Coin vanish is a generic term for any technique employed by magicians to create the illusion of causing a coin to vanish from one's hand. A variety of methods exist for effecting such a vanish, most involving sleight of hand, and many taking advantage of an optical principle called retention of vision. Some sleight-of-hand coin vanishes can be combined with sleeving, allowing the magician to show both hands as being empty at the same time. Methods employing mechanical aids can also be used, including Chuck Leach's The Raven (1994) and John Cornelius' Fickle Nickel (1974). These devices reduce, if not entirely eliminate, the need for sleight of hand, but often require a degree of digital dexterity.
Sleight-of-Hand Coin Vanishes
Sleight-of-hand coin vanishes usually fall into one of two categories (from a methodological stand-point) - false takes and false placements (a.k.a. false transfers).
The French Drop (a.k.a. Le Tourniquet) is one of the oldest and best known examples of a false take. One hand apparently takes a coin from the fingertips of the other hand, but under cover of this action, the coin falls out of view behind the fingers of the hand that was holding it.
The Retention Vanish is among the more widely-used examples of a false placement (or false transfer). The magician openly places a coin on the palm of his hand, then closes the hand around it, but when the hand is opened, the coin is seen to have vanished.
- Le Tourniquet, page 64 in Les Secrets de la prestidigitation et de la magie by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin (1868)