MCA: Who's Next at Bat?

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/20/09 09:20 PM

I have said many times that Magicol, the organ of the Magic Collectors Association (MCA), is my second favorite magazine. I am sincere in that statement because in his fifteen year stewardship as publisher/editor of it, David Meyer has made the little quarterly magazinefor anyone even remotely interested in the history of magic and the collecting of its memorabiliasomething to look forward to receiving. The increased quality of its content and particularly its production has been remarkable under his watch. All this might (might) come to an end very soon if someone (or some group) does not step up to the plate.

In the August issue, Mr. Meyer announced his intention, along with his wife Anita, who as acted as the Secretary of the MCA, to retire after the publication of the November 2009 issue.

At the time he wrote those wordsand as far as I am sure at this pointthere is no one in place to continue publishing Magicol, administering the MCA, organizing its annual conference (The Magic Collectors Weekend), and running and expanding its new website ( http://www.magicol.org/ ). Unless someone steps up, these things (to use the word Mr. Meyer used) will go dormant.

I nearly fell out of my chair when I read his words. And it got me to thinking. Whos up?

The history of magic is important to the continuing health of the art. The collecting of its books, ephemera, apparatus, and other segments of magics memorabilia is more than just a compulsion: Its a link to the past the importance of which cannot be understated.

The current standard bearers of magics history, folks like David Meyer, Mike Caveney, Jim Steinmeyer, John Gaughan, Ricky Jay, and others continue to do an astounding job inspiring people in my generation, I was wonder what we have done to inspire those behind us.

Todd Karr, Gabe Fajuri, Clay Shevlin, David Ben, and others have contributed, but have we (I have done a smidgeon compared to them, but I have to take some responsibility too, so thats why I ask have we) inspired those in the generation behind us?

I always knew that there will come a time when we need to do more than just enjoy the efforts of those who came before us and take up the torch itself. And it appears that time is upon us.

Dustin
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/21/09 07:41 PM

Dustin,

With only the sound of crickets since you posted the above, this may be your answer. I would guess that there at least 20-40 members of Magicol that have read this. Not even a reply to a good post.

I would guess that is a great undertaking. It must have its' upside I would guess to, besides the very bigf responsibility.

Maybe if someone was banned from Magicol, you could get 200 hundred replies. ;)
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Postby Bill McFadden » 09/21/09 10:12 PM

My copy of Magicol arrived this past Saturday. As I thumbed through the pages (saving the read for later), the Notes and Comments column caught my attention. I was looking for a summary of the Collectors' Weekend and kept reading to Mr. Meyer's "five months notice." Although a relative newcomer to MCA, my reaction to the news mimicked Dustin's.

For economic reasons, I was not able to attend the '08 and '09 Weekends, and was feeling badly that I had to pass for two consecutive years. But at least I'll keep up my membership and receive Magicol, right?

If Dustin's question/challenge makes us feel a wee bit antsy, my guess is it's supposed to. But here I sit and shrug and think about how it would be an ideal commitment for me. If only I weren't a magic newbie (1997) and nobody; and if only I were at a point in my life where everyday financial matters take care of themselves.

There must be someone in the ranks both qualified and willing to step up to the plate, mustn't there? In the interim, I still can't figure out what the heck else I could do to help make it happen - or at least do something to help out period.

Shame on all of us if the MCA endures another "dormant" period.
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Postby Steve Fernandes » 09/21/09 10:32 PM

David Meyer's 15-year tenure as Editor of Magicol rivals that of the vast majority of editors of conjuring periodicals not only in longevity, but, more importantly, in accomplishment. A few magazines came in today's mail; none brought to this face the smile which the little white envelope from Glenwood brought. No club publication brings me as much interest and joy as does Magicol, and I do get my share of them. The lion's portion of the credit for that belongs to David Meyer, who has been able to assemble humor, news, and good research into an increasingly appealing package four times a year. Thanks, David. My goodness, will you be missed!
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Postby Matthew Field » 09/22/09 05:55 AM

Just received my copy of Magicol and haven't started looking at it as yet, but it's a fact of life that times change and new blood must be found to fill jobs that some take for granted.

I don't have any idea [gabe fajuri] who might [gabe fajuri] be able [gabe fajuri] to take on [gabe fajuri] a job like this.

Matt Field
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Postby magicam » 09/22/09 02:09 PM

Well, copies of the latest Magicol have found their way to England, but still not my mailbox. Wanted to read the announcement in Magicol before posting here ... but who knows when my copy will arrive!

Dustins good post suggests a number of matters on which to reflect; different views may be reasonably held on these subjects, but hopefully there is a at least near-unanimous consensus about the importance of David and Anitas contributions, the most tangible, enduring evidence thereof probably being the editorial and production values of Magicol and the marked improvement of these qualities during Davids tenure as editor. The new editor will indeed have big shoes to fill.

As for the bigger-picture issues raised by Dustin, IMO these are important and relevant. Ive got some thoughts but want them to percolate a bit longer before sharing them.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/22/09 02:38 PM

Gabe Fajuri is not interested in assuming the editorship of Magicol. He's a busy guy these days!
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/22/09 06:36 PM

Its not so much that I wanted anyone to feel antsy, but I certainly wanted to provoke some thought.

When it comes to advancing the work still left to be done on the history of magic, my generation, and the one just behind it, has some enormous shoes to fill. The generation ahead of ours has done a remarkable job of equaling, in fact (in my opinion) surpassing, the one they followed. Though I have always enjoyed studying the history of magic, it was a comment by Mike Caveney that inspired me to find my guy and do something (whether a magazine article or a monographbut something permanent) on him. Im still working on that, but I was distracted by my Milo & Roger project, which still continues to this day. So now I have my guy as well as my guys.

Mr. Caveney often explains how the history of magic is like a tapestry. Every magicianregardless of staturewhose story can be added to it fills in another thread in that big, wondrous picture.

Yes, most of the large pieces have been filled in (though snags are always being fixed, thanks to the diligence of historians and the remarkable technologies enjoyed today). Those pieces made up by Robert-Houdin, Hofzinser (though we are still awaiting the English translations), the Maskelynes, Devant, Kellar, Houdini, Thurston, Carter, Dante, the Blackstones, et al, they have all been well sewn. But there are still many threads out there to be found and added to the big picture.

Oh, maybe they arent as sexy as those mentioned above, but they are a part of the picture nonetheless, and a great storyteller can make them sexy. Often the tale of discovery can be as intriguing as the subject, thus adding to the overall story. How Mike Caveney and Bill Smith acquired the Carter materials made me care even more about Carters story.

And it wasnt just dumb luck: Just like it wasnt luck that I was able to acquire the Milo & Roger materials that I got. I was making telephone calls, actively participating in the hunt versus hoping something might drop into my lap. And it was my desire to collect the materials on Milo & Roger that resulted in a story that sounds like luck and, more importantly, led to me being able to fill in a few more bits of thread into their piece of the Tapestry of Magic.

I dont know what the answer is to the overall question: How to inspire the younger generations to look awayif only for a whilefrom what is currently hot and creating buzz and instead explore, discover, and share that which makes up the past of the art and craft for which we all share a passion.

Dustin
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Postby Frank Dudgeon » 09/23/09 06:48 PM

I just now saw Dustin's thread on Magicol. I'm recovering from knee replacement surgery and am finally catching up on a week's worth of emails, etc. I echo the thoughts of great admiration for what David and Anita Meyer have accomplished. Each issue of Magicol is a treasure unto itself. My latest copy is probably outside in my apartment complex's mailbox structure, waiting until I can get my walker up and down the stairs. When I get my hands on Magicol it will be devoured.

In my case it took a number of years to realize the importance, and richness, of magic's history. I was always "interested" in magicians of the past, but it took contact with Ray Goulet in Boston to make me realize that organized research was being done, that collectors met and discussed their acquisitions, and that a whole other area of magic was open to me.

I've had a couple of magicians tell me they're interested in magic history but can't afford to be a collector. The impression is that a sizeable income is necessary. It is for the high end posters, apparatus, books and ephemera, but there's a large supply of reasonably priced material to collect and study. Otherwise I coudn't have started collecting.

I wish I had answers to Dustin's thoughts. I've come to the conclusion that a certain maturity is needed for most of us to develop a fuller appreciation of magic history. I guess the task is to better communicate the joy of this niche in magic to others.
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Postby magicam » 09/28/09 05:38 PM

Some of the posts in this thread comprise a good launching point for the following thoughts in response to Dustins original post.

I firmly believe, and have probably written on this board, that the development and documentation of magic history is in fact largely an accretive process that is to say, there are relatively few revelations; rather, to use the Caveney analogy mentioned by Dustin, most of what we add to the tapestry of magic is in the form of little threads.

For the Bill McFaddens of the magic community (I still can't figure out ... something to help out period) and there are many the accretive nature of magic history should be rather liberating. The point is this: you dont need to be a Ricky Jay, Jim Steinmeyer or Mike Caveney to make a worthwhile contribution to magic history. To repeat: you dont need to be a Ricky Jay, Jim Steinmeyer or Mike Caveney to make a worthwhile contribution to magic history.

Again: you dont need to be a Ricky Jay, Jim Steinmeyer or Mike Caveney to make a worthwhile contribution to magic history.

Many of what we might consider to be significant magic history contributions reflect the accretive qualities of documenting magic history. For example, Milbourne Christophers The Illustrated History of Magic did not just appear sua sponte in 1973. It had its origins over 15 years earlier in the little monograph, Panorama of Prestidigitators (1956), which was then expanded by the publication of Panorama of Magic in 1962. Another classic magic history text, Edwin A. Dawes The Great Illusionists, was compiled and adapted from the essays Dawes wrote in The Magic Circular under his long-running Rich Cabinet column. Edgar Heyls Cues for Collectors (1964), which to this day contains information not to be found anywhere else, was compiled mostly from his series of articles in M-U-M. And Trevor Halls Old Conjuring Books (1972) was based to a large degree on a monograph published in 1969, many articles he wrote in The Magic Circular and his doctoral thesis on old magic books.

The point is that even many of the greats of magic history took baby steps in the course of producing their classics. So if they did this, why cant the rest of us? Of course, us little guys need not produce a modest work with the intention of turning it into a greater work in point of fact, if Milbourne Christopher were around to be asked, hed probably concede that his classic Illustrated History of Magic was not in mind when he self-published Panorama of Prestidigitators. Hed probably say that he was merely trying to make a contribution to magic history.

So, to return to the main theme of Dustins original post how to inspire the younger generation to contribute to magic history. IMHO, the key rests with the recognition that making a worthwhile contribution need not be revelatory, sexy, comprehensive or definitive. Sure, there are any reasons why the majority of us do not contribute to magic history, some of them being lack of time, or even a degree of laziness. But I know several relative newcomers to collecting who seem to be intimidated at the thought of writing something up for journals like Magicol. They look at what the greats have contributed and say to themselves, whats the use? I cant compare to these guys. But to those of you who feel that way, may I suggest that you arent giving yourself enough credit for the ability to add a thread to the tapestry of magic history. It doesnt take much. To quote the Nike slogan, just do it!
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/28/09 07:05 PM

I think what is really needed is someone to take over the running of Magicol the organization and the magazine. It would be harder to find a person or persons to do that, than to find new authors of magic articles.

As I mentioned above, the response to this thread is underwhelming. I hear very little chatter about anything about this situation outside of here. That is a real problem
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/28/09 08:29 PM

Kevin,

There is no question that the pressing issue of the moment is keeping the MCA and Magicol running. But the bigger pictureand the crux of my postsis that the MCA and Magicol are pointless without a new generation taking an active interest in the history of magic. The question is, how do we inspire that next generation?

Dustin
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/28/09 08:32 PM

Dustin, essentially, and in a real sense, the next generation is simply not there.

I'm afraid that natural attrition will eventually claim the MCA, its magazine, and its convention.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/28/09 09:20 PM

The bigger picture is to keep it running. I don't want to knock heads. You have to have the convention and the magazine to offer the new, younger collector a visual something to pique their interest..

I don't think it's the end of Magicol or magic collecting. This is not the stamp market. With magic history titles being published for the mass market and more to come, I don't think the outcome is that bleak.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 09/28/09 09:23 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Dustin, essentially, and in a real sense, the next generation is simply not there.


Hi.

-Jim
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/28/09 10:07 PM

How old are you, Jim.?
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Postby Jim Maloney » 09/28/09 10:21 PM

29.

-Jim
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/28/09 11:06 PM

You're too old.


Just kidding.

So you want to be the next editor of Magicol? And run the Magic Collector's Association and convention? Now's your chance.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/29/09 12:08 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Dustin, essentially, and in a real sense, the next generation is simply not there.

I'm afraid that natural attrition will eventually claim the MCA, its magazine, and its convention.


Are you saying that there are no young people who are "into" magic?

I don't believe that's the case at all (but if it is, then magic has a much bigger problem than just wondering who will carry on researching its history).

If it's a metaphorical "not there," then that is the root of the problem and the question: How to inspire them to arrive "there."

Kevin,

Your comment is so backward that it's not even wrong (to paraphrase a famous quote).

It's not the magazine or the convention that creates collectors and historians.

Dustin
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/29/09 12:36 AM

There are not enough people under a certain age who are avid collectors, desire to meet other collectors, want to pay for and read a magazine about collecting, and spend money to go to a convention about collecting. And you can substitute "history" for every instance of "collecting" in the preceeding sentence.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/29/09 12:53 AM

Dustin,

As much as you are in denial, it is the truth. The newcomer must actually see the item, after reading about them to set the spark off. Then, when he sees that they can be acquired, Bingo! You have a new collector.

There is no shortage of magic history books out there. There probably is too many of them. With children from the third grade on up, new movies, new Broadway plays and mass market books exposing the public to magic you have nothing to worry about. There will be interest. Really.

The bottom line is that have to get the newbie first to turn into a collector. If you don't have that, the cycle ends.
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Postby Diego » 09/29/09 01:20 AM

I was saddened, but not completely surprised to read of David & Anita Meyer, wanting to pursue other interests and move on.
I join the many who congratulate and THANK them for the many hours/years they devoted to the MCA.
To often they spent many hours trying to please many, only to hear the complaints of a few.
George Daily told me after he and others hosted The Magic Collectors Weekend in Baltimore, he was incredulous that David and Anita, had been doing it, every year.
Please remember the Meyers knew and were influenced by an earlier generation of collectors, for whom magic history was a fascination and passion, before it became, a market to others.

Remember many of the so-called older(?!) people in the magic history/collecting world, were younger too. There are others under 30 who are known for their scholarship and drive today.
Despite evidence to the contrary, you do NOT have to have a collection, (large or small) to be a historian. I remember visiting a well known, (non-magic) historian, who had very few papers or books in his home...he said that is what libraries are for. I have found some wonderful disoveries of magic history in old periodicals and government archives...Even police/prison records!

Some of the most memorable presentations at different magic history conventions, (MCA and others) were not because of the value of the items that the speaker had, but because of THE STORY they told, that made up another part magic history.
Robert and Elaine Lund often stressed the stories of those who performed, was more important to them, then just the artifacts they left in their wake.

Thanks again to the Meyers...hope to thank others in the future for saying, "Yes, this is worth DOING."
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/29/09 03:02 AM

Kevin,

I am not in "denial." This is not about just collecting stuff.

You don't get it and I no longer expect you to get it (my fault since I obviously cannot articulate my point to you well enough), so don't worry about it.

Thanks,
Dustin
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/29/09 08:41 AM

Dustin,

The only reason why I threw the denial word in is that it sounded to me like you were coming down from the mountain to tell me how wrong I was. Let's forget about it.

I thought this thread was about Magicol ceasing publication, not historians VS collectors. The bottom line is to find an editor for Magicol and maybe another person to run the convention.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 09/29/09 09:27 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:You're too old.


Just kidding.

So you want to be the next editor of Magicol? And run the Magic Collector's Association and convention? Now's your chance.


If I had the time and resources, I'd probably consider it (like I considered picking up some of your projects that you've been selling off). But the truth is that, unfortunately, I don't have that available. I can barely keep up with the Leipzig project I'm working on. I'd love to work on some magic-related project full time but, well, my current job pays better.

-Jim
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Postby Bill McFadden » 09/29/09 11:30 AM

magicam wrote:For the Bill McFaddens of the magic community (I still can't figure out ... something to help out period) and there are many the accretive nature of magic history should be rather liberating. The point is this: you dont need to be a Ricky Jay, Jim Steinmeyer or Mike Caveney to make a worthwhile contribution to magic history. To repeat: you dont need to be a Ricky Jay, Jim Steinmeyer or Mike Caveney to make a worthwhile contribution to magic history.


Mr. Shevlin, your point is well-taken. For the record, I am in my 56th year, and therefore outside the demographic Dustin was focusing upon.

"Too old" to make a contribution to magic history/collecting? Probably not, now that I've a better grasp on things - courtesy of this discussion. "Too lazy" might better characterize my prospective temperament.

As for carrying forward the mission of the MCA, over the years I have gleaned experience from running a professional/trade association, editing and publishing a professional journal, and managing conventions/trade shows. Hey, at least I can fantasize a little, since mediating labor disputes has become tiresome, to put it diplomatically.

Thanks, fellows, for a lively and provocative discussion thread.
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Postby magicam » 09/29/09 04:54 PM

Kevin Connolly wrote:Dustin,

As much as you are in denial, it is the truth. The newcomer must actually see the item, after reading about them to set the spark off. Then, when he sees that they can be acquired, Bingo! You have a new collector.

There is no shortage of magic history books out there. There probably is too many of them. With children from the third grade on up, new movies, new Broadway plays and mass market books exposing the public to magic you have nothing to worry about. There will be interest. Really.

The bottom line is that have to get the newbie first to turn into a collector. If you don't have that, the cycle ends.

Kevin,

I certainly share your sense of urgency about the need for, and importance of, finding a new Magicol editor, etc., but am not convinced that things like Magicol cause one to turn into a collector. I think being a collector is more or less innate youre either predisposed to collecting or youre not. Remember, there were no Magicols or collecting organizations back when the likes of Savren, Burlingame, Ellison and Houdini (to name a few) began collecting well over 100 years ago. The MCA was not formed until 1950, but by then collecting was in full swing and truly a field unto itself. So if we couch it in chicken and egg terms, the collectors were legion long before magic collecting periodicals and organizations came into being, and so, if anything, Magicol and the MCA are the byproducts of collectors and collecting, and not the other way around. I know that Magicol had little to do with sparking my interest in collecting when I was a boy in the early 1970s.

I also dont think there is any shortage of collectors and history lovers nowadays, and believe that the abundance of historical and biographical publications is evidence of that. In fact, Id guess that there are more magic collectors than ever in the history of magic collecting, and believe that many of them are relatively young. So, IMO the problem is not the raw numbers, and here is where the heart of Dustins post comes into play. If I understand Dustins post correctly, his concern is about how we inspire collectors to follow the footsteps of the older generation and contribute to the advancement of magic history.

Getting collectors to contribute is not a new problem, and in the case of Magicol, while I cant speak for David Meyers experiences as editor, Im pretty sure that back when Jim Alfredson was editor, he often struggled with getting enough contributions to fill up an issue. Jim is a member here so perhaps he will have some thoughts on that. In any case, ten people could step up today and volunteer to be editor of Magicol, but you still need something to edit, and thats Dustins concern, I think. The question is, why do so few collectors perform the three Cs popularized by Eddie Dawes: collect, collate, and communicate? In a previous post, I suggested one possible reason, and that is the feeling amongst some collectors that what they have to say is not important enough.

I dont know all the reasons why collectors dont contribute, so let me ask you, Kevin. You are a veteran collector, and doubtless have knowledge that you could share with the collecting community. How many articles have you submitted to Magicol or other magic publications? The point is not at all to put you on the spot or paint you as a bad guy, but to try and understand some of the reasons why old or new collectors do not contribute.
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Postby JimAlfredson » 09/29/09 06:30 PM

How I missed-out on this thread, I know not. Except I guess the title didn't ring any bells for me. Clay Shevlin kindly phoned me about it, wondering, I am sure, why I'd not commented on it. As current Hon. President of the M.C.A., I should have been the first in line to offer my personal thanks for all of the effort that David and Anita have put into the outfit. Few have the personal knowledge of the extent of their efforts that I have, and they deserve tons of credit.

I, too, edited MAGICOL for 15 years, in much more primitive times, and have enthusiastically praised David for the splendid periodical that he's made of it. I can tell you from personal experience that it's a lot of work; on the other hand, after you develop some experience, it's a rewarding job, but no one can do it forever.

At my advanced age (72) I think that I can see a lot of 'younger' collectors, and I definitely disagree with my old friend Richard Kaufman--they are there! I am convinced that what happens today is exactly what happened in my own day; as a serious collector by age 16, there was no organizations to join; but had there been,I likely not have joined it. I now note at our 'Weekends' that the many new faces are in their mid-20s. I suspect they started their history/collecting interest many years earlier. Further, someone in the thread mentioned the great number of books on magic's history existing today. This is most significant, as in the old days; well, George Johnson, his publisher, told Sam Sharpe, "If you'd titled Neo Magic as Trix for Twiddlers it would have sold out."--people just wouldn't buy books unless there were 'tricks' in them; now they will.

As David indicated, I am plenty willing to step down as President to foster the progress of any new 'administration.' When asked to be 'Honorary' President, as Jay Marshall did when the S.A.M. asked him to be Dean, I asked: "What are the duties of the Dean [President]." When the answer was: "None." I, like Mr. Marshall, said, "I'll take it." So, do believe that I am sincere when I say that I'll gladly step aside in favor of 'new blood,' duties nor not!

Well, there; I guess that's my two-cents worth! I do hope that a smooth transition will take place, and that the Association will continue to prosper.
Cheers! -jim alfredson
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/29/09 09:04 PM

Most Illustrious,

I'm glad to see you chime in. I would offer to take it over, but it could be a problem. I don't know how long I would last after publishing Magicol's Summer Houdini Issue, Fall Houdini issue, Winter Houdini Issue and Spring Houdini Issue. :)

I sure hope this works out. At my age, I really look forward to it arriving at my house. That and Jello.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/29/09 09:12 PM

I'd be happy to be proven wrong in this case, especially by the big cheese himself, my old friend Mr. Alfredson.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 09/29/09 10:03 PM

Times are different.

I became interested in magic history and magic collecting in my late teens. Even then, older magicians teased me with stories of how much less expensive the items I was coveting were just a few years before.

They have since only gone up.

Maybe the new generation has been priced out of the market? I can't think of any working pro - 30 or under (hell, 40 or under) that really has the means to shop with the big boys.

Sure, there is wealth among young people, but I don't see many young PERFORMERS with the means to collect. Personally, I think it is wonderful when these old ideas still breathe before an audience - not locked away in someone's cabinet. (Which is why I think the LA Conference on Magic History is so enjoyable, informative, and important.)

Further, when one looks at the message boards for sites that cater to the youth you see an almost complete ignorance of - and sometimes contempt for - the history of magic.

Of course there may be the odd young person interested in collecting magic, but I tend to agree with RK - I don't really see it.
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Postby magicam » 09/29/09 11:36 PM

Kevin Connolly wrote:... I don't know how long I would last after publishing Magicol's Summer Houdini Issue, Fall Houdini issue, Winter Houdini Issue and Spring Houdini Issue. :) ...
Big oaks out of little acorns grow ... So why not just start with an article? :)

Brad Henderson wrote:Times are different. ... Maybe the new generation has been priced out of the market? I can't think of any working pro - 30 or under (hell, 40 or under) that really has the means to shop with the big boys. ...

Sure, there is wealth among young people, but I don't see many young PERFORMERS with the means to collect. ...

Of course there may be the odd young person interested in collecting magic, but I tend to agree with RK - I don't really see it.

If the number of collectors and magic history fans is decreasing, what explains the relative explosion of historically-oriented magic books over the past 25 years? And why have prices increased for the more common magic collectibles? Surely the big boys no longer seek (for example) copies of Blitzs Fifty Years in the Magic Circle and the Alta edition of Robert-Houdins Memoirs for their collections.

To be sure, if a beginning collector of modest means aspires to build a collection of rare antiquarian books or rare lithographs, that will be difficult, to say the least. But heres a thought: the vast majority of magicana that one can collect is very affordable, and one does not have to be wealthy at all to start collecting magic.

When it comes down to complaints about the prices of magic collectibles, it boils down to this: why does one collect? If it is for status (look at the rare and expensive things I have), then the status-seekers deserve such difficulties because IMHO they are in it for the wrong reason. On the other hand, if one collects for the love of magic, then one can easily find something to collect that is not expensive at all. In the history of collecting, some of the finest collections have been built by people of relatively modest means.

And as Diego astutely noted, lovers of magic history need not be wealthy to pursue their interests.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/30/09 08:57 AM

I hope it's just a matter of this being a time of market correction rather than a symptom related to a drop in literacy and commitment to the longer term view of ones interests.
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Postby the Larry » 09/30/09 02:05 PM

If you have ever attended one magic collector or history convention you know that RKs statement is absolutely true. I have been at some and I bet the average age of participants was around 60.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 09/30/09 06:54 PM

Clay,

I don't think many people get into collecting just to "collect." (I know some who have, but I personally find that odd.) Most, I think, get into collecting because they find their subject enlightening, interesting, fun, or cool. At least when it comes to my taste, most of the stuff I find cool is not cheap. This - of course - stems from the fact that many other people also think the same things are cool. I like Okito not because of the status it may bring, but because I like Okito.

I can only speak from my observations and experiences (and the last thing I want is for this to come off as arrogant, and it is not intended to - but here we go). While most of the people I consider "friends" and "peers" in magic who are my age have more than a healthy respect for the history of our art, I look beyond these half dozen or so people to the rest of the my age group and I do not see the same interest.

Having said that, while I may have a copy of the Alta Houdin on my shelf, I can't think of anyone else I know (my age or younger) who does. And while most of my friends would unhesitatingly obtain a reprint of an important title which they felt could enhance their work, I don't know how many of them would pony up the cash for a true first edition.

Why do they command the price they do? Well, I don't think it's because the Theory 11 kids are lining up to snipe them off ebay. Maybe magic became an investment worthy commodity and that drove up the prices?

And while I am thrilled to see historical titles do well, I don't know many people my age (outside of the handful of peers who I DO see at the History conference) who own any of the Caveny or Miracle Factory books.

It's just what I see.

Brad
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Postby magicam » 09/30/09 07:14 PM

Brad,

Fair points, all. And as you say, all one can do is draw conclusions based on ones observations and personal experiences.

The reasons you cite for collecting enlightening, interesting, fun, or cool all seem fine IMHO, provided cool does not mean Im cool because I have all of this stuff (which I didnt take to be your point).

Sadly, there is probably some truth to your suggestion that the bump in prices for the more common stuff could relate to investment speculation, but FWIW I dont think that explains most of the price increases. I believe most of the price increases relate to increased demand due to an increase in the number of collectors. Now, among the people you know and hang out with, it seems that only a small minority show interest in collecting, magic history, etc. My experience is just the opposite, and the reason for our differing experiences may simply be that we associate with different subsets of the magic community.

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Postby Gordon Meyer » 09/30/09 07:15 PM

I'm a recent member of the MCA, and I don't really consider myself a collector, but I do have a strong interest in magic history.

When I read the news in Magicol I was surprised, but the fact that there is apparently no one interested in stepping up to the plate is, to me, a sign that it's already over. I've been in organizations that have suffered that same situation and if there is no succession plan, or any interest within the organization, that's a very hard thing to overcome.

But as someone interested in history, the CARC's Gibeciere is really the premiere publication to receive. Every issue is a gem. If you're one of the (apparently) few people interested in magic history, the Conjuring Arts Research Center is the heir apparent. If you're strictly a collector though, I don't know what to suggest.
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Postby mai-ling » 09/30/09 10:25 PM

I was anxious to get the new Magicol because it was
unusally late and I was wondering if my mom would
be remembered in the issue.

Thanks to David (being that my mom knew him for years)
she was.

As I read thru the magazine I saw to make sure
and read page 33.

I pointed this out to Gordon via Twitter.

My jaw dropped, because I can't seen anyone else
doing such a super job as David & Anita has.

Then I had a silly notion in my head of taking
on the responsibility.

My husband even made a comment about it too.

(I have the time between shows, I care for a
former professional magician with a vast history
of his own... and I have time on my hands...
and I have time on my hands).

But I'd need a lot of help and guidance.

again, silly notion.


So I would hate to disappoint in the footsteps of those
in making the MCA what it is.

I love the MCA and what it brings.

I love that it is a staple in the Chicagoland area
and the history behind that.

I wish there were more of my generation interested
because there are so many people who have so much
knowledge that you can learn from at the gatherings.

My mom said after the 40th that it might be the last.

She must have for seen something.

I would hate for it go into a dormancy.
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Postby magicam » 10/01/09 08:40 AM

the Larry wrote:If you have ever attended one magic collector or history convention you know that RKs statement is absolutely true. I have been at some and I bet the average age of participants was around 60.

There seem to be widely differing opinions about the relative number of younger magic collectors in the collecting community, from the Larrys observations to Jim Alfredsons (Jim has probably attended most, if not all, of the major collecting/historical gatherings over the past 40 years).

It is interesting to see how this thread has developed and the various themes that have been introduced. As I read it, Dustins original post used David Meyers retirement as editor of Magicol to launch an appeal and ask a question: the plea is a call to arms to the younger generation(s) of collectors to begin to do the work that has been done by our predecessors namely, contributing to the documentation and advancement of magic history. And the question is, what are we doing to inspire the younger generation of collectors to do this work?

While the discussion in this thread has certainly been thought-provoking, have we (me included) really addressed Dustins primary question? I have some thoughts on that question, but they will have to wait for the moment. In the meantime, any thoughts from other Genii Forum members?

Gordon Meyer wrote:I'm a recent member of the MCA ...

... the fact that there is apparently no one interested in stepping up to the plate is, to me, a sign that it's already over. ...

But as someone interested in history, the CARC's Gibeciere is really the premiere publication to receive. Every issue is a gem. If you're one of the (apparently) few people interested in magic history, the Conjuring Arts Research Center is the heir apparent. If you're strictly a collector though, I don't know what to suggest.

Welcome to the MCA Gordon!

In light of the wording of Davids announcement in Magicol and the doom and gloom expressed in some of the posts here, perhaps its understandable for one to worry that nobodys interested in stepping up to the plate as Magicol editor. But that is a premature conclusion, IMO; for all we know and Im speculating here as Ive not discussed the matter with David a possible successor has already expressed interest for some or all of the MCA duties, but David wanted to make sure that all serious candidates have a chance to toss their hats in the ring and be considered. And, if it helps to allay fears, I can tell you that there is at least one legitimate candidate who is seriously considering volunteering as editor.

Regarding Gibecire, it is certainly a gem, as you say, and Mssrs. Minch and Kalush are to be commended and thanked for the high editorial and production quality of this publication. We can only hope that Gibecire fills the great need for an in-depth, scholarly magic history periodical for decades to come. Gibecire and Magicol serve two very different needs in the magic community, and each has its place in the magic community.

Your mention of Gibecire is another reason why the dire predictions about the health of the collecting and history communities are so puzzling. The amount of material being published these days which appeals to the magic collector and/or historian has never been greater in the history of these fields, and even the mainstream periodicals such as Genii and Magic regularly feature articles of interest to these groups a very strange phenomenon indeed for fields which are supposedly on the wane.
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Postby mai-ling » 10/01/09 10:16 AM

I don't think there is anything to inspire a younger
generation of history or collecting.

Most of the younger generation is exposed to performing
and most are not interested in the history associated
with any effect they perform.

I don't know how magicians who teach magic do their course of
study but I'm highly doubting it is anything like music courses.

Where we are taught technique with history.

Anything we learn technique wise isn't associated with
a composer who or a composer who wrote the music.

And for every composer we learn from in taking lesson's
was a teacher (because that is how they made their living).

In comparison to music to magic I think there is a huge
gap that can not be ignored. Where it comes to teaching
both technique and history.

Maybe when the student becomes the master and learns
from books and other master magicians and takes a more
serious role of how the effect was developed by.
That is when the newer generation will take notice.

There is no history associated with a newer generation.

It's all about being flashy and better than the next guy.
(Reality show competitions) not to say that isn't the case
with music competitions or any other types of competitions
either))

The newer generation may not have money to collect actual
apparatus and books that is worth lots of money ...

But actual knowledge and learning doesn't cost much.

Books to read about history are easily accessible and
any magician or historian you go up to ask them anything,
they are glad to share their knowledge with you.

that's just a partial view from my stand point.

i'm just fortunate to have grown up with a wonderful
group of magicians and lovers of magic (most of which
are not longer with us) to see what they did and why
they did.

I have attended many of the MCA gatherings at the little
theatre to the church to the raddison and other places,
when I was a just a child of 3 years old (probably
more or less a baby) with my parents.
and remembering when Frances used to organize them.
I saw a lot of things that none my age ever experienced.

In actually attending the last two MCA weekends, I can
say that besides Gabe and I, there aren't many who attend
the weekend that are our age or younger.

that tells you a little something.
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