Mail Mental

This is the kind of effect that's difficult to describe, but quite easy to make up and just as easy to perform. It was inspired by Al Koran's well known "The Gold Medallion," effect. Read this description over several times before tackling the necessary assembly. Hopefully the illustration will make everything clear.

THE EFFECT

The performer explains that valuable items are often transported from one place to another, not in a Brinks truck, but through the U.S. Postal System. Displaying a small shipping carton, the performer explains that sealed inside is a valuable coin which he recently purchased. Since he is the only person present who knows the exact amount of the purchase price, the performer states that he will attempt to transmit the price to members of the audience through the use of mental telepathy.

Removing a small white card, the performer attempts to transmit the price, which consists of three digits to three members of the audience, one digit to each person. Each of the three spectators is asked to call out a single digit number which the performer records on the small card, for example, 3-9-2. Now, handing the card to a nearby spectator, the performer opens the cardboard shipping carton and removes a small locked wooden box. Any spectator is handed a key and is invited to unlock the box. Inside, the spectator discovers a beautiful silver coin. "Turn it over and call out the price inscribed on the label affixed to the coin," the performer states. The spectator does so and calls out the price on the coin which is, $392.

REQUIRED

To begin, you'll need a cardboard shipping carton. Mine is 4 1/2" wide x 3" deep x 3" high. Also needed are a block of Styrofoam (available in hobby shops), a Lippencott coin box, a magnetic coin, half-dollar size preferably, a strong Alnico magnet, an -address label to cover one panel of the carton and a circular adhesive backed label that covers one side of the magnetic coin. You must also obtain a fine point marking pen and a small blank card about the size of a business card.

TO PREPARE

Cut the Styrofoam block (A) to fit snugly inside the cardboard shipping carton, recessed approximately 1 1/4" from the top. Cut a rectangular hole near the left rear corner of the Styrofoam block to snugly hold the Lippencott Box (B) on end with its secret door open and in an upward position as shown in the accompanying illustration. To the rear of the front panel of the cardboard carton affix a strong magnet (C), using masking tape.

Apply the peel-off address label to the box where indicated and fill in your name and address. Place the circular adhesive backed label on the magnetic coin covering one side. Position the coin with the label side out, against the address label side of the box (D). The magnet inside the carton will hold the coin in place. Have the box sitting on your table with the coin side turned away from the audience's view.

TO PERFORM

State that, despite the fact that some people think that valuable coins and jewelry are shipped from place to place in a Brinks Armored Truck, nothing could be further from the truth. Most of these valuable items are shipped through the mail. In fact, the carton you are holding contains a valuable coin which you recently purchased. Ask if anyone has any idea what you paid for the coin. To give them a hint, state that the figure consists of three digits. Naturally, no one knows. Inform the audience that through the medium of mental telepathy you will attempt to communicate that cost to several members of the audience.

Ask three spectators to stand. Remove the small card and slide it slightly under the magnetic coin, holding it in place with the left thumb. As you pretend to telepathically transmit one digit of the price to each spectator, have each in turn call out a single digit. You record each number in turn, twice. First on the label covering the coin and then again on the card. This is the double writing scam popularized in Al Koran's "Gold Medallion". Be sure to put a dollar sign in front of each set of 3 digits.

Place the pen aside. Remove the card and place it on the table. Flip the top of the carton open. State that the valuable coin you purchased is locked in a small box. As you say this, start to reach forward, approaching the carton from the rear or coin side. The right thumb hits the coin and pulls it upward behind the right fingers as they clear the edge of the box. Now, let the coin slide into the open end of the Lippencott box. As the fingers of the right hand begin to remove the coin box, they also close the secret door. The lid of the mailing carton gives you all the cover you need and the move takes but a second to accomplish from beginning to end.

Now hand the locked box to a spectator. Place the carton aside with the top closed. Remove the key to the coin box and hand it to the spectator, instructing him to unlock the box and open same. Have him look inside and describe the contents. He'll state that the box contains a silver coin. Have him remove the coin and call out the price printed on the price tag affixed to the coin. Naturally, the price matches the randomly created three digit number called out by the participating spectators. Those of you who have seen me demonstrate this effect during my lectures will attest to the laugh the explanation generates when everyone sees the brazen modus operandi, but it works! Take the time required to put this together. It's well worth the effort.

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