Chinese Enigma Roland Hurley

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"It takes taste to account for taste." - Spanish proverb

"Crude props will prejudice an audience against an act. On the other hand, attractive, well-finished apparatus often makes an audience consider the performance better than it really is." - Henning Nelms

Roland Hurley is creatively introverted and makes magical props and gimmicks for himself and a few friends. He reflects the rare spirit of the guildsman, infusing himself into his productions, striving for perfectibility, and taking pride in patient workmanship. He has an affection for one-of-its-kind things. Others have had the same taste for elegance of design: Owens Brothers, Merv Taylor, Conrad Hayden, Richard Himber, and Fred Lowe. Hurley was influenced by these precursors, most notably Richard Himber.

Hurley writes: "It is no secret among magicians that Richard Himber was a most unusual man. A volume could be written about him, for the man himself was an enigma. One thing is certain: All magicians should feel indebted because he advanced magic by publicizing new effects as well as devising several of his own—which, incidentally, is far more difficult than creating new methods.

"Himber was very proud of his effects. Often times he would telephone me, asking how I liked a particular item and so on. On several occasions, if I ordered a trick he felt was below par, he would telephone, saying: I've sent the item you ordered, but if you don't like the move, send it back! (Usually there was no move involved.) Therefore, I was not surprised when in July, 1966, after sending a check for Himber's 'Chinese Enigma,' a few days later a letter arrived containing my returned check and a note from Himber: 'Wait for the Hong Kong coin—it's better. (signed) Dick. I waited, but in January, 1967, Himber passed away. Since then I've tried to purchase the 'Chinese Enigma,' but with no success. So, using Himber's advertisement as a basis, I devised the following method. I don't know if it's the same method Himber used?"

This is the exact wording of the Himber ad in Genii magazine, April, 1966: CHINESE ENIGMA

"From far-off China comes this ASTONISHING miracle! We swear to you, this is exactly what happens— The boss showed me a Chinese coin with a hole in the center. He then wrapped a red ribbon around a half-dollar and dropped it in my pocket, leaving the ends sticking out of the pocket, and asking me to hold both ends. He then said the magic word INESRALENERII and the Chinese coin with the hole in the center had changed to a solid half-dollar, and when he told me to pull on both ends of the ribbon, I found that the Chinese coin had penetrated the ribbon, and was now strung on the ribbon. 'Wait a minute,' I screamed, and I examined the coin thoroughly. He then said, 'Since you're so interested, I'll do it again!' He proceeded to repeat the effect twice more, each time in a different way. 'Since when are you a sleight man?' I queried. 'No sleights!' he exclaimed, 'Just beautifully made coins that can be examined, and all for only $17. 50!' When I heard the price, I instantly bought a set!"

Props: (1) This is the standard Chinese coin on both sides and is not gaffed. (2) This coin consists of a standard Chinese coin on one side and a milled-down Kennedy half on its other side. It is modeled after the well-known Chinatown Half and Quarter, with the center hole simulated by an indention and a glued piece of fabric matching the fabric or color of the close-up pad or working surface. In this case, the piece of fabric is black cloth that matches his close-

up pad and trousers. Hurley also makes this gaff so that it comes apart and the fabric piece can be changed to suit various backgrounds. (3) This is a Kennedy shell designed to accommodate the ungaffed Chinese coin (1) which will nest inside without locking. The fit is loosely snug. (4) This is another Kennedy shell designed to accommodate the gaffed Chinese coin (2) which unlike its duplicate ungaffed mate will nest and lock. In the following explanation, for purposes of differentiation, coin (4) will be referred to as the locking shell. (5) An 18-inch length of red silk ribbon.

Set-up: On the close-up pad, side by side, are the ungaffed Chinese coin(A) and the gaffed Chinese coin (B). Coin B is nested underneath coin C, the loose-fitting Kennedy shell. To the spectator, it looks like two coins on a pad. Both coins can be picked up and shown on both sides. The Chinese coin is to your left, the Kennedy half is to your right. This routine is a stand-up effect.

Method: Your right fingers pick up the Kennedy half (?) and your left fingers pick up the Chinese coin, lifting and holding them. (Fig. 1) The coins are replaced on the pad and both hands are shown empty in a gesture.

Your right hand picks up the Chinese coin, openly showing both sides. Your left hand picks up the ribbon and threads it through the Chinese coin. Say, "Please note that the Chinese coin has a hole in the center!" If you want, explain that Chinese persons do not carry wallets and thread their money on a string or ribbon, preventing both theft and loss.

When the ribbon is threaded through the coin to the center of the ribbon, the coin-and-ribbon are positioned in your left hand. (Fig. 2) The Kennedy half (the nested coins) is then picked up by your right hand, shown on both sides, and is allowed to drop onto your fingertips. These actions are justified by appropriate patter. For example, besides the spiel mentioned earlier, you can add: "A Chinese coin, a silver half-dollar, and a length of ribbon. Please note the peculiarity of the Chinese coin's design. It has a hole in the center, permitting the ribbon to be freely threaded. The Chinese don't carry wallets..."

Your left hand is raised so that the threaded Chinese coin is hidden from the spectator's view. The ends of the ribbon remain in full view. Your left hand is held relaxed with its fingers cradling its coin. (Fig. 3) This shows the condition and hand position, but the view is an exposed one, with the hands held down rather than tilted upwards toward yourself.

Your right hand approaches your left hand. During this approach, the Kennedy half is brought between your thumb and forefinger, a standard coin technique used in conjunction with a shell. The nesting coin will drop into a finger-palm position. Be careful not to flash the bottom of the shell or palmed coin, as the angles are delicate.

Your right hand deposits its Kennedy shell on top of the threaded Chinese coin, while simultaneously coming under the lower half of the extending ribbon. Your right thumb pinches the ribbon onto the palmed, gaffed Chinese coin. (Fig. 4)

Your right hand immediately moves down and away, apparently removing the Chinese coin from the ribbon. The ribbon, still held against the gaff, more or less slides between the thumb and surface of the gaff and remains taut throughout the action of the faked removal. The illusion is convincing.

The gaffed Chinese coin hidden by your right hand is immediately placed on the pad. Because of the nature of the gaff, everything looks copacetic. Your left hand is then lowered, displaying the recently deposited Kennedy half lying on top of the ribbon where it should be. (Fig. 5)

The ribbon is loosely wrapped around the Kennedy shell. (A couple of turns with each end. Your left hand deposits the ribbon-wrapped Kennedy half in your left trouser pocket. Your right arm simultaneously lowers to its right side and the sleeved locking shell drops into your right hand, which easily maneuvers it into a finger-palm.

half shell used to cover threaded Chinese coin

The ends of the ribbon are left outside your trouser pocket in full view. Your right hand, still palming the locking shell, picks up the tabled, gaffed Chinese coin. It is picked up with your thumb underneath and your four fingers on top, extending over and covering the hole in the center. It is immediately and fairly placed against the outside of your trouser pocket. The right forefinger holds the coin in place, pressing near an edge but allowing most of the coin's face, including its hole, be exposed. (Fig. 6)

Your trousers are black and the gaffed Chinese coin looks normal when held against the fabric. As the coin is held in place, your left hand is shown empty. Permit the spectator to fully comprehend the situation, then cover the coin with the your hand, quietly nesting the finger-palmed locking shell onto the gaffed Chinese coin. (Fig. 7)

The entire action is disguised as you are performing the standard "trouser vanish" by folding over part of the fabric to cover the coin. (Fig. 8, an exposed view.) Notice that your left fingers are pulling down a segment of the trouser's fabric. When the coin is completely covered and held in place by your left fingers, your right hand is cleanly shown empty.

Everything is now ready for the climax. The rest is showmanship. Figure 9 shows a transformation rather than a vanish, which may surprise magicians. The Kennedy half can be shown on both sides, flipped in the air, and handed to the spectator.

The other spectator, holding onto both ends of the ribbon, pulls it out of your pocket. Needless to say, the ungaffed Chinese coin is discovered threaded onto the ribbon and the other

Kennedy shell remains in the pocket. Everything can be conditionally examined. You have just performed an extremely clean and puzzling feat of coin magic.

When the ribbon-wrapped coin is placed in your pocket, several approaches can be taken. You can apparently Perform Spellbound while nesting the shell and accomplishing the transformation in your hands.

All Manufacturing Rights Reserved By Roland Hurley October 25, 1969

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Fundamentals of Magick

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