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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » A Hundreth Pleasant Conceipts - by Curtis Kam » » Ch1: THE DOWNS PALM (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Curtis Kam
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THE DOWNS PALM

I have always had a problem with Bobo's description of this concealment. He tells us to carry the coin into position while it is held between the index and second fingers. This action will naturally bring the coin to a spot BETWEEN the bases of those fingers. Bobo tells us, however, that the coin "is gripped against the base of the first finger". This makes the grip a bit precarious, and risks the coin being visible over the back of the hand. While there is one advantage to this higher grip, I doubt Bobo was aware of it. See Garrett Thomas' video "Any Questions?" for the joys of what he calls "Web Palm".

As with the flat thumb palm, you don't need to assume the odd starting position that Bobo recommends. It's faster, and more natural to simply hold the coin at your finger and thumb tips in the usual fashion. From this position, hit the center of the coin with your second fingertip. Release all other holds, and you'll find that the coin can ride safely into position resting on the tip and side of the second finger alone. This is not a balancing act. The second finger supports the coin as it curls, and the edge of the coin is lightly pressed upwards, against the underside of the first finger.

Not only does this handling do the job with far less movement, but the position of the thumb brings it closer to the coin, so its path is shortened. With practice, the coin can be shot into position so quickly, it simply disappears. (with a slight tossing motion)

As you practice this, you might notice that if you stop the action short, you'll find the coin has quickly and efficiently been delivered into edge grip. Could this be the mechanics of a retention pass to edge grip? Hmmm, could be.

Bobo also refers us to Arthur Buckley's "Four Coins to a Glass" for Buckley's handling of the Downs palm. He does this without much comment, which is odd because Buckley describes what has come to be called "lower Downs palm". In other words, the coins are carried to the palm by the second and third fingers. This naturally brings the coins to a position "lower" than Bobo has designated. And yet, Buckley plainly says, "This is the Downs palm". He even adds some excellent fine details that enhance the production of the coins.

So which is it? In Buckley's "Principles and Deceptions" (1948) the author describes both the "upper" and "lower" palms, and attributes both to Downs. (He also makes two somewhat remarkable claims: first, that his thumb is of normal size, and second, that he has no problem hiding eight American Silver Dollars in lower Downs palm.(!)) Downs, in announcing his "Latest Method for the `Miser's Dream'" (Art of Magic, 1909) describes only the "upper" position. (as the safe repository for a Dozen coins(!!))

I piece this together this way: Downs originally developed the "upper" method, which he published in 1909. In all probability, he then worked through his repertoire with the new concealment in mind, to see what might be improved through its application. He was already using the second and third fingers to produce coins singly, apparently from classic palm position. (See "Production of Any Number of Coins at the Fingertips in Bobo's annotated reprint of "The Miser's Dream" in MCM) It's easy to imagine that he was delighted to find the productions to be much surer and faster from the "lower" position. And from that observation, sometime after "Art of Magic" was published, "Lower Downs Palm" was born. It's also easy to believe that Arthur Buckley was aware of both handlings by 1948.

My advice? Learn and use them both. Upper Downs palm is a remarkably efficient way to manage stacks of coins, and allows you to produce and vanish the coins individually, or as a group. All the while, your fingers are free to manipulate other coins in other grips. For an excellent example of this, see Fred Kaps' beautiful "Coins and Glass" routine in Ganson's "Routined Manipulations Finale". (1954) The lower position affords many of the same advantages, and because it also tends to make more use of the base of the thumb, allows you to handle more coins.

In the context of close up work, the two palms can even be used simultaneously to silently switch one coin (or presumably stack of coins) for another. A fine example of this by Ross Bertram was published in Genii.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that the angly palm-towards-the-audience display is the main advantage of this concealment. It's not. In fact, the best features of Downs palm are realized with the backs of the hand towards the audience. The ability to convey a stack of coins quickly and quietly to the fingertips is an extremely powerful tool. If you don't believe me, see the final changeover/vanish in my opening coin routine on the tape or DVD "Deceptions in Paradise".

Finally, you may have noticed a recent fascination among coin workers with magic performed at the fingertips, especially through the application of Edge Grip. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see Kainoa Harbottle's "Coins on Edge" and "Cointopia" and climb aboard. Learning all this newfangled technology might seem daunting to "old-timers" set in their ways. But take heart, fellow codgers, it turns out that much, if not most, of the new edge grip material can be done using good, old fashioned Downs palm.

And there's still a multitude of unexplored possibilities hiding in Downs palm itself. Here's a bit from a lecture I did that was almost entirely based on Downs palm material:

The ideal setting is table hopping in a restaurant, where you're standing and the audience is sitting. Vanish and reproduce a coin. Then, offer to give one spectator a "backstage view". Stand behind her, and reach around her head, so that your hands are at her eye level. Execute a retention vanish into Downs palm, and vanish the coin. The rest of the audience will see the retention vanish. So will the poor victim, but she will also know that she sees nothing in either hand.

If you try this, remember to separate your hands enough so that the audience can see the look on you subject’s face. That’s where the “effect” is.
Is THAT a PALMS OF STEEL 5 Banner I see? YARRRRGH! Please visit The Magic Bakery
Curtis Kam
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same as you, plus 3 and enough to make
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And in related news, here's a tacky site that sells those cheap plastic trade show giveaways, but with religious messages on them. The "The Wages of Sin is Death" product writes its own presentation. Imagine using those bills in your "Hundy 500".

http://www.livingwaters.com/Merchant2/me......Code=298

Appropos to this discussion, there is a clip that exposes the Downs Palm to the general public. All in order to sell their "10 Commandments" coins. Pity they never bothered to read the coins. "Thou Shalt Not Steal" indeed.
Is THAT a PALMS OF STEEL 5 Banner I see? YARRRRGH! Please visit The Magic Bakery
Curtis Kam
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V.I.P.
same as you, plus 3 and enough to make
3492 Posts

Profile of Curtis Kam
An interesting side note--there is a wealth of understated credit controversy peppered throughout Arthur Buckley's book, especially when read in conjunction with Bobo's. Regarding the production of several coins from lower Downs palm into a fan at the fingertips, I had speculated that Downs probably "discovered" this some time after he published the production of coins from upper Downs palm in 1909.

Buckley seems to support this, saying that the move appeared in "Magic Without Apparatus", attributed to Downs. However, he goes on to say that he first witnessed Allan Shaw performing the move in 1909. He does not mention that Gaultier's "Magic Without Apparatus" was not published until 1914.
Is THAT a PALMS OF STEEL 5 Banner I see? YARRRRGH! Please visit The Magic Bakery
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