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Michael Rubinstein
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I have been reading many of the recent posts with great interest. One topic centered on the best coin magicans, while another argued about who is the best. So I began to wonder, what do the people in the Café use as their criteria for judgement? Certainly some have said that a particular magician impressed them during a performance. But I think that the overall criteria would be much more than that. So, in thinking about it, I have listed a few parameters that would be important for me. First, their technical skill: The ability to do coin magic in a very natural and magical way, even moves that others would consider difficult.
Second, I look at creativity. What has this magician brought to coin magic that has advanced the art? What has the magician published? Has the magician developed new sleights, routines, plots, concepts and techniques? How many? Has he improved on the works of others or just put out rehashed material? How much of his work has been adopted by other magicians?
Third,what has been his body of work over time?
We are lucky to have in the coin magic community many dedicated magicians who throw out a new idea, sleight, or routine which advance our art. But, in my opinion there are only a few who can excel in all of the categories that I mentioned.
So, my question to you all is, what are YOUR criteria for evaluation?
First edition and reprint of Rubinstein Coin Magic sold out in RECORD TIME! The good news, though, is that I have reprinted the book once again (they are selling like hotcakes!), so there are enough for everyone!! As such, and for the last time, I again have a limited supply of books that I can sign. All come with a special FREE GIFT until supplies are gone, so first come, first serve! To order, be sure to send me an email at rubinsteindvm@aol.com . The books are here and ready to ship!
RUBINSTEIN COIN MAGIC- The biggest book on coin magic since Bobo's Modern Coin Magic, and the most important since David Roth's Expert Coin Magic! Hardbound, 500 pages, 20 chapters of state of the art coin magic illustrated with 930 crisp photos! A contribution chapter from over 20 of the world's top coin magicians! This will be the book against which all future books on coin magic will be measured! Already called a Modern Classic!!
And if anyone (USA ONLY) needs some of the coin stuff used in the book, shoot me an email at rubinsteindvm@aol.com as I have some limited supplies of coins and props used on the book.
Dan Watkins
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Mike,

I think you are 100% on target here.

True masters of any art have:

1. Extreme skill level that rises above their peers.
2. Their skill is not limited to only doing a few things well, but has an overwhelming mastery of the specific art.
3. Is recognized by others who are proficient in the same craft as having a mastery of it.
4. Decades of study and application in the field.
5. Unique works.
6. People seek to study the master's work.
7. His work will leave a lasting impact well after he is gone.

With a criterion established, it does not end there. There is a difference between proficiency in an art and mastery. However, as per #3 above, I believe that it takes one who is proficient in the art to be able to recognize a Master.

As an example: Two days ago I had someone I was performing for tell me that I am the greatest magician they have ever seen. This is not an uncommon occurrence for any magician with a reasonable level of proficiency. However, consider the background of those making such statements. For these people, I am the only one or one of just a few close up magicians they have ever seen perform. They have no background to even grasp my relative standing in the art. I could execute a French Drop and be the greatest magician in the world to some people, but the reality would be far from it.

I believe many have great competency in a specific art, and great skill, but true masters rise above the rest.

Take a look at martial arts: A black belt has obtained a very high degree of proficiency in an art. They are highly skilled, are recognized by their peers, etc. But obtaining the proficiency of a black belt does not make you Bruce Lee.

However, to an untrained fighter, it would matter little if they were taken down by Bruce Lee or someone with a fraction his proficiency. To the unskilled fighter, the one who just bested him would be a master in his eyes.

So it is important to take into account not only the criteria, but also who is making the assessment: One proficient in the art or one not proficient.

I would assert that those without proficiency cannot recognize a master, even given the proper criteria.

Myself for example, I am not very proficient at all with cards. If you put me in a room of proficient card magicians, among one master, I’d have little chance of recognizing the master. However, I’d bet it would be the one with all the guys crowded around him.
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ithomson
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Michael

Are we talking about whether we magicians recognise someone as a master of coin magic, or whether lay people do?

If the former (i.e. from the viewpoint of us magicians), then I agree with most/all of what you and Dan have said so far. Though these parameters might eliminate a number of people considered to be past masters.

If the latter (the viewpoint of laypeople), I'm not sure the same criteria apply (or at least what the priorities of the criteria should be).

I'd be interested in your thoughts on this.

But to answer your question from my own view as a magician; as well as the things you mention I would also look at the ability of the performer to entertain a lay audience. Can they keep a crowd? Can they hold a stage? Can they build to a climax? I love technique and skill as much as the next magician, and truly respect our colleagues who are great exponents of digital dexterity. But for me the ability to perform is what makes the difference between an expert and a master.

Ian
GeorgeSantos
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100% entertaining.(from a layman's perspective)

100% captivating. (my opinion as a magician)
"David Roth is the greatest coin manipulator in the entire world.."

-Dai Vernon "The Professor"


I AM A FILIPINO MAGICIAN
Werner G. Seitz
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Quote:
On 2005-02-21 22:23, Michael Rubinstein wrote:

Second, I look at creativity. What has this magician brought to coin magic that has advanced the art? What has the magician published? Has the magician developed new sleights, routines, plots, concepts and techniques? How many? Has he improved on the works of others or just put out rehashed material? How much of his work has been adopted by other magicians?
Michael, creativity is a strange thing...

To explain what I mean in very simple terms, I just mention one name, nothing to do with coinmagic in particular, but with magic, skill, recognition as one of the true masters of manipulative magic, a guy who didn't invent a thing, who didn't develop many sleights, but who's force was the interpretation and presentation of what others have developped and 'invented'.

Fred Kaps

This shows, how difficult it is to put magicians in a 'frame' and judge them by a *scheme* !
He never invented a single 'trick' he almost didn't invent any sleight but solely adoped and altered existing ones (example, Fred Kaps special delivery palm), nevertheless he was and always will be one of magics greatest..

I just rewatched his handling of his cigarette catching, the loads from the matchbox, the production of the matchbox, the final production of a large cigar.

Nobody ever did it better, not even Cardini..

Alone seing FK doing his cigarette-act, the candles and other stuff, for not to mention his well known and famous routines like the smoking thumb, his homing card aso. aso. proves why he is recognized as THE master, the geatest allround magician ever..

NOTHING of it was 'invented' by him, he routined it HIS way and he handled it better then anybody else.
Nothing to do with coinmagic in general, just with the interpretation of being *creative*.
Creativity is many things and as you mentioned *Has he improved on the works of others or just put out rehashed material?* I have to mention all the above..

He did improve on the work of others interpreting it HIS way, that was all he did..
Learn a few things well.....this life is not long enough to do everything.....

( Words of wisdom from Albert Goshman ...it paid off for him - it might
as well for YOU!!!- My own magic is styled after that motto... Smile )
Michael Rubinstein
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Ian, I would think these should be criteria that a magicians uses to judge. For a layman, a magician using the invisible deck might be considered the greatest magician ever, but they have no references that allow them to make that judgement except for the enjoyment of the performance they witnissed.
Werner, I do think that creativity plays a large part for me in these criteria. There are many technically proficient magicians around. One that comes to mind when I talk of coin magic is Aurelio Paviato of Italy. He is a past FISM winner, and technically PERFECT - it is a joy to watch him perform. But he does very little original material. A great magician yes, but does not meet the criteria that I put down earlier. As I do not know Fred Kap's entire body of work I would reserve judgement, but as I understand it Fred was technically perfect in all aspects of magic, not just coins. I'm focusing here on coin magic.
Ian, I think that the entertainment value that a magician brings to his performance is a wonderful addition to this thread.
First edition and reprint of Rubinstein Coin Magic sold out in RECORD TIME! The good news, though, is that I have reprinted the book once again (they are selling like hotcakes!), so there are enough for everyone!! As such, and for the last time, I again have a limited supply of books that I can sign. All come with a special FREE GIFT until supplies are gone, so first come, first serve! To order, be sure to send me an email at rubinsteindvm@aol.com . The books are here and ready to ship!
RUBINSTEIN COIN MAGIC- The biggest book on coin magic since Bobo's Modern Coin Magic, and the most important since David Roth's Expert Coin Magic! Hardbound, 500 pages, 20 chapters of state of the art coin magic illustrated with 930 crisp photos! A contribution chapter from over 20 of the world's top coin magicians! This will be the book against which all future books on coin magic will be measured! Already called a Modern Classic!!
And if anyone (USA ONLY) needs some of the coin stuff used in the book, shoot me an email at rubinsteindvm@aol.com as I have some limited supplies of coins and props used on the book.
Clarioneer
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There is NO single answer to any question that is based on peoples perceptions, it's merely asked for fun...

How would you compare Sylvester with Roth Smile ?????

For me entertainment is most important, unfortunately a lot of so called greats aren't so entertaining...
catch you later

Clarioneer
Dan LeFay
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For me it is the feeling of magic. I want to be amazed, astonished, surprised and touched. Unfortunately a lot of so called great entertainers aren't so magical ;-)

What about:
-A Master of Magical Entertainment.
-A Master of High Technical Skills.
-A Master of Creative New Plots/Effects.
-A Master of Innovative Methods.
-A Master of Magical Education.

The only one who fits all categories ( a Master of the True Art) seems to be Yoda.
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Magius
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Re Dan's example, Black belts aren't that all-highly. Black belt is not that hard to reach (I assume Karate? Taekwando for example, have tougher systems I think). However, after Black Belt, there are degrees. Running from first degree to 10.

I'll speak for Kendo, because I actually learn it. While the first few degrees are already very impressively, for 6th to 8th degree, it becomes beyond technical expertise, onto the spiritual side. On becoming the "Perfect swordsman" While the lesser degrees is slightly more focused on beating the crap out of the other guy.

To them, perfect means being able to control oneself, have harmony (kinda like Jedis really, seeing as Star Wars had lots of ideas from Kendo), I believe that would also include the person's skill in poetry etc.

What I'm trying to say that there is more beyond beating the other person (amazing the audience). Of course, I think I have to make a point also that beating the other guy after a long struggly, or scoring in the first stroke is very differnt, and I think that to a degree, to the uneducated, your skill also shows.

In a perfect magician, I look for understanding of magic, understanding of drama/acting/rapport, elegance/Aesthetics, humor, and creativity. Both in creation of effects, routining, and in writing. I think the perfect magician is also perfect in things that aren't magic. I think a nice, handsome, charming young man would be preferable to another who is fat, has no manner, and looks like a jerk. I'm sure there are differnt kinds of characters, nice and charming doesn't have to be yours, but that's just an example.

In short, I think it would be the perfect person in general. Perhaps a bit naive, but that's what I believe.
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Werner G. Seitz
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Quote:
On 2005-02-22 07:34, Michael Rubinstein wrote:
One that comes to mind when I talk of coin magic is Aurelio Paviato of Italy. He is a past FISM winner, and technically PERFECT - it is a joy to watch him perform.
Thanx Michael, I understand..
BTW, I well recall Aurelio, that goes way back..
I did meet him at a convention in Baden-Baden in 1983 and he did win the 1st prize in close-up the year before (1982).

Strange enough he hasn't been mentioned for many years by anybody, nor did appear anywhere, AFAIK, wonder if he dropped out of magic?
Don't think so, I recall he was working in a bank in those days..
Learn a few things well.....this life is not long enough to do everything.....

( Words of wisdom from Albert Goshman ...it paid off for him - it might
as well for YOU!!!- My own magic is styled after that motto... Smile )
Dan Watkins
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Magius,

I never meant that "one proficient" means they were "all that highly". I would assume that a black belt has studied enough to recognize a master.

Myself, I have no experience in martial arts. I would not be able to recognize a master from a 1st degree black belt. Either could kick my ass.
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Chris "linkster" Watson
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Surely this type of question is always going to rely on who we are as people. It's like asking who is the best singer Freddie Mercury? Pavarotti? Your mum in the bath? it's always going to be subject to what you've grown up with and what tastes you have. (Probably rules your mum out then Smile )

For me a seamless performance where I worry less about what is technically going on and more about being entertained is what sets apart the greats. In one of the ramsay books Andrew Galloway describes a time when he was asked by Ramsay to sit out front as there was a bad angle and Ramsay wantd to use him to cover the angle. Apparently Andrew was able to watch the audience propperly for the first time and in the opening trick people would be burning Ramsays hands to try and catch him out. By the end of the first trick they were all watching the performance not the hands.

I don't agree that to be a master of coin magic that you have to be able to attain technical handling way above your peers just a performance that is way above. And this applies to the combination of smooth natural handling, mastery of misdirection and above all the ability to entertain. So I guess those would be my criteria.

My favourites haven't got unlimited coin plots to their names or lots of moves. They have done a few things well and that is what sets them apart from the crowd!
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I think when you set up specific criteria as to what's what or what's best it seeks more to exclude. I think all the great systems in history set up bloodlines, kings, intelligensia, clergy, generals, etc. to establish a group that would go on to control the thinking of a thing, a discipline, a way. Perhaps magic is the same. That's not to say that setting up pecking orders of what's best aren't good things in some ways, but there are a lot of good things that don't meet prescribed orders. Doubt if Elvis met anyone's interpretation of good music way back when. Smile I like the point made by Clarioneer about Sylvester or Roth...Good thought there. Smile Hard to argue against the establishment of good better best as a method of discernment as put forth by Rubinstein, as seconded by Dan. I just don't like necessarily deciding who's good and who ain't by a ruling class' perception. In the history of the world, we always got into trouble with ruling classes of individuals and the criteria they set and maintain, that always seems to include themselves and exclude most others. I always look at all these good actors nowadays that never took a lesson, never went to the Strassberg school of drama, etc. Just a bunch of regular folks that got a chance to be who they are, that clearly didn't meet anyone's criteria of good better best. Sometimes differences doesn't allow you in to the club, not because you're not good enough but you're not the accepted perception of good, by those that have setup what "good" is. For instance, I rarely if ever have heard of black magicians here. I'm sure there are some really good ones out there...I'm also sure that because of this and that they aren't so highly regarded or recognized, or mentioned, even the ones that might be known about by some here. I remember when Elvis Presley (after making it into the club) saw a commoner named Jackie Wilson performing...He was so blown away by his presentation on stage that he begged the people at the club to get him off the stage because he was so good, too good.

Anyway, I'm not totally against what has been said here about what's good and why. But while I enjoy Kam, Roth, Rubenstien, Ogawa etc., I also find as much fascination in Mickey Silver, Sylvester, Eric Anderson, Charles Green and Denis Behr. And I've ran into a few kids that were more technically proficient than many men I've seen that were regarded as good. One young man had never heard of Bobo's but in someway had mastered nearly everything in it unbeknownst to himself that it was required reading in coin magic. Smile Oh and black belts aren't what they used to be anymore. Doubt if most of the guys that have them today would make it through the marine corp basic training or the NYC Golden Gloves...Smile Personally, I made it through them all and a heckuva lot more. Just my view. Smile
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Dan Watkins
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Quote:
On 2005-02-22 10:31, Chris "linkster" Watson wrote:
My favourites haven't got unlimited coin plots to their names or lots of moves. They have done a few things well and that is what sets them apart from the crowd!


I agree with this. However, for me favorites are not necessarily the same as “the best”. I have more favorites in coin magic than I consider masters of coin magic.

Quote:
On 2005-02-22 11:00, Mb217 wrote:
I think when you set up specific criteria as to what's what or what's best it seeks more to exclude.


You are 100% right that is what a criterion does. Being the best at something is not an inclusive thing, its very nature is exclusive.

Regarding systems set up by the elites to suppress the masses and control thinking… not sure that applies here. All we are talking about is our personal criteria. I don’t think there is some king or bloodline or ruling class setting up coin magic criteria Smile

We are just weighing in on our personal opinions as to the criteria used to exclude the rest from the best. I personally tried to make an analytical approach toward a purposefully exclusionary criteria.

There are a lot of guys that I consider very good. You make reference to being part of a club. I think that plenty of guys belong in the good coin magician “club”. Clearly, most of the names you have mentioned definitely belong. I don’t however think that the criteria for the best is the same litmus test for those who are good. The best supersedes the notion of the “good coin magician club”.
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KirkG
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I would add that the condition of being a published magician is unecessary. Many great things are not shared, and that doens't diminish their worth. Of course a proflic publisher may want that to be a criteria, but I don't think that is as important as the performance of great work.

Kirk G
Mike Wild
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Kirk,

If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, did it make a sound? The answer is no. Sound is vibration received by an ear and interpreted by a brain. If there are no ears or brains, there is no sound. The same applies to color in a pitch black room... if there's no light to be reflected, no color can exist.

A magician must be known in order to be appreciated for his/her skills and talent. Creativity, personality, energy, etc, etc, can only be considered if it exists to us, and it can only be described as being "the best" if we have an ample supply of other material to compare it to.

Mike

Mike
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Dan Watkins
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Mike, you can be a master in your own mind if no one knows you though!
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Mike Wild
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Could be???

I am! Smile

... in my mind Smile
<><>< SunDragon Magic ><><>

"Question Reality... Create Illusion"
Jonathan Townsend
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Writing as someone who "pecks out of order" on such things, I like the criteria George posted above.

1) fun to watch from lay audience perspective.

2) Interesting to watch as a conjurer, a sort of watch and learn experience.

Perhaps it helps to keep in mind that those who create the images and sleights and stories are usually not so interested in the opinions of those who prefer to follow others. The rest is almost entirely political and has little positive influence upon magic as an art.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
emeline
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Everybody has a favourite magician and we can't say: it exists THE magician, the best of the best. Every skills is different. Everybody can do something, everybody is talented for something. Dan Watkins is talented for something, Mike for another thing etc. and even if I'm not famous, in my opinion, I'm sure I'm gifted for something !!! Smile
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