This is a magic trick that makes it look like a dollar bill is actually floating on the magician’s finger. I’ll explain how the illusion works and describe in detail how you can perform the trick yourself!
How can you make a dollar bill float?
For this magic trick, you hide a coin in your left hand and place it on the end of a folded dollar bill. The coin shifts the center of gravity and creates the illusion that the bill is floating.
I’ll show you exactly how it works and how you can perform the trick yourself, so let’s get started!
How the “Floating dollar bill” magic trick looks for the audience
Before I explain the illusion in detail, let me show how this trick looks from the view of a spectator. If you want to see a whole performance of the trick, you can watch the video (scroll down a little bit to find it).
How this trick is usually performed:
The magician borrows a banknote from the audience and shows it from both sides. Then he folds it once in the middle and places it on his two thumbs.
Slowly, he removes his right hand and the bill floats on his left thumb, even on other fingers or the edge of his hand.
Right after he is done with the trick, the bill can be examined.
Let’s get started with the tutorial.
How to perform this trick and make money levitate yourself
Basically, the entire secret of the trick is a coin that you hide in one of your hands. You then fold the bill and use the coin as a weight, which allows you to balance the bill on one of your fingers.
It might sound simple, but never judge a trick by its principle!
You can watch a performance (and a tutorial) in this video.
This is a trick that requires some practice, so make sure you know what you are doing before performing it!
If you are looking for another levitation trick, you can learn how to make small objects actually float in the air (for real!) in this post.
Tutorial with images for the “Floating dollar bill” trick
To levitate the bill, you need to palm a coin in your left hand before the trick. During the performance, you place this coin unnoticed on one end of the bill so that it can “float” on your finger.
Of course, this coin must not be seen by any spectator, so the bill is folded once lengthwise in the middle, hiding the coin. This requires some dexterity, and you must be able to palm a coin (which means hiding it in your hand).
The preparation: Palming the coin
Before the trick, you hide a coin in your left hand, in the so-called “finger palm”. This means you clamp the coin between the heel of your hand and your finger.
This is all the preparation you need.
Borrowing and showing a dollar bill
Next, you ask a person from the audience for any banknote. I would recommend you to bring a bill yourself as well, just in case, maybe nobody has money handy.
Before you start the trick, you can briefly show the bill from both sides. This is especially important if no spectator has given you a bill and you are using one of your own.
This way, all spectators can be convinced that it is a normal bill and that it has not been prepared.
This is how you can show the bill without flashing the coin.
Of course, you can show the bill from both sides, but it must not be obvious that you are palming a coin in your left hand. It is best if you fold the bill in the middle as shown in the next photos and turn it over once.
Fold the bill like this with your left hand.
You can now fold the upper half of the bill forward with your left hand.
This way, both sides of the bill are shown, but the coin remains unnoticed.
Your movements should be fluid and the showing of the bill should happen as casually as possible. It’s a good idea to practice this in front of a mirror.
If you don’t feel comfortable with these moves, you can just skip this part as well.
Positioning the coin and folding the bill
This part is the most challenging and should be practiced enough. You put the coin on the bill and fold it horizontally in the middle, but of course, nobody must see the coin!
You should practice these movements in front of a mirror and really take your time, otherwise, you will reveal the secret of the trick – if you show the coin even very briefly or make a suspicious movement, your audience will get skeptical.
Place the bill on the fingers of your left hand as shown.
Slide the coin onto the bill with your thumb.
Hold the coin in the position shown.
Fold the bill horizontally towards you as shown.
Hold the coin with your thumb and index finger.
Hold the folded bill between your hands as shown.
If you fold the bill horizontally before the trick and trace the fold, it will be easier for you during the performance.
In case you use a spectator’s bill, this won’t work – so be even more careful so that the coin doesn’t fall out of your hand.
Once you’ve folded the bill with the coin on your thumb, you can finally make the money “levitate”.
How you can make the money levitate
This is the exciting part of the magic trick: the bill starts to float. To do this, put your hands in the right position (photos down below) and hold the bill with your thumbs.
Now, you need a little dexterity to find the right spot. The coin has to balance the bill perfectly, but must not slip off your thumb. It’s not that easy, so make sure you take your time to balance the bill during the performance.
Tip for performing the trick:
You can pretend that you have to focus a lot on the trick, so your audience doesn’t get suspicious if it takes you so time to find the right spot.
To start, hold the bill with your two thumbs as shown.
Stretch your fingertips upwards and try to find the “balance point”.
Slowly remove your right hand.
Now, you can show that the bill floats on your thumb.
It’s not that unlikely that the coin will simply slip off the side of your thumb and fall out of your hand.
This would ruin the trick, so perform all movements slowly and focus.
If you feel confident, you can also turn the bill a little with your right hand or pass it through the air to show that no strings are being used.
Removing the coin and handing back the bill
After your audience has seen the floating bill, some of them will probably want to examine it immediately. So you should quickly palm the coin back in your hand, then you can hand the bill to the audience.
To palm the coin, simply hold the bill at a slight angle and it will slide back into your hand on its own.
This is how you can safely remove the coin:
Hold the bill with both hands.
If the bill is slightly slanted, the coin will slide into your hand on its own.
Of course, the spectators must not notice this.
Hide the coin in the Finger Palm position.
You can now unfold the bill safely.
Next, you can hand back the bill if you borrowed it.
Keep in mind:
You have to master all of these movements before performing the magic trick! This is an illusion that requires some sleight of hand, so don’t rush it!
A few more tips to master this trick
It’s not that easy to let the coin slide into your hand inconspicuously. If you tilt the bill to obvious and wait for the coin to slide into your hand, many spectators will know what’s happening.
To hide this, you can trace the bill from the bottom to the top with your right thumb and index finger and flip it open immediately afterward. This should be a fluid movement and should not look cramped.
Quick tip You can influence and almost control the attention of the audience with your eyes.
It is also very important that you consciously look at the right hand with your eyes. Do not look at the coin! You can control where the audience looks with your gaze – be aware of that. You must be able to palm the coin without looking at it, otherwise, your eyes will always draw the audience’s focus to your left hand.
As with almost all magic tricks, a mirror is very helpful because it’s the only way you can see the trick from a different angle (or film yourself, of course). Practice every move until you really know how to do it.
Have fun performing it!
Looking to learn more levitation tricks? I’ve explained how the “Floating Table” trick works in this post, and you can learn how to do the “Floating Ball” trick right here.
Image source (header image):
All of the other images are my own photos, click here if you want to use them.