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The Exquisite Mystery of “La Moneda Fundiente”

Updated: Aug 7


“If you have to ask, you’ll never know. If you know, you need only ask.”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Chrisitian Llácer runs Selecciones Magicas, a magical emporium in Barcelona, which, based on this breathtaking video, may be the most beautiful magic shop in the world. According to Christian, a nearby magic museum on the coast of Girona features equipment, posters and automata, making this a must-see destination


Recently, Christian sold me a pair of vintage lithographs from his warehouse, including a gorgeous Friedlander stock poster (#390), pictured here (which, according to Charles Greene, was printed in the 1890s.) In addition, Christian promised a few surprise gifts, one of which he described as a “simple, classic trick produced in Spain in the 1980s.”


The parcel arrived, and its wondrous contents poured out of the massive cardboard tube. I spied the Spanish magic trick, a cardboard box about the size of a hotel bar of soap. It bore the charming period graphic, pictured above. This remarkable little surprise arrived in brand-new, sealed condition, even after decades of storage and a bumpy transcontinental voyage in a poster tube.


Before tearing into it, I tried to divine its contents. The box was extraordinarily light, and shaking produced no sound. The lovely graphic offered little insight, and my facility with Spanish is quite limited (meaning none), so I hadn’t a clue. I resorted to Google Translate, which told me that “Moneda” meant “currency,” while “Fundiente” was “flux.” Currency Flux? Never heard of anything like that. Perseverance paid off, a little: translating the entire phrase revealed “The Melting Coin.” Now we were getting somewhere. But where? Perhaps my childlike anticipation had gotten the best of me, but I still had no idea.


After about a week of pleasant anticipation, I carefully cut open the box. Inside was a sheet of instructions – also in Spanish – and a tiny item, painstakingly wrapped in brown paper. Unwrapping it, I recognized it immediately.


Used properly, that item creates an intriguing effect as it deceives three senses simultaneously. As indicated by this lovely graphic from the instruction sheet, a spectator can see, feel and hear a coin drop into a glass of water, and then, quite astonishingly, vanish. It doesn’t end there: the coin, which can be marked and hence rendered unique, can reappear almost anywhere, defying time and space.


“The Melting Coin” dates back more than a century – indeed, a 1903 magic periodical identifies this as the “old” method of working this effect.


So what is it? Well, dear reader, I’m going to keep that secret.


As a child, I owned a cheap version of this effect, yet was far too inexperienced to use or fully appreciate it. While those physical props are long gone, the concept never left my imagination. Today, the gimmick can be difficult to acquire, as demonstrated by lengthy chat board threads among magicians endeavoring to find a source.


I’m very glad to have it back.

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