The Gift of Extraordinary Giving

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

Postby Guest » 08/04/07 11:09 PM

Over the years Ive heard some interesting stories about one magicians/collectors generosity to another. In many cases it has happened between a mentor and his or her student, or between longtime friends. Gifts made between strangers, while unusual, make for some good stories.

It would be interesting to hear from some of you about extraordinary acts of giving youve been a party to or of which you have reliable knowledge.


Postby Guest » 08/05/07 02:51 AM

The most touching and inspirational story I've heard is about a well-known and much respected book collector in the United States.

In his will Clay Shelvin is leaving his entire collection to his good friend Quentin Reynolds.

Postby John Bowden » 08/05/07 10:55 AM

I heard that Clay Shevlin was leaving everything to John Bowden because he spelled his name correctly.
Cheers from the Emerald Isle
John Bowden......the Irish Magician
John Bowden
Posts: 137
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Main Street, Urlingford, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland

Postby Guest » 08/05/07 11:14 AM

Hmmm.... I guess that makes the "well-known and much respected book collector" comment rather suspect as well, eh? :)

Quentin thinks that showing me the best fish and chips place in Dublin gets him a place in my will, but he forgets that by the time we got there, all the boneless fillets had been sold! Now, no real mate would do that to his guest...


Postby Guest » 08/05/07 11:16 AM

The late Ray Ellenbogen, after I interviewed him about some Hofzinser pieces in his collection in Brooklyn while researching my translation of Ottokar Fischer's second book on Hofzinser, sent me several Hofzinser made trick cards in his collection as an unexpected and much cherished gift. More recently James Kernen surprised me with the gift of the copy of my translation that I had inscribed to Ray. George Daily gave me a lithograph of Herr Alexander after I expressed admiration for it. It occupies a special place in my modest collection. John Moehring recently gave me a Larette throw out card when I asked him about it. I could give many more examples, but those are among the earliest and most recent.

Postby Guest » 08/05/07 11:46 AM

Originally posted by Magicam:
Quentin thinks that showing me the best fish and chips place in Dublin gets him a place in my will .....
Surely that should be "a plaice in my will"?


Postby Guest » 08/05/07 04:19 PM

This may not seem all that extraordinary, but when I was first getting back into magic after a hiatus of about a dozen years, I was playing in band at a local restaurant.

I got off the bandstand one night, and the manager came over to me with a box that contained about 2 dozen hardbacked magic books. Among them were the Fleming Classics and several other highly desirable books.

I asked who my benefactor was. The manager said the fellow did not leave his whole name, but did say that his first name was Arnold.

No, it wasn't Schwartzenegger! It took me about six months to track down who had left the books. It was one of the guys in the club who said he did it because he liked the fact that I was willing to learn things from books.

Postby Guest » 08/05/07 07:07 PM

It is interesting how things can be circular in one's life. When I was in my early 20s Al Sharpe offered to sell me his Martin Round Cage. There would be no instructions with it because Al did not know how to perform it.

I called Frakson and asked him if I bought it, would he teach me? I was willing to buy the lessons.

He told me not to buy the trick, that he would teach me his entire act, which, over the next 7+ years, he did...including the Martin Round Cage.

I worked the act for some years and even though the cigarette production is politically incorrect in many places in the world, I still do a number of things Frakson taught me along with the stagecraft that came with each lesson. My "payment" to Frakson was to do the best job I could with what he taught me.

About a year ago I was brought in to meet Lorraine Sharpe, Al's widow, and to put together a few Martin items for auction. There was the round cage that had started it all those many decades before. I put a package together and it was sent off to Martinka where it brought in over $9,000 for the widow.

It was a nice feeling of completeness to do that for her. In gratitude, she sold me one of Al's favorite props, a Martin Jumbo Card Rise as a back-up to the one I've been using since 1970.

Postby Guest » 08/05/07 08:25 PM

Guys (and maybe some gals soon?!), these are wonderful stories. Keep 'em coming, for it's nice to see how kind and thoughtful we magi can be. CHS

Postby Guest » 08/05/07 08:34 PM


i need to think about this one.


Postby Guest » 08/05/07 10:54 PM

Last summer I was researching the origin of a prop I purchased which was purportedly made in 1870 and attributed to Professor W J Judd, London. A fairly obscure early dealer, Judd's catalogs are extremely rare. I turned to Mario Carrandi, humbly asking for help and unsure if he would even indulge me. I have never met him nor spoken to him, and I was somewhat nervous about my inquiry.
I did get an email from him which was of some help, but it was a week later that a package arrived from him containing a copy of the Judd catalog I needed. A limited edition copy of an extremely rare and obscure publication. I was speechless.
His generosity was repeated again some months later several times with catalogs of other 19th century magic houses. These catalogs are invaluble to me. If he is reading this I hope he does not mind my making public his kind acts.

Postby Guest » 08/06/07 07:15 AM

I've been fortunate enough for
people to share their photos,
memories and knowledge for my
book project.

I'll have a very long thank you list.


Postby Guest » 08/06/07 10:46 PM

Even when money changes hands it can be a gift. While discussing with Mel-Roy's family, the best place/future for their memorabilia, I gave them contact info, to different museums and private collections.
They came back to me and said they decided to allow me to purchase it, because I had told them of other choices, and felt that proved I was the most interested in keeping it preserved and respected.

Postby Guest » 08/06/07 11:15 PM

I located the grandson of a (earlier) famous mindreading couple, and he was amazed that anyone would remember/be interested in them.
("I never ever dreamed my grandparents were collectable", he said)

Later with his wife, they visited me in my home and was very generous, as he shared his candid memories of his family history.
He had brought some photos and assorted items to show me, and added, "but these other items, I would like you to have."
Among the items, was a folded poster, featuring his grandmother and________ on the same bill. (That______name making it worth several hundred dollars or more.)
I froze, my eyes widening, at the same time, checking myself, lest I reveal my excitement.
I tried to continue making conversation and then stopped, and said, "I'm sorry, but right now, I feel like I'm in an old morality play, the devil speaking to me in one ear, and an angle speaking in the other....I know I won't be able to live with myself if I don't tell you something."
"Are you going to tell me this is worth a lot of money".
I explained yes and I would like to compensate him for it, or he might want to hold on to it for now, because of it's value.
He said he appreciated that, but wanted me to have it regardless, but he always wanted to go to The Magic Castle, he had heard about, and could I arrange that?

From an old Gospel song: "Rich I am, but not from Satan's wages..."

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