How To Display Your Collection

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

Postby Kevin Connolly » 02/19/07 05:34 PM

I have a problem with my collection. It's a nice problem, but I can't figure it out. How do you display the maxium amount of your collection? I have bookcases, display cases, track lighting, etc. No matter how I figure it, I can't display most of it.

I'm down to thinking of hanging the framed items on the sides and on the handles of the bookcases!

:help: :help: :help:
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 07:56 PM

Well... you could do what Bob Lund did.

It might help to know what you collect, and how many items you have.

Kirk Charles gave me a great library tip: put all the small pamphlets and lecture notes in a file cabinet instead of trying to keep them with your books.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 08:10 PM

Speaking as someone who faced this same problem, I decided to display the items that were a: The most important, b: the most interesting and c: The most special to me.
Of course, your definition of what is important, special or interesting will vary from mine, but I have found that following these three guidelines have added a certain something when I show the collection, as opposed to the "Well, this is everything" approach, which usually leads to tours of several long, boring hours.

Hope it helps.

Gord
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 02/19/07 08:37 PM

Gord,

That's a good system. That could work, but the walls would still fill quickly. I'm hoping someone had a magical way to display more items in the same space. :D

Bill,

I collect mostly Houdini material. I couldn't see keeping the Houdini pitchbooks in a filing cabinet. They really have to be seen.

As for how many items, I wouldn't know. Even if just put the signed stuff on the walls, that wouldn't last long. The room is 20 x 20. I keep most of the letters in binders. Same for programs, photos, ephemera, etc.

I'm just hoping someone has a better way than me.
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 08:34 PM

It's the reason I collect mostly mini-magic (or micro-magic)...more magic per specified space.
:D
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 09:25 PM

Kevin
Have you tried binders? It's a good way to increase display size. All you have to do is get the binder from the shelf and open it. Not as good as having it out all the time but it's a good compromise.

Gord
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 02/20/07 10:04 PM

Gord,

Yes, I have the binders. They are Mead binders with the zipper. They do help me semi-organize the stuff. Just to organize is another story. :o

As for micro-magic, that could work. Then I looked around and saw a display case full of Houdini cigarette cards and trade cards. :eek:

Last night I hung a dozen framed Mastery Mystery 8 x 10's on the handles of two bookcases. All my bride did was :rolleyes:
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Postby George Olson » 02/21/07 01:15 PM

Years ago, I displayed a lot of my Posters, Letters,etc on the ceiling...It's a lot of Square Footage that usually goes unused. In addition, those macrame plant hangers were great in the corners for some of the items...

Now I'm thinking about it, but I think my wife will kill me if I start using the ceiling in our guest room...

It's just a thought!

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Postby Kevin Connolly » 02/21/07 02:03 PM

Oofa! Macrame plant holders! You're as old as me! ;)

Thanks,
Kevin
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Postby Guest » 02/21/07 04:54 PM

Norm Nielsen has a great system for displaying posters. When he ran out of walls, he built a special room with sliding display racks and pivoting frames.

My cup collection is on shelves. I have them separated mainly by manufacturers, other than the "cups of the greats" and other rarities which are in a glass front display case.
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Postby Guest » 02/28/07 01:58 PM

It's just sort of a sad reality that as one's collection grows, it becomes more and more difficult to display everything. This doesn't just apply to private collectors...most museums have just as much storage space as they have display space, if not more. This is made even more difficult when one notes that less is often more when it comes to displays. The fewer items on display, the more attention they receive and the more "special" they seem. Invariably, one must start to make choices.

The previous advice about choosing what to display is good. Also, consider creative storage solutions to maximize space and ease of display. For example, a flat file drawer with dividers makes an efficient and attractive method of storing and easily displaying items (just pull open the drawers). Decks of cards, wands, posters, ephemera and lots of other stuff fit well in the drawers and pulling them open to show people can be quite dramatic.

Ray Goulet has built large panels, which hang on the wall with hinges, allowing them to be turned like the pages of a book. Small items can be mounted to them. Similar panels or envelopes can be used for posters or other hanging materials.

Use of binders, as mentioned by a previous post, is good and very nice ones may be purchased (leather, gold details, etc.) to make them look like real display pieces (as evidenced by some pieces in Copperfield's collection).

Just some thoughts.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 02/28/07 02:09 PM

Now I don't feel so bad. After being over Copperfield's place in the City and in Vegas, he can't display all his goodies too. So I guess we are in good company. ;)
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Postby Guest » 02/28/07 02:36 PM

Yes, it's a pain in the rear that not everything can be displayed. My first apartment was one bedroom, so my collection was limited to part of a wall, which ment only a few poasters were displayed.
The second apartment was two bedroom, which left more wall space and an entire room to display. I quicly ran out of room.
When we bought a house, my wife and I made a deal. One bedroom out of the three is mine, plus the walls on the stairs. I have since bent the rules to include chosen spaces on the main floor, shelves above the DVD's, walls on the top floor and a large wall on the main floor that wasn't being used.
Even with all of this I can't display all I feel I need to, so plans are on the way to turn a large portion of the basement into a room for my collection. Sure I have to build a blackroom for my wife as part of the deal, but I expect that with this extra space I can finally display the collection the way it was ment to be displayed.
That is, of course, for a while. A collection is only as good as the last piece added and I plan to add a lot.
BTW: I plan to change the garage into an extra place for the collection soon after the basement is done. Sigh, it never ends.

Gord
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/28/07 09:16 PM

I've been selling off a lot of stuff so the display problem belongs to others now. My wife's art collection takes up 99 percent of the wall space and a hallway to the guest quarters has my collection of Charlie McCarthy photos and posters... but most of my magic posters are stacked up somewhere behind some furniture. My cups and balls collection is in a glass display case (but more than what is displayed is in storage boxes). Then there's my famous garage area full of boxes of magic stuff. Some will go to ebay, some to the dumpster.
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Postby Guest » 03/01/07 01:08 PM

Having been an assistant curator for a museum in my youth (helped put me through college), I tend to do what I was trained in terms of collections. The museum rotated the collection and the displays to keep them fresh and interesting.

At one time I had over 50 unique and different dye boxes, almost as many Chop Cups, a bakers dozen nest of boxes (one stage set that when stacked on the stage reached almost 5 feet high), plus literately hundreds of diverse and interesting stage props and smaller illusions. I have a small Warehouse full of stage illusions and boxes of props, posters, and things.

Magic isnt even my biggest collection! I also accumulate ephemera from Carnivals and museums too. Pickled punks, shrunken heads, a Fee-Jee mermaid, full size mummy, Human head in a jar (one of the last guillotined criminals in the French colonies) and the like. Hummmm. no wonder I dont stay married!!!

I rotate my collection from time to time; say once a yea at least. Visitors stay interested. Ive never felt the need to have everything out and on display.

I must admit that, like Pete, I have been selling off some of my magic collection (Im down to only three long pour salt gimmicks, 8 or 10 chop cups, 10 Die Boxes. etc).
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Postby Guest » 03/02/07 08:54 AM

Having framed many of the posters that I acquired in my early years as a collector, I eventually ran out of useable (per my wife) wall space. I first turned to flat files, which quickly were filled to capacity, and worse yet, required moving many items if I wanted to get to something near the bottom of a drawer, requiring too much handling of the items at the top of the drawer. For large items, and even for smaller broadsides, handbills and challenges, I now recommend the acid free zipper-top sleeves manufactured by Presentation Systems, at www.presentationsystems.com - and used by collectors George Daily and Mike Caveney, who turned me on to the product. The company will also sell you a rack, to store the items, two to a sleeve. It allows for easy viewing, economical use of space, and no wear and tear on the items. By the way, Kevin...aren't you due for a visit?
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Postby Guest » 03/02/07 09:21 AM

Kevin, I am reminded of a comment once made by Dell O'Dell...."I had so much magic around the house that I decided the best thing to do was to buy the house next door, just for the magic..."

......so what were you saying about buying a house by the shore? ;) :D

Sal
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/02/07 09:27 AM

I just put two 20 X 20 rooms on the house for all this crap, er, collectibles. ;) And if the Houdini market continues to sky-rocket, I might buy two homes down the shore. :p
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/02/07 09:31 AM

Visit? I was just down there last year with you. :) The girls had a great time in DC. We're thinking about going again, right after Niagra Falls. I have to see if that rock Houdini was hanging on is for sale. :eek:
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/02/07 09:46 AM

Ken,

That site is great! Maybe even better than sex. :eek:

Now the collector's quandry. Blow the money on displays or more crap. :D

Thanks for the tip,
Kevin
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Postby Guest » 03/04/07 02:00 PM

Ultimately, there's only one solution, Kevin.

Restraint.

Phil
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/04/07 02:57 PM

2 Days to think of that? It sounds like you can teach us all. :eek:

Hope you're up to your arse in Floyd stuff by now.

HH
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Postby Guest » 03/04/07 04:48 PM

Yeah, I am. My Thayer book will be out next year.

FGT
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/04/07 04:58 PM

Sounds great! Save me a copy. I'll even pay for it. :D
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 07:10 AM

How to display more of a collection?

I have a friend who once had to live with a second person in an apartment the size of a regular sized hotel room.

The advice she gave me: use the space over your head. Higher bookcases. (Maybe build a loft to free up other space for display?) Upper area wall space for posters.

But even Copperfield and Michigan's American Museum of Magic never have enough space for display, if it makes you feel any better.

Matthew
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 06:09 PM

Cubisto seems like a pretty good option for storing and displaying items.

johnbodine
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 07:52 PM

I like Gords prioritizing suggestions and Skos less is more observation. For example, the displays in the American Museum of Magic (at least as I saw them and based on pictures Ive seen) are awe-inspiring, but not from an aesthetic point of view. Its the sheer volume of posters and playbills on the walls that impresses. Alas, for me, many of those gems get visually lost in the virtual patchwork quilt of images.

Gords tours of several long, boring hours comment rang true to me. Probably 90% or more of the books I own are old news to the collectors who have visited my library. And thats often the case for me when I go visiting. Itd be interesting if one could compare the amount of stimulating conversation that resulted from (a) collectors visiting a collection the entirety of which was on display, versus (b) collectors visiting a collection where the owner had culled and was displaying only the unusual, obscure, special, truly rare, etc. I think scenario (b) would result in far more interesting dialog.
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 08:10 PM

John
Cubisto is just that type of frame that makes displaying my collectibles so much fun. I can't wait to try it out.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 11:19 PM

Cubisto is interesting, but it is quite expensive. It also takes up a lot of space.
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Postby Guest » 03/09/07 04:03 PM

With a large enough room and not a lot of concern for budget, I think it would be a wonderful visual to have the room partitioned with the Cubisto products. This would create a semi-transparent wall with various collectibles encased and on display for 360 degree viewing. Although it would make changing the display frequently a bit of a chore, your collection wouldn't get dusty and would certainly be a topic of conversation.

johnbodine
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/09/07 05:04 PM

It's a nice idea and fairly inexpensive, but it's really geared for knick-knacks, aka dust collector, crapola, etc. You really couldn't use if for pictures or paper items, which is what most of my collection contains.

Now if someone has a wall-stretcher.....
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Postby Guest » 03/09/07 06:05 PM

All due respect to those with differing opinions, but Cubisto seems a very poor option for storing items way too bulky, very expensive on a per-unit basis, and still rather inadequate protection against the sun, damage due to bumps and drops, etc. It might be fun to display an item or two this way as a novelty, but it doesn't seem like a good system of storage and display.

To echo Kevin, what would magic collectors use Cubisto for? The best (and only?) application for Cubisto would seem to be for displaying small apparatus. But unless one wanted to prevent others from actually handling the apparatus, I dont see much utility to sealing, say, a Thayer ball vase, and thus preventing one from handling it, appreciating the craftsmanship, performing with it, etc.

As far as partitioning an entire room with Cubisto, Johns right: one would be forced to have not a lot of concern for budget! :help: And if budget isnt a concern, why not just buy glass cases? That way, dust control is not an issue, and changing displays would not present the major headache that Cubisto would present. Not to mention the fact that a partition built with Cubistos would not win praise for structural integrity.

When I first looked at Cubisto, I thought novelty and glorified stretch pak not effective storage solution.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 03/09/07 06:42 PM

Once again I have to ditto my friend Clay.

When I saw themand their pricemy first thought was, How long before that clear plastic crap starts deteriorating? Then, of course, I read the warning not to put anything painted or porous in them. No small wood apparatus in one of those things.

My second thought was that Id be seeing imported versions for $5 soon at the OC Marketplace. (For those outside the Orange Curtain, the Orange County Marketplace is a weekend outdoor market that is a major outlet for container-truck sellers. You name it and you can probably find a rip-off of it at the OC Marketplace. And yes, the last time I went there, there was a guy selling magic kits.)

My next vision for these doodads was a late-night television infomercial offering ten for the price of two. But wait! Theres more! Call in the next ten minutes

After a little more thought, I decided I have nothing Id ever consider putting into one of those things, no matter the price.

Dustin
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Postby Guest » 03/21/07 12:08 AM

You can always use the "pilot" method.
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