Lost Libraries of Magic

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

Postby Guest » 12/28/06 05:14 PM

Hello -
The post on the deplorable situation at the SAM Museum brought a question to mind, as I am a fledgling student of the history of the book as well as the same for magic.

What famous or important libraries of magic have been lost to time or catastrophe? Any time period is fine, recent to ancient.

Thanks in advance-
Gene Alloway
Motte & bailey Booksellers
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 12/28/06 06:12 PM

Does this include libraries donated to institutions? :eek:

On a more serious note, I'm not sure of any notable libraries known to have met the fates you describe. But there is the Larson apparatus collection which suffered greatly as a result of mouldering (literally) in storage in Florida.

If I may be permitted to expand somewhat the scope of Gene's query, there is no doubt that many stories could be told of a particular book or other piece of magicana being lost, destroyed, etc. In fact, I'll start it off with a painfully recent episode I suffered. By accident, I threw out an extremely scarce early New York edition of Dean's Whole Art of Legerdemain. It had been misplaced in a stack of papers that were tossed while cleaning my desk --at least that's what I think happened. :whack:

Clay
Guest
 

Postby Kevin Connolly » 12/28/06 06:28 PM

The only collections that I can think of quickly are the Lew Dick collection and magic collection in the Sarasota circus collection.

If you want to toss in film, then you can add Hardeen tossing out many Houdini reels of footage.
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
User avatar
Kevin Connolly
 
Posts: 2374
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: New Jersey

Postby Guest » 12/28/06 07:12 PM

Just about anything loaned out to fellow magicians...tsk tsk....

opie
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 12/28/06 07:28 PM

Macy Baird, a magician from the 1930's and 1940's in Tennessee, had an enormous antiquarian magic collection. He had a few of Tommy Downs items, like a coin ladder. He had a nice collection of Antiquarian Books from the 19th and 18th Centuries. In the 1960's he opened a bar and housed the collection in the top of the bar. Late one night, the bar, magic collection, and all went up in flames. He had the majority of TJ Crawford's and Goodlette Dodson's magic book collections.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 12/28/06 09:33 PM

The Sarasota circus collection and my reference to the Florida collection are the same, although not that I think about it, I don't think it was the Larson collection.

Kevin, what happened to Lew Dick's collection? He issued lists of books for sale, but there is some doubt about whether or not he had those books, as his "lists" bore remarkable resemblance to Ed Heyl's catalogs!

Clay
Guest
 

Postby Kevin Connolly » 12/28/06 09:45 PM

I heard the same thing about the collection. It may have never been as good as was supposed to be. It may have been really a low-level accumulation.

As I remember it, Lew had a fire in the early 70's and lost everything magic wise. (Presuming he had it to lose. ;) ) He then placed ads, I think in Genii, etc., asking for donations of magic books, etc. to start a new collection. He seemed to be a shadowy figure in magic.
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
User avatar
Kevin Connolly
 
Posts: 2374
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: New Jersey

Postby Guest » 12/29/06 12:47 AM

If I'm not mistaken, most of the Larson collection is in the hands of Ken Klosterman. Larson or his estate dispersed it. John McManus bought a lot of it, but Ken has ended up with quite a bit of the Larson material.

Lew Dick was an odd fellow. When Dick Gustafson was the president of the SAM, he started a campaign to increase the membership in order to build up the circulation of the magazine. At least, that's what he told the members of our assembly. Well, Lew would walk up to people at the grocery store, do a card trick for them and then ask, "Do you want to know how that was done? Join the SAM!"

So his assembly grew very quickly, but did not retain some of the members for a very great amount of time. I have to say this about Lew. I may have the cups, but he had the balls!
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 12/29/06 08:24 AM

Originally posted by Magicam:
Does this include libraries donated to institutions? :eek:


Clay
What do you mean? Are you referring to books donated to the Library of Congress, etc.? As I understand it you have to jump through hoops to get a look at the Houdini Collection. That kinda qualifies as lost.

Aside from local libraries, what other public institutions have magic collections?
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 12/29/06 09:59 AM

Hi Kevin, et al.
Lew Dick was a character, indeed! As Kevin notes, he claimed a fire destroyed his collection and solicited the magic fraternity for material to rebuild it with. After having done this for quite a spell, Lew then claimed that his health necessitated his moving to Florida, so he had to 'reluctantly' dispose of 'his' collection; i.e., the stuff that folks had donated. He solicited bids for a time, and I bid on one item. I knew Lew, and didn't trust the condition of his items, so I entered a low bid for a book (Clapham's 'Melody Magic'). I was the only bidder so Lew 'had' to sell it to me, but complained bitterly about how I was (rhymes with) 'doing' him, taking advantage of his situation, etc., but if my conscience would allow, he would send it on at that price. My conscience did, and the book was in the condition that I reckoned it would be. He was a one-off.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 12/29/06 10:14 AM

Originally posted by Elliot G.:
Originally posted by Magicam:
[b] Does this include libraries donated to institutions? :eek:


Clay
What do you mean? Are you referring to books donated to the Library of Congress, etc.? As I understand it you have to jump through hoops to get a look at the Houdini Collection. That kinda qualifies as lost.[/b]
Indeed, Elliot, there are many who would argue that a magic library donated to an institution is a "lost library." My jest reflected that sentiment.

Clay

P.S. Great little story, Jim. Thanks. Oh, the characters.... CHS
Guest
 

Postby Pete Biro » 12/29/06 12:06 PM

I "saved" a major collection. Lloyd E. Jones was going to donate his library to the University of California. I told him he should double check before he does so to see what other donations that have been given to that University are and what happened to them.

He found out that most were put into storage (not even controlled) and most were damaged, forgotten and thrown out.

Hence his sale to Byron Walker, SAVING, maybe the most important collection of magic publications of all time.
Stay tooned.
User avatar
Pete Biro
 
Posts: 7124
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Hollyweird

Postby Guest » 12/29/06 01:06 PM

Pete,

The superior importance of the collection at the time Lloyd sold it to Byron could be debated. Even now, after all these years Byron has spent building the library into a truly fantastic treasure, Byron would be the first to tell you (with perhaps undue modesty) that there are items in the Smith collection that hed kill for and that surpass anything he has. Its all subjective I guess, but what isnt is the thanks owed to you for your role in dissuading Lloyd from donating his collection. Byron Walker has done far more with Lloyds library (both in terms of growth and making the library available to serious students and researchers) than the UC system ever would have done.

Clay
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 12/29/06 09:24 PM

If you really want to do magic a disservice, donate your magic books to your local library. This is what happens in Houston, and other reports indicate the same thing happens elsewhere. If you do not also donate adequate funds to house the books, display them and conserve them, first, most of the pamphlets will be given away. These are usually "worthless" things, anyway, like all the Marlo Revolutionary Card Technique series and the Goldstein color series. And, of course, there are all those "worthless" pamphlets by Dai Vernon. At least, that's what these librarians think of them. From their point of view, though, they need to have them bound and conserved, and that may take more money than they are prepared to part with.

Most of the periodicals will be thrown away, or, if bound, sold at their remainder tables. The bulk of the books will remain in their basements until someone sees fit to catalog them.

Instead, if you are married, leave instructions with your spouse as to how to maximize the impact of your library. Give her some leads as to who might want to purchase your treasures. Or find a local, budding amateur and make him a very happy heir.

I can attest to Byron Walker's generosity in sharing information with people. He is largely responsible for my monograph on the paddle.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 01/10/07 04:11 PM

Thank you all for the information so far. I certainly have some more digging to do with the starting points you mentioned.

I also had heard of a SAM collection that was lost to a fire in the last decade or so, but the teller was not certain.

Lastly, re: donating to libraries. As a former academic librarian I am said to say that what is posted here is too often true. Special collections and their librarians have not had great funding increases in a long time, and many were understaffed and overwhelmed with the material they had to begin with.

The library I used to work on catalogued a Shakespeareana collection in 2000 that had been donated in the 1890s. That is extreme, but not unfortunately rare.

I would say if you do donate materials, look for a library that has collections you can expand and strong staffing, rather than one that has nothing like you are donating. If possible, be prepared to kick funds to help in the maintenance and possibly cataloging of the material.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 01/10/07 07:10 PM

I can't recall the specifics, but I do remember reading, perhaps a couple of dozen years ago (in THE LINKING RING, I believe), of a UK collector who lost two original copies of Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft, along with the rest of his collection, in an upstairs fire.

If anyone here has the LINKING RING searchable CD collection, and is interested, he or she might be able to look up the details.

Greg Edmonds
Guest
 


Return to Magic History and Anecdotes