Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Stack of Quarters Through Hand (a.k.a. Cap and Pence, or Leipzig's Pride)

This trick was for centuries known a “Cap and Pence”. An early, perhaps the earliest, published description of it is in The Art of Legerdemain Discovered by Hocus Pocus Junior, 1634, under the title “How to make a pile of Counters seem to vanish thorow a Table”. As the title makes clear, the coins passed through a tabletop rather than someone's hand. Another difference is that a small cylindrical cap was used to cover the stack of coins, rather than a leather cone. However, the effect and method were otherwise almost identical. The gimmicked stack of coins was hollow and capable of hiding a die, which was produced in its place.

This trick, using a cap made of leather, is described as “The Penetrative Cents” in The Magicians' Own Book, Anon., 1857, also published as The Boy's Own Conjuring Book, Anon., 1859. See p. 27 of the former. In this version, the stack also passes through a tabletop, rather than a spectator's hand, adding the improbable complication of a small shelf under the table, which is activated by a foot pedal to drop a stack of loose coins. Variations, including one in which a small ball transposes with the stack of coins, are given on p. 49. The fine idea of penetrating someone's hand, rather than a table, may be Leipzig's contribution to this very old trick.