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Susan B’s Diminishing Dollar

Susan B’s Diminishing Dollar
Copyright 1980 by Ron Bauer

EFFECT: The magician tries to con the audience into believing that the Susan B. Anthony dollars are minted in the standard silver dollar size, but get smaller and smaller by being handled. Then he "proves it."


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The purpose for coming up with this little trick with the Susan B. Anthony dollar was to find some use for it. The stores don't like to use them because of their size. I don't like them because I don't have enough of them and am bitter.

You need a small Susan B. Anthony dollar. I know they're all small. This one is even smaller. It's one of those tiny replicas about a quarter of an inch in diameter. You hide this tiny replica between the right thumb and middle fingertips. (Illustration 1). This should give your hand a natural and empty appearance. Bring out a real Susan B. Anthony dollar with the left hand. Place it between the thumb and index finger of the right hand as shown in Illustration 2. Of course, you do not let anyone see the hidden miniature.

All this time you're chatting wide-eyed about... "the fact that Susan B. Anthony dollars don't start out this small, but begin diminishing in size shortly after being distributed. It seems the government is using some strange alloys which are definitely not silver. Handling the coins causes them to get smaller and smaller..." No one will believe this – perhaps – but, blithely continue trying to con them into the idea that you have some sort of factual evidence and proof.

A secret move is done here. Grip the edge of the dollar with the left thumb and fingers. (Illustration 2 again). Slightly lower the right hand and position it so that the thumb is directly beneath the Susan B. Anthony coin. Now lower the dollar with the left fingers. Simultaneously, move the right thumb from underneath, then on top of the dollar. The left hand lets go. The tiny coin is now hidden underneath the big coin. And, hopefully, no one knows but you.

You are now going to apparently show the Susan B. Anthony coin visibly growing smaller. You do this by placing the dollar in the center of the palm-up left hand, secretly loading the tiny replica underneath. The palm-up left hand is not flat. It is shallowly cupped. The tiny coin is secretly loaded underneath the dollar by sort of scraping it off the middle finger as the right thumb presses the dollar onto the left palm. (Illustration 3).

Now the "visible diminishing illusion." I use the word illusion advisedly because this is pure scam. However, some people have given me the impression that they were buying it. They may have been putting me on, but I'll believe anyone who tells me I'm doing well. Anyway, all are directed to stare at the Susan B. Anthony coin as you gradually flatten out your left hand, "...see, it's getting smaller and smaller! Or is my hand getting bigger and bigger?!..." (Illustration 4)


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When you cannot flatten your hand any more without it turning inside out, stop and admit that they might need more dramatic proof. "I'll speed the process up by increasing the body heat." As you say this, close your left hand and turn it palm down. Once again some secret activity takes place. Do not close the left fingers tightly, but loosely. This allows the two coins to come to rest on the left fingertips of the now palm-down left hand. Knead the fingers to "build up extra body heat." Secretly work the real dollar outside the fingertips toward the heel of the hand. Unknown to the spectators, the tiny coin is inside the left fist and the dollar is pressed against the heel of the hand outside the fist. They can't see it because your hand is palm down.

Stop kneading and announce the proof to be ready! You are now going to steal the dollar with your right hand under the guise of showing that there's no swindling going on. You do this by pointing to the back of the palm-down left hand with the right forefinger.

Your right fingers are curved loosely inward toward the palm, the right thumb lightly touching the right second digit of the middle finger. Point the index at the little finger knuckle of the left hand. "Watch that I do not sneak anything into my hand." While saying this, rotate the left hand palm upwards, "...nor do any of my fingers move." As you say this, the right and the left hands are still moving and are palms toward each other when the steal is made. (Illustration 5). Tighten the right thumb and the middle finger and grip the dollar as it goes by. Then – this is very important or the stolen coin will flash – the right hand bends slightly downward at the wrist so that its index finger scrapes lightly across the fingertips of the left hand. The bending of the wrist is to hide any flash during the steal. (Too much bend of the wrist will give a slight feminine quality to this move which is OK in this instance, I suppose, because it is a Susan B. Anthony dollar).

NOTE: Do not try to palm or hide the dollar in the right hand at this point. Just relax until it's time.

The big finish comes when you slowly open your hand and show the audience that you were telling the truth all the time. In the center of your palm is the tiny Susan B. Anthony dollar... "still diminishing." Let them look at it all they want since, after all, it isn't worth much, anyway. In fact, it wasn't worth much before either. Oh, yes, you probably deduced that during the wildly enthusiastic response to the tiny coin, you accomplish the stashing of the real Susan B. Anthony dollar, either by palming, pocketing, or lapping. You did deduce dat, didn't you?

AFTERTHOUGHTS: No afterthoughts... none of this came as any surprise to me as I wrote it. And...there you are.

Copyright 1980 by Ron Bauer