Unique(?) Talent(?)!

Individual Coin Catching

Since the '60s or so, I've been the only person I've ever known who has mastered the art of individual coin-catching beyond four coins (aka: Cobra Coin Catching).(*) On surely less than 10 times [out of 1 or 2 thousand fool tries -- I dunno!] long ago I did accomplish catching six coins but firmly believe that seven should prove impossible [assuming a ceiling of 8-11 feet].  I would be quite interested in hearing from those who can equal or exceed this feat or from those that might suggest interesting variations, alternatives, or other somewhat related news.  I did hear once that the late "Pistol" Pete Maravich, the pro basketball player, demonstrated something similar on "The Tonight Show" many years ago, but I was never able to find any specific details.

*   UPDATE!     In 2019 I finally found documentary proof of others that clearly show that they have fairly caught five coins individually:
  • Swede L-G Danielsson shown catching 5 coins at RecordSetter.com whereby as the first to do so at their site, he is designated as their official record holder in 2009.
        See this at https://recordsetter.com/world-record/coins-caught-using-overhand-cobra-catches/7412.
          (use your browser's Back button to return here)
  • Ohioan David Cain also shown catching 5 coins at RecordSetter.com at a later date which, apparently at best, recognizes his feat, but assigns him no particular official status.
    David has also informed us that as far back as the juggling Piero Brothers in 1965, this feat was shown on TV, but only using 3 coins.
    He also has learned that this skill was published in a juggling book back in 1911 by Will Goldston, presumably again using only three coins.
        See this (and more) at https://www.juggle.org/cobra-coin-catching-a-skill-you-can-learn-in-a-day/.
          (NOTE: This site seems a bit flakey so use your browser's History [hold down Back button]
                  to choose the entry with 'Unique Talent' shown there to return here)
  • I believe that there may well be others who have done this or something similar and would be most pleased to learn more about that, and perhaps add them here.
    I am now thrilled to learn, so many years later, that such a record exists and I can know that I was once able to achieve that standard.  But sadly, I also know that I have no right to ever try to have any official claims here, as I never acquired any authoritative documentation for whatever I had done.

The rules for this process are quite simple:

Variations which can also be employed include using three coins from the back of each hand at the same time, or catching three coins from one hand in each of the six possible sequences.  That is, if the three coins are laid out in a straight line along the index finger and numbered 1, 2, 3 from the elbow out, the coins would normally be tossed with 1 being the lowest and 3 the highest, and caught in the order 1, 2, 3.  But they can also be caught in the other sequences:

        1-3-2    2-3-1    2-1-3    3-1-2    3-2-1      [don't swoop them!]

It is also possible to catch four coins in different sequences, but the only combinations which I have ever recorded as being able to successfully catch are:

    1-2-3-4    1-2-4-3    1-3-2-4    1-3-4-2    1-4-2-3    1-4-3-2
    2-1-3-4    2-1-4-3    2-3-1-4
    3-1-2-4    3-2-1-4             

When someone is trying to learn to catch three coins and is having difficulty, I like to tell them that it might be the way the coins are patterned while in the air.  I tell them to throw the coins in the air as usual, but not to try to catch them -- only look at them as they fall to the ground to see if they are indeed in a neat pattern.  Then when they toss the coins I reach in and cobra grab them, [hopefully] proving that their toss isn't the problem!

Coin Swap Effect

Another interesting effect is to grab a dime off another person's hand and replace it with a penny before they can close their fingers.  As impossible as this may sound, it is actually quite simple to do.

The dime is placed on their open palm just a bit off center toward the elbow, kind of just on the start of the slope leading to the heel.  With their hand straight out about a foot or more from their body, you demonstrate that they can fold their fingers over the coin to protect it, without moving the rest of their hand.  Their elbow should be bent about 90 degrees, but make sure that it is a little bit away from their body.  Then you start in front of them with a closed fist about 10 inches above and just in front of their hand.  With a very quick start, you swoop down and grab the coin off their hand -- the butt of your hand depresses their whole arm a bit making the dime "float" right into your hand.  With a little practice, you can select the best distance which seems to give them the edge, but which you know you can control.  You make a contest out of it the first 2 or 3 times to see how they do, using only the dime [which you should take more often than not].

Then, surreptiously take the penny and hold it with the tip of your ring finger against your palm, making a natural fist as before.  Now forget about the penny and concentrate entirely on the dime just as you have been.  When you grab the dime the penny should automatically be left in its place, with them convinced that they still have the dime!  It's great fun to watch their glee at having bested you, then suddenly turn to dejection when they realize that not only did they not "win" as they had thought, but that they were all the time being set-up for the crushing result.

Here is [to soon be] a clip of the coin swap effect.  The start position of the hidden penny is shown (plus more).

Some people will get real "antsy" constantly starting to close their hand whenever they sense/fear you are about to make a move.  For these people I'll wait quite a long time (5-10 seconds), until they finally relax a bit and have no idea when I'm about to strike.

You can make a little contest of this too, giving others the chance to take the coin from you.  You will find that many of those that have not practiced this will tend to "wind-up [or give other 'tells']", which is to say, draw back up slightly, just as they start their strike.  This will help you to beat them and lend credence to the original idea of this simply being a fair contest of speed and reaction.  It then makes the swap all the more devastating when you pull it off.

When I do pull it off, I just kind of stand there and let them gloat on and on.  I'll nod my head, "Sure, sure..." with the slightest smirk on my face, and then just start pointing to their hand until they finally look down, open it up, and realize.  I needn't say a word, just show them their original coin in my hand; the coins themselves [and the laughter of anyone watching who is in on it] usually say it all.

So just how far apart should the two hands be to start?  Look, this is not a fair contest {despite us prentending that it is); this a trick wherein you are to control it all to your benefit, so learn all you can (and can't) and use that to be the winner, purposely even 'losing' yourself maybe in initial tries a time or two to show 'legitimacy', before the devastating finale.

Think of this whole thing as being a 'club' where it is your sole purpose to induce and iniitiate novices to join in, all in the name of future, shared fun.  And every club has a joining 'price' or 'dues/suffering' to pay, right?  Just after their 'shaming', be magnaminous, teach each newbie how they can learn how to successfuly join the club, and in turn, share this little 'gospel' of joy with others.  Yeah, sadly there may be a very few for whom losing looms more important than sharing future fun -- takes all kinds to make a world and if that's their choice, then maybe simply apologize [or run like hell!].

Other Coin Effects

As soon as you show one of the above effects someone will often try to "'best'" you with something similar (or even altogether different) but still using coins.  I'd like to hear about any neat cases that you encounter.  Here are some neat logic challenges that I've run across:


For comments, please send EMail to daniels@gap.net.

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Last modified: Jan 6, 2019