Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Coin Tray

Multiplying Coin Tray

This small tray, specially constructed with a secret compartment to add more coins to those lying in view on the tray, began appearing in texts on conjuring in the mid-1800s; e.g., Prof Hoffmann's Modern Magic (1876, p. 177). During this time, it also became a standard dealers' item. The history of the idea can be seen in an earlier item recorded by J. N. Ponsin in La Nouvelle Magie Blanche Dévoilée (1853, p. 243), in which the tray is ungimmicked. The coins to be secretly added are held by the fingers below the tray and released as the coins on the tray are spilled off it.

Frederick T. Furman suggested the use of an unprepared hardcover book for the same purpose, hiding the extra coins within the natural hollow of the spine; see “Emergency 'Multiplying Money Tray'”, The Sphinx, Vol. 19 No. 8, Oct. 1920, p. 253.

Switching Coin Tray

The use of a tray to switch a coin is described by Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin in Les Secrets de la Magie et de la Prestidigitation, 1868, p. 63 of the Hoffmann translation. After describing a pure sleight-of-hand method, Robert-Houdin outlines a gaffed tray with a double bottom and recess on top, although he considers the ungimmicked handling superior.