Jeff Busby Passes Away

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MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 20th, 2017, 12:20 am

Brad Henderson wrote:i leave for my summer tour tomorrow or would hunt down my tale of Buzzy the Bee and Paul the Fox. if i find it, i will post it.


Wishing you an enjoyable & successful tour!

Roger M.
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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Roger M. » June 20th, 2017, 10:00 am

Busby's dead.

Civil society lets the dead rest in peace.

I know he's despised here in the Forum, but civility requires some compromise of ones baser instincts.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 20th, 2017, 11:55 am

... do something fun like put an item he used to get pulled off on ebaY.
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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Joe Mckay » June 20th, 2017, 1:31 pm

I liked the guy.

He was a great writer. And nobody could write a more compelling advert than him. I used to love his gossipy reviews and newsletters as well.

He really shaped the way I thought about card magic when I first became interested in it. He made it seem important and academic. He was one of those characters that make magic such an interesting place. And I fear he was one of the last of a dying breed. You won't get magic dealers like him again. Which (apart from the crook stuff) is a real shame.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 20th, 2017, 1:47 pm

Hey, Joe, I guess you never paid him hundreds of dollars for various things you never received (like many of us).
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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Jim Sisti » June 20th, 2017, 5:26 pm

Roger M. wrote:Busby's dead.

Civil society lets the dead rest in peace.

I know he's despised here in the Forum, but civility requires some compromise of ones baser instincts.


What you've said here, Roger, is generally true, and something I generally abide by. However, I am looking at a filing cabinet as I'm writing this that contains folders jam-packed with frivolous legal filings, ranting e-mails, libelous faxes, etc. that all contain scurrilous attacks on myself and many others (including my business partner, Richard Osterlind) by Jeff Busby.

Here are some random samples of Mr. Busby's hilarious hijinks:

• Richard O. and I (along with Richard Kaufman, Louis Falanga, Joe Stevens, Mike Rogers, Stan Allen, Tim Trono...and the list goes on and on) were the subjects of a systematic smear campaign by Busby via his periodicals, e-mails and faxes for years until he was apparently too ill for anyone to wheel him over to a keyboard anymore. (He apparently believed that everyone in the magic industry was out to get him - magic's own version of Captain Queeg.)

• He actually called my town assessor's office here in Connecticut to try and obtain the value of my home in preparation for a lawsuit.

• He threatened to sue Richard O. because once Richard started producing his own material, Busby claimed he had the sole commercial rights to Richard's name!

• He took highly personal e-mails written by Richard O. to him in confidence while they were still friends and scattered them all over the Internet by proxy to try to deliberately hurt, embarrass, and smear him. It was a monumental effort to track down and expunge all traces of these.

• He spent years shutting down legitimate eBay auctions because he claimed only he could sell anything with the "Paul Fox" designation. He then started shutting down auctions of any of Richard O.'s materials on the same grounds. He caused a lot of wasted time, money, and aggravation for perfectly innocent, honest eBay sellers so much so that eventually, eBay suspended all of his buying and selling privileges. Then - no surprise - he threatened to sue eBay.

• The Braue Notebooks farce - too many details to go into but the gist of it was that it was, essentially, a Ponzi scheme and possibly mail fraud. And, as Richard K. pointed out, it's widely believed that he acquired the source materials for the Notebooks through more malfeasance.

• The Paul Fox Cups fiasco - again, too many details to go into but when I designed and manufactured a set of cups in the late 90s, Busby immediately set out to make my life (along with magic dealers who handled my cups and publishers who advertised them) a nightmare.

...and that just covers the 90s through his demise! If that's Volume 2, I'm sure that Richard K., Bob Farmer, and others could fill up Volume 1 with Busby's earlier, pre-90s, head-butting with the magic world.

There is no doubt that Busby had a very discriminating eye for quality magic and he was also an exceptionally gifted copywriter. When you read his ads, you immediately wanted the item. There is no taking that away from him. However, he was not just an "eccentric" or a "character"- words that were used many times to eulogize him following his passing. Needless to say, however, these types of sentiments were invoked by those who never had the misfortune of being one of his targets.

The fact of the matter is that he was, unfortunately, a venomous and possibly mentally ill man who tried to destroy anyone he imagined had committed a transgression against him (and there were many names on his perceived enemies list). In fact, in an ironic twist worthy of a Greek tragedy, he spent so much time trying to hurt other people during his latter years in the magic business that he ended up letting his own business fall down around his ears.

I take no delight in anyone's passing - even Busby's - but I can't help but wish I had all of the time back that I spent trying to undo the damage that he was continually trying to inflict on my business and my reputation. I also wish I had all of my money back - thousands of dollars that, at the time, I needed to raise two daughters - but rather, was forced to spend on attorney's fees to defend myself against his baseless attacks during the cups debacle.

The poet John Donne said, "Any man's death diminishes me." To that I would add an asterisk with a footnote that says, "But some less so than others..."

I hope this will offer some perspective to you, Roger, and to others, also, who may not quite understand why some of us still have very deep resentments regarding Busby.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Roger M. » June 20th, 2017, 6:21 pm

I hear ya' Jim.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Bob Farmer » June 21st, 2017, 7:29 pm

Busby copped his writing style from Ken Brooke as a comparison of Ken's ads and Busby's ads reveal.

Here is a funny Busby story that you may have not heard before.

At one of the IBIDEM conventions that Howard Lyons organized, a group of us were in Busby's room. He was selling his stuff, including a set of Paul Fox cups, prominently displayed on top of a dresser drawer.

A "discussion" ensued between Busby and Howard Lyons, the subject: which cup held the bigger load, the Paul Fox cups Busby was selling, or the Ross Bertram cups.

Busby held the Fox cups were bigger. Howard was supporting the Bertram product. The discussion began to deteriorate.

Now, for those who never met or knew Howard Lyons, here is one thing you must know: Howard had a wicked sense of humor. He could also display a complete poker face.

Howard egged on Busby with arguments about why the Bertram cup was bigger. Busby began to rant as Howard, as I now know in retrospect intended. When Busby got to the point where his head was about to explode with rage, Howard suddenly says something like he can PROVE the Bertram cup is bigger.

Busby shuts up. The room goes quiet, the kind of quiet you experience just before the firing squad takes aim.

Howard walks over to the dresser where the Paul Fox cups have remained as silent witnesses to the argument. Howard reaches in his pocket, removes a Bertram cup and drops it on top of the Fox cup, encompassing it completely.

I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. Busby didn't speak to Howard for quite some time after this (months, as I recall).

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Leonard Hevia » June 22nd, 2017, 2:22 pm

The Chief Genii mentioned that incident in the Spring 1985 issue of Richard's Almanac. Lyons must have felt a bit bad about that because he contacted the Chief Genii afterwards. In the following issue of the Almanac, the Chief writes: Regarding the anecdote I related last issue about P.H. Lyons dropping a Bertram cup over a Fox cup, Lyons writes:

"I telephoned to tell you that you had gotten the story wrong on the incident with the cups. Perhaps it is only the way that you expressed it, but I am aware that some bystanders are telling exaggerated versions of the incident...I have heard third and fourth hand descriptions of the incident which suggest that the Bertram cup 'smothered' the Fox cup. This is entirely false...I think it would be extremely helpful, to me, if you would note my real view of the Bertram and of the Fox cups. It is my opinion that both of them are so superior to the other competition that I don't care to choose one over the other..."


Now, the Chief Genii did own a set of brass Busby cups back then and believed them to be smaller that the original Danny Dew cups because the final load ball that fit comfortably in his PF/DD cup would not fill well inside the Busby cup.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Ryan Matney » June 22nd, 2017, 2:48 pm

I purchased some stuff from Busby before I knew all of the reasons not to deal with him. I bought the Secret of the Palmettos book, along with a few other books. I enjoyed reading his adcopy and he was one of the few dealers, I can only think of one other, that sent me a Christmas card.

He stopped sending me mailings and I never was sure why as he seemed to still be sending out rants and ads on a regular basis for years afterward.

Just wondering ... does anyone know why he didn't finish publishing the Braue Notebooks? As someone who has done a little publishing, it doesn't take that long to edit and prepare material that is already written, depending on the degree to which you edit, add illustrations, etc. I've never even seen the Braue Notebooks but I understand it was just reproductions of the actual notebooks. In that case, it shouldn't have taken long at all.

So, did he begin to fear legal recourse from Braue's estate or did he even have the rest of the material?

It's a shame that Richard's class action suit never happened because Busby surely deserved it. Is there no legal recourse now before the material is auctioned off?
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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Bob Farmer » June 22nd, 2017, 3:28 pm

Howard's note is interesting. I don't recall the Bertram cup "smothering" the Fox cup, just covering it. Howard was one of Busby's few friends: maybe he was trying to mend fences.

Later when Allan Slaight refused to allow Busby to have exclusive distribution of the Stewart James book, Busby went off on another rant.

Busby didn't just copy the notebooks: he "typeset" them. He would go on at length about the amazing machine he was using. Whether they were typeset, I don't know.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby erdnasephile » June 22nd, 2017, 5:44 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:The Chief Genii mentioned that incident in the Spring 1985 issue of Richard's Almanac. Lyons must have felt a bit bad about that because he contacted the Chief Genii afterwards. In the following issue of the Almanac, the Chief writes: Regarding the anecdote I related last issue about P.H. Lyons dropping a Bertram cup over a Fox cup, Lyons writes:

"I telephoned to tell you that you had gotten the story wrong on the incident with the cups. Perhaps it is only the way that you expressed it, but I am aware that some bystanders are telling exaggerated versions of the incident...I have heard third and fourth hand descriptions of the incident which suggest that the Bertram cup 'smothered' the Fox cup. This is entirely false...I think it would be extremely helpful, to me, if you would note my real view of the Bertram and of the Fox cups. It is my opinion that both of them are so superior to the other competition that I don't care to choose one over the other..."


Now, the Chief Genii did own a set of brass Busby cups back then and believed them to be smaller that the original Danny Dew cups because the final load ball that fit comfortably in his PF/DD cup would not fill well inside the Busby cup.


Good catch--I knew I had read that story somewhere and couldn't remember where. RK actually did not embellish the story at all: "As Howard Lyons demonstrated on one notable occasion to Jeff Busby, you can drop a Bertram cup over a Paul Fox cup." What really hurts about that article was the price Ross Bertram was charging for his cups circa 1985: $65!

(PS: FWIW, I can confirm that the load capacity of my brass Busby cups is indeed a bit smaller than the RNT2 "Vintage Spec" Paul Fox cups, which are said to be identical to the Type 2 originals. I don't have a Bertram cup, but a Riser standard easily "smothers" both cups! :) )

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Robert77 » June 22nd, 2017, 5:59 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:Now, the Chief Genii did own a set of brass Busby cups back then and believed them to be smaller that the original Danny Dew cups because the final load ball that fit comfortably in his PF/DD cup would not fill well inside the Busby cup.


This topic triggered me to go try something out with three sets of cups I own. When I was more active in magic I used the Mike Rogers 7/8" baseballs as the balls for the Busby cups because the 1" baseballs wouldn't really fit 3 in one cup. Well either my balls shrunk (...) or I mis-remembered. The machined stainless cups will, barely, hold three 1" baseballs. The covering cup is definitely resting on the balls, not the lower cup rim, but it's extremely hard to notice. The Danny Dew cups will also cover the 1" balls in the same way, though with a slight amount more of cup wobble (possibly attributable to spun cups being much lighter than the machined stainless), but when the upper cup is removed the balls fall off the top of the lower cup, which is less likely to happen with the machined Busby cups.

I also tried the three 1" baseballs with the Buma pewter Fox-homage cups and again, though they barely fit, the would stay put on the top of the pewter cups.

With 7/8" baseballs all cups accepted three balls and set down solidly (with the appropriate audio signature) on the lower cup.

So, the Danny Dew cups I have do not work as well with 1" balls as either the Busby Machined stainless or the Buma pewter cups. I suspect that the reason is that the rim on the outside 'bottom' of the machined and pewter cups is much sharper than the same rim on the spun cups.

I do wish Busby's machined cups would have machined in the inside curve on the inside 'bottom' of the cup, instead of the money saving and less difficult way he did it with a flat interior bottom. The inner rings are also not machined in. The machined Johnson cups did it correctly.

- Robert

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Bob Farmer » June 22nd, 2017, 6:23 pm

I have a set of Ross Bertram cups, with the bag and the balls Ross supplied. Gathering dust here, if anyone is interested. I have no idea of the value.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Leonard Hevia » June 22nd, 2017, 6:54 pm

A Magic Inc. Charlie Miller cup fits over a Paul Fox Danny Dew type 2 cup comfortably--but not completely. The Bertram cup design is clearly a bit larger than the Fox design.

I also noticed that low $65.00 price tag for the Bertram cups back in 1985. That they are now in the thousand dollar range is unbelievable.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Brad Henderson » June 22nd, 2017, 9:44 pm

going through old papers in childhood home and found a review i wrote in a notebook for busby's who's who in magic. i was probably 20 years old

1) i was a condescending ass even then
2) even then i knew busby had his issues.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Bill Mullins » June 22nd, 2017, 10:02 pm

Bob Farmer wrote:I have a set of Ross Bertram cups, with the bag and the balls Ross supplied. Gathering dust here, if anyone is interested. I have no idea of the value.


Like these? (which sold for $650 plus buyer's premium)

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Leonard Hevia » June 22nd, 2017, 10:57 pm

$650 is the lowest price I have seen for original Bertram cups. They never dropped below at least $900 in magic auctions.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 23rd, 2017, 12:05 am

Wonderful that this thread has become a fascinating discussion of cups and balls by some very knowledgeable members - my favorite topic in magic, and I could read about it with unbridled delight for days on end.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Brad Jeffers » June 23rd, 2017, 1:57 am

I'm looking forward to the upcoming auction.
I have a slight hope that something I've been trying to find might reside in the Busby collection; as it very likely once resided in the Lloyd Jones collection.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Bob Farmer » June 23rd, 2017, 7:22 am

Yes, that's the set I have with the bag. It also came with some hard rubber balls. Will consider all offers!

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Tom Gilbert » June 23rd, 2017, 10:09 am

The price of the Bertram cups went way up due to an eBay auction where 3 people decided they wanted Bertram cups a number of years ago. That auction closed at something like $2200. Pete Biro put his up and got $1500, so figuring there were 3 people I put my set up for $1700 and they were gone in an hour, purchased by one of the original bidders. Since then, the price has dropped considerably.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Steve Mills » June 23rd, 2017, 12:12 pm

Due to my advanced years, it probably makes sense to close the book on my magic related published output.

I make claim to the following:

1. A minor change (I think an improvement) to One Eyed Jack Sandwich in The Talisman.

2. The first public use of Buzzbee when referring to the unlamented and recently departed magic author and dealer. This was first used on a Genii thread on 02 May 2002 at 19:58. While one may justifiably claim I was merely grabbing low hanging fruit, I ask that you give an old man this small moment. All I have is this memory and a beautiful Sterling Egg Bag made by his first wife, a charming young woman named Lynne, I believe.
Let him rave, that men may know him mad.Yul Brynner as Rameses II

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Brad Jeffers » June 23rd, 2017, 1:30 pm

Sorry to burst your bubble Steve, but I'm pretty sure Ed Marlo was the first to use "Buzzbee".
It was I believe, one of twelve variations he had on the spelling of Jeff's name.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Brad Jeffers » June 23rd, 2017, 2:13 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:i leave for my summer tour tomorrow or would hunt down my tale of Buzzy the Bee and Paul the Fox. if i find it, i will post it.

Jeez Brad, i'ts not like you have to plow through cartons of loose papers to find it.
This is the 21st century after all ;) .
The Tale of Buzzy the Bee and Paul the Fox.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Robert77 » June 23rd, 2017, 3:50 pm

Tom Gilbert wrote:The price of the Bertram cups went way up due to an eBay auction where 3 people decided they wanted Bertram cups a number of years ago. That auction closed at something like $2200. Pete Biro put his up and got $1500, so figuring there were 3 people I put my set up for $1700 and they were gone in an hour, purchased by one of the original bidders. Since then, the price has dropped considerably.


Congrats on the timely score Tom.

I was longtime haunter of ebay for cups. I can't recall the years, but at some point when magic interest started to be on an upswing, so did prices on cups. In those days you could see who was bidding for what and it was always the same 3-4 people bidding. Paul Fox cups became very popular. I bought my set from Pete Biro for about $500 :\. Paul Fox chick cups are still rare. But the regular PF cups prices dropped radically first with RNT2 and later with Asian imports.

The original Bertram cups have of course never been accurately reproduced. Jim Sisti, IIRC, produced something somewhat close but not identical. Thus the original Bertram cups ("A mans cup!" advertised Magic Inc.) are still rare and thus pricey. [Or am I mis-remembering. Where the Magic Inc. cups the same as the original Bertram cups?]

Busby's PF cups, the spun ones, were in the $350 range at the time IIRC. The spun stainless cups were more during the introduction, and the last ones were sold for $512 a set (no balls, no wand, no bag.)

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Leonard Hevia » June 23rd, 2017, 6:14 pm

After Bertram stopped producing his cups sometime in the late 60s or early 70s, he gave Jay Marshall permission to manufacture and sell his design. Marshall touted them as the Charlie Miller cups, so the Bertram cup became the Charlie Miller cup. Quality control varied with these cups so consequently some sets look better than others.

Bertram manufactured another run of his cups in the 80s, so there are actually two types of the Bertram cup: the 60s run and the 80s run. Bertram contracted Morrisey in the 80s to spin that last run.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby erdnasephile » June 23rd, 2017, 7:30 pm

Robert77 wrote:
I was longtime haunter of ebay for cups. I can't recall the years, but at some point when magic interest started to be on an upswing, so did prices on cups. In those days you could see who was bidding for what and it was always the same 3-4 people bidding. Paul Fox cups became very popular. I bought my set from Pete Biro for about $500 :\. Paul Fox chick cups are still rare. But the regular PF cups prices dropped radically first with RNT2 and later with Asian imports.


The ebay market for cups seems to have really dried up of late (as it has for magic collectibles in general). I remember the early days where there were cool treasures listed almost daily. No longer.

(Either that, or I may have already bought up most of the treasures I seek. ;) )

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Brad Henderson » June 23rd, 2017, 9:57 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:
Brad Henderson wrote:i leave for my summer tour tomorrow or would hunt down my tale of Buzzy the Bee and Paul the Fox. if i find it, i will post it.

Jeez Brad, i'ts not like you have to plow through cartons of loose papers to find it.
This is the 21st century after all ;) .
The Tale of Buzzy the Bee and Paul the Fox.



thank you so much. i've actually spent the past two days going through boxes of papers but not for that. i was going to have to find the correct hard drive or usb port to locate that one - but now thanks to you i don't!!!

thanks so much for that.

ah, the memories.

i'm happy to say it was shortly after jeff and i locked horns over this on ebay (he actually tried to have it pulled) that he was finally booted. I'm sure many people communicated with abay on the issue so i do not take any credit - but this may have been the straw that made them start thinking 'gee this guy is a nut'.

i can only hope.

again, thanks for finding this!

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Leonard Hevia » June 24th, 2017, 10:42 am

The first thing that Busby did after acquiring the rights to produce and sell the Paul Fox line of cups in the early 80s was to raise the price. The Chief Genii noted that he paid $47.00 for his set of copper PF/DD cups. The brass set he purchased from Busby were $175.00!

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Ryan Matney » June 24th, 2017, 11:33 am

Did anyone here spend time in person with Busby? Did he have any skill at magic?

Just wondering if he had any good qualities at all ...
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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Bob Farmer » June 24th, 2017, 11:46 am

I never saw him do anything amazing, though he talked a good game. Some of his packet tricks were excellent (see the Card Cavalcade series). His writing was excellent when he wasn't raving.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Michael Close » June 24th, 2017, 1:42 pm

For a while, Busby and I were friends. He stayed with me in Indianapolis for a few days, and my then wife Kathleen and I visited with him and his then wife Lynn in San Francisco. Somewhere I have a photo of him, Michael Skinner, Ed Marlo, and me at the New York Lounge in Chicago. Jeff was my introduction to Howard Lyons, Allan Slaight, and the Ibidem convention in the early '80s.

He handled cards very well. I remember he had a very deceptive dribble pass.

And then, for some reason, he hated my guts, and I never saw, spoke, or communicated in any way with him again. It was surprising, because I was one of the few who never bitched to him about the Braue Notebooks.

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 24th, 2017, 2:32 pm

I met Busby once (that I can remember) at the New York Magic Symposium in Oakland. He was very nice in person, so much so that I subscribed to Arcane, Epoptica, and The Braue Notebooks on the spot. Needless to say, I NEVER received a single issue of Arcane or Epoptica (he never published any after that), and received only ... eventually ... the same 8 installments of the Braue Notebooks as everyone else.

In retrospect my assessment of him would be that of an excellent con man.
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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 24th, 2017, 5:02 pm

I never met him or purchased/ordered anything from him. But from the descriptions and stories I've read on this thread and elsewhere, it sounds like he was partly con man and, at least at a certain point, went off his rocker. Perhaps the old saying, "crazy like a fox" (no pun intended) is apropos...

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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Leonard Hevia » June 24th, 2017, 5:13 pm

Michael Close wrote:Somewhere I have a photo of him, Michael Skinner, Ed Marlo, and me at the New York Lounge in Chicago.


I would love to see that photo.

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Richard Kaufman
Posts: 23667
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
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Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 24th, 2017, 6:56 pm

I would say it's quite plain from his behavior that he was mentally ill.
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Bob Farmer
Posts: 2061
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Short card above selection.

Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Bob Farmer » June 24th, 2017, 8:02 pm

I have a picture on my wall of myself and Richard at a magic convention. We're holding a voodoo doll in the image of Busby and sticking pins in it.

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Jack Shalom
Posts: 373
Joined: February 7th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Brooklyn NY

Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Jack Shalom » June 25th, 2017, 3:48 pm

Didn't know Jim Croce was into magic :D

Bill Mullins
Posts: 4299
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: Jeff Busby Passes Away

Postby Bill Mullins » June 25th, 2017, 6:20 pm

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