THE IMPOSSIBLE TRICK...
Many have asked why this, of all the many magical tricks and illusions that have been performed over the years, has caused so much discussion and argument through the magical community. There are many reasons. To the layman, the simplest of tricks presented in the right way can, and will, look impossible. But performing for another magician is different. To those on the inside, the artists who revere their craft, the masters who have devoted their lives to the profession, there are no mysteries. The unexplainable, can always be explained.
The key to the sovereigns mystery was surely its simplicity. Coin sleight of hand relies heavily on mis-direction and movement of the hands to pass the coins from one location to the next. But on the rare ocassions Arthur performed The Sovereign, all who witnessed it insisted his hand remained steady and outstretched over the table; sleeves rolled up to emphasis the impossibility of moving the coins into a hidden pocket. His left arm remained constantly by his side - never once roaming over the table and unable to influence the outcome. The table was always just that, a table, with no hidden compartments or drawers. There was, simply no credible description to explain what Arthur was able to do. It was, and still is, an impossible trick. It was Howard Thurston, probably the greatest magician of his time and long time partner of Arthur's, that summed it up best in his diary notes:
"I only saw Art perform the Sovereign twice: it was never in public, always with those same five coins and only to fellow magicians. I often wondered whether that meant something. Where we, as magicians with a different perception, susceptible to something different. Did the coins mean something beyond the blunt reference to the great war? I simply do not know.
I do know that both times I saw Arthur perform the sovereign, I was utterly confused and overjoyed. Confused as there was no possibility of deception, no sleight of hand and no props whatsoever. Just those five damn coins vanishing before my eyes. Overjoyed at seeing something that is truly beyond my comprehension and understanding. It was an emotional experience and made me question much of my own work. I know my story will be well documented and live beyond my days. Arthur sits quietly in the background - but it is truly his story, his abilities, his magic, that should endure. That simple illusion changed my entire belief system. I came to wonder about the world around me and whether, for the only time in my life, I had witnessed something beyond mere trickery."
Kellar, and many of his compatriots, begged Art to tell him the secret of the sovereign. But he never relented and for nearly 100 years, this has remained one of the best kept secrets in magic.