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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Nothing up my sleeve... » » Shiny or Olde Worlde ? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

The Pianoman
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After turning my house upside down all weekend, I have found lots of coins I have had collecting since I was a kid.

Lots of nice, smooth old English Pennies, farthings, Half pennies etc.

Before I go and clean them all up to shine like the sun, is there any advantage to having some old looking coins that would be useful in routines?

I ask because once there shining.. there's no going back.

I would have thought that in general terms.. having nice, bright shining coins would look nice, be easy to see for specs, and over all give the routine a professional appearance.

But you guys will no doubt have some other, more insightful perspectives.

Regards Alan
Mr. Ed
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If I can inject my two cents worth here. I use a product called Neverdull to clean my coins. It does a very good job, but after a week of table hopping they are dirty again. I polish my English Pennies to shine like gold, because I subscribe to the school of thought that your props should look as professional as you. I would also like to know how to keep them looking great. I have been told that clear fingernail polish can work well. But I think that with all the handling this would wear off to quickly. Any insight?
He who laughs, lasts.
Tom Cutts
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In most circumstances a shiney English Penny and a shiney American Half Dollar look very simular. The difference between copper and silver is too subtle.

For that reason I leave my copper coins tarnished.

What looks more suspect than a coin that is 200 years old and in pristine condition?

A coin should show its history is my thinking.
Mr. Ed
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Thanks for the reply Tom. I thought that they looked similar before, but got brow beat during a discussion and gave in. I don't use a patter line of old coins and only do close-up for table hopping and the contrast works ok for me. I suppose for stage or large tables it wouldn't work well. So I guess my question is then should I leave the English pennies "aged" and only shine the silver, and if so does this affect the professionalism?
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Thomas Wayne
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Coins of almost any vintage can be shined up like new using a simple dipping solution and a (very) soft brass brush polishing wheel. The solution - the name of which escapes me -looks a lot like grape soda, and is available from any jewelers' supply house; I got mine from Swests (they're on the net). It works equally well on silver coins, brass coins and copper coins; I've made tarnished old English pennies look like new with this stuff.

The same suppliers can also provide chemicals that will darken and "age" coins to give them an antique look. Nothing looks better than an old silver "peace" dollar that I have first cleaned (purple stuff), then antiqued, and finally polished with a brass brush; it looks older than Billy McComb, but still has the sparkle of valuable coinage.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
The Pianoman
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Thomas... The name of that dipping solution and the "antique solution" could be useful if you remember it. I will check out Swests myself too.

Tom... you do make a good point with regard to aged coins. I am lucky to have found enough coins to have a few of each.. shiny and olde worlde.

Regards The Pianoman.
Tom Cutts
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How about this.

I am doing some magic with rocks. Do you think dull, "found every day" type rocks or shiney polished rocks are going to be the more suspect of being phoney.

Don't equate professionalism with flash, polish, and glitz. Professionalism is contextual.

I find it a sign of the times that we take an old tarnished coin and polish it up only to say "Rats, now I have to antique it back to looking old." It's not necessarily wrong just a sign of what our lives have become.

For me, real magic, real coins. If they are supposed to be from some rare meticulous collector, maybe they are shiney. If they are supposed to be from burried in the ground 100 years, not shiney. If they are just supposed to be everyday coins I treat them not at all.

Make the shine fit the crime. What the shine conveys to me (truthfulness or lie) I subconsciously convey to my audience.

If you are just showing off and the coins don't really have any more context or importance than "you find them interesting"...might not be the best reason for awkward coins.

When I return from foreign countries with a cache of change for routines, they are generally never shiney. Hmmmm...

OK, I covered way more ground than intended.

Smile
Burt Yaroch
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I prefer the shinier coins as I think they tend to grab your audience more. When someone sees a flash of silver they are almost compelled to look at it. You can see the difference between producing a copper coin and a silver coin.

I guess we're like raccoons that way.
Yakworld.
Thomas Wayne
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Quote:
On 2002-01-27 16:34, Tom Cutts wrote:
How about this.

I am doing some magic with rocks. Do you think dull, "found every day" type rocks or shiney polished rocks are going to be the more suspect of being phoney.


This argument is not at all on point; even so, the answer to this question depends on the routine that uses the rocks. For example, I perform Max Maven's "Karotsuke", but rather than using a paper bag and "Go" tokens (as Maven does), I use a very rich-looking satin and velvet bag and "valuable" polished stones. The white stones are smooth white river granite and the "black moon" is black obsidian glass (volcanic "stone"). This suits my style, and I present the pieces as being the real thing from an ancient asian dynasty. So your "dull, 'found every day' type rocks" would hardly do, now would they?

The same logic applys to coins. How you intend to present them really should dictate their appearance. As with any prop, if they don't fit your storyline, the presentation risks losing it's allure. In any event, I don't think "special" coins - that is, coins other than loose change - should ever be allowed to look shabby. If they are supposed to be old coins, the antiquing/polishing treatment that I detailed is perfect to give them a look that says they are ancient but still valuable. On the other hand, if they are supposed to be special collectable coins, then I would suppose they should generally have an uncirculated look about them.

For examples from my own magic, when I perform Ramsay's "Cylinder and Coins" I tell the story of the originator of the effect, Scottish magician John Ramsay (this idea is inspired by Bob Kohler). I offer to demonstrate the effect using Ramsay's "original props", so heavily worn antique-but-shiny Peace Dollars suit this premise perfectly.

On the other hand, when I present either the
"Ultimate 3Fly" or my own "Impossible Coins through Table", I tell a story of how I acquired the coins while on a "road-trip" during my college days. Since I introduce them out of a special baize-lined leather wallet (they are, after all, treasured mementos from my youth) I use uncirculated Morgan Dollars.

In any event, if you introduce your own coins, OTHER than pocket change, I think it is only proper that they look as presentable as possible - within the confines of your storyline, of course. They're props, after all, and your props should not look shabby.

Finally, I guess I just never had the desire to perform with dirty old street rocks.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
Burt Yaroch
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I hear Magicman0323 has a cool vanishing rock effect. Not sure if he uses shiny rocks or dirty rocks (probably dirty knowing him). When he reproduces them they're shiny!
Yakworld.
Thomas Wayne
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Quote:
On 2002-01-27 16:29, The Pianoman wrote:
Thomas...The name of that dipping solution and the "antique solution" could be useful if you remember it.
[...]


Okay, the Swests product is called "Swests Tarnish Remover", and it works incredibly well to remove the sulphur compounds that love to attack silver. It also works very well on copper (English pennies) and okay on brass alloys. The trick is to submerge the coin(s) in the solution and scrub GENTLY with an old toothbrush or other soft-bristled brush. Remove and pat dry, then touch lightly to a rotating SOFT bristled brass brush. Coins that are so treated look like new; English pennies are especially dramatic, and - contrary to misinformation posted above - they are very distinct looking from silver coins under virtually ALL lighting conditions.

The darkening agents are a little trickier; they all work on the oxidizing principle, and the best I've found is Vigor brand
"Silver/Gold Oxidizer". This stuff is considered hazardous and requires special shipping. It must be applied with an implement that is made of iron or has a high iron content, but it perfectly emulates the aged look of old coins.

If you want certain areas of a coin (or other prop) to look solid black (as with Johnson "Chinese Emperors' Coins") there is another product called "Flo-Quil Engine Black", which is available from most well-stocked hobby stores. It has to be used with a special solvent called "Dio-Sol", and both products require haz-mat shipping, but you should be able to find them a local hobby stores. Be advized that this is more of a
"paint" finish than an antiquing, but it does have some useable applications in propmaking.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
Scott F. Guinn
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I prefer to leave my copper and brass coins tarnished to provide a greater contrast with the silver ones in dimly lit venues. My silver coins are HIGHLY polished to enhance that contrast.

For some things, like retention vanishes, the shiny coins are better. For others, like holding out, duller, darker coins are better. There is no "right" way, here--it is simply a matter of personal preference.
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Mr. Ed
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O.K., so the consensus is that shiney coins and tarnished coins work best.

Thanks for the Advice everyone.

I'll start shining the heads side and dulling the tails.

I'm so confused.. Smile Smile
He who laughs, lasts.
Brian Proctor
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I like to do spellbound routines with old Italian 10 cent pieces. They are usually really dark. And then it's nice to change it with a shiny half dollar or gold plated half dollar.
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