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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Nothing up my sleeve... » » T. Nelson Downs's act? (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Matt Graves
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Hey, I know most of us are not old enough, maybe nobody, actually . . . but if anyone should know, I'm just curious about what kind of tricks T. Nelson Downs did in his act besides the Miser's Dream and the Coin Star? Was the Miser's Dream his closer? What did he open with? Surely it's been recorded somewhere. Is there a biography on him anywhere? He seems more awesome than any of the coin workers that came after him, to me . .. he could edge-palm sixty half dollars at once, I've read.
Rob Johnston
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That is an excellent question. I have not found much on Down's besides that which is in Bobo's book. That is all I can think of right now.
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
Curtis Kam
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There is a new Dover publication called "Classic Coin Magic" I believe. It contains the entire "Modern Coin Manipulation" in which Downs supposedly described the working of his entire act, plus extensive biographical notes on Downs, the development of the act, and the publicity he recieved. The running time of the act is given (it varied) as well as his entrance to the stage. I think you'll find it interesting.

As far as I can tell from the literature available, the "Miser's Dream" was the act. He did appear to have added items like the coin ladder at some period, but it's entirely unclear whether things like that were ever really part of his act.
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KirkG
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I have one of the early prints of that book and it was basically a misers dream with a few addtions like coins through the knee and coin fan productions.

Kirk
BradleyNott
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You can buy a digital version of "Modern Coin Manipulation" from Lybrary.com

I own it and its great. The photos of downs own hands are worth the price of the book.
If you were a hotdog, and you were starving...would you eat yourself? I know I would!
Dam
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There is an other book "Art of Magic" with some of his coins trick like new sleight of hand for the "Miser's Dream".
but its a little part of the book, and there are cards, billard balls, egs and other paper tricks.;

I think you can find it on the net.

damien.
Close.Up.Dave
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Maybe it's in Down's book.
Matt Graves
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Yeah, I've got _The Art of Magic_. That book was one of the biggest disappointments ever. I'd wanted it for years, and then half of it isn't even practical or interesting. But . . . I'll check out that other book. Man, if you can make a whole act out of one trick onstage with coins, you have to be a showman. After all, Dai Vernon told a story about T. Nelson Downs standing up in the center ring of the circus and holding the audience spellbound with only three matches. That's just unreal. Thank you much, Curtis.
BradleyNott
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In the beginning of Modern Coin Manipulation there are dozens of quotes from notable people of the day and newspapers that praise Downs' work. Praise like that doesn't come easy, so I believe his act and showmanship had to have been one of a kind as well as spectacular.

The quotes also describe his act as being what he called and we have come to know as the miser's dream. Bobo's coin magic reprints Down's description of the act, but get Modern Coin Manip, it has incredible stuff that's old but good.
If you were a hotdog, and you were starving...would you eat yourself? I know I would!
trickbooks
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Dean Carnegie, who runs the Magic Detective podcast, recently released an episode on T. Nelson Downs. It is superlative, filled with fascinating history as well as valuable performing advice. You can find it here:

http://magicdetectivepodcast.com/e/ep-23......f-koins/

Gary Brown
gallagher
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Hey Gary(!),
thanks for the info!
...MUCH APPRECIATED! 😊 👍

gallagher
Hare
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Henry Hay was a sincere admirer of Downs, of the generation of conjurers following him. Much of the strength of the coin material found in "The Amateur Magician's Handbook" is based on Down's work. I think Mussey's descriptions are the most accurate representation of what Down's actually did. His description of the "Eureka" routine, for instance, is the best by far printed anywhere and turns a confusing and disjointed routine found in Bobo into a masterpiece of deception as wonderfully illuminated by Hay. In Down's own books, for instance "Tricks with Coins", a lot of the material feels more like an advertisement of Down's abilities, more than an accurate description of what he did in performances. I wish there were some filmed material by Downs preserved- we are left with his written creations, like the Downs Palm, Edge Palm, Eureka Pass and Coin Rattle; but know almost nothing firsthand about his reputed charisma and cleverness when performing, except what other magicians who saw him recorded in words. It's really a pity he didn't perform another 10 years and get captured in full by the camera's eye- I have a feeling we really missed out on some masterful, fun handling by just a few years of technological prowess.
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Calvin Tong
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Couldn't agree more.

All we have to watch is this:

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/searc......on=click
Cal Tong
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countrymaven
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Hare I think you are right. Also, in those days, you practically never gave away your secrets. Unlike being spoiled today with countless lectures, we forget that often the act and its secrets went to the grave with some old time performers.
bobinsdakota
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The Magic Detective podcast is awesome, especially for a beginner like me. I love the history that Dean delves into.
I have learned so much, very interesting stories.
Dick Oslund
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There is currently a copy of Downs' "TRICKS WITH COINS" (1939 EDITION) for sale ($18.00) in the "stuff for sale" forum.
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Dick Oslund
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I had the honor of the late Faucett Ross's friendship for many years. Faucett KNEW Downs, intimately.

I have a copy of "MAGIC WITH FAUCETT ROSS" by Lewis Ganson, published by SUPREME MAGIC (UK)'

I also have a copy of THE GEN, Volume 13, No, 9, January 1958. It's a DEDICATION ISSUE TO T. NELSON DOWNS.

If there is interest, I'll try to type a few notes regarding the contents of the Ross book, and, a bit about THE GEN ISSUE.

About 40 years ago, on a school tour, I was in Iowa, in Downs' home town, I was able to meet Downs' nephew, We had a delightful visit.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Jerry
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"MAGIC WITH FAUCETT ROSS" by Lewis Ganson, is still available. Go here:

https://www.themagicemporium.net/product......-ganson/
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