Alloy Division

This is one of Ben's favorite coin turns. A casual reading of it will not give you the full power of this item. Read it with care — at least twice — and try to understand what the spectators must believe they see. Its simplicity of plot and boldness of method are deceiving. The effect is of surprising strength.

Borrow as large a coin as you can from a spectator — a half dollar is desirable (should you be lucky enough to be offered one), but a quarter can be used. The important point is that you must secretly get a coin of matching denomination into righthand Classic Palm, head-side against the palm.

Take the borrowed coin, tail-side up, into the left hand. As you do this you explain that magicians have become notorious for severing women into two halves. In recent years this continued preference for the splitting of ladies has been, in some quarters, suggested as betraying sexism. In an attempt to break with tradition you will instead cut a president in two.

As this introduction is delivered you casually transfer the coin from the left hand to the right, actually performing a Shuttle Pass. Ben recommends that of David Roth (see Coin-magic, pp. 10-12), which is certainly one of the best. When the coin is shuttled from hand to hand it is apparently turned head up, coinciding with the mention of cutting a president in two and lending motivation for the Shuttle Pass. At the finish of the transfer the borrowed coin is left lying on the left fingers in Fingertip Rest position. The shuttle action has also of course subtly shown the hands empty of anything but the visible coin.

Pause a few beats and then pick up the exposed coin from the right hand between the very tips of the left forefinger and thumb. Hold the coin with the head toward the spectators and point to it with the right forefinger. (This position provides a natural reason for the left fingers to remain curled with their concealed coin.)

Now grip the coin by its opposite edges at the very tips of both left and right fingers, as if you were about to bend it. As the coin is taken into this new position it is allowed to rest more fully on the right fingertips while the left fingers uncurl with the borrowed coin still lying on them. The left thumb moves slightly to clip the borrowed coin against the left fingers so it won't drop. The position at this point is shown in Figure 1.

The visible coin is now apparently broken into two halves. This illusion is created by pressing the nails of the left fingers firmly against the near side of the exposed coin. Now two actions occur simultaneously: the left hand pulls slightly to the left, dragging its nails firmly over the visible coin being held steady by the right fingers; and the left thumb pushes the hidden coin to the right until about half the coin protrudes beyond the left fingertips. It is still out of sight, however, behind the right fingers and visible coin. As the left hand continues to draw to the left, the left fingers will slip from the righthand coin with some force, due to the outward pressure they have exerted. This causes the edges of the two coins to snap smartly against each other, creating a sharp "breaking" sound.

Both hands immediately turn palms upward and inward as shown in Figure 2. The fingers and thumbs of each hand cover about half of their respective coins. As the breaking action is performed the spectators catch a glimpse of silver coin in each hand — apparently the halves of the broken coin. However, this is not the place to stop and prove a point. Don't rush your movements, but do keep moving. The moment the hands and coins are separated bring them together again. The left hand turns palm-down and places its coin onto the other. Use the fingers to keep at least half of the coins concealed from the spectators' view at all times (Figure 3).

You are now going to reunite the broken halves. The hands raise the coins toward the mouth so you may blow gently on them. In this action the fingers quickly place one of the coins into righthand Edge Grip (i.e., clipped edgewise between the second fleshy pad of the middle finger and thumb). The hands are then lowered to chest level again with only one coin visible, held at its extreme edges by the tips of the second fingers and thumbs as in

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