The “Bill in Lemon” trick is a very popular illusion that can be performed with cards, a dollar bill, and lemons or oranges. I will explain how the trick works and show you an in-depth tutorial, so you can perform the trick yourself!
How does the “Bill (or card) in Lemon” trick work?
When performing the “Bill in Lemon” trick, the magician vanishes a card or dollar bill (sometimes it’s even signed). Right after, he opens the fruit, and the bill or card reappear inside it.
I’ll briefly show how the trick is performed, and explain all the different methods that are used by most magicians.
In case you are interested in the tutorial, just scroll down a little bit and you will find a video explaining everything you need to know.
Let’s get started.
How the “money in the orange / lemon trick” is performed
There are many different ways to perform this trick. The principle is always the same: a card or a dollar bill vanishes and reappears inside a lemon or an orange. It might sound simple, but this is a magic trick that can be truly amazing when performed properly.
One of the most famous magicians who did this trick is David Blaine, you can watch him right here:
For this version, the spectator (Harrison Ford) can select any card in the deck, which then vanishes and reappears inside a lemon. The fruit is opened carefully with a knife and the card sticks right in the middle of it.
This trick can be performed with a signed card or dollar bill as well, which makes the illusion more challenging, but it’s still possible to do it.
Before I proceed to explain the basic principle of the trick, I just want to clarify one thing: The performance by David Blaine is top-notch and incredibly well done. Most other magicians do this trick slightly differently, which makes performing it way easier.
Now, since you know how amazing this illusion can be with the right performance – let’s get started with the explanation.
How the “bill / card in fruit trick” works (Secrets revealed)
Now, as already mentioned, this trick can be performed with cards, money, or even a piece of paper, but the principle is always the same.
To make a long story short: the fruit is prepared in advance, and the card or dollar bill is already inside it when the magician starts performing. When done correctly, it’s impossible to see that the fruit has been opened once, so nobody in the audience will notice it.
When performing, the magician asks for a dollar bill (with the same value as the prepared one in the fruit) and vanishes it by using sleight of hand or other tricks, like a fake envelope.
For the version with the card, most magicians use a “force”, so they know which card the spectator will pick. This is a whole other topic, but with the right technique, you can actually make a person choose exactly one card without them realizing it.
At this point, the rest of the trick is pretty straightforward: Once the card or the dollar bill has vanished, the fruit can be opened and it will reappear inside it.
Quick tip To make the illusion even better, some magicans allow the spectator to cut the lemon or orange himself, since the trick has already happened.
However, this is only the basic version of the trick, and there are other variants, including the serial number of a dollar bill or even signed cards or banknotes, so let’s take a look at these as well.
How the illusion is done using the serial number of a dollar bill
For this version, the serial number of the selected dollar bill is typically written on a piece of paper during the performance. This makes sure that the magician can’t put another banknote inside the fruit before the performance, because it then would have another serial number – right?
Well, not really.
First, if the magician asks for a dollar bill from a person in the audience and then writes the number down himself (or dictates it to someone else), you know he’s not actually reading it. It’s not that hard to remember a few digits, so he can simply tell the serial number of the bill inside the lemon when reading it out.
Another option can be a friend in the audience, who works together with the magician and reads out a number they agreed on before the trick.
But what if you can actually check the number yourself and the trick still works?
It definitely is more challenging to perform the trick this way, but it can still be done. Every single dollar bill has a different serial number, but you can nevertheless use a pencil the change it. Now, I know what you are thinking – it’s way too obvious and everyone would spot that instantly.
If the magician managed to find a bank who listens to him and he asked them for a few bills with consecutive serial numbers, things change. Now, there is only one digit that has to be changed, the rest of them are already the same. Turning a “6” into an “8” is not that hard, and if you take your time when changing the digit, it’s very difficult to spot the difference.
You might be wondering: “Who does all of this just for a magic trick?”, but believe me, people will do way more than that if it makes a magic trick even better.
The version with a signed card or dollar bill is possible as well
Now, I want to be honest right here, this is the most difficult version of the trick. When a spectator signs the card or dollar bill, you know that it’s unique.
It may seem impossible, but even this version of the trick can be performed. This is an illusion that you can be at several magic shops, and many magicians perform it on stage or even up close.
I can’t reveal the secret for this one, but in case you are interested, make sure to check a few magic shops and you will find it.
The complete tutorial for “Bill in Lemon” (works with cards as well)
In case you want to do this trick yourself, you’ve come to the right place. I will explain everything you need to know to perform it.
First of all, you can watch this video which explains every single step of the trick:
Once you understand the basic principle, you can really get creative and develop your own version of the trick.
So have fun and play around with this illusion!
By the way: I will explain the trick with a lemon and a dollar bill, but you can use cards or other fruits as well.
The preparation: Hiding the bill in the lemon
You have to be really careful when preparing the fruit because no traces from the outside should be visible. So you must never cut the lemon open!
Instead, you make use of a characteristic of lemons: these fruits have a small hole in the middle. You can easily insert a rolled bill into this cavity and hide it inside the fruit.
To get the bill inside the lemon, you remove the pip at the top (the small, green/brown part of the lemon that is on both sides). So make sure to get one that has a good-sized pip on it!
Carefully remove this part of the fruit with a knife without damaging the lemon. Once it’s separated, you should be able to see the hole from the outside and insert the tightly rolled bill into the fruit. In case the hole is not big enough, use a pencil or a chopstick to make it bigger.
Once the bill is inside the lemon, glue the pip back on the fruit and you are good to go.
Keep in mind: the lemon must of course be longer than the bill, otherwise, it won’t fit into the fruit. Make sure the lemon is bigger than your bill!
The performance of the trick
To start your performance, make sure that the prepared lemon is somewhere close to you. You can then ask someone for a dollar bill with the same value as the one you put inside the lemon.
The only challenging part of the trick is now to make the dollar bill disappear.
There are several options you can use, including sleight of hand or combining it with other tricks. But honestly, especially for beginners, it’s easier to use another version that doesn’t require some sneaky moves.
I would recommend you to watch the video above, he explains the trick really well and found a great way to vanish the dollar bill by using several envelopes.
Final thoughts for this trick
Just like with any other illusion, it all comes down to the performance, not the actual technique of the trick.
So, in case you want to show it to your friends or even a small audience: make sure that your movements are smooth and try to add a little story to this trick.
The technical part of the trick alone doesn’t make a good illusion!
If you are looking for a few more close-up magic tricks, you can check my tutorial on how to vanish small objects right here.
Image source (header image):