Book Collecting Question

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

Postby Guest » 04/26/07 01:10 PM

Over the past year or so I have purchased quite a few of books, usually in bundles. I would want one or two books in the collection and purchase a dozen or so. Fortunately the other books were quite good as well, but they are older instructional books.
Now, I do not collect instructional books but a lot of these are quite old and I feel deserve a good place within my collection.
My problem is, when does a book become a collectible?
I know, it's a matter of taste, but I'm looking for a "round about" date to point me in the right direction.
Is a book from 1970 the same as a book from 1930?
I guess what I'm looking for is a cut off date. I really have no idea on this one so if anyone can give me some hints it would be appreciated.
Sorry for being so vague.


Postby Guest » 04/26/07 02:36 PM

It all depends on what you mean by collectible.

If you are a magician who wants a working library then I would have to say that the publishing date is not a criteria. In this case, it is more important to fill your shelves with books that provide depth in your particular specialty.

If by collectible you are referring to the value of the book in the market or on ebay, then again the publishing date is not necessarily the important factor. After all, there is a Ricky Jay book that was published fairly recently that fetches more money than a lot of older, dusty tomes.

It appears to me that there is a group of magic books that are considered classic texts and these are more collectible that some of the others. They are constantly in demand and can command nice prices. On the other hand, with the advent of the reissue of some classic texts and the issue of e-books, you may find that the original texts may no longer be collectible.

In most cases, magic books are issued in smaller print runs then books issued on other subjects so to an extent they all are collectible.....also, generally, original first editions are more collectible then later reprints....

I hope this helps a little....perhaps if you refine the question a bit, more comments would be inorder....

Postby Guest » 04/26/07 03:06 PM

The question is interesting.
But maybe there is not a date where something becomes COLLECTIBLE.
And more important maybe is to define what you intend for the word "collectible".
Eveything could be collectible.
Maybe you intended to say "valuable" rather than collectible.
I think every magic book collector and in general every collector should arrive to define some criteria to define what he wants to collect.
I think the book of Mr. Klosterman "Salon de Magie" is a very worthy reading in this field.
In fact, besides being a great book, it gives big gems about collecting and meaning of collecting.
For example i fell in love with Deluxe editions of Miracle Factory and little by little i'm collecting them.
I'm narrowing and defining my collection aims.
Are the valuable?
But other books are more valuable.
But for now i want to finish all the Deluxe editions of Miracle Factory, mostly because i love these editions, not for the potential value.
At the end i think maybe the question maybe needs a little more refinement, also if it is interesting to expand the concept.

Postby Guest » 04/26/07 04:08 PM


Sal has made some excellent points in an attempt to answer your question. And Crim has also offered some good input.

I'll press Crim's good observation a little more and say that everything is collect-able. There is no cut-off point for when things become collectible.

Collect-ability is in the eyes of the beholder/collector. When we strip away ego, status, obsession over value, etc., that seem to preoccupy the attention of some "collectors" nowadays, what is left is the simple joy of collecting. Discover what thrills you and that's what is collectible.


Postby Guest » 04/26/07 08:16 PM

Thank you all for your remarks and idea's. I know my original post wasn't very clear even though I had given it some thought.
So let me try this.
I have some nice old magic books. I want to give them a nice place in my collection but separate from my other books in the collection because they are instructional books, and separate from my other instructional books because they are old and very, very nice. (The way old books are.)
Now the books range in age. The oldest are from around the 1930s while the latest are from the 1980s.
I am not worried about sale value here. They are just nice old books.
Now I know the later books will not go into this separate collection, but I'm concerned about those mid range books. Would a book from say 1960, that may not be that nice but still kinda old go in? (In your personal opinion.)
I know it's a really small thing to worry about, but those with collections know that it's the small things we do worry about.
I hope this clears it up ... a bit.


Postby Guest » 04/26/07 08:59 PM

Paper quality might help with periodisation. I'm studying to be a librarian, and it shocked me to read that older books are not necessarily more fragile.

Specifically, in the mid to late 1800s most printers and publishers began to use a new type of paper of much lower quality that will become brittle much more quickly than the paper of most books published before the mid 1800s. (the technical term is high acidity). This is still true of almost all newspapers and cheap paperbacks.

There are exceptions, of course, but it's surprising to realize that for this reason a book printed two hundred years ago or more is likely to be in better condition than one printed only one hundred years ago.

An extreme example from the magic world: I recently had the privilege of carefully handling an original 1584 copy of Reginald Scot's _Discovery of Witchcraft_: although the pages hade faded slightly they were very readable and they were not at all brittle. I was amazed, actually.

Although acidic paper began to be used in the mid 1800s, the fact that this was a problem wasn't realized until many years later, and now publishers have begun to use paper that is more durable (better, less acidic, more alkaline)in at least some of their books.

I don't know if it would provide some sort of cut off date for rarity, though it might help.


Postby Ian Kendall » 04/27/07 03:17 AM

I have to agree with Matthew; a few years ago I was working at the National Library of Scotland, and I spent an inordinate amount of time hanging out in the rare books room.

I was amazed at how robust a first edition Discoverie is (I wrote about it here at the time, a search will find the thread) and I also got to see (but not touch, darn it) a Guttenberg Bible, which seemed to be in frighteningly good shape...but then it is somewhat looked after :)

Take care, Ian
Ian Kendall
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Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
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