A classic among classics, the Miser’s Dream (originally called The Aerial Treasury) is simply producing money from nothing. It’s unique among common magic show fare as something you might actually do if you truly had magical powers.
Currently it is on my desk, and on my mind, as the next routine I will be adding to my repertoire. It’s been a long time on my to-do list but, as part of my big goals this year, it will quickly progress towards my to-done list.
Whenever I approach a new routine, especially one from the classics collection, I like to immerse myself in the knowledge, then chew on it, process it, and end up with my own objectives for the trick.
One of my favourite magicians to watch is Andrew Goldenhersh. He is highly skilled both with sleight-of-hand, and as a classical guitarist. When he performs magic there is a strong attention to pacing, rhythm, and tension that is clearly informed by his musical side.
I found this recording of his performance which unfortunately saps much of the energy and engagement, but does show his Miser’s Dream routine from beginning to end with no edits.
I love that each coin appearance is given a moment of focus, executed with skill, and receives an audible reaction from the crowd.
Andrew’s coin routine begins at 3:40 and runs about 10 minutes.
Teller is, for my money, the present day holder of the “Master Magician” title. His Silverfish routine was absolutely beautiful when I got to see it live in person. (this particular audience volunteer seems less impressed, which unfortunately takes something away from the performance)
Jeff McBride‘s story of The Apprentice is a great reminder that this trick is not just about the coins.
As I said, I like to immerse myself in a trick when I start working on it. I pre-load my brain, then mostly leave the references behind to do my own work. Here’s a few particular things that are worth investigating.
Levent’s “Ultimate Guide to the Misers Dream” is a three-volume DVD set that samples pretty much everything you need to know throughout the history of magic. I have a lot of respect for Levent’s method of learning and imitating the routines of magicians past, and breaking down the elements of each. It is very helpful to see such a wide variety of approaches in one place, including several unconventional ideas. (the clear glass bucket idea is particularly clever!)
Robert Baxt’s DVD “Baxt, A Boy and a Bucket” is a nice example of a simple, extremely practical routine. For me it was a helpful reminder not to get too caught up in the technical details. If you’re looking for fast results, this would be a great place to start. I especially like that Robert’s routine requires no fancy steals, loads, or even pocket management. It is literally grab and go!
Faucett Ross (Magic With Faucett Ross) is the guy that directly inspired the work of both Charlie Miller (Magicana – Genii July 1965) and John Carney (Book of Secrets). All three have published work on the subject that has been quite interesting to read.
My Personal Direction for the Miser’s Dream
As I set out to create my own personal “Ultimate” Miser’s Dream routine, I want to be clear on my objectives. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the work of other magicians and lose sight of your own intentions. As I’ve been doing my research I’ve formed a few opinions. This will help guide me to my destination.
Things I Like:
- Bare handed coin productions that are truly magical moments. Tough to do, but worth the effort.
- Producing coins from and around an audience volunteer.
- “Working the crowd” as you walk through the audience producing coins.
- Integrating other magic within the routine to break the monotony. Levent produces other objects, Faucett Ross suggests a “coins across” interlude.
- Must use dollar size coins as a stage presenter.
- Showering a handful of coins as a climax.
- Giving volunteers a coin to keep.
Things I Don’t Like
- When it feels like “the bucket trick.” The magic should begin before you have a bucket, which becomes necessary once you realize you have more coins than you can hold.
- Changing the direction of the coins. The trick is about coins appearing. I don’t think they should ever vanish.
- Producing coins from the clothes of the magician. Is this really magical? Do you just have coins hidden in tiny pockets?
- I’m on the fence about “invisible” coins dropping into the bucket with a clang. I feel as though that may highlight the wrong thing to a critical spectator.
- Jumbo coins. They are inherently “fake” objects.
So, what’s next? Well, like all good magic, it’s going to take practice. I’ll be able to refer back to these notes to guide myself as I choreograph my own routine.
Hopefully you’ll be hearing from me later this year with some video proof of my progress on my own Miser’s Dream.
Oh, and one PRO TIP: When practicing, place a wash cloth in the bottom of your bucket if you wish to remain on good terms with the people around you.