Your Collecting Mentors

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 02/05/07 04:58 PM

Over the years, Ive had the good fortune to know numerous magic collectors and historians, many of whom have been important sources of influence and inspiration. One of these days, I might write an article about these mentors and the kindly assistance and guidance they provided me, but in the meantime, I wondered if any of you have had similar experiences and would be willing to share them on this board.

Clay
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Postby Guest » 02/05/07 08:51 PM

Here's a quick list (in no particular order) of a few who have influenced my thinking about collecting significantly and whose generosity in sharing information and more I would gratefully like to acknowledge:
Chet Karkut, Bob Lund, Neil See, H. Adrian Smith, John Henry Grossman, Bill Kuethe, George Daily, Ray Goulet, Mike Caveney, David Meyer, Jim Alfredson, Todd Karr, Bill Kalush, and even Clay Shevlin!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/05/07 09:44 PM

My first mentor as a collector was a lovely man, Neil See. He was generous, loved his stuff, took care of it, and was happy to let me spend hours rooting around. He was really the first collector I met and he made an indelible impression on me.

The second was a guy Neil told me about who had "closets full of magic sets," and that was Joel Miller. From Joel I learned about the obsession of restoring magic sets, and he was a friend and mentor of my magic set collecting for years.

The third person was, and is, Ray Goulet. Again, an endlessly generous and knowledgable collector who encouraged others to collect and learn history, who was never a snob, was always welcoming and encouraging.

The fourth was Chet Karkut, whom I only met once (and then briefly), but whom I must acknowledge--since I purchased his Theodore DeLand collection--as a wonderful, dilligent, and knowledable researcher and collector. The amount of work he had done on DeLand was staggering.

The fifth is my friend Jim Zoldak, who has been a true "collecting buddy." We've gone to many antique shows together, founds lots of things, and never had a clash about who got to buy what.

My experiences with most of the collectors I've met have been extremely good, and I find the collector's conferences and the LA History Conference to be among the most collegial and enjoyable events I go to all year long.
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/05/07 09:55 PM

Lloyd E. Jones was the first collector-type I knew well, then Jay Marshall, Ricky Jay, Pat Page and Christian Fechner, who got me started collecting Charlie McCarthy items with a fantastic gift of one of the really hard-to-find early tin toys. When he gave it to me I stood and cried.
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Postby Guest » 02/05/07 11:07 PM

I have never met Mario Carrandi in person, or even spoken by phone. However in the past year his generosity towards me on multiple occasions with both information and educational material left me speechless. I am glad Clay provided a forum for me to be able to share that about him.
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Postby Guest » 02/06/07 05:44 AM

My frst exposure to collecting was with David Price. As a kid the catalogues were amazing (and still are) and meeting him and visiting his home was a dream.

At age 16, Bob Lund was a huge influence. Not only for his love of collecting but the idea that the stories behind the items and of the performers were most important.

Also, Ricky Jay, John Gaughn, Jim Stienmeyer and Elaine Lund. They are truely dedicated people to the preservation of the history of magic.
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Postby Guest » 02/06/07 06:53 AM

Sadly I have no collecting mentors. I started collecting on my own and have learned what I know from reading books and articles.
Of course reading about magic collectors and collections have been an inspiration. I would give an unmentionable body part to have met Bob Read and had a peek at his cups and balls collection. I would love to sit down with Ricky Jay and listen to him talk of his collection. And I would die happy if I ever had a chance to spend an afternoon the David Copperfield's warehouse.

Gord
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Postby Frank Dudgeon » 02/06/07 08:36 AM

I have been fortunate to learn from a number of collectors, especially members of the New England Magic Collectors Association (NEMCA)and folks I've met at the Yankee Gathering and MCA Collectors Weekends. But the person who first inspired me to learn more about the history of magic is Ray Goulet. I fully agree with Richard Kaufman's sentiments. When I lived in Boston I often visited Ray's Magic Art Studio and it was always a special experience. Ray and Ann Goulet are very generous with their knowledge and experience and I treasure their friendship.
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Postby Guest » 02/06/07 08:47 AM

Ive always been a hoarder of treasures.
My magic mentor, Laurie Gleeson collects so much stuff, as he seems to of crossed path with many of the big names and now, thanks to him, i have a lounge full of dusty treasures. :)

the best collection ive ever seen in the flesh, is that belonging to Cyril Critchlow in Blackpool.

Ive been handed a cople of magic related things in there, only to be told afterwards, that they are genuinly priceless.
I was a bag of nerves!!
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Postby Guest » 02/06/07 09:32 AM

Mike Brazill helped me with the Rings and Things items in the cups and balls museum. Ray Goulet, Kenna Thompson, and Ken Klosterman have also been big helps.

Mario Carrandi's help with the cups and balls has been immeasurable.
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Postby Guest » 02/06/07 09:49 AM

At my age,most of the names mentioned by youse all as 'mentors,' are names of good pals and colleagues. I concur heartily with your assesments regarding 'em all! My first real collecting mentor was shared by Bob Lund, and his name was Al Munroe; it was Al who instilled the love of it all in us both. Al was a crusty old Detroit newspaperman, who worked as the PR man for Hearst's old Detroit Times. He was right out of the script for 'Front Page,' an irascible, hard-drinking character. As far as I know, Al was the first major collector who was fascinated by magic's 'little guys,' and had put together tons of material on them (eventually split-up between Bob Lund and David Price). He gave me a lot of stuff and a lot of good advice; a wonderful guy, and I'm delighted that I knew him. I'm delighted to remember him here!
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Postby Guest » 02/06/07 11:12 AM

I guess this is as good a time as any to bring this up, but I for one would love to see a regular or semi-regular column on collecting and collectors.
I believe a column like this would not only be informative, but an inspiration, especially to those of us who are somewhat alone in the collecting world.

Just a thought.

Gord
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 02/06/07 11:35 AM

Luke! You are not alone.

The force is with you.......The collecting force that is. ;)
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/06/07 11:39 AM

There used to be a "Collecting" column in Genii, written by Topper Martyn of Sweden. I never found it to be of much interest because, at the time, I wasn't a collector.
Doing this type of column is problematic because it's really hit or miss: if the column doesn't address the particular area of your interest, then you're probably not going to be interested in it! And most collecting is a real niche type of thing.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/06/07 11:41 AM

I neglected to add Bill King to my list of collecting mentors. Here's a man who exemplifies the opposite of the word "snob." He has an enormous collection and loves to show people around, is extraordinarily generous, and collects "widely." That is, he revels in even small plastic pieces by a dealer like Roydan, who made clever things that most folks would consider akin to slum magic.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/06/07 12:37 PM

Gord,

If you are not a member of the Magic Collectors Association, then you are missing out on one of the truly great magazines available: Magicol. Its quarterly, but believe me, it will give you the fix you are looking for! Check the Other Magic Publications forum for my entries on this great little magazine as well as information on joining the MCA.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/06/07 12:52 PM

I think my list is more of a list of inspirations than it is mentors.

My original inspiration has to be traced back to a love for history in general and that goes to my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Grounds. She was (is?) Japanese American and included a section on the history of Japan in the class. She made it fascinating and brought it to life by bringing in her artifacts. Since then, history was my thing, so of course the history of magic was not far behind.

A Scholastic Books biography of Houdini by Beryl Williams and Samuel Epstein (The Great Houdini1971) was my first foray in that direction, followed closely by Melbourne Christophers Illustrated History of Magic (1973). Dr. John Henry Grossman whose Ask the Doctor column in MUM really pushed me to learn more about magics history (beyond thinking I knew everything after reading IHoM). Collecting, I think, just sprang from this interest because, like Mrs. Grounds showed, history is more than words on a page: You can see it, touch it, and smell it. Nothing is greater than when you can connect with something like that.

Todd Karrwith whom I became acquainted via the US mail and the MYI (Magical Youths International)also was an inspiration to me early on. I think that we were friendly competitors (trivially speaking), but I was so far out of Todds league (still am) that I had to do my damnedest not to let him know that!

George Daily, from whom I have perhaps purchased some of my coolest items, is another inspiration. I was into magic periodicals long before I met George, but I would give almost anything to spend a few weeks with his collection of them.

Bill Smith, from whom I acquired my file of the Sphinx, will forever have my gratitude. Though I paid for the privilege, without him I would probably still be looking for the perfect file. It is an honor to be the current caretaker of that file.

John Gaughan, whose enthusiasm for collecting is positively infectious, is another. He takes great joy in showing his collection and Im afraid that I am wearing him out with my bringing friends over to see him and his shop.

Finally there is Mike Caveney. He is the closest person I have to a mentor. He not only inspires me more than anyone, he is my go to guy when I have questions. His patience with me is equal to that of a saint. He owes me nothing; I owe him more than I can repay.

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Postby Guest » 02/06/07 01:11 PM

He owes me nothing; I owe him more than I can repay.

--

That is a beautiful collection of words and sentiment.
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Postby Guest » 02/06/07 03:05 PM

Gents, these posts are heart-warmers for me. Thank you.

Jim Alfredsons post discussing Al Munroes influence on Jim and Bob Lund was pleasant news to me. Jim was the first stranger (i.e., he didnt know me when I first wrote to him) to really engage me in correspondence, back when I was a very young teen (12-13 years old) and had very little to offer other than my enthusiasm. Jims responses werent great to hear from you, and good luck, kid. Most of his letters (and they were legion) were 2-4 typed pages, full of answers, advice, recollections, and pleas for patience when I complained that the other guys wouldnt answer my letters. I know now that Jim would cite Al Munroe as a reason why he bothered with lesser lights like me, because he felt thats what Al did for him. Ive thanked Jim for indulging me in my youth, but here Ill thank him again!

Reading Dustins comments about Todd Karr brings back more memories. When I started collecting as a youngster, I wanted to publish a little magazine called Magic Collector and Historian. I asked for contributions, and actually did get one from Jim Alfredson, bless him, titled Leats Leaflets. Somewhere in the dusty archives sits a paste up of the first issue. Well, MCH never saw the light of day. But Todd Karr had the same idea as well, and his periodical was called Periodical for Collecting Conjurers, or something very close to that, which was published for a respectable amount of time. I dont know if Ive ever told Todd this, but I always admired Todd because, as a young man, he actually did it.

Too bad that Collectors Corner is no more in Genii. I remember a piece on a Doebler figurine which was quite beautiful. The good news is that RKs made up for this loss by emphasizing magic history to a degree unprecedented in Geniis history. Keep it up, Richard!

Gord, youll miss out if you don't heed Dustins advice re Magicol.

Clay
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Postby Guest » 02/06/07 11:19 PM

The 'grumpiest' collector of them all was Trevor Hall. I met him once (both he and I were/are admirers of E. G. Brown's work) and although 'nice' to me - I could tell that (attitude) wasn't always the case. In fact, see Eddie Dawes' book on Stanley Collins about T. Hall.

But, it was Hugh Goater (Hugo) who started my interest in collecting books. If Hugo had been a builder, he could have strengthened my sagging house foundations; caused by magic overload! :)

Many books in my collection bear the Hugo embossed stamp!

And - Jimmy Findlay.... another 'name' in collecting! Oh, and Chris Woodwood....

Paul Gordon
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Postby Matthew Field » 02/07/07 02:53 AM

I will modestly mention the column "Conjurors Collect" in the limited circulation Magic Circular, which I edit, published for members of The Magic Circle in London. Written by Tim Reed it often deals with items (such as magician's business cards) that a collector can acquire for less than the cost of a house.

And Magicol, that wonderful magazine of the Magic Collectors Association, often features columkns on items that beginning collectors
can afford.

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Postby Guest » 02/07/07 08:40 AM

Anyone who wants to join the Magic Collectors Association can do so by filling out this form:

http://www.squashpublications.com/MCAre ... nform.html

And for those of you interested, don't forget about the upcoming MCA Weekend, May 3-5, 2007, honoring Jim Steinmeyer.
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Postby Guest » 03/09/07 05:42 AM

I started collecting in July of 1982, and I blame Bill Severn's "Guide to Magic As a Hobby".

The first remarkable gift I received was from the late Walter Gydesen, who the book claimed was the man to write to about the MCA.

I also "blame" the librarian who showed me a story on magic collecting in "Collectibles Illustrated" magazine and taught me how to use the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature. A good way for a tween magic collector to feed his passion.

I've since received unsolicited gifts from Steve Konzen, Peter Samelson, Michael Claxton, Joe Michaud, Michael Canick, Arthur Moses, Doug Henning & Robert Lund, James Randi, Cesareo Pelaez, David Meyer, and others. All went out of their way for me, and all are appreciated.

I'm continually grateful for the inspiration of Sal Perrotta and Joe Hanosek. Collecting mentors in word and deed.

And, finally, I must give special mention to the extraordinary hour that took place for me around noon on Friday, April 8th, 2005. It always makes me smile, and I'm always so grateful for it.

Thanks indeed.

Matthew
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