Rubinstein Coin Magic by Dr. Michael Rubinstein
Review by Michael Close
The past few years have been boom times for coin magic enthusiasts. In 2017, the much-anticipated Geoff Latta: The Long Goodbye was released. The following year Giacomo Bertini’s System for Amazement arrived. Both of these books offered a plethora of new sleights and routines.
Then, in June of last year, the spirits of coin magicians were lifted by the publication of a huge new coin book, one rivaling J.B. Bobo’s New Modern Coin Magic in both physical size and scope. The book is Rubinstein Coin Magic by Dr. Michael Rubinstein, and it is sure to join Bobo’s book and David Roth’s Expert Coin Magic as one the three great pillars of coin conjuring.
If you don’t know who Michael Rubinstein is, here’s some background. Michael received a few magic tricks from an aunt at age nine, but the magic bug didn’t really bite until age fifteen, when an uncle taught him the French drop and he received a copy of New Modern Coin Magic as a birthday gift. Almost immediately, he began developing his own techniques.
He moved to Italy to study veterinary medicine in 1977. There, he met local magicians, and participated in (and won) several contests. In 1985, just before leaving Europe with his veterinary degree, Michael produced the Master Coin Technique video series in German; this was later released by L&L Publishing as the three-volume Encyclopedia of Coin Sleights.
Michael joined forces with David Roth and Mike Gallo to produce the long-running New York Coin Magic Seminar. The DVD series generated from those gatherings ran to sixteen volumes, and featured the best coin magicians from around the world. Michael’s magic has also appeared in Apocalypse, Richard’s Almanac, MAGIC magazine, Genii, and other magazines.
It’s important to know, Rubinstein Coin Magic is not a compilation of everything Michael has published in the last thirty-plus years. It is a distillation of that material. In the Introduction, Michael writes, “I am very proud of the material in this book. I decided that instead of including all my material (such as older handlings, routines I felt were outdated, or moves I no longer use), I would just include my best material. I feel that there is something here for everyone.” You will also find a great deal of previously unpublished material.
With age and experience, Michael Rubinstein’s approach to magic has shifted. He explains this new perspective in the Introduction:
“My philosophy on coin magic has changed, and is reflected in the routines that I have included. When I started out in coin magic, I focused more on technical routines that contained difficult moves. Over the years I discovered what so many other experienced pros realized. Magic doesn’t need to be knuckle busting; it needs to be entertaining. I began to focus on presentation over difficulty. That doesn’t mean that some of the material isn’t challenging, it is. But instead of doing something because it was impressive to other magicians, I tried to make the moves look as magical as possible – when possible, to avoid extra finger movement.
“Magicians are very forgiving about a bit of strange finger movement if the final trick is good. Laymen will look at that as something suspicious. As such, whenever I watched myself doing magic and I didn’t like the way my hands looked, I changed the move. And, I tried to make my audience smile. In other words, my magic style developed in order to focus on laymen magic over magician magic.”
The contents of Rubinstein Coin Magic are far too wide ranging to review in detail, so I’ll have to settle for a brief summary. Part One (six chapters) contains information on various coin techniques, including Rubinstein’s R.O.P.S move, vanishes, shuttle passes, loads, changeover palms, click passes, Spellbound moves, false counts, Rubinstein’s Stealth palm, and various other techniques.
Part Two (eleven chapters) contains effects grouped by the general theme of the effect. These familiar plots include: Copper/Silver routines, Wild Coin effects, Spellbound routines, Coins through the Table, Coins Across, Coin Productions and Vanishes, routines using coins and cards, gaffed coin routines, tricks with coins and poker chips, and miscellaneous routines. There is a large section with contributions from Michael Rubinstein’s friends, including Mike Gallo, Nathan Kranzo, Moritz Mueller, Tom Gagnon, Marc DeSouza, Miguel Angel Gea, Giacomo Bertini, and David Roth. There’s a tasty Easter egg in this chapter; don’t pass it by.
The book concludes with three bonus routines and a chapter of puns for any occasion. Michael is a fan of puns and did not think the book would be complete without including some. Whether or not you’ll find this section useful depends on your sense of humor and your performing style.
Michael Rubinstein’s writing style is clear; the hundreds of excellent black-and-white photographs show every detail of the action. You should have no problem learning from this book.
Encompassing every major coin plot and coin technique, Rubinstein Coin Magic will become a standard text on the subject; there’s enough material here to last you the rest of your life. For anyone interested in coin magic, this book is a must-have and should be in your library.
[Note: If you want to get an idea of the material in the book, Michael has a YouTube channel with video demonstrations of some of the moves and the routines. You’ll find it here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6JOjhWUu2xPC9fL5AX7TzA/videos]
For another review on coin magic check out my review of Geoff Latta's book The Long Goodbye - Latta on Coins.