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T. Nelson Downs collection

Biographical note

Thomas Nelson Downs was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, the youngest of six children. Downs never had any formal training in magic, but by the age of 12, he had become an expert in card and coin manipulation. In September 1895, Downs quit his job as a railway telegrapher and launched a career in magic.

At the peak of his career, Downs traveled frequently, and performed at royal courts. While performing his tricks, he could palm up to 60 coins at a time. One of his most famous tricks was "The Miser's Dream", in which he seemed to pull countless coins out of the thin air. In 1912 Downs moved back to Marshalltown where he opened a vaudeville house and sold magic equipment. Downs wrote several books on magic before and after his retirement. His first book, Modern Coin Manipulation, was published in 1900 and is still issued in reprints today. His other books include The Art of Magic and Tricks with Coins.