New York City, circa 1911
The story of the Okito Box begins with one man’s heartburn and another man’s stroke of genius. Joe Klein, the afflicted man, kept his heartburn pills in a small metal pill box. His business partner Theo Bamberg, aka Okito, was toying around with the box when he discovered something unusual. A fifty cent piece could seem to appear or disappear from inside the box. One moment the coin was there and in the next it was gone. A light bulb went off. Soon after magicians around the would could purchase the “Okito” Coin Box through The Bamberg Magic and Novelty Company.
It’s easy to imagine Bamberg’s excitement. But it is unlikely that even he could have foreseen the hold his box would have on coin magicians. Over the next hundred years countless routines would be created. The box would be crafted out of brass, copper, ivory and rare woods. Most important would be the design changes. Specially modified boxes would emerge. These allowed for even greater and more profound mysteries.
Okito Box In The Real World
S. Leo Horowitz loved his Okito Box. It was part of his working set. In the 1960’s he released a booklet of routines designed for real world scenarios. They are direct and easy to master. Check this one out for sure.
Other Routines Of Note
“Tea for Two” by Ken Brooke appears in Art of Close-Up Magic Vol. 1. A stack of coins travels between two cups under the fairest possible conditions. The routine makes use of the Boston Box; a variation of the standard box.
Coin Box Killers by Doug Brewer. The material here is great for the strolling magician. Brewer gives the Okito Box a modern feel. I have personally received more than my money’s worth from this excellent book.
Many fine routines are scattered throughout back issues of Genii Magazine. These will appear in Part 2 of this article.
Okito Meets Roth
From Section Two of Expert Coin Magic:
“What you will read in this section is the largest amount of material on the coin box ever published in one place. It is also all solely the creation of David Roth…
With the exception of the creation of the box itself, this material completely eclipses anything ever done before. The coin box will be forever redefined as of this moment.”
Richard Kaufman, 1985
Here are 90 pages of box work by a master in his field. For the coin magician, reading through this mountain of material is pure joy. Roth gave us much to think about and practice. Take your time with it and you will be greatly rewarded.
Choosing The Right Box
In the coin box universe choices abound. Between design, style, manufacturer, one can easily get overwhelmed. I’ve tried every box from Johnson to Lassen before deciding that Jim Z. was right for me. The weight and design of the Jim Z. Box makes any “move” a breeze. They are attractive and come in a variety of sizes from U.S. Quarter to Silver Dollar. David Roth uses Jim Z. Enough said.
The Okito Coin Box in action @chrisdeleomagic
Comment below on your experience with the coin box. Would love to hear how more magicians are using this classic item in their acts.
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