Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Coin Boxes

The Okito coin box was invented by Theodore Bamberg sometime before 1914. The story goes that he conceived the idea while playing with a wooden pill box. Mentions and advertisements for the box began appearing in 1914. The first published description appeared under the title of “A Novel Coin Box” in The Magic Wand, Vol. 5 No. 2, Oct. 1914, p. 30, where it is introduced as “This little novelty (which has somewhat recently been placed upon the market)”, without attribution. This was remedied by Bruce Hurling in the next issue, in a contribution titled “Coin Box and Handkerchief” (The Magic Wand, Vol. 5 No. 3, Nov. 1914, p. 40). There Hurling identifies the box as “The Bamberg coin box”. Munro's of London marketed the prop under the names of “The Hindu Box and Flying Coin” and “The Hindoo Box”. Preceding this box was the lidless German Coin Box, which by 1913 was being referred to as “a very old principle”.

At some later date someone added a lid, like the Okito box sported, and it became known as the Boston Box. Attributions to George Boston and Dr. Arnold Boston are erroneous. In 1902, Ellis Stanyon came out with a metal coin box made for vanishing a single coin and resembling a Rattle Box in effect. When the lid was placed on the box, the box was shaken and the coin heard inside. Then the rattling stopped, signaling the vanish of the coin. The box was made so that the bottom could be inverted, like the German and Okito Boxes, and it had just enough space to permit the coin to rattle, until pressure was applied to the lid. Stanyon described this on p. 70 of Magic, Vol. 5 No. 9, June 1905.

In 1907, Stanyon advertised another coin box, this of boxwood, which might be described anachronistically as a bottomless Okito Box. The base was fitted with an inner shell that did have a bottom. This shell could receive a stack of coins and be lifted from the box base by the lid, and returned, to vanish and reproduce the coins. In the April 1910 issue of Magic (Vol. 10 No. 7, p. 52), Stanyon described “The New Brass Cap and Vanishing Coin”, a lidded box with a small hole drilled through it. A coin was made to vanish through the use of a double-faced coin, one side made of brass to match the box bottom. The coin feke also had a small hole drilled through it. The hole feature appealed to magicians and was later added to Okito Boxes for some years.