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Topic: The Three Shells Game
Message: Posted by: magichoka (Apr 28, 2003 03:06PM)
Please tell me which Shells and Peas are best for the Three Shells Game.

Message: Posted by: nalu_magic (Apr 28, 2003 03:18PM)
I use the Street Shells by Schools for Scoundrels and absolutely love them! I started off with the Vernet set and now use the Street Shells.

I have heard though that La Maggiore is hands down the best. I just don't have that much money to spend on the props.

I am definitely happy with the Street Shells and would recommend them without hesitation. Do a quick search on "Shell game" and you'll find many threads offer reviews. For a routine I'd recommend The Golden Shells video by Bob Kohler or the Super Shells manuscript.
Message: Posted by: vinsmagic (Apr 28, 2003 03:28PM)
I use Bob Kohler's 'Golden Shells', a little heavy but excellent.

Of course, you can make your own shells by filling walnuts with epoxy. This works fine and gives the shells some weight.
Message: Posted by: Scott F. Guinn (Apr 28, 2003 03:41PM)
The Kohler Shells are excellent, as are the Maggiore Shells. I have used both, as well as regular old shells. I like 'em all. Right now, my current favorite is the Maggiore Shells.
Message: Posted by: Mark Martinez (Apr 28, 2003 04:37PM)
I also use the Street Shells and can say that I love them! I haven't used La Maggiore Shells but also hear that they are the best!
Message: Posted by: Bradley Morgan (Apr 28, 2003 04:44PM)
Do you know what type Bob Sheets uses?

I have seen him do his shell routine and it is so amazing. He is very good at the game.

Message: Posted by: Kjellstrom (Apr 28, 2003 05:55PM)
I use the superior "Magnetic Street Shells", they work like a dream. I recommed them very much. Tip: use a magnetic ring together with these shells and you are set for killer magic :) I wrote about them recently on the Genii Forum.

I bought them from Hocus Pocus for 100 dollars.
Message: Posted by: Michele (Apr 29, 2003 01:56PM)
I bought Bob's Golden Shells. I like it .
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Apr 29, 2003 02:34PM)
Bob Sheets uses two different sets of shells. The first is the Wilt Hayden Street Shell set (from the School of Scoundrels). The second is a Blackfox Scarab set for a particular presentation he does. He speaks highly of both sets.
Message: Posted by: Bradley Morgan (Apr 29, 2003 08:04PM)
Hey thanks Mr. Harry

The Whit Haydn Street Shell set is so awesome. He let me use some when he was lecturing his routine on the shells, and they are the best. I have tried the gold shells and some of the cheaper shells but these thing are awesome.

The peas they give you are worth the price alone. They are perfect for all moves.

He has a very nice routine with them.

Where can i get some.


Message: Posted by: debaser (Apr 29, 2003 08:13PM)
What are the main differences between the Haydn shells and the Maggiore shells

Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Apr 29, 2003 09:55PM)

The School for Scoundrels web site.
Message: Posted by: sleightly (May 1, 2003 02:26PM)
Howdy All...

Thanks for the kind words about my La Maggiore shells.

Bob Sheets currently uses the La Maggiore shells professionally (when not using the Scarab routine). So does Bob Kohler. What's the difference? Size, texture, appearance, weight, handling... The one thing you can say is that both are based on walnut shells. Two different species...

The best thing to do is check the shells out personally at your favorite local magic shop. You'll find that you will favor the shells that work for you...

For those interested in more information about La Maggiore (specs, testimonials, accessories), please check out threeshellgame.com.

Fleece 'em if you got 'em!

Message: Posted by: Jeffrey Cowan (May 2, 2003 09:10PM)
I recommend the Golden Shells. They already have the "Channin dip" in this (unlike La Maggiore) and they'll never crack or break. They also are distinctive enough to catch someone's attention. [The "street shells" won't -- and it takes only a second or two to realize that they're not real, so what's the point?] I've used the Golden Shells since they hit the market and remain delighted with them. Only downside might be that their weight makes it difficult to do one handed moves with all of the shells, but I don't use those techniques so it's irrelevant, at least to me. Good luck; it's a classic for a reason.
Message: Posted by: Bob Kohler (May 11, 2003 01:19AM)
First, let's set things straight. My video is "The Golden Shells". It was released about the same time I helped Whit Haydn and Chef Anton release "The Golden Shells" set.

I still offer both the video and the set on my site. Whit and Anton's company "The School for Scoundrels" owns and produces "The Golden Shells" set and many other fine products.

I love both "The Golden Shells" and La Maggiore. Both are truly excellent sets.
They both have some strong points that will appeal to different performers for different reasons.

I use them both professionally. I think you will too. Buy them both. Both sets are very bombproof and will last you for many years.

If you are only going to get one set, you have to decide which set works with your style or perhaps the scenario you will be using them.

It's hard to beat "The Golden Shells" in a trade show environment. The fact that they look like gold really draws the first few audience members to your booth. They usually plan on taking one as a "trade show give-a-way" or think they are chocolate. Either way, you grab them and start the show.

If you like the look of real walnut shells "La Maggiore" is the bomb. They manipulate very well indeed.

I admit I'm a shell freak. It's hard to find a routine that packs so much into a nice tight package. Those who use it know what I'm talking about.

My hat's off to all of these gentleman for producing top quality props for us to cheat the marks with.
Message: Posted by: sleightly (May 11, 2003 06:14AM)
Let me reinforce what Bob said: If you are interested in performing the shells, you owe it to yourself to check out all the different products available. Each set is quite different with a variety of features. You will find one set performs for you better than the others, and that is the set you should purchase.

Be sure to consider not only the technical features, but in what context you will be performing: a gambling expose, a trade show, a magical performance or actually on the street. Consider the shells' appearance and how it jibes with your intended use, your costume, and how you intend to carry them around with you and how you will introduce them.

As I mention on threeshellgame.com, it is rare in magic to find props that generate an immediate connection with audiences. They recognize the shell game and are immediately drawn into the mystique behind it. I love to set the shells down, step back and watch my audience before I perform. They sit up and take notice. Attention is heightened and so is their experience...

Many top performers have realized the allure of featuring the shells in their work, there is a lot to be learned from "working" them: from audience management and psychological response to the analyical process that goes on in their heads. Highly recommended for study regardless of which set you buy.

We are really blessed to have Bob Kohler spend his valuable time on this forum. Bob "knows the stuff" from years and years of working for real people. He knows what is effective and distills his magic such that it is focused and hits audiences hard, yet is playful and endearing.

We are all fortuante that he has decided to release some of his pet pieces (including "The Golden Shells" video) to the broader magic public. Even more so now that he has decided to produce material featuring other top performers whose work we might not have been exposed to through the usual channels. His attention to detail and eye for quality is helping to set new standards. Magic is a better world because of his generousity.

Thanks Bob!

Fleece 'em if you got 'em!

Message: Posted by: Amadeus_Magi (May 11, 2003 07:14AM)
I know three shell games first from Camirand Academy of Magic, so I recommend to you Guy Camirand & Garry Oullet's Super Shell, it's kinda cool!
Message: Posted by: sharpace (May 11, 2003 07:28AM)
I've bought the Golden shells video by Bob. But I've not yet decided to buy which shells set.
I wish to buy the Golden Shells and I found there is a magnetic version. I hope Bob can tell me which version is better. On bob's video he didn't mention about the magnetic set, I really wish to know is there any special handling or killer routine for the magnetic shells because it's price costs $100 more than the original Golden Shell set.

Message: Posted by: Turk (May 11, 2003 07:59AM)
I have seen Bob Kohler's video and I also have the Gary Oullet "Super Shells" book. I like both but I'm looking to put together my own routine and I'm wodering what Bob Sheets has to offer to the "mix". Is his handling essentially a blend of existing "moves" or does he have something unique to offer? No offense or slight meant towards Bob Sheets; I'm just not up to speed on his routine.

Thanks for any info.

Message: Posted by: nalu_magic (May 11, 2003 12:21PM)
Good question, Turk. I've also been waiting for a review of Bob Sheets' Absolutely Nuts video. I've heard his routine is good and contains a unique "move" that is killer but don't know anything more. Can anyone who has the video fill us in?
Message: Posted by: Kjellstrom (May 11, 2003 12:26PM)
This text is from another post:

"I have these Magnetic Street Shells and they are fantastic. I also use "Magnetic" Elohim Ring to pick & drop invisible the peas under my hand, easialy.

I have found that this works fine for me:
I just slide the shell to the left on the table and the pea rolls out and picks up of the magnetic ring.
I load the shells with pea when I have turned them upside down: I pick the outer two shells with my both hands and drops the pea into a shell and it snaps to the magnet in the shell, then i rotate them and put them on the table.

When you have the pea attach to the ring you can show your hands very freely...
Very easy to palm: slide the hand to the right and the pea is rolling off and you can palm it between two fingers, easialy.

Its very fun to play with the spectators.
One great thing you can do with these shells is to put a shell with a pea inside on a spectators hand and they will never feel or notice the pea in the shell. When you later produce the pea from the shell in the hand they will almost freak out. I have shown these shells for my very sceptical friends and they almost tried to "kill" me after the routine...hehe.
Why? I put a big banknote and told them to bet and they lost...! Be careful if you play with money I think you must let them win occasionally.

When you get the feel for this fantastic Magnetic Street Shells yo can fool anyone on this planet. This is one of my favourite props,
looks innocent but they are devilish smart.
This is a dream prop they are very useful for anyone that like this kind of trick. This is a "knock em dead" effect.

No problems has occured when I use the magnetic peas, no sceptical questions etc.
I have asked several friends and they had no clue how it was done. It up to yo what choise yo do. I love these shell.

I bought these shells from Hokus Pokus Online Shop! "
Message: Posted by: thimblerig (May 11, 2003 01:20PM)
I have about 100 or more different Shell Game props, routines, notes, etc. that I have been collecting over the years with the idea of writing up an annotated review of the various items. Haven't got to write a word yet, but from that perspective, here are my thoughts.

First, Bob Sheets' video is excellent. You can also see him perform his routine on the Travel Channel close up magic show when/if it airs again. Bob is an outstanding performer and he has come up with a deceptive new way of working the shells. At least in all my research I have not seen it described previously. (And I have gone back as far as the 1850's although those descriptions are sparse at best). This tape is a good investment.

As far as props, it depends on the type of presentation you wish to make and a whole lot of other factors. The Golden Shells are beautiful and Bob Kohler's routine is excellent and well documented. Everything Bob does turns to "gold" performance wise and it was in a private session at a friends house years ago that Bob got me interested in starting my collection - long before the Golden Shells video/props were available. Bob's Video is well worth the investment.
That being said, the working shells from Chef Anton and La Maggiore are truly outstanding. I like the La Maggiore for their size and wish they had the Chanin dip as do the Working Shells from School for scoundrels and the Golden Shells, as then they would clearly be the best of the composite shells in my humble opinion. I was disappointed to pay so much for the La Maggiore and then have them not have this feature, with an offhand comment about how they could be sanded to incorporate the feature if desired. That having been said, they work great without the dip; it is just my opinion. Not being a great craftsman, I am reluctant to take these props and sand them only to probably screw them up.
It is hard to be good natural shells for authenticity, but they require some time and effort to make well, will eventually crack or split, and it is difficult to find nice big ones.
Al Cohen's thimbles for thimble rigging work well an add patter and routining possibilites. However the bigger the thimble, the more apparent the move can be. (Think of the top of the thimble being a flag waving as the pea moves in/out.) I have a set of Porper Thimbles, which while pretty, are fairly small, thus resulting in potential for visibility problems depending on venue and audience size. If they can't clearly see what is happening, interest will wane and the magic effect will lessen.

The other nice thing about the Golden Shells and other metal shells (usually pewter with some sort of plating or not, although I have a sterling set also) is their weight. The weight is helpful, I think, in performing the moves. The weight of composite shells is less. Natural shells can be gaffed to be heavier and that is what I have done with mine.
There are several sets of tiny inverted cup/bowl shaped props out there, and I have one hindu cup style set. These work well, but aren't traditional if that matters to you or your routine.
As far as magnetic shells, I have several sets, including magnetic real shells. To me it isn't worth the effort. Most shell game routines should last about 3 minutes or so as it can be pretty repetitive. You can get a lot of entertainment out of the shells with just the regular moves. For repeat performances, smart alecks (other magicians) you might work something up with them to throw them off, but even then the "chop" principle is so widely known I'm not sure it's worth it.
Oh, and the Black Fox composite shells are pretty good, should last awhile and give you additional patter possibilities.
For routines and moves I would recommend the tapes mentioned above, Garcia's "All in a Nutshell," Chanin's, "Hello Sucker," and the Tom Osborne book. The last three can usually be found on eBay. The Pat Page combo of shells/bag/video is not a bad source of info. Personally, I would not recommend the Phil Cass video as I believe the routine is a little too "in your face," for me. However he seems to make money at it...

Just some thoughts, hope you find them useful.


Message: Posted by: magicday (May 12, 2003 03:57PM)
I don't like the Golden Shells because they are too slippery. Can't hold all three in one hand.
Message: Posted by: Poindexter (May 12, 2003 07:57PM)

I think of all my shell sets, the Scoundrels' Antique Copper Shells are my favorites.

I also had a problem with three-in-the-hand, solved it by placing a TINY bit of rubber cement on the sides of each shell.

Works great, doesn't interfere with any other moves, and, on the coppers, anyway, it is invisible; and nobody's ever mentioned it when examining the shells.

I don't own the goldens, so YMMV.
Message: Posted by: magicday (May 12, 2003 08:02PM)

Thanks, I'll try to find out.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (May 13, 2003 02:18PM)
I'd like to add a little bit to this discussion. First off, the type of routine and the performing situation determine for the most part what sort of shells should be used.

I have used all of the shells mentioned in this thread, and find them all to be handsome, well-made, and practical for use in performance.

I prefer the Magnetic Street Shells to all the others, because they are small, they work on any surface, and they have the magnets that allow for a great ending without carrying a another piece such as a shotglass, or other cover. This suits my way of working for the most part, because I like to throw the three shells and a few peas into my right jacket pocket and I am ready to perform. Since I don't need a close-up mat, but can perform just as well on a bar, coffee table, or any available surface, I can perform without carrying anything with me that doesn't come out of my pockets.

The Golden Shells, the magnetic Golden Shells, the Street Shells, and the magnetic Street Shells were all designed by myself, and I like all of them. The Golden Shells are heavy, and as has been noted, have advantages for certain moves, such as the kick steal. They also draw the interest of spectators and passersby at a tradeshow, as Bob Kohler noted. Their weight, however, makes them unsuited to carry in the pocket.

All of my shells have the Chanin Dip, which is a very nice feature that allows the shells, when used with my Perfect Pea, to work very smoothly on any surface, without the "click-click" sound that is sometimes produced on a hard surface by shells that don't have this feature. This feature is subtle, but requires quite a bit of cutting of the shell to get right. I don't recommend trying to sand the La Maggiore shells to obtain it, as it would require cutting off about an eighth of the shell, and it would be easy to ruin the shells in the process.

The smaller size shell that was used in the production of my shells, makes many of the more complicated turnovers and acquitments easier, and makes picking up all three shells in one hand very simple.

Remember that the pea is the star, not the shells. The shells can be too big, and thus dwarf and minimize the pea.

However, some people find that their hands are too big to comfortably work with small shells. For these people, the La Maggiore and the Black Fox shells might be better.

These sets also are more comfortable for moves like the Bob Sheets acquitment, and perhaps a little awkward for some moves like the Escobar or three shells in one hand move. They are a little bulkier to carry in the pockets, and they work better on a mat than without.

So everything depends on how you plan to use the shells, and what sort of moves you like to use, and under what performing conditions. I think they are all very good products, and have used all of them with great success.

Hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: Michele (May 13, 2003 05:44PM)
Hi Haydn,

Thank you for your information about your Shells. I've bought your Golden Shells I like it . It's a very good props.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (May 19, 2003 04:37PM)
By the way, it is the scarcity of shell sets over the years, and great variety in appearance, materials, and workmanship that make them a very good collectible.

I suggest that anyone who does the shells should start his own little collection of shells. You will learn a lot over time just by handling and playing with the many different peas and shells available. There will be times when one set will be better than another for just one venue.

I did the shell game on Jay Leno using hand-made walnut shells, because that is what they wanted.

I know that for twenty years, finding a decent set of shells, (like the cups and balls) was nearly impossible.

That time may come again, so take advantage of this period when the interest is high. I suspect that in a few years, you will find both the info and props much harder to obtain.
Message: Posted by: hkmagician (May 19, 2003 04:57PM)

I only seen green peas. is there any other colours ? when can I order them ? Thanks
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (May 19, 2003 05:20PM)
The School for Scoundrels Perfect Pea only comes in "pea green" at present. Peas in many different colors are available from other places, however.

Black Fox has many different colored peas. These peas are not the same in texture and material as the perfect pea, since they are handmade, not injection-molded, but they are very good, and can come in different colors and sizes.

Karl Norman produces latex-covered foam rubber peas. These are beautifully made, and of course, are much softer than the hard rubber peas. However, they do wear out eventually, and need to be used on the right surface.
Message: Posted by: hkmagician (May 19, 2003 08:25PM)
Mr. Haydn ,

Thank you for your information.
Message: Posted by: vinsmagic (May 19, 2003 08:38PM)
It's nice to know what are the best shells out there . and I already said the the golden shells are awsome.
However the point i'm trying to make is who is the best operator of the shells? Well I grew up in the streets of NYC hells kitchen, and the best mechanics of the shell game came off the streeets,
Now in my opinion one of the best routines from a Magician was Frank Garcia's You can catch some odf his handling on the stars of maagic video.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (May 20, 2003 04:56PM)
I knew Frank Garcia very well, and he was very good and very entertaining with the shells. However, Jack Chanin was the best I ever saw with the shells. He knew all the real stuff, and added a lot of his own. I don't think anyone I have seen since comes even close.

Most everything in print today on the shells is based on either Chanin, Eddie Joseph, or Tom Osborne.
Message: Posted by: hkmagician (May 21, 2003 03:34AM)
Is there any video of Jack Chanin about the Three Shells Game ? Thanks
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (May 28, 2003 04:46PM)
I do not know of any movies or video available on Chanin's shell game. I would love to find something. If anyone knows of anything, please contact me.
Message: Posted by: NLewis (Jun 28, 2011 11:11PM)
In China, the game was played with ornaments. In other places, the game was placed with cheap tin. Fred Kaps used "Gold Plated Chromium" (lol) and Ricky Jay uses "Cups of spun copper". Lennart Green even uses Alphonzo, Julia, and 2 other names I can't remember off hand. My suggestion is to use whatever you want -- it's the creativity that counts in magic.

With regards to balls / peas -- again, use whatever you want ;) I've seen it done with BB's, real peas, gold, bottle caps, foam balls, and even apricots!