Product Reviews

Reviews written by Dan Watkins

 

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Beyond Okito Box Set from Definitive Magic 

Definitive magic is joint venture between Bob Solari Magic and Howard Baltus' The Trickery

This coin box set comes with a regular Okito Box, which is a little brass box that holds four half dollar size coins (actually slightly bigger), a gaffed box that appears to be identical to the regular Okito box, and both lids.  Packaged with the boxes is a padded plastic case to store the boxes, and a 16 page photo illustrated manual. Within the manual is a brief history of the principle behind the Beyond Okito Box (BO Box), some standard moves for the BO Box and Okito box, as well as two routines that can be performed with the set.  The Okito box routine is a simple routine similar to David Roth's "Out with Four".  The second routine taught is the one described in the online ads and the online video demo.  The routine showcasing the BO box I can see was created to demonstrate some of the things you can do with a BO box but not a regular Okito.  Personally, I think the intention to do this reveals a little too much of the principle behind the box.  Allowing a spectator to actually see a coin penetrate the box I believe starts to reveal the method too much.  Enough said of my personal opinion about the revelations of the demo routine, lets take a look at the box set itself.

The gaffed BO Box is simply ingenious.  I was only recently made aware of the principle behind this box, but to actually hold the box in my hand, put a coin in it, and start to play with it, the diabolical possibilities make me salivate. 

Most magicians who have worked with an Okito box are aware of the more common gaffed variations, namely the Boston box and the Slot box.  I will not get into the details of these other gaffed boxes, other than to say the BO Box operates on a much different principle than any of those other two boxes. 

What the BO Box enables you to do is, transpose coins, steal coins, load coins, without having to rely on the traditional turnover moves associated with Okito box magic.  You can actually have coin(s) penetrate right into or out of the box, and cleanly show the bottom and the top of the box!  In addition to the general features I referenced, if you use a standard traditional turnover move to steal coins , with the BO Box, once you re-produce the stolen coins, the very nature of the BO Box makes the box clean.  You do not need to do any extra moves to show the box empty, simply lift the lid right off and show it with sincere fairness. 

You can read a written description of the video demo at Bob Solari Magic and The Trickery, both places where you can purchase the BO Box set, and link to the online video demo for it. 

The nice thing about this set is that you receive a matching regular Okito box.  This is important in my opinion because one of the great strengths of an Okito box routine is that the regular box is not gaffed in any way.  You can freely show it to a spectator and even let them handle it.  Magic using the Okito box is very baffling in the mind of a layperson, especially after confirming that the box is exactly what it appears to be.  The downside of the BO Box is that much like the Boston box, this box is NOT examinable by a spectator.  The box can sustain being looked at casually (but not never held).  I personally have found with items that scream "magic prop" (which an Okito box is – most laypeople have not seen one before), people will want to examine them if you are in an informal setting.  Having a regular Okito box allows you to do this.  Make your spectator accustomed to seeing magic occur with this item.  When you have the chance to switch in the BO Box the heat should be off of the prop.  If you are performing for your magic buddies at the club who are familiar with Okito boxes already, this BO Box will throw them for a big loop. 

The BO Box will take some practice to get used to handling it smoothly (most worthwhile magic requires this anyway).  The boxes themselves have slightly thinner sides compared to most coin boxes, but in the case of the BO Box it is necessary for it to be thinner for its handling.  The regular Okito is thinner to match the BO Box.  The craftsmanship on the boxes are very good, both boxes have a nicely polished brass finish. 

Bottom line, if you like coin box magic, don't hesitate on this set.  Go buy it.  When you see the ingenuity of the gaffed box, your mind will immediately start to think about its possibilities.  I personally can't wait to see some unique routines created if this box gets more mainstream like the Slot and Boston boxes.  Just the few days I have played with the box, I have come up with a neat handling to a routine that is impossible without the BO Box.

My routine with it is:  A lid is placed on an empty Okito box, is shown top and bottom and shaken to show that it is empty.  The box is shaken a second time and suddenly coins are rattling inside.  The lid is removed, coins are seen inside and they are dumped out, replaced, and re-covered with the lid.  The box is placed on the back of your hand, and the coins penetrate the box and hand, leaving the box shown empty.  The coins are put back in the box and placed on the back of your hand, this time the box and lid penetrate the hand leaving the coins on top!

There is an obvious David Roth influence to this routine.  David has put in print and on video handlings similar using a Boston Box and a Nokito box (see his book for what a Nokito is).  The absolute fairness of the beginning of the routine is possible because of the BO box.  The sudden sound of coins in a box that was just fairly shown top and bottom is shocking.  The end of this routine puts the un-gaffed Okito box in the hand of the spectator, which is a great clean way to end a routine using a gaffed box.  (I constructed this routine to be performed standing with a spectator).

You can view a sit down variation of this routine in the Videos section called "Penetrating Okito & Beyond".  The stand up version of this routine is taught in my Coinvanish Volume 1 manuscript.

If you are interested more about magic with the Okito box, Boston Box, and Slot Box, I would highly recommend "David Roth's Expert Coin Magic Made Easy Volume 11: Okito Coin Box Magic" or his book "Expert Coin Magic" which contains an entire section dedicated to coin box magic.  I am not aware of any sources for BO Box magic, but a good working understanding of an Okito box is extremely beneficial in using the BO Box. 

Addendum:  After a week or so of playing with the box and talking with a few others that have used the box set, I felt that a few additional facts would be relevant in your purchase decision since the boxes to vary from what you may initially expect from an Okito box.

The BO box because its very nature is lighter than a normal Okito box.  The matching Okito box was intentionally made lighter as well to look and feel similar.  Those used to a normally heavier box will may have to get used to this.  The lids on the boxes are very shallow (like Jim Zee boxes), and they are very thin.  I have found that the lids being this thin allow for the ability to classic palm the whole box with the lid on, but those of you who like really deep lids more similar to the Roth custom box, the lid will be a change.  Lastly even though the BO box and the Okito box look similar, the wall thickness of the Okito box was made slightly thicker than the BO box.  This may pass inspection on a box switch, but will probably be noticeable if you have the boxes side by side with the lids off.

Lastly, the instruction manual that comes with the BO Box lists the origins of the box to be of European ancestry, with the originator unknown.  Since this review was written I have received a handful of emails stating that omitted from the instructions is that this very box was marketed in Europe by Bobby Bernard, known as a "Bernard Box".  Apparently the BO Box is a better constructed version, but no acknowledgement of Mr. Bernard was in the instructions to the BO Box.

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"Up In Smoke":  The Underhanded Coin Magic of Paul Cummins 

This DVD is a 2004 re-release of Paul's same titled video released in 1999.   If you missed it the first time around, do yourself a favor and don't miss it this time.

Up In Smoke is one of my favorite coin videos.  It represents for me, one of those defining points in my personal coin magic that made me significantly better than I was before I watched it.  A coin video had not affected me to this degree since the first time I laid eyes on the David Roth Expert Coin Magic Series (which were the videos that really got me launched down this love affair with coin magic). 

The video is structured to show all the performances first, all the necessary foundational sleights are then taught, and then all of the explanations are given for the routines.  The filming and sound quality is top notch studio made.

Every routine on the tape is very commercial, very useable, and extremely worthwhile for any extreme close-up (meaning standing face to face with your spectator) coin magic.  Of the six coin routines presented on the tape, I learned, practiced, and routinely perform five of them.  I can't remember another video that contained such a high percentage of usable material for me personally. 

The key to four of the six coin routines presented is Paul's handling and performance management of version of the back clip which has been published by magicians such as Sol Stone and Harvey Rosenthal.  The back clip is a very specific type of back clip in that the coin is clipped between the 2nd and 3rd finger, between the second and third knuckles (as opposed to the deep back clip of the 2nd and 3rd fingers between the first and second knuckles made popular David Roth's Expert Coin Magic book).  Paul's teaching of how to use this back clip (getting in to, getting out of, etc.) provided me personally with an invaluable, diabolical, utility sleight for coin magic.  There is something psychologically convincing when you show your hand palm up clearly empty, compared with showing your hands empty palm down (while classic palming).  When you can utilize the sleight of hand properly to show both sides empty, you have truly gained an extremely valuable tool.  

The only draw back to the technique is that you have to be performing for a relatively small audience, who is very close to you looking down on your hands.  In a parlor type environment, the back clipped coin would flash because of angles.  Each routine in magic has its most applicable time.  This coin magic is reserved for up close and personal times with a spectator.

There is one thing that will possibly frustrate you with this tape, and that is if you have lean hands without much body fat, this technique will seem absolutely impossible to use.  I have thin fingers that have "windows" when held together.  When I first tried to hold a coin in back clip I could not do it without the edge of the coin peaking through the windows between my fingers.  Attempts to clip as little of the coin as possible to hide the edge made the coin often fall from my fingers.  I shelved the tape, relegating it to something I could not do, better for those with fatter fingers. 

Be not discouraged, there is hope!  After half a year, I took the tape of the shelf again, watched it, proceeded to be awe struck all over again, and was maddened to the point that I HAD to learn the technique.  I practiced the methods Paul taught for getting into and retrieving from the clip for weeks.  The first routine on the tape is the simplest most direct use of the concealment.  I strove for that goal, the Invisible Hand.  I found that I could "cheat" on the invisible hand.  During a crucial hand display, where the right hand is palm up, and the left hand is pointing, I let the left hand index finger point directly on top of the coin edge held in back clip.  If the coin was peeking through at all, my left index finger covered this!  After enough work for my hand muscles to get very used to the technique, I was finally able to hide the coin properly by utilizing advice Paul himself gives on the tape.  The advice was two fold.  1)  Part of the "getting into back clip" involves rolling the coin to allow it to lay deeper in the fingers (if you see the tape you will know what I am talking about), and 2)  Slightly raise the ring finger as it lays against the middle finger.  I think Paul could have stressed these two points even greater for those of us who have lean fingers.  These two keys are 100% necessary.  

Anyway….enough said on the back clip.  Lets take a good look at the routines:

1.  I briefly referenced above the "Invisible Hand".  This is a very quick, very straight forward, very useful, and extremely surprising to a spectator in part because of its apparent simplicity.  The right hand is closed into a loose fist and the spectator is made aware that the fist is actually an invisible hand!  A coin held at the fingertips of the left hand is dipped into this right fist, and the coin turns invisible!  The invisible coin is raised to the spectator's eye level, to show it and then it is placed in the spectator's hand.  The right fist is opened and turned palm up as the left hand points to show that the coin is not there.  The left hand is turned palm up, while the right hand immediately turns palm down and points to the left hand, showing the coin is not there either.  Attention is brought back the spectator's hand where the invisible coin lays.  The coin is picked up by the left hand, and the right hand is closed into a fist once again.  The invisible coin is quickly dipped into the invisible hand, and becomes visible once again.

This routine is pure magic.  When you can take only one coin, and make magic this strong right in the face of a spectator, there is only one thing to do.  Learn it and use it.  (This routine is the best to learn before any of the others when learning the back clip).

2.  Citation Silver:  A silver half-dollar and an English copper penny are clearly shown on both sides to a spectator (freely examinable).  The spectator is instructed to keep track of the silver coin.  The silver coin is cleanly closed into the palm down right hand; the copper coin is closed into the palm down left hand.  No tricky movements at all.  When both hands are turned palm up, the silver has traveled into the left hand to join the copper.  The copper coin is picked up and closed into the palm down right hand.  The silver coin is closed into the palm down left fist.  This time as both hands are turned palm up, the coins have transposed; the copper is back in the left, silver in the right.  The silver coin is placed again into the left hand, which is closed.  When it opens, there are now two silver coins.  One silver coin is picked up and tossed a few times back into the left hand.  The left hand closes, reopens, and now both coins are copper!  The right hand picks up one of the copper coins.  Both hands close palm down into fists, and then turn palm up to reveal one copper and one silver, back to the way they where in the beginning.  The coins are freely examinable.

Citation Silver is credited to Bob Elliot.  Encapsulated inside this routine is Presto Chango from Bobo's coin magic.  I always liked the stunning change effect of Presto Chango, and integrated inside Citation Silver, the routine is baffling magic to behold.  I still remember the first time I saw it.  My mind was assaulted by what my eyes saw.  I have integrated this routine in its entirety as the start of a longer copper/silver routine.  This is one of my favorite bits to perform for someone.  It is sheer eye candy.

3.  Pitchin' Penetration is an interesting routine.  A silver half dollar is pushed right through the back of your left hand 3 times, until it is finally tipped to the spectator.  You are using two silver half dollars!  The one half is tossed into the spectator's hand and picked up in your left hand as the second half dollar is tossed from the right hand into the spectator's hands.  The second coin is picked up and dropped on top of the first half dollar.  When the left hand is opened the two coins have fused into one solid silver dollar!  The silver dollar is alternately shown palm up in both hands, and then handed out for inspection. 

This is a fun routine as well.  Again, it is very visual, very close up, and uses the spectator's hands as a table.  This is a good routine to use after you have done a few others for the spectator.  If they start to ask how you are doing the magic, you can show them this one, and right as they think you are really tipping a routine to them, you completely rock them with the surprise ending.  Used at the right time, this routine is loads of fun and always gets laughs.

 4.  Underhanded Coins Across:  This is Paul's handling of a classic of coin magic.  Again this magic is performed face to face with a spectator.  The spectator holds out both hands, pressed together, palms up to form an impromptu table.  Paul's hands are positioned left and right of the spectator's.  Four coins are shown in the palm up right hand and tossed into the left.  The right hand is turned palm up once more as it is stated, "One coin will invisibly travel to the right hand".  The right hand is turned palm down into a fist, and both hands are turned back palm up.  One coin is in the right hand, the remaining three in the left.  The coins are dumped into the spectator's hands.  Three coins are picked up one by one and dropped into the left hand.  The right hand picks up the fourth coin and openly displays it in the palm up right hand.  Both hands are closed and immediately opened to show two coins in each hand.  The two coins in the left hand are thrown into the spectator's hand, and picked up, the two right hand coins are thrown into the spectator's hands, and also picked back up.  The right hand is turned palm up to show two coins, is closed into a fist and reopened to show now three coins.  The left hand is openly gestured and shown completely empty only for the fourth coin to appear in the right hand!  Everything is examinable. 

Whereas coins are usually concealed in a palm down hand display, Paul's handling is palm up, and extremely convincing.  This is the most technically demanding of the routines and probably best left to work on only after you master the back clip.  You have to remember; the performance segment of this tape is all at the front.  When I first watched this video, I had no clue about Paul's back clip techniques.  This stuff rocked me bad when I watched it.  These routines just kept fooling me and fooling me, and after I thought I couldn't be nailed again, he fooled me with the next routine.  This applies to Underhanded Coins Across.  The palm up handling just kills.  I tend to use David Roth's handling with a shell for bigger crowds, but for a more intimate setting, leave the shell in the coin purse and go underhanded! 

Paul takes a break from the "underhanded" coin magic and presents two matrix type effects. 

5.      The first routine is called Top Billing.  Four silver half dollars are placed on a close up mat in the four corners.  Two different denomination bills are used as cover.  They are placed on the two coins furthest away from the magician (the top coins).  The coin at the bottom right is picked up and is used to tap the top of both bills so you can hear the coin clink from under both.  The coin is then crumbled over top of the top left bill and it is vanished. The bill is peeled back to show two coins under it.  The bill is replaced.  The bottom left coin is picked up and gently tossed over top of the top left bill.  Again the coin is gone, only to be revealed under the bill.  For the last coin, it is simply invisibly extracted through the top of the right side bill, a tossing motion is made at the top left bill, and sure enough, as the bill is slowly pushed to the side, four coins are under the left bill.  Paul mentions that he always gets accused of using another coin.  Ever since that he always has, but he uses a big silver dollar to throw you off….. he slides away the top right bill to show a silver dollar there.  The silver dollar is picked up and it grows into a 3" jumbo coin on the offbeat. 

I don't do matrix effects.  I do this one.  That is how much I like it.  Honestly, I rarely get to perform stationary over a table for Matrix effects.  I do make a point of performing this one when I get the chance, even if I have to drop to the carpet to do it.  I love it since it doesn't use cards.  It uses all money.  I think bills just make logical sense as the cover for a coin routine.  Money covers money.  A novel idea! 

6.    Knihc-A-Knihc is David Roth's Chink-A-Chink effect (you may know it as Michael Ammar's Shadow Coins).  Four coins are placed in a square formation on the close up mat.  The hands simply cover the coins and the coins begin to assemble at the top right corner.  Eventually all the coins are in the top right.  Paul's version has an instant backfire reversal.  He simply seems to move his hands back over the four coins and away, and all four coins are back into a square formation! 

This is the only coin routine on the tape that I have not learned (I know Chink-A-Chink, and the Shadow Coins Version).  The routine requires a type of gaff that I do not own.  I like the routine; the instant reversal is cool.  I just personally like the other five routines better.  If you perform barehanded coin assemblies, you will like this routine. 

Paul's Bonus routine is a card routine.  It is a collector's effect that I liked very much.  I'll leave the card effect up to you to judge.  I start getting out of my element there J

The fundamental sleight of hand that Paul teaches in his teaching segment is the following: 

  1. Getting into back clip.

  2. The secret retrieval of a back clipped coin.

  3. The open retrieval of a back clipped coin.

  4. Getting two coins into back clip.

  5. The simple coin pass (classic palm vanish)

  6. Woodin's Click Pass

  7. The Lou Gallo Pitch (this is a useful technique that can be used instead of a Han Ping Chien.  Paul states in the video he considers this move one of the greatest in the past 100 years in coin magic).

  8. David Roth's Shuttle Pass

  9. Ross Bertram's Slide Steal

  10. The Revolve Coin Load

  11. The Tarantula Vanish (Paul's adaptation of Marlo's Spider Vanish)

  12. The Bobo Switch

  13. The Thumb Base Slide

This review would not be complete without mention of Paul's misdirection insights.  The back clipping routines are a lesson of proper misdirection.  We get to benefit from Paul's 25 years of experience performing these routines.  There is some hand motion necessary to do the back clipping, but Paul's misdirection is so perfectly timed and pattered that it will never be seen. 

Bottom line, the tape fooled me so bad back in the late 90's, provided immense entertainment value, then it paid off big time for having such great and useable content that I was able to actively use in a repertoire.  Paul is actually mostly known for his card work with regular shuffled cards (FASDIU means "From A Shuffled Deck In Use").  I personally salute his coin work.

Even though I have the video, I wanted this DVD.  This work will always be one of my personal favorites.

Paul's website is www.fasdiu.com

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Mike Gallo "The Dynasty Continues"

This video of Mike was shot at the 2001 FFFF convention.  The video comprises two live performance segments, one where Mike is performing behind a bar, and one where Mike is performing seated at a close up table.  The explanation sections occur in two segments, one after the completion of the bar performance, and the other at the completion of the table performance.  One thing of note:  It appears Mike is a lefty, performing most of the palming and holding out of coins in his left hand.  Those of us who are right handed will have to perform with the opposite hands that Mike uses.  (Easy enough to do - just use the same side hand as you watch on the monitor!)

The video appears to be shot with a good quality digital camera, but it is not a video shot in a studio with multiple studio cameras.  The camera is fixed for the performances and the explanations.  The performance segment is shot a bit wider so Mike's face is shown as well as what his hands are doing.  The explanation segments are shot close up on Mike's hands.  During the explanation, you really never get to see Mike's face as he talks, but the point is to see what he is doing with his hands, with one camera, obviously this is the correct choice.  So do not expect the sharp image quality or frills of a studio shot piece, with cameras on the magician's face, and then cut to his hands, etc.  Recognizing the filming method as such, you are able to see everything that is going on in both the performance and explanations.  Even with the one camera shoot, everything was captured properly.  I rather have one camera shoot it properly as done on this video than 2-3 videos cutting and wiping unnecessarily.  One other thing of note technically on the video, there was a few times in the tape where the sound just quit for a second or two.  However, you do not lose anything critical during an explanation.  I assume these were purposeful sound edits to remove a background comment or noise. 

As for the routines: 

First up is Presto Change-o Mike-o.  This is Mike's handling of Thomas H. Bearden's Presto Chango from Bobo's Modern Coin Magic page 245.  It is basically the same routine, where two silvers change into two coppers, and back again, but mike dumps the coins out onto a close up mat after each change, and ends with a kicker multiple coin transposition into four Chinese brass coins.  If you perform Presto Chango, you may want to check out Mike's ending to it. 

My opinion:  Presto Chango is a good solid, quick routine.  Mike's additions to it are good.  Eliminating tossing the coins onto the table would allow this routine also to work stand up.  The only negatives I can see is you have to hold out during the whole routine, and you end dirty.  Let me clarify one thing however….. I think many people put too much emphasis on being 100% clean at the end of a routine.  I personally perform many routines that leave me holding out at the end.  It is very possible to perform a routine, and have it end quite soundly, and still be holding out coins.  You just need the ability to "look" clean.  The reality of the issue is that typically, you are going to be cleaning up coins or props left on the table anyway, which gives you ample opportunity to pocket held out coins, along with the coins you are putting away from the table. 

Sherlock Mike's "Case of the Mysterious Penetration":  This routine utilizes four silver coins (three of which are known), a card box (I believe filled with cards) and a glass.  Mike places the card box on top of the glass, proceeds to place a coin into one hand, which then penetrates through his hand, through the card box and into the glass.  This is repeated until all coins are in the glass, or he also ends by giving a spectator two coins, and the third coin travels invisibly to the spectator's hand.  Which the spectator then drops one at a time into the glass. 

My opinion:  A fine routine if you carry a deck of cards, have access to a glass and a close up pad or table surface.  I would concentrate on making sure the coin loading he uses for the penetration is practiced a lot before you try to perform it.  It is not difficult, but it does require proper misdirection and timing.  To me it was very obvious what he was doing during the performance, however this is coming from the mindset of another coin magician and a video focuses your attention on things you may not see live.  With proper misdirection this would work very well for a lay audience.  The ending is clean. 

Okito Gone Wild is a very cool Okito Box routine.  An Okito box is shown, is picked up and rattled to hear coins inside.  The lid is opened and 3 silver coins are dumped out, the lid is placed back on the box and set down on the mat.  The 3 silver coins are picked up with the left hand, placed clearly into the right, the coins vanish from the right and again are dumped out of the Okito Box.  This repeats.  Mike tosses the silver coins into his right hand, and when he opens his hand, they are now all copper!  The Okito box is rattled again, and the three silver coins are dumped out.  Just when you think it's all over.  Mike opens up the Okito box and dumps out 3 Chinese brass coins. 

My opinion:  Of the four routines presented in Mike's bar performance, this one was my favorite.  You do have to use 9 coins, 6 of  which are concealed by one way or another until their eventual production.  The positive is you don't have to try to clean up after being that dirty….. since everything is produced at the end, you are holding nothing out.  I particularly enjoyed Mike's explanation on how to vanish multiple coins into a hand at once.  This sleight of hand was EXTREMELY convincing.  I plan on practicing that utility move and applying it to other routines.  Mike references that it is a variation of T. Nelson Down's Eureka Pass.  In this segment you get a good Okito Box routine, and an excellent multiple coin vanish technique. 

Jumpback is the name of Mike's coins across routine.  The plot is known.  Coins travel invisibly from one hand to the other.  Mike utilizes the table for this coins across.  At various times placing coins one at a time on the table.  Some of the coins going across occur while his hand is flat on the table, and the coin appears under his hand with the other coins.  The finale of this coins across has all the coins at once traveling back over to the original hand which is palm down on the close up mat. 

My opinion:  This routine combines coins across in your closed fist with coins across on a close up pad.  Without divulging any gaffs or the method Mike is using to perform this routine, personally I prefer a very clean, simple, to the point, coins across.  One coin travels to the other hand one at a time, in succession with as little counting out or repositioning of the coins as needed.  With the gaff Mike chooses to use, in my mind there are much simpler, quicker, cleaner handlings of a coins across using this gaff.  Mike's version is different to make use of coins going across on a close-up pad as well as in the closed fist, but it does have a few one by one counting out of the coins, some moving around on the close up pad, coin pick ups, placements etc.  The methodology Mike uses to perform the routine is really interesting and is worth the education, especially how to create the lightning kicker ending of all coins going back to his other hand.  If you have a desire to get the extra audience reaction (one of major surprise) from the instant reversal, this is a great routine to learn.  You do need a flat surface to perform on such as a bar top or table, you do not need to be seated.  For me, I am going to stick with a simpler version that uses very few counting out or placing and picking up of coins.  You have to make a personal judgment call between focusing on the simplest, cleanest methods to make coins go across to the other hand, or a slightly more complex version that allows for a surprising kicker ending.  This is personal preference.

That concludes Mike's coin magic at the bar, and he explains how to perform the above four routines.  Next we head over to Mike again in a live situation at a close-up table. 

Splitting the Silver is a very baffling routine.  A silver dollar is held in spellbound position, Mike reaches over and splits the silver dollar into two half dollars.  Mike holds one coin in each hand, and then puts them back into spellbound position.  With a quick pass the coins fuse back into a silver dollar.  Mike reaches over and splits the dollar into two halves again, and tosses the halves from hand to hand.  Suddenly as Mike is tossing the halves from hand to hand they somehow change into four quarters in mid air! 

My Opinion:  I really like the coin magic presented in this second performance segment.  This first routine fooled me bad.  I will learn this routine and use it.  How Mike fuses the two halves back into a silver dollar, and then splits them again I really liked, it is very beautiful sleight of hand.  The only negative is the routine must be performed seated.  But while seated, it's a great routine to use. 

Backfire Coins Through the Table:  Four coins are on the table.  One by one they penetrate the table, to end with a surprise kicker ending that is a Mike Gallo trademark.  I do not feel I am at liberty to divulge the ending if you are not familiar with it.  It is worth learning. 

My Opinion:  I was already a fan of this routine before I watched the video.  Michael Ammar taught the Mike Gallo kicker ending in his Easy to Master Money Miracles Videos.  Ever since I saw it, I have used it to end a coins thru the table using un-gaffed coins.  Conversely to the Coins Across routine earlier in the tape, this coins thru the table routine is EXTREMELY straight forward, short and to the point.  Coins one at a time go through the table.  There are various ways to get a coin to go through the table; Mike's chosen methods for this routine were exceptionally beautiful.  You must be seated to perform it.  Ammar's version using the kicker ending can be done standing.  However, the seated version Gallo uses would be my preferred method if a seat were available. 

Silent Mike Mora Mike is a rubber ball routine where the balls are continuously loaded into one hand, to jump to another, placed in the pockets, jump back to one hand, various combinations are done, with a clean ending of all 3 little balls fusing into a big rubber ball. 

My Opinion:   This is a great ball routine.  I may get some balls (no comments please) and work on the routine.  It is not a coin routine, but it is a very worthwhile routine to see, learn and use. 

Cutting the Aces Plus is a card routine.  The official description from the box is, "Mike cuts the four Aces, then repeats this exhibition.  Then, the climaxes come fast and furious, leaving your audiences gasping with amazement.  A blockbuster closer to any close-up act that almost works itself. 

My Opinion:  I liked the routine, but I will defer the card reviews to those more suited than I J 

Final Comments:  This tape assumes you are familiar with coin magic, therefore is not recommended if you are a beginner to coin magic unless you want to simply collect some good performances.  The good thing is, the sleights required for these routines will not cause your hands to sweat blood, the sleight of hand is very traditional (no far out impossible sleights used) but you will need to have a good solid classic palm to hold multiple coins.  For me, a tape is worthwhile if it has material I personally can and will use.  This tape does.  I am glad to have it in my coin video library.  The tape is not much over an hour long, which kind of had me yearning for more coin material, especially since the last two routines were not coin routines.  Hey call me greedy, but I think the tape could have gone a little longer with an extra coin routine or two. J  In any event, being left wanting more is much better than being left never wanting to see more!  Bottom line – I liked the tape. 

It is available directly from Randy Wakeman (email him for more info) or most well stocked magic shops.

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Coin Classics Volume 1 by Stevens Magic Emporium.

This is a fifth tape in Steven's Magic Emporium's "Greater Magic Video Library Teach-In Sessions". This tape is devoted to coin magic and contains coin routines from thirteen of the worlds greatest coin artists.

The taping of the various routines are from varied eras in the past, all of the material has very good filming and sound quality. I enjoyed this tape very much; it has a bit of something for anyone who enjoys coin magic.

Leading off the tape is David Regal performing and explaining a routine called "Clearly Impossible". David shows his coins through the table routine that utilizes a clear glass, four coins, and a hole that can bend the fabric of space and time! The hole is a metal ring that is placed on a close up mat on the table. The four coins are placed into the glass, tipped over into the ring on the table. A coin falls through the ring, through the table, and into David's hand under the table. He repeats this until only one coin is left. This time he places the glass under the table, and drops the coin into the ring and rubs it right through the table and the coin is heard to clink into the glass below. The glass is brought out from under to table to show the coin inside. The explanation follows the performance.

Daryl performs and explains the classic "Sympathetic Coins" (Matrix). This is the standard Matrix effect where four coins are placed in a square on a close up mat, and is covered by cards. One bye one the coins all assemble under one card. Daryl also explains the basic moves necessary to learn in order to perform the Matrix, as well as some extra displays to show the routine even more convincingly clean.

John Carney performs and explains, "Coin in Glass". This is a very neat coin through the glass routine where he holds a glass in his hand and drops a coin through it, then he turns the glass upside-down on the table and the coin falls right through the bottom of the glass and is trapped inside the glass resting on the table. John then turns the glass up again and he pushes the glass onto a coin that is held on edge. The coin jumps up through the bottom of the glass and winds up inside. Lastly, John covers the glass with a paper napkin. He once again drops a coin through the napkin-covered glass and onto the table. For the finale he pushes the glass itself through the table!

Michael Ammar (the young Mike with hair) performs and explains his routines: Sonic Squeeze and Incredible Coins Across. Sonic Squeeze is a coin production where Michael makes a coin appear in his left hand, he picks up the coin in his left and closes his left hand again, and another coin appears. He repeats for a total of three coins that appear. (You can use this method to produce more than 3 coins he actually produces 4 but keeps one concealed). Incredible Coins Across is a very well devised coins across from Michael's hand into a spectator's hand. Mike places 3 coins in his left hand and hovers his right hand over a the spectator's. One by one coins disappear from his left hand and appear in the spectators outstretched hands. The final third coin appears out of nowhere falling from apparently the sky into the spectator's hand.

The legendary J.B. Bobo performs and explains four coin vanishes out of his famous "Modern Coin Magic" Book. This was really a treat to see the master at work. The first effect performed is "Complete Coin Vanishes – With a Handkerchief, Number Three" by Milton Kort (page 56 in Bobo's Book). A coin is placed under a handkerchief a quick gesture is made and the handkerchief is dropped to reveal the coin has completely vanished. Next up is "The Bobo Complete Coin Vanish" (page 49 in Bobo's). This is a continuation of a coin vanish that utilizes the "Bobo Coin Vanish" (page 27 in Bobo's). The Coin is placed directly into his left hand. Bobo rotates his right hand around his left. When he opens his hands the coin is gone. The third vanish is the "Sucker Vanish" (page 50 in Bobo's). Bobo wraps his left hand around a coin but his right hand pulls the coin out and puts it in his right pocket in plain view of the audience. When called on it, he shows that the coin is still in his left hand! He closes his left hand again. Bobo explains just because he put his hand in his pocket doesn't mean he stole the coin to put it there. He opens his left hand again to show the coin is really gone this time. The last vanish Bobo demonstrates is "A Novel Vanish and Reproduction" (page 121 in Bobo's). Bobo places a coin in his left hand, reaches into his inner coat pocket for a magic pencil with which he taps his left hand. He opens his left hand to show the coin is completely gone. He closes his left hand and taps it with the pencil again and the coin instantly reappears! Before he ends, Bobo does another quick routine where he slaps a coin onto his left leg, and produces it from his right, does it again, and the coin is gone. I could not find the Bobo Book reference for that quick routine.

David Acer performs and explains Money Flies. David starts by holding a piece of rope in his hand and an empty clear glass on the table. He slides his hand down the rope, a coin pops out and falls into the glass. He next blows onto the top of the rope and another coin drops into the glass. He repeats the last two productions for a total of four coins to the glass. He dumps the coins out of the glass into his hand. He puts the coins in his right hand and holds the glass from the top with his left hand. He gestures and a coin magically disappears from his right hand and clinks into the glass. He repeats and another coin clinks into the glass. He places everything onto the table, and then picks up the two coins into his right hand again and the glass in his left. Once again a coin magically clinks into the glass. Everything is once again placed onto the table. He picks up the glass with the three coins and places it into his right jacket pocket. He rubs the remaining coin onto his left elbow, tosses the coin into the air where it magically disappears and is heard to clink inside the glass sitting in his right jacket pocket. He dumps the coins out of the glass into his left hand, grabs the coins with his right and places them into his pocket. He picks up the glass in his left hand and points to his shoulder (a coin clinks); his knee (a coin clinks), his nose (a coin clinks), and his bellybutton (the last coin clinks) all coins are now magically back in the glass. David takes the coins and pockets them except for one. He holds his left hand over the glass and pushes a coin through the back of his hand, thru his hand, and into the glass. He dumps out the coin and pockets it right as another coin magically appears inside the glass. He removes that coin, puts it in his other hand and smacks the bottom of the glass – the coin penetrates the bottom of the glass and winds up inside again. David dumps out the coin, pockets it, and once again another coin falls into the glass!!! He dumps out the coin, pockets it, picks up the glass again and a whole shower of coins fall out. Whew!

Jay Marshall performs and explains various Coin Rolls and Sleeving. This was really neat to watch. Jay has some very good manipulation skills. He starts by performing the four-coin roll out and then proceeds to roll them back into his hand without dropping any. Jay then demonstrates his skill with coin roll. He can roll the coin forwards, backwards, both sides of the hand, and continuous roll (steeple chase). Jay than shows different methods of sleeving including tossing a coin into your sleeve, as well as a very nice routine with sleeves rolled up the arms somewhat. He places a coin into the hand and then opens the hands palm outward, the coin is gone. (Actually he pushed it around the backside of his hand and into the sleeve).

Eugene Burger performs and explains his Coins Thru Table. Eugene has a very unusual coins thru the table routine as he uses other props in addition to the coins. He starts out by placing a small red die on the table and rolling it around a bit clearly showing his hands empty. He eventually picks up the red die, rubs it into his hands and it turns into a white die. He proceeds to reach into his pocket and bring out 3 silver half dollars. He places them one at a time into his left hand. He takes the little white die and shows it in his right hand. His right hand goes under the table. He slaps his left hand down on the table and a coin penetrates and falls through the table. Eugene brings his right hand out showing the white die and the coin. He places all objects on the table. He places two coins into his left hand and picks up the other coin and die in his right which goes under the table. Once again a coin from his left hand penetrates the table and joins the other coin and the die in his right hand. All is once again placed on the table. Finally the last coin is held in the left hand, the other two with the die go under the table, and the last coin penetrates the table. All objects are in the right hand and are spilled out of his hand onto the table. Eugene then very clearly places each coin one at a time into his left hand. He puts the little white die on the top of his closed left fist. A spectator presses on the die, and his hand is opened to reveal all the coins are gone! Finally, the white die is picked up, a spectator blows on his hand and a oversize gold die is dumped out of his hand.

Don Alan performs (performance only) his Cigarette Thru Quarter routine. This is probably one of the best Cig-thru-quarter routines out there. Basically a cigarette penetrates a quarter. I cannot describe in detail all the patter and routining that occurs, this is something better watched then read about.

Gary Kurtz performs (performance only) Full Frontal Assault. Ok this routine is could take the prize for one of the best on the tape (in my humble opinion). The name is VERY indicative of what happens. Gary stands in front of two spectators and completely and continuously gives them a full frontal coin assault. I watched this routine over and over and frame-by-frame to try and figure out how he did what he does in this routine. I believe I was able to figure out every move, but you will NEED a very thorough knowledge of coin work. Much of what he does is very subtle, but some of what he does can be found in his book and videos. Here is how you get a full frontal assault with coins: Gary walks up to two standing spectators and shakes their hands. He grabs one of the spectator's hands with his left hand and points at the spec's hand with his right. Gary pulls a coin out of the backside of the spectator's hand and drops it on his palm. Gary picks the coin up, displays it both sides in his left hand, and drops it back onto the spectator's palm. Gary reaches behind the spectator's elbow and produces a 2nd coin, and behind the spec's hand to produce a 3rd coin. All coins are placed in the spectator's palm up hand. Gary picks up the coins in his right hand and pockets them all. He reaches behind the other spectator's elbow with his left hand and produces a coin, places it in his right hand, and repeats the sequence two more times for the 2nd and 3rd coin productions. Gary displays the 3 coins in his right hand, and throws them into his left. He wiggles his hands and one coin jumps from his left to his right hand invisibly. He brings his hands together and then back apart (this is the one iffy part in the routine in my opinion – he is executing a coin steal he has taught before in his previous materials – I never cared for this steal). Nevertheless even knowing he stole coins, he is still very impressive with his right hand coin displays. He holds his right hand palm up showing one coin. He closes his hand and opens it, 2 coins are there, he closes his hand, and opens it 3 coins are there. (During production this he never touches his other hand). He dumps two coins into his left hand and hands them to the spectator. He brings the other coin up to toss into his left hand and the coin completely vanishes. Gary picks up a 2nd coin from the spectator's hand and tosses it back and forth between his hands. This coin also completely vanishes. Gary picks up the 3rd coin and places it in the fingertips of his hand. He picks up the coin and places it on the fingertips of his other hand, he repeats this a few times until the coin completely melts away at his fingertips. The 3rd coin is now gone as well. Gary then turns to the other spectator and reaches out into the air right in this guy's face and plucks two coins out of the air (one in each hand), puts both in one hand and reaches forward and plucks the 3rd coin out of the air. All 3 coins are back. At this point Gary takes a bow. The assault is over.

Jay Sankey performs and explains Undercover. This routine uses an American half dollar, a card case, and an American Penny. Jay drops the half dollar into the card case, rattles it around a bit, and closes the lid of the case. He holds this card case in his palm up left hand. The American Penny is held in Jay's palm up right hand. Jay turns his right hand down and smacks the Penny onto the table and rubs it. He picks up the Penny and repeats the motion. This time when he lifts his hand from the table, the Penny is gone and the Half Dollar is in its place. The card case is opened to reveal the American Penny inside.

John Carney performs and explains his famous Logical Bill routine. John brings a dollar out of his pocket and lays it on the table. He picks it up and folds it. He rubs the folds back and forth and a half dollar falls out. He opens the dollar, refolds it the other direction, rubs the folds, and a 2nd half dollar falls out. John then takes the bill and folds it into 8ths and squeezes a 3rd half dollar from the bill. John pockets the 3 coins and then with a flick of his wrist the one-dollar bill changes into a $100 bill.

 

Vani Bossi performs and explains a routine called Pre-Matrix. It's called Pre-Matrix because it is a four-coin production from a deck of cards. It is a perfect introduction to setup for a Matrix effect. Vani takes a deck of cards, shuffles them twice, and then spreads them on the table. He reverses the spread and picks the cards up again. Vani shuffles through the deck to pull out 4 random cards and places them on the table one at a time. He lifts the cards up one at a time and reveals that a half dollar lays under each card.

John Born performs and explains his routine Matrix Reborn. John starts with four silver half dollars in a square in his close up mat. He waves his hands over two coins. One coin invisibly jumps from under one hand to his other hand. (David Roth Chink-a-Chink, Michael Ammar Shadow Coins type effect). John repeats the move and 3 coins wind up under one hand. He then places his hands over the 3 coins and the one coin by itself. When he lifts his hand, all the half dollars have changed to brass Chinese coins. While visually stunning, this routine will leave you EXTREMELY dirty. You will need to go straight to your pocket or your brief case at the end of this routine.

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