By sense of touch alone the performer is able to discover the dates on borrowed coins which he has never seen.
Note and remember the date of a tenpence piece and place it in the right jacket pocket. An opaque handkerchief in the left side jacket pocket is the only other requirement.
Ask anyone in the group who has loose change in their pocket if they can find by sense of touch a tenpence piece and then bring it out of the pocket in their closed fist. On no account must anyone see the coin. Remarking that you need a handkerchief both hands go to the pockets, the right bringing out the coin finger palmed and the left the handkerchief. Drape the handkerchief over the spectators fist which holds the coin and request him to push the coin to his finger tips. Another spectator is asked to take both the coin and handkerchief by gripping the coin through the cloth. You now ask the person who loaned the coin if he had any difficulty in finding the tenpence by sense of touch. Whatever the reply invite him to place his hand under the handkerchief and see if he can tell the date of the coin by merely touching it with the finger tips. He will of course have to admit failure to do so.
You now impress on him the impossibility of the feat and offer to bet him £1 that you can. Remarking that the tips of the forefinger and thumb have to be perfectly dry rub the digits of right hand (which has tenpence piece finger palmed) on the left sleeve. The left hand takes a corner of the handkerchief moving it aside ostensibly to allow the right hand to more easily reach the coin held by the spectator and 'feel' the date. When the hand is beneath the handkerchief and out of sight bring the finger palmed coin up between the thumb and finger tips and place it on the coin held by the spectator and move the fingers so that both coins are held by your fingers and thumb. Care must be taken to prevent the coins from 'talking' or the spectator feeling the extra coin. The left hand has retained its hold on the corner of the handkercheif the whole time, and continues so to do.
The moves are not difficult and any fumbling will be covered, the audience believing that the movements are due to the efforts of the performer in finding the date. Indeed the patter should convey that you are having difficulty in finding it.
You now say to the spectator who loaned the coin, "Will you bet me £1 I can't tell you the date?" Whether or not he accepts your bet is immaterial. You tell him the current day's date! This is the moment you have been leading up to. The person holding the coin believing the whole thing to be a gag will automatically release his hold on the coin and when this happens you say with some urgency, "Please do not leave go of the coin." The timing of this remark is of great importance and should be said immediately the performer feels the spectators grip relax so that there is only a split second when the spectator is not holding the coin, or rather coins, because in that time the coins are switched by simply pulling down the borrowed coin with the fingers and pushing your own coin up with the thumb, and it is this latter that the spectator is finally holding. The right hand now comes from beneath the handkerchief and as it does so it drops the coin on the fingers of the left hand which is still holding a corner of the handkerchief, and as this is happening you remark, "That's the joke, now for the magic." You now give any of the spectators the opportunity to bet with you taking your wallet from the inside pocket with the left hand leaving the coin behind as you do so. How you play the betting business is a matter for each individual; personally I pretend to get serious for a moment at this time but do not actually take anyone's bet. You now know the date of the coin under the handkerchief so play it for all your worth, finally announcing the date on the coin, if you have not forgotten it.
There may be those in a magical audience who suspect that you have somehow switched coins. The following extensions to the effect have caused some puzzlement to those gentry.
Request anyone to remove a twopence piece from their pocket and put it in under the handkerchief in the same manner as was the tenpence piece. Do not play this too heavy as someone may be aware that all twopence pieces are of the same date 1971.
There is considerable scope for entertainment in the above routine and amongst magicians, and with a confederate the following has been used to advantage.
After the date on the tenpence has been divulged replace the coin under the handkerchief and ask the spectator who has been holding the coin and handkerchief to test his sense of touch and ask if he can feel the date. Move from him to the owner of the coin requesting that he tries
also. Not only can he not feel the date, he cannot feel the coin because it has vanished. It is scarcely necessary to mention that it was left with the previous spectator. Old as this wheeze is several have been caught who should know better.
Another idea uses a confederate in a rather subtle manner and is conditional upon the light not being good and the person not having firstrate eyesight.
It is often possible to spot such a person during the first two 'tests' and as a climax request him to take any coin at all from his pocket. Do the 'business' and announce the date on the coin. When the person has difficulty in checking the date you say, "Let Jim have a look." Jim has a look and verifies that you are correct!
A word of warning to close. The person holding the coin in the first test must not be the owner of the coin. He will not let go.
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