The Black Hole - A Coal Miner's Lament
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The Black Hole - A Coal Miner's Lament The Black Hole - A Coal Miner's Lament The Black Hole - A Coal Miner's Lament

The Black Hole - A Coal Miner's Lament



Grandpa used to cough a lot. He coughed in long sequential crying howls, until he turned purplish red and nearly died of suffocation. You could see tiny swollen blood vessels appear on his cheeks. Usually the coughing attacks lasted about five minutes. Sometimes longer. It was a horrible sight, the poor man. He spat the material result of the coughing into a cup with a coffee filter. My grandmother changed the filter a couple of times a day. If she was too late according to his liking, he would shout at her. Sadly, her behavior was about the only thing he had left to control. Between the usual green and occasional red, his sputum was black as coal, and not without a reason.”


I always felt that there was something bothering him, next to his illness. That he was keeping a dark secret, sitting silently on his couch. I didn’t know what it was, but it seemed that a painful mystery was tormenting him. I used to sit next to him when I visited, and he would tap on my knee, looking outside into the garden, absent-minded. When he was alone, he was always rubbing his brass tally token between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. The token always looked perfectly polished. It contained his unique miner number, which was minted into the brass.”


If someone entered the living room, grandpa immediately packed the token away into a small wallet. If I asked questions about the token, he always downplayed them, but he promised me that I would get the token after his demise.”


During my next visit to my grandmother, I asked her about the articles I had found. She sighed and said that she felt a great relief that she finally could tell someone about this. My grandfather had always forbidden her to talk about it.”


According to my grandmother, my grandfather felt crippled with guilt for the rest of his life. He told her the story once, but he never talked about it again. His ‘relative luck’ mentally ate him from the inside, while his failing lungs took care of his physical remains...”




How does it feel if a coal miner survives a deadly accident because of CHEATING with cards? You can now let your audience experience this feeling by having them participate in the sad story of a Dutch coal miner. It is a story about luck, guilt, the value of life and profound philosophical questions. At first the participants will think that they survived the accident because of sheer luck (winning a lottery with cards, like in the story). But then they will find out that grandpa cheated...



You get a 30-page manual containing the coal miner’s story (told by his grandson), handling and alternative handlings of the effect, a description of the props, and more.


You also get an old cigar box containing:


  • Three painstakingly sourced original miner’s tally tokens of a closed Dutch mine.

  • A leather token wallet.

  • Two very old worn antique coins.

  • One antique coin of one of the Dutch provinces.

  • A silver Wilhelmina dime and a silver Wilhelmina quarter (Wilhelmina was the Dutch queen from 1890-1948).

  • A Belgian 50 centimes coin with a coal miner on the face.

  • Two very old bullets from antique frontloading weapons (one musket bullet and one ‘pistolet’ bullet found at the fortification walls surrounding the city of Maastricht).

  • 25 used stamps issued to commemorate that the coal mines in The Netherlands existed 50 years (1902-1952).

  • A pencil stub.

  • A switching envelope.

  • Two sets of four Bicycle 1800 cards.

  • Four beautiful genuinely old German or Austrian cards for a four-card handling.

  • Two aged newspaper articles mentioning a mining incident.

  • A rusty paperclip.

  • A bag with genuine anthracite coal.

  • A Saint Barbara pendant (Saint Barbara is the patron Saint of the coal miners and protects against sudden death/accidents).

  • Three antique game pawns.

  • A certificate of authenticity (hand stitched on a miner picture).


The story is Dutch, but the core of the story can easily be translated into other mining accidents.


Quite a few of the props are extremely rare therefore, there will only be 40 copies of this effect produced.