Friday, February 11, 2011
King Of Koins!
T. Nelson Downs was a contemporary of Houdini, Thurston, Kellar, Herrmann, Maskelyne, and Devant, performing worldwide from around 1895 until his retirement in 1912 at the age of 42. He almost certainly devised illusions for Howard Thurston, and though he was billed as "The King of Koins" he was a pretty amazing card handler by all accounts. After his retirement, he opened a vaudeville theater, wrote several magic books, and spent time amusing his grandchildren. Amazingly, I've found some footage of Downs performing, below.
At the height of his career, he performed a trick which required him to palm sixty (!) coins at once. That's almost unbelievable. The King suffered a stroke in 1938 and passed away at the age of 71. He was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Marshalltown, Iowa. His gravestone reads "King of Koins".