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  • Writer's pictureMadison Hagler

Brass Buttons by Matthew Wright and Mark Southworth

Brass Buttons is a brand new release that is Matthew Wright and Mark Southworth’s take on the classic copper, silver, brass gimmicks. The most significant advantage to this set over any that have come before it is that it utilizes three totally different objects that are clearly very different instead of just three different colored coins. If you know the classic CSB set, you’ll be surprised to hear that this set goes from a solid poker chip to a washer with a hole in the middle and a smaller button with four holes. If you know the CSB method, this sounds impossible, which is precisely why I think this set is more deceptive.

Let’s look at the extensive tutorial that comes with the gimmicks.

Introductions and Basics

The tutorial begins with Matthew explaining what you receive. You receive a “rusty” washer, a blue button, a poker guard, and the gimmick. The rust is hand painted on the washer, so each one is slightly different. Mine looks okay, but it is a little too uniform for my liking. I will probably end up scratching some of it off to get a more organic look. The washer has a very nice and substantial weight to it (30 grams, to be exact). The blue button looks like a button, but it is made of metal, so it feels different than the spectator may expect it to feel. I wouldn’t explain it too much, but it seems like something you may have nicked from your grandma’s button collection from her sewing room. The button is much lighter than the washer at 8 grams. I had never heard of a “poker guard” before this, but what you receive does indeed look like an authentic poker guard. Essentially, these are used by poker players to let the dealer know they haven’t folded, and it protects the cards from the wind or a breeze blowing them over. I think explaining what it is as part of the presentation is lovely because it is something unique that many people won’t know about, and then when they google it, they will see many of these tokens coming up. It weighs just under 30 grams. And finally, you have the gimmick which allows you to display the poker guard or the button/washer. It looks really great. On my set, you can definitely see a difference between the poker guard and the gimmick when you put them side by side. My gimmick is duller than the real poker guard, but there's no chance anyone would notice throughout a routine. The edge of the gimmick also resembles the rusty washer more than the poker guard, but again, no one will notice that in performance. The gimmick weighs just under 30 grams as well. The entire set is incredibly well-made and is very high quality. Honestly, I don’t know how they’ve got the price down to $40. This set could have easily cost double and still been worth the price.

The next thing Matthew discusses is how to nest and un-nest the gimmick. The nesting is a little more complicated than a typical CSB routine, which was my only concern before purchasing. After playing with it, I can assure you it is straightforward, and with minimal practice, nesting becomes second nature. There’s no need to worry about the nesting process. Matthew also teaches how to line everything up so that you can nest the gimmick in a spectator’s hand.

Button Explosion Routine by Matthew Wright

Matthew’s routine begins with a spellbound sequence to introduce the three items. The poker guard is then put in the pocket and revealed to be back in the hand. Next, the button and washer are placed in the pocket, leaving the poker guard in the hand; but instantly, the poker guard turns into the button and the washer, and the poker guard is removed from the pocket. The three items are then put in the spectator’s hand, and the poker guard is removed and put in the pocket. When they open their hand, they find the button and washer that should be in their hand have turned into the poker guard. The poker guard becomes a handful of buttons and washers for the finale. It’s a good routine, it’s not the best in the world, but it’s not the worst. It’s a good starting routine. I just don’t like CSB routines that are hard to follow. I feel this is one of those routines. You must find extra buttons/washers for the finale if you want to include it. 

3 Way Spellbound - Will Houstoun

This is the first thing you see in the trailer where the poker guard turns into a washer and then into a button. It’s a short and sweet move using only the gimmick, but I don’t think it takes full advantage of the gimmick.

Moves and Sleights - Will Houstoun

Simple Throw - The poker guard turns into the washer and button as it’s tossed from one hand to the other. This is basically self-working and serves as a nice visual change that’s easy to do.

One-Handed Transformation - The poker guard visually becomes the washer and button as it’s tossed up and down with one hand. This is a bit knackier, but it isn’t TOO tricky. It takes some playing to figure out how much force you should toss with, but I’ve found less is more. 

Wild Coin Transformation - The poker guard changes into a washer and button when touched by another washer and button. This is the same move as above, using the washer and button to “help” with the move.  

Turn Over Subtleties - A few handling tips that allow you to handle the gimmicks naturally, apparently showing both sides. Some of these work with the gimmick nested, but one or two can only be done with the un-nested gimmicks. 

Chip Thru Table - Will Houstoun

The poker guard is above the table, and the washer and button go beneath the table. The poker guard is covered with the hand, and when the hand comes away, the poker guard has become the washer and button, and the poker guard is brought out from beneath the table. I don’t really understand the logic of this routine, as nothing goes through the table. It’s the classic pocket transposition just done with the table. 

Betcha - Will Houstoun

Using two sets, the washer/button and poker guard change places. I don’t think this particular move is worth getting two sets, but if you have two sets and want a clean transposition, this is a good way to do it. 

Chipped Cup - Will Houstoun

The three items are put in a cup. The washer and button are removed from the cup. They become the poker guard, and the button/washer is in the cup. For a finale (after a switch,) the cup is turned over to reveal a flurry of buttons. The first part of this is a clean transposition. The finale requires you to switch the cup while they are reacting to the transposition. 

Classic Matrix - Will Houstoun

Four items are in a square on the table: a washer, a button, a card guard, and a dollar coin. Two playing cards are also used. One by one, the objects all travel to the same corner. This uses the gimmicks in a unique way, and the sequence is quite nice. It makes great use of the gimmicks. The only problem with the sequence is that two of the phases require you to ditch objects in your lap. If you perform seated or you have something to catch the objects, this will work perfectly. 

Speedy Matrix - Will Houstoun

The four objects above are covered with four cards. The four objects all gather into one corner in 5 seconds. This is another clever use of the gimmicks. This is still a one-by-one matrix, but it happens very quickly. The advantage this version offers is that nothing needs to be lapped. 

Craig Petty CSB Routine

This is the first routine that utilizes the Quiver coin pouch. A washer, button, and poker guard are removed from a coin pouch. The performer puts the washer and button back in the pouch and performs a trick with the washer (any kind of one-coin trick you want.) Then you remove the button and put the washer in one hand and the button in the other. The washer jumps into the hand with the button. Then you put the washer and button in one hand together, and they both jump to the other hand. The poker guard is removed from the pouch and the button and washer are put back into the pouch. As you wave your hand around the poker guard, it turns into the washer and button. The poker guard is now back in the pouch. It is removed, and all three objects go in your hand. You remove the poker guard from the hand and hold it in the other hand. The poker guard and the washer/button switch places. You repeat this phase again. Now you remove the poker guard and do a little game of “which hand,” where the spectator always guesses the wrong hand. Now you put the three objects in the spectator’s hand. You reach into their hand and remove the poker guard. It instantly changed to the washer/button, and the poker guard is now in their hand. For the final phase, you put the three objects in your hand and remove the poker guard. The washer and the button vanish from the hand. They reappear in the coin pouch, and now everything is examinable. Phew! That’s a lot to write. I hope it’s somewhat coherent. It’s a long-winded routine, for sure. It has a nice flow to it, but I would cut some of the phases. My least favorite phase is the “which hand” moment. It seems a little mean-natured and verges on revealing the method, IMO. 

Javier Fuenmayor CSM Routine

This routine also uses the Quiver coin pouch. The three items are shown, and the washer and button are put into the coin pouch. The poker guard is given a toss, and it visually becomes the washer/button. The poker guard is removed from inside the pouch. Next, the washer and button are placed in the performer’s hand, and the poker guard is waved over the closed fist, which causes the washer and button to vanish. They are shown to be inside the coin pouch. At that point, everything can be examined, including the coin pouch, because it is empty. This is a very quick two-phase routine. It has a nice flow to it, but the final phase is a little weak to me because you are left holding out the gimmick, and when you’re demonstrating a vanish, I prefer to be able to show both hands clean–especially if it’s the end of a routine. If you really like the routine, you have ample cover to ditch the gimmick as they examine the objects; I just don’t think it’s the cleanest. Javier teaches two similar ideas that Will Houstoun taught earlier. It seems they stumbled onto some of the same concepts independently. Javier also teaches how to perform this routine without a Quiver purse, using your pocket.

Roddy Mcghie CSB Routine

This routine uses the Quiver coin purse again. The three objects are shown, and the button and washer are put in one hand. The audience guesses where the button and washer are. They are shown to be incorrect because the button/washer and poker guard have switched places. The performer said this round used sleight of hand to switch them. He says the next round uses illusion. The washer and button are put in one hand, but you’re able to “create the illusion” that the washer and button are in the other hand. Next, the washer/button are put in the coin purse, but you show the washer/button are still in your hand, and the poker guard is actually in the coin purse. He says this final round used misdirection. Finally, he says he will put all three techniques together. He puts the poker guard in the purse, and visually it transforms into the washer/button in the purse. The poker guard is shown in the hand. Everything can then be examined. I like the way this routine comes together. The only negative I have is the patter which just doesn’t actually make any sense.

All Things Change - Gary Jones/Mark Bendell

Three poker guards are introduced and placed into the fist. They turn into a button, a washer, and a die! This is a clever use for the gimmick that is punchy and very different from the rest of the CSB routines. It’s very easy to do and only requires one Brass Buttons set. It is a breath of fresh again against the redundancy of the other routines.

CSB Routine - Gary Jones/Mark Bendell

The three objects are introduced and handed out for examination. The button jumps from one hand to the other, then the washer passes through the hand, and the poker guard then jumps from the hand to the pocket. The three objects are placed in one hand, and the button/washer are removed and held in the other hand. They instantly switch places with the poker guard. This is repeated with the button/washer turning into the poker guard as it’s rubbed on the sleeve. Next, the poker guard is held in one hand, and the button/washer are placed in the pocket. Again, they change places. All three objects are held in one of the hands. The poker guard is removed and held in the other hand. It jumps from hand to hand a couple of times before he shows that he is still using just one poker guard, one washer, and one button. Finally, the objects are held in the hand, and the poker guard is removed and placed in the pocket. It swaps places with the button/washer one final time, and everything can be examined. This is another good routine; however, it feels very repetitive. That’s the problem with most CSB routines; they seem to demonstrate the same thing over and over again. It’s a full routine of items switching places. What I like about this routine is that it doesn’t use a Quiver purse and that the objects can be examined at the beginning and end of the routine. 

Free Choice - Gary Jones/Mark Bendell

The spectator is given a choice between a poker guard, a washer, and a button, and you can reveal that their choice is in your hand and there is nothing else. This is another clever use for the gimmick. It is a multiple-out routine where ⅔ of the time, it is as clean as them naming one of the options and you showing it. ⅓ of the time, they will pick two objects instead of one. The options are very clean, but it requires a specific performing surface. 

Nicholas Lawrence Routine

The three objects are shown and held in the hand. The spectator chooses one of the objects and imagines the rest vanishing from the performer’s hand. The performer shows their named item is now the only one in the hand–the other two have vanished. This is another clever use for the gimmicks. Nicholas weaves a story of his grandfather to make sense of the props. There are some clever auditory illusions at work in this routine which could probably be useful for other CSB routine. It’s definitely cleanest when they choose the poker guard, but the other two options aren’t bad, just not quite as clean. Nicholas goes over how to end clean so that everything can be examined. 

Mark Elsdon CSB Routine

Mark’s routine uses a Quiver coin pouch. He also introduces a poker chip to the routine. It begins with him removing a poker chip, a washer, and a button from the purse. The poker chip is waved over the washer/button and they turn into a poker guard. The poker guard then penetrates the hand a few times. The spectator now guesses which hand the poker guard is in, but the hands now contain the button and the washer. The poker guard is removed from the coin purse. 

Mark also shows a variation of this routine without the coin purse; instead of the poker guard appearing in the purse, it appears under the spectator’s watch. This routine is very short and punchy, but I don’t understand the point of adding the poker chip. It just complicates things and doesn’t add anything. I also think it’s an odd choice to begin the routine by changing the washer and button into the poker guard before they even know what a poker guard is.

Sean Goodman CSB Routine

Sean’s routine begins by having the three objects examined. He tells them the poker guard is called “Miss Direction.” He puts the washer/button in his pocket, but they return to join the poker guard. Next, he removes the poker guard from one hand and holds the button/washer in the other. They instantly change places. Once more, the three items are squeezed in one hand, and the poker guard is removed and put in the pocket. The hand holding the washer/button is opened to reveal they have become the poker guard. Finally, the performer causes the poker guard to vanish. The structure is nice here, I rather like the routine, but I HATE the patter. I get such cringey vibes when a performer personifies objects and calls them their “assistants,” and gives them a corny name like “Miss Direction.” If you can look past the patter, you’ll find a decent routine that you can use. He uses a holdout of his creation for the final ditch of the poker guard, but it’s not necessary. 

Paul Roberts Routine

Paul’s routine is performed as a memory test. The three objects are examined. The performer plays a couple of rounds of a memory test where he holds the three objects in his hand and pockets one item; they have to answer which two items are left in the performer’s hand. They get it right twice. Now the button and washer are removed, and he asks which coin is left in the hand. They answer the poker guard, but when he opens his hand, it is seen to have the washer and the button; the poker guard is shown to have been removed. This is repeated a second time. Now the button and washer go in the performer’s pocket, and immediately change into the poker guard as the washer and button are now back in the performer’s hand. Next, Paul has the spectator hold the three objects; he reaches in and removes the poker guard. When he waves the poker guard around their hand three times, the poker guard becomes the washer and button and the poker guard is now in their hand. The three objects are put in the performer’s hand again, and the poker guard is removed and put in the pocket. They are asked which objects are left in the hand. However, he opens his hand to reveal it actually holds the poker guard. The button/washer are removed from the pocket. Everything is examinable. Paul uses this routine to steal a spectator’s watch. As it’s the last routine on the project, it kind of feels redundant to the others as there’s only so much you can do with a CSB set. But it’s a fine routine.

Overall, this is going to be my go to CSB set. I like the look of the objects, and I love that the changes appear very dramatic with one object becoming two totally different objects instead of just one coin becoming two different colored coins. I think the idea of a coin that is silver on one side and copper on another seems conceivable to laymen, but there is no way they will conceive that a washer with a hole and a button with four holes could look like the poker guard on the other side. The gimmicks have natural disconnects which I think makes it very hard to backtrack. I also like the “homely” nature of these items; I like that they feel more organic and “found” rather than nicely polished vintage coins. Any CSB routine you currently do is probably instantly transferable to these items; I can’t think of a single instance when it wouldn’t directly transfer to these gimmicks. I have noticed that this gimmick is a little harder to finger palm than a traditional CSB set because of the workings of the gimmick, but that is pretty easy to overcome. I won’t be performing any of these routines as taught, but the great thing is that you can mix and match what you like from these creator’s routines and build it into your own routine. My personal advice is whatever routine you come up with, you should have the objects examined before you begin. I think it’s essential that the objects are examined because they are unique objects, and people will want to look at them closely because they are cool. You might as well give them that satisfaction. My only complaint with the tutorial is it begins to feel very redundant because CSB routines tend to have the same moments. About an hour into the two hour tutorial, it starts to really drag on and I started to go crosseyed because every routine felt the same.

That said, for $40, I think this is incredible value. It is one of best values of a magic product that I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s worth picking up, and it’s fun to play with even if you never use it at a professional gig.

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