Magic of Robert Harbin

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Postby Keith Bennett » 11/20/11 10:04 AM

I bought a copy of The Magic of Robert Harbin from its original purchaser many years ago and it is still in the brown paper he covered it with and still has the original correspondence from Harbin. It looks as though it has never been read.
Anybody know what it is worth?

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/20/11 11:59 AM

Uh ... $500. I'll buy it. :)
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Postby Doc Dixon » 11/20/11 12:33 PM

I bid $501!
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Postby David Hawkins » 11/20/11 01:02 PM

$502 from me !!!
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/20/11 05:07 PM

Keith:
Last one I saw went for around $1,500
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Postby F.Amílcar » 11/20/11 05:35 PM

Richard,

I can not fight with you. I'm interested in the book, but which will be the final price in this auction?

Truly yours,

F. Amlcar Riega i Bello.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/20/11 08:10 PM

I saw a few in the dealers' rooms at the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History selling for $2500.

We don't allow auctions here, so all the joking is finished! :)
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Postby Brad Henderson » 11/20/11 08:14 PM

The 2500$ Harbin At walker's table was albo's copy and had a very nice inscription and was in excellent condition. I think $2500 For a non-association copy may be a little high for the current market. Most recent prices I've seen have been in the 1200-1800 range.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/20/11 08:23 PM

I believe John Cannon also had one in the other dealer's room for the same price.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 11/20/11 09:52 PM

Still seems high compared to recent secondary market prices.
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/21/11 04:17 AM

ARGGGHHHHH.... I SOLD MINE TOO SOON.
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Postby Keith Bennett » 11/21/11 07:46 AM

I did not offer to auction or even sell it I was interested to know its value.
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Postby pilotpete » 11/21/11 10:19 AM

Martin Breese might know-he has a stack of them-literally-if you can get in touch with him.

I'd have thought somewhere north of 1000-1200 (~$1550) would find interest if you were to market it.
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Postby pilotpete » 11/21/11 10:26 AM

Talk of the Devil...

One has been advertised on magicweek.co.uk this afternoon (1425GMT 21 Nov) with 'offers over 1000'.

Can't get more up to date than that!!
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/21/11 12:02 PM

One needs to be careful of the forgeries of the book that are out there, though I would expect Martin to have originals.

Well before the economy went south, a copy of the book sold at auction for a ridiculous amount: "stupid money" is what one person calls it.

I got a phone call the same day asking me, "Do you have the Harbin book?"

"No," I said.

"Too bad. You'd be happy to know it's worth $3,000."

I don't recall whose auction it was, or if it was eBay or Martinka or something like that.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/21/11 01:38 PM

It's easy to tell the counterfeit copy by Al Mann from the originals.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/21/11 02:59 PM

True, if you know what to look for and on which page to look. Otherwise it's a dead ringer. Several have sold at auction as the real deal.
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Postby Rennie » 11/21/11 03:49 PM

Brad Henderson wrote:The 2500$ Harbin At walker's table was albo's copy and had a very nice inscription and was in excellent condition. I think $2500 For a non-association copy may be a little high for the current market. Most recent prices I've seen have been in the 1200-1800 range.


I have to agree with you on this figure.
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/21/11 08:41 PM

Dustin Stinett wrote:True, if you know what to look for and on which page to look. Otherwise it's a dead ringer. Several have sold at auction as the real deal.


Yet another reason to have attended EMC! :grin:
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 11/21/11 09:44 PM

I saw two copies float through the Martinka auction roughly a year ago. The prices were something like $1,200 to $1,500.
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Postby Donal Chayce » 11/21/11 10:16 PM

I know of one copy, also in the original brown box packaging with the original signed bill of sale and a personal note from Harbin as well, that sold here in the U.S. for $2,500 in a private transaction that took place about three years ago.

I also recall Mike Caveney purchasing Bill Smith's copy of the book at the auction that took place at Owen Magic Supreme a couple of years ago for significantly less than $2,000. (I don't remember the exact price, but I do recall feeling that it went for a bargain.)
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Postby Donal Chayce » 11/21/11 10:22 PM

Dustin Stinett wrote:True, if you know what to look for and on which page to look. Otherwise it's a dead ringer. Several have sold at auction as the real deal.


I thought that one of the giveaways, apart from the copied sticker, was that the dimensions of the forgery correspond to a standard U.S. paper size, whereas the original is in a standard U.K. size and the dimensions are slightly larger. Can you confirm?
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 11/21/11 10:37 PM

$1200 is a steal, $1800 the mid-market price, and for $2500+ you can basically get it on demand. thus far, it's basically appreciated at around 10%, compounded, doubling in value around every seven or so years. pretty good, and better than a lot of similar things. given its intrinsic value, and the ease with which known forgeries can be detected, it's not a bad be for a better-than-expected return, but not much.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 11/21/11 11:47 PM

Mike Caveney's article "The American Zig-Zag Scandal" from Magicol issue 179 has a side by side photo of the counterfeit Harbin book on the left and the real one on the right. The dimensions of the genuine copy look slightly larger from top to bottom.

The counterfeit looks bad in comparison to the real copy. The gold letters on the cover are muddy and out of focus.

I understand that David Alexander tried really hard to reprint this book but couldn't get it off the ground.
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 11/22/11 01:06 PM

While a reprint might be a good thing, I love the mystique around this book. Holding it feels charged with significance, and it speaks well of magic in multiple ways: Harbin the gentleman-genius, the elegant simplicity of the Zig Zag - when I was 10 I shared for hours at a photo marveling a at the impossibility of the middle box only touching the rest at its vertices - which was the great stage illusion of the 1970s, the lore that Caveney so compellingly relates, the author-buyer contract, the great non-Zig Zag stuff, etc. A lot of what I most like about magic is wrapped up in the book's scarcity, and sharing a very narrow common experience in threads like this.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/22/11 01:10 PM

The book can never be reprinted until it enters the public domain. Harbin left the copyright to The Magic Circle in his will, and they have refused to even consider reprinting it although many people have tried to persuade them that it might be a good idea.
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Postby erdnasephile » 11/22/11 01:49 PM

I have a question for those that own the book.

Do you perform anything from the book on a regular basis? If so, how many of the effects are in your current working act?

I mean this as a respectful question. I, like many of you, have sometimes spent years hunting down legendary books, only to find them of value more as collectables than as practical tools for performance.

I was wondering, on balance, where the Harbin book falls on this continuum for you.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 11/22/11 01:56 PM

While I don't use any of the material per se, the thinking behind the routining has influenced my work and I have I corporated elements of structure and concept into other pieces. I have also explored some of the principles in custom projects on which I have consulted
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/22/11 02:48 PM

El Harvey Oswald wrote:While a reprint might be a good thing, I love the mystique around this book. Holding it feels charged with significance, and it speaks well of magic ...


I can both sympathize and empathize with that sentimental perspective. One afternoon at Tannen's Lou Lancaster walked me through the zigzag pages and showed me a few other items in that wonderful document to what an inventor/craftsman/performer can be in our craft. So much in that book. Later on I came to find similar in The Vernon Book of magic, Galloway's books on Ramsay and others where the author took care to make each work and illustration count.

However, I also relegate such notions as "mystique" to "outsider" status - what we wish to give our audiences rather than anything we need inside the magic shop. Again, IMHO the Magic Circle would be offering a great learning resource if they made sure such works were kept in print and at accessible prices so the newbies could quickly learn to work from the lifetimes of work in those books rather than spend years fussing over the latest glossy shrinkwrapped production from Du*Jour that whispers 'green is the new blue'.


*for our mrgoat- a nod to the movie Josie and the [censored].
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Postby Donal Chayce » 11/22/11 07:56 PM

El Harvey Oswald wrote:While a reprint might be a good thing, I love the mystique around this book. Holding it feels charged with significance, and it speaks well of magic in multiple ways: ...the great non-Zig Zag stuff, etc.


It's interesting to note that Harbin felt the best thing in the book was his T&R newspaper.
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Postby Donal Chayce » 11/22/11 08:05 PM

erdnasephile wrote:I have a question for those that own the book.

Do you perform anything from the book on a regular basis? If so, how many of the effects are in your current working act?


One of the specific reasons I acquired the book was to study both the construction and Harbin's presentation of his chair suspension illusion. I've had the props made (there are some specific features in Harbin's original design that greatly add to the illusion that most manufacturers either aren't aware of or choose to omit), and I've worked up my own presentation based on the structure of Harbin's routine, but it's still a work in progress for me.

And like Brad, there is much of Harbin's thinking and the way he structured his routines that has worked it's way into my thinking as well.

On a related note, the Zig-Zag Lady blew my mind the first time I saw it performed. If I ever decide to work up my own presentation of this modern classic, you can bet that it will be ala Harbin.
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Postby Donal Chayce » 11/24/11 01:44 PM

Donal Chayce wrote:I also recall Mike Caveney purchasing Bill Smith's copy of the book at the auction that took place at Owen Magic Supreme a couple of years ago for significantly less than $2,000. (I don't remember the exact price, but I do recall feeling that it went for a bargain.)


Correction: it was Les Smith's copy of the Harbtin book that Mike purchased at the referenced auction. Bill Smith made my props for the chair suspension.
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Postby Keith Bennett » 10/10/12 07:24 AM

For those who are interested the final price I got was 1400 thats uk pounds not dollars. Current exchange is $2240
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Postby erdnasephile » 10/10/12 09:37 AM

Congratulations--that's quite a coup in today's economy!
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