let's get to the moves!
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Curtis Kam
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V.I.P.
same as you, plus 3 and enough to make
3492 Posts

Profile of Curtis Kam
Almost forgot--to the list of books published before MCM, add The Amateur Magician's Handbook. (1950) Wonderful, fatherly coaching on an even more precise selection of coin moves, magic and concealments.
Is THAT a PALMS OF STEEL 5 Banner I see? YARRRRGH! Please visit The Magic Bakery
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