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The French Drop: Coin Magic Techniques

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The French Drop is a classic method for seeming to take a coin from your hand but actually retaining it.

It is a very old technique and despite having gone in and out of fashion amongst coin manipulators throughout history, it is a fundamental coin technique that any magician should learn. It is a key element in many excellent and convincing magic tricks. The applications of this technique are really only limited by your imagination. I'll explain a few possibilities in a moment, to get you started.

First let's take a look at the moves from the audience's point of view:

french drop

The conjuror displays a coin visibly held in one hand, between the thumb and fingers.

french drop

The other hand takes the coin between the fingers and thumb.

french drop

The coin is lifted away, still between the fingers and thumb, from the hand that first held it.That hand now remains visibly empty. The coin has been transferred.

Or has it? Of course it hasn't! Let's take a look at what is really going on:

french drop

Here we see the starting position again, but from the magician's viewpoint. Note that the fingers not actually holding the coin form a useful platform, sloping down at 45°

french drop

As the other hand covers the coin as if to pick it up between the fingers and thumb, the hand holding the coin loosens its grip imperceptibly, but sufficiently to allow the coin to fall backwards and down onto the 'platform' of other fingers, where it rests.

french drop

The other hand then moves away as if it is holding the coin between fingers and thumb. The hand that actually has the coin maintains its position, with the coin concealed on the ends of the fingers. The audience perceives the coin to have gone from that hand and the attention automatically moves to the hand that is now supposed to have taken the coin. This hand, now the focus of attention, is moved further away from the hand that still retains the coin.

french drop

With the audience's attention now on the hand that is empty, the coin can be pushed back into the palm of the hand that does really have it.

french drop

The coin is now safely concealed in the Classic Palm position. The audience believes the coin to be in the empty hand. The 'French Drop' is complete.

Those are the simple mechanics of the French Drop.

You can use this as a vanish just as it is, by turning the empty hand that seems to hold the coin over and rubbing the fingers and thumb together, then slowly opening them to show that the coin has disappeared.

Another good application is to change a coin from one type into another, or even into another object entirely. The actions are the same, except that you have the exchange coin already finger palmed in the 'empty hand'. When you do the drop you reveal the new object in place of the original.

Properly performed this can be a mind blowing transformation for your audience. Similarly, this set of moves can be used to easily exchange a borrowed or marked coin from the audience for one of your own - and then back again - which is an important ability for many impressive effects.

One word of advice at this point: when rehearsing The French Drop, or any move involving a false transfer, always perform the moves several times first actually transferring the coin.

The importance of this can't be over stated. This way you ensure that your false moves are very realistic and natural.

Similarly, when you perform the French Drop it is a good idea to play with the move a little as you patter, actually visibly transferring the coin in this way, then even place the coin down on the table before picking it up again and making the false transfer. In this way the audience become used to seeing the moves and the outcome (that a coin is being transferred) and so they accept more readily the reality of the false moves because they are reinforced by their natural expectations.

There is no need to draw attention to what you are doing, just do the moves naturally as you speak and the conditioning will occur unconsciously in your audience's minds.

Have you checked out these fantastic coins for magic tricks? Have a look at this: Magic Coins & Gimmicks

All the best with your magic!

For anyone interested in taking coin magic seriously, I'd like to personally recommend the Bobo's Modern Coin Magic 4 DVD Set, which is a detailed course in all aspects of coin magic, tricks and performance. It contains video demonstrations and explanations of nearly all the techniques, sleights, effects and routines in the unsurpassed classic of modern coin magic. I've studied the DVDs and think they are superb. For most people the text and line illustrations of the original book require a deal of work to interpret and understand. Here that work is done for you: you just watch, repeat and learn. If you regard these DVDs as a complete course in coin magic, you will learn to a very high professional standard. It's simply the best there is - and the price is amazing, too!

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