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Thinking Big; Magic With Jumbo Coins by Mark Munro

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii March, 2005)


Mark Munro is a magician who began performing professionally in Ohio at age 21, then came to New York where he worked for a time as a demonstrator at Louis Tannen's.

While he has since left professional performing for a career as a computer network programmer, he has just completed compiling this "handbook for jumbo coin magic."

In this context, the author means "jumbo coin" to refer to the 3" coin that has become a utility prop in the close-up magician's arsenal over the years. Not discussed are larger models such as the 5" coins, the use of which was pioneered by Al Goshman and David Roth, or enlarged versions of smaller coins such as a silver dollar-sized Lincoln Penny. Most often the 3" coin is produced at the conclusion of a routine, sometimes effectively, sometimes at a cost to whatever the preliminary effect happens to be (see the comments, for example, concerning Mr. Roth's "Portable Hole" routine in Coinmagic [ibid.]). Occasionally performers have extended the use of the jumbo coin, from duplicating the actions of the now-standard stand-up one coin routine to complete routines of stage- style manipulation. This book provides a wide variety of such material, including "palming, stealing, retentions (sic), transfers, optical tricks, productions, size changes, color changes, and magic theory."

The book begins with a brief introductory theoretical section which attempts to define the difference between an artist's technical tools, physical tools, and "spiritual" tools. This is a thoughtful piece, although as is so often the case, the author seems to have his own particular definition of the word "spiritual." Part 1 provides background material concerning coins, clips and concealments, performance conditions, and so on. Part 2 includes sections on Palming, Steals & Retentions (meaning vanishes), and Transfers. This is utility material that represents perhaps the most useful content of the volume. Part 3 is entitled "Manipulation," and under this rather broad heading there are methods for producing jumbo coins from silks, fire, playing cards, some assorted other technique, and even some copper/silver routines.

The student interested in considering a wide variety of possibilities with jumbo coins will doubtless find something of interest in this volume. A researcher, however, would have found this more useful had the author provided at least a select bibliography of other related material. For example, if one only wishes to produce the 3" coin at the conclusion of a one-coin routine, or perhaps to perform a single vanish of same, then I believe that there are excellent methods available elsewhere in the literature, such as that contributed by Allan Hayden, Wesley James, G. Kurtz, and others. But in light of the fact that there is little in the way of specialty texts on this subject, many will probably consider this a worthy addition.

5-1/2" x 8-1/2" perfect bound; 98 pages; 50+ line drawings; 1994: Publisher Write Track Media