Pencil Thru Quarter

EFFECT: A quarter is borrowed and marked with a pencil for future identification. The pencil now very clearly penetrates the coin three times in succession. Immediately following the third penetration, both the coin and the pencil are handed directly to the spectator for inspection.

PRESENTATION: "I'm going to give you a real bargain for your money now. If someone here has a quarter, i'lishow you one of the most realistic illusions imaginable.

"Here's a pencil, draw a moustache on George, or make any identifying mark on your ^uurlcrfor positive proof of ownership. The reason 1 borrowed your quarter and had you mark it is because I'm going to show you this illusion, not once, but three

"There's the first time... and that's the second time. Now those were full-fledged illusions, because that pencil really seemed to penetrate your quarter. But 1 said I'd do it three times, and the third time, right there. It's a nice illusion isn't it? The pencil can apparently move freely back andforth through your quarter. But here, right here's where it sitould have looked like it went through."

COMMENTS: The moves here are not difficult. I will explain my thoughts, and the psychology behind the routine, which takes just one minute to perform.

Contrary to what you might first think, this routine was designed for laymen, not magicians. The switches and clean handling make it easy for laymen to see and appreciate what looks like real magic. This effect plays quickly, but when presented properly, it says quite a bit about your skills.

Before we take on the procedures, s look at psychological points to bear in mind as you learn this routine.

(1) This effect is presented as a deception of the eye. It is presented as a penetrated and restored coin puzzle for the mind. Subtle though the difference may be, it is most important.

We are going to take advantage of the fact that most people believe a magician can make them believe they see things when they really don't If done in a crisp, convincing manner, many people will believe you made them only think they saw the penetration.

(2) Due to the sheer impossibility of what the spectator sees, for him to be convinced his coin is used, you must, in a direct manner, borrow a marked coin, show it and the hands openly, and then immediately push the pencil through the quarter.

(3) The spectator should feel as though he could have marked his coin anywhere. The simple sentence

"draw a moustache, or i^tj)utch on George, or any mark you'd care to..." has led every person to mark the coin on the head side. After all, these are not things you would draw on an eagle!

(4) For the presentation to be its strongest, I think the first switch should not be a toss-type switch, but rather a slow, convincing switch. Also, the borrowed coin shouldn't be ditched, (it would be hard to retrieve) but it should be naturally concealed. (That's where the pencil comes in!) Finally, (and this is the strongest point) after the last penetration, the coin is immediately handed directly back to the spectator when the pencil is removed.

PROCEDURES: To do this you will need a well-made Cigarette-Through-Quarter gimmick. Many are not well made; check before you buy. Also, get a round pencil. The six sided pencils don't allow the circle to be completely filled as the pencil goes through. Ifs not a pencil going through a hole which somehow opened, but a pencil melting through the quarter. FIG. 1 shows the pencil in the right hand as for writing, with the gimmicked coin clipped between the middle and third fingers of the right hand. The real looking side is pointed toward the floor and the gimmick side is facing up. Take the borrowed coin face up along the middle joints of the left middle and third fingers. Use the pencil to point to the spectator's mark on the coin (FIG. 2).

The hands joined in FIG. 3, with the left hand index finger scissored out of the way. The right hand (index finger still curled and holding the pencil) places its middle finger along the left middle finger. This places the gim-micked quarter out of sight, directly under the left fingers and borrowed quarter. Both hands are casually opened and a flash given of both palms. This is done as you say, "The reason borrowed your and... "

At this point you perform a variation of Bob Elliott's "Flipswitch," which appeared in APOCALYPSE. In FIG. 4 the right thumb presses the far edge of the borrowed coin against the right middle finger. This coin is lifted and carried away as the gimmicked coin is

dragged out of hiding by the same motion. It turns over as it comes from under the left hand to land tails-up in the spot the borrowed coin occupied. It looks as if you just turned over the coin (FIG. 5).

In FIG. 5 you see how the right hand moves and follows through as though it were just turning the borrowed coin over. The borrowed coin at this point is held against the right second finger by the right thumb. Curl in your right third finger and move it on

top of this concealed coin (FIG. 6, performer's view). Now straighten the third finger again to clip the coin between the second and third fingers. Take the coin that is on your left hand with your right forefinger and thumb, clearly showing your left hand empty (FIG. 7).

After showing the coin and the pencil, the right hand shifts the g'mmicked coin into a sideways, ft-hand spellbound position (FIG. 8).

As soon as it pushes the pencil through the quarter, the right hand is removed and you pause for half of a beat. This is very striking to laymen with no idea that gimmicked coins even exist. The pause is very important. Don't come to a stop, disrupting the rhythm of the routine, but just pause momentarily for the effect to sink in.

The id'i second and third fingers curl in and allow the pointed end of the pencil to move down and point toward the floor between them (FIG. 10). The pencil is pushed on through, where it is taken by the right hand in writing position.

The right hand positions the point of the pencil about three inches from the hole in the quarter. The right hand then casually pushes tfie pencil through the quarter for half of its length (FIG. 9). This is one smooth stroke. If s important that the pencil goes straight through the gimmick on the first approach.

It seems as if you drew back the pencil and pushed it straight through the quarter, not deliberately at the one spot where the hole is. You ruin the illusion if you hit around the quarter trying to find the opening.

As the eraser finally clears the gimmick, the pad of the left thumb prevents the gimmick from snapping' closed. This is very important. Don't immediately remove the thumb. Pause another half-beat, then remove it to reveal a normal looking coin. This is a strong point for watchers because they reasonably expect to see a hole.

Immediately after removing the left thumb, the right hand brings the pencil about three inches over the quarter and thrusts the point down through again for half of its length and lets go of the pencil. Again, the left thumb pushes the pencil all of the way through into right-hand writing position. This quick penetration is really visual. After removing the left thumb, the right hand takes the coin. Gesture with the left hand as you say, "It's a nice illusion, isn 'tit?"

The right hand replaces the coin into the original left-hand spellbound position. Repeat the first penetration, leaving the pencil halfway through the quarter. You are about to perform the series of moves which I feel puts this routine in a very special class. You move the pencil back and forth through the coin, then slowly pull the pencil from the quarter and immediately hand both straight back to the lender of the quarter. Here's how it's done.

The quarter is held between the left second finger and thumb by ifs edges (FIG. 11), with the third finger against the flap, helping to keep it concealed. The right hand holds the pencil by its point and moves it back and forth through the quarter. (FIG. 12). FIG. 12 also shows the left third finger folding the flap back as far as it will go. This can be done with one hand, but you may want to assist the opening of the flap with your right thumb. The flap snaps against the left third finger. The left third finger opens the flap as much as possible. The left thumb and second finger continue to support the quarter during these actions (FIG. 13).

With the flap held open by the third finger, the right hand can move the pencil silently back and forth through the quarter (FIG. 14). This also permits a full view of both the coin and the pencil. Say,

"The pencil can apparently move freely back and forth through your quarter."

Finally, the right hand stops the pencil with the quarter about a third of the way up from the writing end. The right hand moves from the point, leaving the coin (and pencil) held by the left thumb and middle finger. (The flap is still snapped against the left third finger.)

The right hand moves up and grabs the pencil at the center, while slightly uncurling the fingers to expose the borrowed coin. As FIG. 15shows, this puts the coin into a perfect position to be grabbed by the left thumb and index finger. The right fingers cover the fact that the left hand takes the borrowed coin. FIG. 16 shows the right hand slowly pulling the pencil away from you, out of the gimmicked quarter, and along the side of the borrowed quarter.

As the pencil leaves the gimmicked quarter, the flap snaps against the third finger where it will remain due to spring on the gimmick! FIG. 17 shows the left second and third fingers curling into the palm where the gimmicked coin is concealed by the thumb.

When the right hand removes the pencil, the gim-micked coin is out of action and the borrowed coin is in view, looking exactly as if it came off the pencil. Immediately hand both out for inspection.


This is a handling that works very effectively in a trade show setting, where you must have maximum impact with as little effort as possible. You can use it to follow up the Pencil Thru Quarter routine j ust described, or you can use it as a stand-alone piece. Either way, the ending is very strong and never suspected. This can also be a strong promotional advertisement for you. Simply have the pencils made up with your name, address, and telephone number on them. Since you present the spectator with a rather unique prop that they are not likely to throw away when they get home, it is the perfect "business card." It also makes a great corporate promo. Simply have the pencils made up with the corporation's name and logo on them. This can be a valuable selling point when you are negotiating with a corporate client.

NOTE: For an alternate ending for the Pencil Thru Quarter, see page 283.

To be able to perform this routine, you must find a metal shop that can punch a round hole in the center of a quarter. The hole is of a size that the pencil can be slid into it and then glued so the quarter is permanently affixed to the pencil.

PROCEDURES: Begin by holding the pencil between your right forefinger and thumb, with its point toward you, and the glued quarter concealed behind your right fingers (FIG. 18, performer's view). If you are using this as a follow-up to the Pencil Through Quarter, then you must switch the real pencil for the gimmicked pencil. This is a simple thing to do as the spectator is examining his quarter that youjust put the pencil through three tunes.

Get the borrowed quarter back from the spectator and hold it in left-hand spellbound position (FIG. 19). The right hand now moves toward the left hand to apparently push the pencil through the quarter. As the hands meet and the pencil is »supposedly pushed through, the borrowed quarter is allowed to fall onto the base of the left fingers (FIG. 20).

Grasp the glued quarter by its edges between your left first and second fingers and thumb.

Now remove your right hand to show the pencil going through the quarter (FIG. 21). You will now apparently remove the pencil from the quarter.

Grasp the pencil your right forefinger and thumb, in front of the glued quarter, concealing it from the spectator's view (FIG. 22). Theieftthumb moves down on top of the real quarter to conceal it (refer back to FIG. 22).

The right hand now moves the pencil forward (away from you) as though removing it from the

quarter. Simultaneously, the left thumb pushes the real quarter toward the fingertips where it is taken between the left forfinger and thumb in a display position (FIG. 23).

Take the real quarter into left-hand spellbound position and repeat the penetration as described. This time, your left hand retains the real coin and the right hand gives out the glued pencil and quarter for examination.

When I first began to make the rounds at magic conventions, this Pencil Through Quarter routine was one of the things most people talked about Later, I found its application to trade show work to be downright profitable.


EFFECT: A card is selected and a corner is removed for The card is then further torn and finally vanishes in a flash of fire. The card box is then opened, letting out a block of ice which exactly fills the inside of the box. In the very center of the block of ice is frozen the selected card. Chipping away the ice from the corner verifies that this is indeed the "original" selection.

COM^mNWROCBXmES; The card, of course, needs to be forced. I dribble the cards from the right hand into the left, have a spectator say "stop,*' and then force the bottom card using a one-handed bottom deal. Any force where you can play up the fairness of selection can be used.

Actually, the hardest thing about this routine, is finding how to freeze a card into the center of a block ofice. Ordinarily, it either rises to the top or sinks to the bottom ofthe block. It also takes some effort to make a block the exact size of a card box.

You need a plastic box the same length and width as the card box you will later use in the routine. I have found that paneling nails from the hardware store come in a box about the same size as poker-width cards. To freeze a card into the center of a clear ice block, you must go through two freezing operations. First, using the plastic box, freeze a block of ice about one-half the thickness of the deck (FIG. 1).

( \ ) When this block is solid, remove it from the

— "form" and keep it frozen. Then freeze another block the same size. While this is freezing, find a duplicate of the card you will later force (same color and back design, please). Tear off an index corner of this card and save it as well as the rest of the card. When the second block is frozen and is still in the case, place the card with the missing corner on top of the block.

Then, the firstblock ofice is put on top of the torn card, thus sandwiching this card between the two blocks of ice (FIG. 2). Add a little more water to all of this and refreeze it. This will fully seal the torn corner card inside the center of a card box sized, clear, block of ice. After removing the ice from the case, the ice block is placed into a card box and kept frozen until needed.

During the routine's performance, the cards are removed from the box and the duplicate of the frozen card is forced. The card box is switched for the box with the "iceberg." This is not nearly as hard as switching decks, because no one cares about the box. Here are three of the methods I use:

(1) Go to the to switch, then casually place the box to one side.

(2) When standing, place the box into the pocket, then a second later take out the other box and set it aside.

(3) In nightclubs you can just take the cards and box out and go into the iceberg routine. Don't bother switching here, they will never remember that you didn't take the cards from the box!

A corner is torn from the forced card and switched for the corner of the card in the iceberg. (My switch is detailed in the Utilities section.)

To add flair and contrast to the future ice production, I vanish the torn card in flash paper. Fold two six-inch squares of flash paper into two, two-inch squares and fix them back-to-back with a tiny spot of wax.

Tear the card into pieces, take out the flash paper, unfold the top piece and fold the card inside. Then, as you reach for the ice pick to stick the pieces on, you can easily switch in the other flash paper and ditch the card pieces.

The ice pick makes a good unifying prop, since it displays the pieces, safely burns the flash paper, and is used later in the routine to chip away the iceberg corner.

After a short recap, the paper is burned and the pieces have vanished in a flash. The patter lines I use at this point come from the Paul Harris routine "Absorption" from LAS VEGAS CLOSE-LIP.

'Jlfyou can answer the following question correctly, then I will perform a miracle. Does the word icicle appear on this card box?" Whatever the answer, you say, "Actually it does! If you cover the B (on a Bicycle deck) you have icicle. Yoi- ^ it's not a Bicycle deck, U 'fi a And with B-icyclc deck you get a B-

iceberg. "(theB here is pronounced "Buh".)

Saying this, you turn the box mouth-down and set the iceberg on a tray or table, then lift the box away, leaving the iceberg standing vertically with the card facing you (FIG. 3).

Needless to say, the audience is shocked to see a block of ice with a card frozen im: R. Even though they see the corner missing, they still don't believe if s their card until you turn the ice around, exposing the face.

Set the ice on the tray. Using the ice pick, chip ;u v-d. yjusttheiu from where the cornerismissing and let them match the corner while three-fourths of the card is still frozen into the ice (FIG. 4).

Bingo! You're a hero! Audiences are quicker to believe thatyou can work miracles than to think you'd work as hard as you have and plan as far in advance as you have just to show them a trick!

Look past the necessary preparation and you'li see a miracle. HA not easy to set up, but thatjust means fewer performers will do iti The effect for layman is very hard to match, and that makes it worth it all for me. I use it in nightclubs, special shows, interviews, and TV shots. You can't do it anywhere, anytime, but why should you?

Bingo! It's a perfect match! I played with so many ice ideas that at onetime I had a poster that claimed, "The Iceman Cometh..." When I later found out that Dick Zimmerman, also from West Virginia, had worked on ice-related magic in the late 1950s, I began to think it had something to do with the altitude!

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