What are your plans for your collection?

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Postby erdnasephile » 07/07/11 12:59 PM

With the sad, relentless stream of magic-related passings recently, I started thinking about what would I want done with my collection when my turn comes.

Don't have any proteges to bequeath things to. Selling to a dealer would be most expedient. Ebay would be a bit of a hassle. Donating to a library/magic club would most likely ensure magicians would eventually steal everything. The Magic Castle already has all of my stuff.

(I just read that Bill Palmer said he plans to melt down his cup collection to make a coffin :) )

What are your plans?
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Postby Mark Collier » 07/07/11 01:22 PM

I have a 21 year old son that isn't into magic. I want him to benefit from the value of the collection while trying to lesson the burden of him having to deal with it.

I've started photographing and writing Ebay ads for my collection. I would like to have a thumb drive with these ads ready to upload, along with instructions on where to post notices.

I agree Ebay will be a bit of a hassle but I think he'd get more of the true value out of it and even if he chose to sell to a dealer, an itemized list would help with that as well.
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Postby DrDanny » 07/07/11 05:15 PM

Wellsir, I just hope that Byron Walker outlives me, so my wife doesn't have to hassle with Ebay. I keep his card taped to my bookcase. No rush, Byron, but bring something bigger than a car. And a big pile of cash, cuz she'll be needing it. :)
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 07/07/11 05:39 PM

Exposure-prevention: destruction. How many more performances have to be ruined by spectators to whom the K-M Move has been exposed, again and again? How long will we tolerate the cloud of suspicion directed at beveled illusion bases? Even allowing lay survivors to handle sensitive props and literature is a dubious, magic-hating practice. Enough. I believe it was Tampa who articulated the maxim: "In death, we love and protect Our Art only by its destruction."
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Postby Oli Foster » 07/07/11 05:41 PM

My local club is really small and informal (in a good way) and doesn't have an official library. People just lend each other things. When a member passes, his props and books are brought to the club and shared out amongst the members with donations going to the family or charity. I quite like this and would like the thought of people I knew enjoying my things.

I'm going to write a list of the things that were special to me or valuable that I want my family to have and leave everything else to whoever wants it. Given the crumbling random stuff I collect, there probably won't be many takers :) Morbid stuff but happens to the best of us...
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Postby Oli Foster » 07/07/11 05:42 PM

El Harvey Oswald, that's what Hofzinser thought :) ...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/07/11 06:14 PM

Folks, don't leave it for your family to try and sell when you die. It's a huge burden and they won't get the full benefit they should.

Sell it yourself and share in the pleasure of the others who have added some of the things you treasured to your collection.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 07/07/11 07:09 PM

Like a Viking King, I will be immolated on an altar built and fueled with this burdensome pile which will finally achieve dual utility, getting rid of me and itself all in one magnificent conflagration.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 07/07/11 07:12 PM

This is Mr. Farmer's therapist. Lately, he's been on this Viking kick, running around screaming in Norse and brandishing what his wife tells me is known as a P&L Card Sword. We've got him into the restraints and made him take his medication, so he should be fine.
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 07/07/11 07:37 PM

"El Harvey Oswald, that's what Hofzinser thought"

I stand corrected. I'd just been referencing Tampa's theory works, but carelessly brought them into my Austrian library room; thus the confusion.
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Postby mai-ling » 07/07/11 08:12 PM

Everything my p's have will go to me.
I treasure everything and even more things I keep finding.

What will I do with it?
Hopefully my children will love magic and from their history.
If not, I will make sure that I will be able to pass the
important stuff to a museum or someone who wants to collect it.

My mom and I had thought about selling or gifting some
of the special items to the Art Institute of Chicago.
you will remember my name
http://www.mai-ling.net
world's youngest illusionista

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Postby erdnasephile » 07/07/11 08:16 PM

Bob Farmer wrote:This is Mr. Farmer's therapist. Lately, he's been on this Viking kick...


Paging Mac King... :)
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Postby Diego » 07/08/11 01:36 AM

This topic has been pursued in previous threads. It has become known that to leave it to a library, college, or other institution can too many times lead to the neglect, theft, and even "deaquisitioning",(aka discarding) of items by clueless, arrogant personnel.

I recently helped a family who wanted to clear the garage of a deceased family member's collection. I showed how selling it via ebay, individual collectors, or an auction house could get the best prices, but they didn't want to deal with listing, packing, accounting for everything...they wanted someone who could offer them a lump sum and TAKE it away. I contacted some dealers/collectors and kept other preditors away. They knew they could have gotten more selling it themselves, but chose not to.
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Postby Edwin Corrie » 07/08/11 04:11 AM

Peter Kane's son created a website to sell off his father's book collection ( Magic Books For Sale - worth looking at). It's been around for a while and many but not all the books have gone.

I have a fair number of books and have recently made a list of all the titles with occasional notes about points of interest (e.g. publication dates for particularly old books). Sold individually they would be worth quite a bit, but I don't know whether my daughters will want the hassle. They may prefer to sell the whole lot at once for a lower price, though even then you have to find someone willing to come and collect them. And yet I would hate to dispose of them myself while I'm still around to enjoy them.
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Postby Matthew Field » 07/08/11 05:08 AM

I'm taking mine with me.

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Postby erdnasephile » 07/08/11 10:26 AM

Diego wrote:This topic has been pursued in previous threads...


Diego: I searched for a previous discussion on this topic on Genii Forum and came up empty. May I please ask which threads were you able to find? I'd be interested to know what those discussions said as well. Thanks!
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Postby Ted M » 07/08/11 10:46 AM

Worth repeating:

Richard Kaufman wrote:Folks, don't leave it for your family to try and sell when you die. It's a huge burden and they won't get the full benefit they should.

Sell it yourself and share in the pleasure of the others who have added some of the things you treasured to your collection.


Yes!

My aging parents live in a large house full of specialized antiques and furniture. My house is very small -- I can't absorb much stuff (after all, I need to save room for magic books). I am desperately hoping to convince them to begin the work of finding new homes for their great stuff, since they know the value and market for those items and I do not.

We -- the collectors ourselves -- are the ones who have the specialized knowledge about our conjuring libraries. We have some idea of each book's value, we know the handful of venues where that value can be realized, and we know the idiosyncratic protocols for selling in each of those venues.

Painting librarians as clueless and arrogant is ill considered. Public and institutional libraries have their own goals for building their collections, and are commonly besieged by people who do not stop to consider that their grand donation of their favorite books may not fit at all with those goals.

You care about your magic books more than anybody else does. You're far more likely to spend the time to place them well and realize their value than anybody in your family, who will have plenty of other things to deal with when you expire.
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Postby Mark Collier » 07/08/11 12:11 PM

I agree it is far better to deal with it yourself. I am writing the ads and compiling the list in case I die suddenly.
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Postby Diego » 07/08/11 01:28 PM

I can't recall the title similar topics have been discussed, but they have, regarding preserving collections for the future.

Please read, "Double Fold", by Nicholson Baker, and his articles in The New Yorker, regarding how librarians have been literally dumping books/papers that don't fit their agenda.
In a previous thread, it was noted that the New York S.A.M. Assembly realized the best way to save the collection of magic books that had been donated to the NYC library, was to take them OUT of the library, before what was left was stolen/damaged/discarded.

Like any estate, listing what you have and leaving instructions of what you want done with it, is good for your peace of mind, and a gift for your family, when they have to deal with it during that difficult time.
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Postby Diego » 07/08/11 01:40 PM

Many who heard the late Dr. Albo speak last November, learned who and where they WOULDN'T want their collection to go to, or their family dealing with.

The late William Lindsay Gresham, in his last letter to his wife before he died, listed who to give items to. It was a different time when magic collecting was more of passion, than a market.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 07/08/11 01:51 PM

erdnasephile wrote:
Diego wrote:This topic has been pursued in previous threads...


Diego: I searched for a previous discussion on this topic on Genii Forum and came up empty. May I please ask which threads were you able to find? I'd be interested to know what those discussions said as well. Thanks!


Maybe this thread: http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubb ... ber=102738
Share your knowledge on the MagicPedia wiki.
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Postby Diego » 07/08/11 03:23 PM

Yes, that is the thread I was mainly referring to...It also more accurately tells what the NY SAM, was/has been doing with the NYPL magic collection. Please read that thread for important advice and examples.

Reminder also to read Leo Behnke's fine book, "The Preservation of Magic", for knowing what to do and not to do.

Too many libraries having parking lot sales of "that old stuff."
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/08/11 08:08 PM

While I hope to get rid of everything before my death, as a friend recently told me, I don't have an expiration date stamped on my foot. So since I do not want to sell it all today, and I could drop dead tonight, I have written instructions for my wife and kids in case that happens. While they will not get "retail" value, knowing who I trust and what the approximate wholesale value is, makes the burden on them easier.

Unless, of course, Matt takes mine with him as well.

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Postby Joe Limon » 07/08/11 10:25 PM

I believe that Richard is quite right! Don't leave that burden to your loved ones to take care. They'll have plenty of things on their mind as it is. Having been an executor for three elderly family members who all passed away within a year of each other, I can tell you that you really have to be responsible for many things that simply weren't planned for and suddenly pop up. At the very least, make a list of what you have, the price you paid, and who you trust to give a fair evaluation of your collection. A simple spreadsheet or even handwritten Post-Its on each bagged item (with instructions!) or inside of each book would suffice. I have a Mac App on my MacBook Pro where I'm inventorying all of the magic related items I own. Not only can that make it easy for my loved ones, but also for my insurance agent in the event of a catastrophe. Look into it, there may be a PC version as well.

Personally, I've stopped "accumulating" stuff and I'm in the process of compiling a list to sell off the majority of my many effects, books, and magazines as I ease my way out of magic. Don't get me wrong, I'm not quitting magic, I've just found the perfect routines for me and feel like I should let the younger lads (or young at heart) have a go at my collection. I'm just keeping my most frequently performed items, sentimental props gifted to me from friends & family, and favorite books. Now that's magic!
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Postby Bill Mullins » 07/08/11 11:13 PM

Since so much stuff is on computers nowadays, make sure that you leave a list of username/passwords for them. Your survivors will need access to your machine(s), email accounts, and online banking. They may find it useful if they can get into your ebay account, forums that you are a member of (to notify your friends), and other web accounts.

When my dad passed, we knew it was coming and he left access to many of these accounts. It was quite helpful to us.
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Postby Diego » 07/09/11 04:01 AM

Once when visiting the grandson of a vaudeville magician/mindreader, I explained the value of some of the items he had and he remarked, "I had no idea my grandparents were collectable."

He also had a number of movie studio publicity photos of different stars, (Jane Wyman, Paul Henreid, etc.)autographed to his grandmother and he did not know who any of these stars were.
I emphasized to him to tell his children that these items had historical and monetary value and not let them end up in a yard sale one day.
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Postby Matthew Field » 07/09/11 04:53 AM

Dustin Stinett wrote:Unless, of course, Matt takes mine with him as well.


You know my address, Dustin.

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Postby Bill Mullins » 07/09/11 05:05 PM

Don't anyone tell my wife that Matt is coming and getting people's magic books. She'd jump on that deal in a second.
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Postby magicam » 07/10/11 05:21 AM

Its great to see some awareness of the importance of planning for the disposition of ones collection. Not only will such planning help our loved ones at a difficult time (if you've died), but if properly done, it will help to maximize the realized value of the collection, if that is a goal.

I have little doubt that each of us highly values our collections, and not necessarily in a pecuniary sense. If objectively compared to other collections Ive seen, my library is certainly nothing to crow about, but I have items which I consider priceless because of how they were acquired, their associations with certain people, etc. I know many collectors who feel the same way about their collections. But when it comes to the subject of donating ones collection to a legitimate museum or some other institution, there are very few private collections in existence today which would merit even a whiff of interest from such institutions. Thats just the cold reality of things. For people who think that they can simply bequeath their collections to an institution, its not that simple and easy, and they should do some extensive homework well in advance of the contemplated timing for a donation. Chances are great that even in the extremely rare circumstance where an institution is willing to accept a collection, it will not make any promises about the availability, use or display of your material. Odds are that your material will be shut up in storage, and to add insult to injury, its a near certainty that you will be required to leave a substantial endowment to pay for that storage in perpetuity or until the institution decides to sell your collection.

Nearly all of the truly rare, iconic and important conjuring books are either already well represented in existing institutional libraries, or they only exist in such institutions (i.e., all or nearly all copies of such books are no longer owned privately). The cold hard reality is that even if you own a collection of 5,000 magic books and magazines, the nearly insurmountable odds are that it is worthless as a museum-worthy collection.

For those who own apparatus, props, and wardrobes, unless such items (1) were owned by one of a tiny group of truly famous and important magicians (e.g., Robert-Houdin, Houdini) and (2) the items themselves relate to one of the magicians signature tricks or a historically-important performance and (3) the provenance of such items is well documented and undeniable, again youll find precious little interest from bone-fide institutions. And a word on provenance: the mere claim, without more, in an auction or dealers catalog that such-and-such trick or prop was owned by so-and-so is not well documented provenance in fact, theres no provenance at all with such a bald claim.

The sad bottom line is that, while magic may be super important to us, it is at or near the bottom of an institutions acquisitions desiderata.
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