Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Sympathetic Coin Assembly

This was first published in Stanyon's Magic, Vol. 5 No. 3, Dec. 1904, p. 18, as “The Mysterious Coin” by John N. Hilliard. However, five years later Hilliard, in writing The Art of Magic, 1909, p. 251, for T. Nelson Downs, retitled the trick “The Sympathetic Coins” and attributed it to Yank Hoe (stage name of Ercole Castiglione), apparently correcting the record.

The Hoe attribution has not been contradicted. Marco Pusterla and Bill Mullins have located articles reporting a Hoe performance in the Washington Post on February 7, 1891, p. 8, and reprinted a month later in the San Francisco Chronicle, March 8, 1891, p. 10. The performance was for a group of American Indians, and in it Hoe “spread a newspaper on the table, laid four half dollars on it and made them go through the paper, one at a time.” While this sparse description might be another trick, it is probably the one magicians now recognize as Hoe's seminal Coin Assembly, which could easily be perceived as a sequence of penetrations of coins up through a sheet of newspaper, to appear gathered under a cover card. Presentation would decide how the effect was understood, and working for a group whose English was probably limited, Hoe would likely depend more on visuals than on patter, leaving interpretation of the effect to the viewers. The news reporter may also have chosen to define the effect as a penetration, that being easier to describe concisely.