Devaluation

Effect: The performer drapes a handkerchief over one hand. In the other he displays a half dollar and a Chinese coin. The half dollar is laid in the center of the handkerchief and the hand is closed around it. The Chinese coin is placed in the performer's pocket. Yet, when the hand is opened, the Chinese coin is found in the handkerchief and the half dollar is brought from the pocket. The half dollar is then returned to the pocket and left there.

The performer displays the Chinese coin, as it lies on the handkerchief. He raises one corner of the handkerchief briefly In front of the coin and immediately lowers it. In this instant, the Chinese coin changes to a pile of half dollars! The hands are otherwise empty. The Chinese coin is shown to have returned to the warm security of the pocket.

Method: This is Mr. Elmsley's routining for Ken Allen's Chinatown Half. The Chinatown Half coin bears two contradictory faces: on one side is an American half dollar, on the other a Chinese coin (or replica). It is much like a copper-silver coin gimmick, but the hole in the center of the Chinese coin makes the old double-face ruse seem impossible. A small square of white cloth or paper, mounted in the hole on the Chinese side of the gimmick (Figure 169), creates a "white art" illusion when the coin is laid on a white handkerchief. It appears as if the handkerchief can be seen through the hole in the coin. These gimmicked coins are available from magic dealers in several sizes: quarter, half or silver dollar. The half dollar version is assumed in this description, but any of the coins can be used.

You also will need a matching ungimmicked Chinese coin (this is commonly supplied with the gimmick) and a few normal half dollars: as many as you can conveniently finger palm. Place the normal halves in your right-side coat pocket (or the trousers pocket, if the cut of your trousers permits the hand to enter and withdraw easily). Carry the Chinese coin and gimmick in some other right-hand pocket. Also have a white handkerchief handy.

Begin by opening the handkerchief and draping it over the palm-up left hand. In doing so, make it clear that the hands ar e otherwise empty. With the right hand, reach into the pocket that contains the gimmick and the Chinese coin, Bring them out, with the half-dollar side of the gimmick visible. Lay both coins on the center of the handkerchief, at the base of your left fingers.

Display the coins, then remove the Chinese coin from the left hand. Let the half dollar be seen clear ly on the handkerchief, then close the left fingers over it. Display the Chinese coin in your right hand and place it in your pocket. This is the same pocket that holds the normal half dollars. Let the Chinese coin settle to the bottom of the pocket and silently finger palm the halves, gripping them with the third and fourth fingers. To provide a few extra moments for you to accomplish this, draw attention again to the draped left hand and open it, exhibiting the half dollar once more. Tilt the hand downward slightly to display the coin, letting it slide forward onto the inner phalanges of the fingers. (As you open the fingers, there is a tendency for the cloth to be pulled forward by the fingertips. This happens without effort on your part, and positions the coin automatically for you.) Let the half dollar- be seen briefly, then close the fingers once more over it. As you do this, the coin will be reversed, bringing the Chinese surface uppermost inside the folds of the handkerchief.

As you close the left fingers over the coin, remove your right hand from the pocket, apparently empty. Snap the right fingers in a magical fashion over the closed left hand. (Having finger palmed the coins in the third and fourth fingers, the first two fingers are free to do this.) Open the left hand and reveal the gimmick, Chinese side up, in the center of the handkerchief. Pause a moment to let the transformation register. Then return your right hand to your pocket. Inside the pocket, quietly slide the outermost palmed half dollar to your fingertips: then bring the hand from the pocket, exhibiting the half. The other coins remain hidden in finger palm.

After displaying the half, return it to your pocket. You may actually drop the coin visibly into the pocket, or you can secretly slip It back onto the finger-palmed stack. Bring the right hand, apparently empty, from the pocket.

second fingers, clip the forward corner of the handkerchief and slowly raise it, bringing it up and toward you to obscure the Chinese coin momentarily from the audience's view (Figure 170J. Then lower the corner, letting the coin be seen once more. Again raise the corner of the handkerchief, but this time do so quickly. Simultaneously, bend in the left fingers Just enough to ilip the gimmick over on the handkerchief, turning the silver side up. At the same tune, release the palmed stack of halves from the right fingers, letting these coins fall loudly onto the reversed gimmick (Figure 171). Instantly lower the right hand and its corner, permitting the audience to see the pile of half dollars in the center of the handkerchief. If these actions are properly synchronized, and the right hand's rise and drop are kept to a minimum, a visual illusion is created of the Chinese coin instant ly changing to a pile of silver halves.

Let the right hand be seen empty. Then reach into your pocket and bring out the ungimmicked Chinese coin. Drop it onto the halves and conclude.

Don't let the simplicity of method put you off. This is a striking piece of visual coin magic and it deserves your keenest attention.

September 21, 1957

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