Coin magic
Coin magic is a general term for magical performances employing one or more coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

s which are manipulated to deceive and baffle the audience. Because coins are small, much coin magic is considered close-up magic or table magic, as the audience must be close to the performer to see the effects. Though stage conjurers generally do not use coin effects, magicians sometimes perform coin manipulations on stage using large coins. In another type of performance setting, a close-up coin magician (or 'coin worker') will use a large video projector so the audience can see the magic on a big screen. Coin magic is generally considered harder to master than other close-up techniques such as card magic, and is one of the least performed forms of conjuring. Coin magic requires great skill and grace to perform convincingly, and this takes a lot of practice to acquire.


Coin effects include productions, vanishes, transformations, transpositions, teleportations, penetrations, restorations, levitations and mental magic — some are combined in a single routine. A simple effect might involve borrowing a coin, making it vanish, concealing the coin, then reproducing it again unexpectedly and returning it to the owner. More complex effects may involve multiple coins, substituting or switching coins and other objects or props can be employed (i.e. handkerchief
A handkerchief , also called a handkercher or hanky, is a form of a kerchief, typically a hemmed square of thin fabric that can be carried in the pocket or purse, and which is intended for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one's hands or face, or blowing one's nose...

s, glasses
Glasses, also known as eyeglasses , spectacles or simply specs , are frames bearing lenses worn in front of the eyes. They are normally used for vision correction or eye protection. Safety glasses are a kind of eye protection against flying debris or against visible and near visible light or...

) as well as the coins. However, the power of most coin magic lies in its simplicity and the solidity of the object; the basic skills of sleight of hand
Sleight of hand
Sleight of hand, also known as prestidigitation or legerdemain, is the set of techniques used by a magician to manipulate objects such as cards and coins secretly....

 and misdirection [initiation of trains of thought] often appear most magical without complex equipment. Almost any audience will be amazed by the simplest mystery, such as passing a coin through a table.

Sleights and tricks

A Sampling of classic coin magic plots:
  • Coin vanish - vanishing a coin then reappearing it somewhere.
  • Miser's Dream - Grabbing multiple coins from thin air.
  • Coins Across - Transfer of four coins from one hand to another.
  • Three fly - A coins across type effect involving three coins visually transferring from one hand to another.
  • Matrix - Impossibly moving four coins under the cover of playing cards.
  • Chink-a-chink - A bare-hand Matrix.
  • Coins Through Table - Coins penetrate through the surface of the table.
  • Coin Bite - Taking a bite out of a coin then visually restoring it right in front of the spectator.
  • Spellbound - Visually changing one coin into another, while only showing one coin at all times.
  • Coins to Glass - Coins transfer from one hand to a glass.
  • Tenkai Pennies - A two coin routine where one coin travels from one hand to the other.
  • Coin to bottle - A coin is slammed into a sealed water bottle.

A sampling of coin sleights and moves:
  • Palming
    Palming is a technique for holding or concealing an object in the palm of the hand. It is used frequently by magicians to conceal the presence of a card, coin, or other object. When done skillfully, the hand containing the palmed object appears to be completely empty.-Methods:Methods for palming...

     - A form of concealment.
  • Sleeving - A form of concealment.
  • Lapping - A form of ditching a coin.
  • The French Drop- a retention of vision coin vanish involving the Passing of a coin from one hand to the other than making it disappear.
  • The Muscle Pass - Shooting a coin from one hand to the other, this can be done in such a way that can make the coin look as if it’s defying gravity

Coin Magicians

Some magicians widely known for coin magic include:
  • Thomas Nelson Downs
    Thomas Nelson Downs
    Thomas Nelson Downs, also T. Nelson Downs, was one of the most famous manipulative magicians renowned for his coin tricks. Downs was also known as "The King of Koins".-Biography:...

     (considered, along with J.B. Bobo, one of the magicians key to the development and teaching of modern coin magic)
  • J.B. Bobo
    J.B. Bobo
    J.B. Bobo was a magician most known for his work and writing in the arena of coin magic....

     (author of Modern Coin Magic, a core reference and starting point for coin magicians)
  • David Roth
    David Roth
    David Roth is an American magician.Roth is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest living coin magicians. Roth is known both for tremendous technical mastery and for playful and surrealistic formal performance pieces...

     (most important developer of coin magic in the twentieth century and inventor of the standard plots common in current coin magic)
  • Larry Jennings
    Larry Jennings
    Larry Jennings, , was a magician. He is known for his card techniques and has eight books published by him or written about him. He is also known for being close friends with fellow magician, Dai Vernon.-Biography:...

  • Leonard Rangel(A well know close up Venezuelan´ magician, point of reference of standard coin magic in center and south america)
  • Michael Ammar (one of the most prolific publishers and teachers, an experienced all around magician, including coin work)
  • Dean Dill
    Dean Dill
    Dean Dill is a magician and magic innovator living and working in Glendale, California. He was Johnny Carson's magic teacher during the late 1980s and appeared on The Tonight Show in November 1990. His performance focuses mostly on closeup effects, and he has a particular passion for and...

     (well-known coin magician and inventor who has appeared on television and also works as a barber)
  • [Michael Vincent]
  • Shoot Ogawa
    Shoot Ogawa
    Shoot Ogawa is a magician from Tokyo, Japan who has been interested in magic from the age of 10. Ogawa has been featured on television in Japan and is a corporate entertainer....

     (Last Vegas restaurant performer known for highly stylized, high-difficulty, impressive coin magic)
  • Apollo Robbins
    Apollo Robbins
    Apollo Robbins is a sleight-of-hand artist, security consultant and self-described gentleman thief.Robbins gained notoriety after pickpocketing Secret Service agents accompanying former president Jimmy Carter, the publicity led several law-enforcement groups to contact him about his techniques.-...

     (contemporary of Shoot Ogawa and co-contributor to a number coin teaching materials)
  • David Stone
    David Stone
    David Stone was the 15th Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1808 to 1810. Both before and after his term as governor, he served as a U.S. senator, between 1801 and 1807 and between 1813 and 1814.-Biography:...

     (extremely talented performer and teacher of fast-paced, flashy coin magic)
  • Dai Vernon
    Dai Vernon
    Dai Vernon , aka The Professor, was a Canadian magician. His expert sleight-of-hand technique and extensive knowledge garnered him respect among fellow magicians. His influence was considerable in the magic world, and he was a mentor to numerous famous magicians...

  • Paul Saulsbury
  • Rocco Silano
    Rocco Silano
    - Biography :Silano was born June 12, 1962, in Paterson, New Jersey. Early on in his career, Rocco studied with and was managed by sleight-of-hand expert and Tony Slydini protege Bill Wisch. Later, Rocco was introduced to Slydini by Bill and Rocco took lessons with Slydini as well...

  • Jay Sankey
    Jay Sankey
    Jay Sankey is a Canadian close-up magician and creator of magic effects. He has been an active stage performer since the mid-1980s. David Copperfield performed Sankey's trick "Airtight." Sankey also develops tricks for Criss Angel....

  • Ponta The Smith


Although some coin magic depends on the use of a gimmick
In marketing language, a gimmick is a unique or quirky special feature that makes something "stand out" from its contemporaries. However, the special feature is typically thought to be of little relevance or use. Thus, a gimmick is a special feature for the sake of having a special feature...

 (e.g. modified coins, oversized coins or trick coins), such gimmicks do not entirely automate a magical effect. Gimmicked coins are made by several major manufacturers, Sterling, Johnson, Sasco or Tango Magic. Producing a memorable mystery requires significant skill in presenting the effect and utilizing misdirection to distract the audience from the secret of the gimmick. A performer who relies entirely on special equipment may not impress an audience. Many people are more impressed by an effect which depends (or seems to depend) entirely on skillful manipulation and misdirection than by an effect which appears to depend to some extent on specially made props. A performer who has mastered the basic skills can nonetheless use gimmicks to powerful effect without it being obvious to the audience. Some magicians prefer not to use gimmicks at all, though most well-known coin magicians do utilize simple coin gimmicks.

In Literature

Canadian novelist Robertson Davies
Robertson Davies
William Robertson Davies, CC, OOnt, FRSC, FRSL was a Canadian novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor. He was one of Canada's best-known and most popular authors, and one of its most distinguished "men of letters", a term Davies is variously said to have gladly accepted for himself...

 devotes a good part of his Deptford Trilogy
The Deptford Trilogy
The Deptford Trilogy is a novel trilogy by Canadian novelist Robertson Davies.-Overview:The trilogy consists of Fifth Business , The Manticore , and World of Wonders...

to the art of coin magic. All three novels follow in part or wholly the career of a fictitious magician, Magnus Eisengrim, who was abducted as a boy by a traveling circus and learned his craft while concealed in a papier-mâché automaton. The descriptions of coin magic throughout are remarkable for their clarity. The final novel in the series in particular World of Wonders details his life and career, and is considered by many to be one of the best literary depictions of a coin magic virtuoso.

In the Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman
Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

 novel American Gods
American Gods
American Gods is a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman. The novel is a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on a mysterious and taciturn protagonist, Shadow. It is Gaiman's fourth prose novel, being preceded by Good Omens ,...

, the main character, Shadow, is an experienced coin magician, and many different tricks and aspects of coin magic are discussed in the book.

In the Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz
Dean Ray Koontz is a prolific American author best known for his novels which could be described broadly as suspense thrillers. He also frequently incorporates elements of horror, science fiction, mystery, and satire. A number of his books have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List, with...

 novel From the Corner of His Eye
From the Corner of His Eye
From the Corner of His Eye is a novel by the best-selling author Dean Koontz, released in 2000. It is the story of a boy named Bartholomew Lampion, a ruthless killer named Enoch Cain, and a girl named Angel, born by the result of a rape.-Synopsis:...

, a police officer uses coin magic to interrogate suspects.

Thieves, wizards, and jesters
Stock character
A Stock character is a fictional character based on a common literary or social stereotype. Stock characters rely heavily on cultural types or names for their personality, manner of speech, and other characteristics. In their most general form, stock characters are related to literary archetypes,...

, in historical and fantasy literature are often depicted as being skilled in legerdemain, and are often depicted doing standard coin magic. Rolling a coin across the knuckles
Coin walk
The Coin walk is a type of coin trick in which a coin is flipped over the fingers to create the illusion of a coin walking across the back of the hand. It is one of the most famous coin manipulation tricks. It is also known as the coin roll, knuckle roll, and the steeplechase flourish.The trick is...

 is a popular image. Silk in David Eddings
David Eddings
David Eddings was an American author who wrote several best-selling series of epic fantasy novels.-Biography:...

's Belgariad, and Mat Cauthon
Mat Cauthon
Matrim "Mat" Cauthon is a fictional character in Robert Jordan's fantasy series The Wheel of Time. He is one of the primary protagonists and has moved over the course of the series from his beginnings as a mischievous farm lad into the role of a powerful, shrewd and successful general and...

 and Thom Merrilin
Thom Merrilin
Thomdril "Thom" Merrilin is one of the main characters of the Wheel of Time fantasy series by Robert Jordan.Not much of his early life is known, although he was Bard to the young Lady Morgase of House Trakand. He helped her ascend to the throne of Andor and became her Court Bard, and was renowned...

 in Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan was the pen name of James Oliver Rigney, Jr. , under which he was best known as the author of the bestselling The Wheel of Time fantasy series. He also wrote under the pseudonyms Reagan O'Neal and Jackson O'Reilly.-Biography:Jordan was born in Charleston, South Carolina...

's Wheel of Time
Wheel of time
The Wheel of time or wheel of history is a concept found in several religious traditions and philosophies, notably religions of Indian origin such as Hinduism and Buddhism, which regard time as cyclical and consisting of repeating ages...

, do this frequently. Johnny Depp's whimsical character Jack Sparrow coin walks in the end of Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean is a multi-billion dollar Walt Disney franchise encompassing a series of films, a theme park ride, and spinoff novels as well as numerous video games and other publications. The franchise originates with the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which opened at Disneyland in...

. Also, Vila Restal
Vila Restal
Vila Restal is a fictional character from the British science fiction television series Blake's 7, played by Michael Keating. The only character to appear in all 52 episodes of the series, Vila was particularly known for his humorous lines and his banter with Kerr Avon.In the new audio series,...

 in the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

  television program Blake's 7
Blake's 7
Blake's 7 is a British science fiction television series produced by the BBC for its BBC1 channel. The series was created by Terry Nation, a prolific television writer and creator of the Daleks for the television series Doctor Who. Four series of Blake's 7 were produced and broadcast between 1978...

mixed his skills as a thief with such tricks.

External Links

Visual Guide to Fundamental Coin Techniques
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