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The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 4th, 2018, 12:17 pm
by reburbia
Anyone seen the documentary "Art of the Steal"? It follows Dr. Barnes, a wealthy physician who single handedly builds an art collection estimated today to be worth at least 25 billion dollars. He accomplished this by buying Picassos, Monets, etc before institutional museums even knew those pieces were worth collecting. Approximately 70 years later, his collection is appropriated by various politicians, who proceed (and continue) to make a fortune from the exhibits. The documentary draws a strong contrast behind collectibles being held by private individuals, and collectibles held in large institutions - where they are predictably commercialized.

It made me think a lot about the current state of magic collecting. There are a few collectors, such as Copperfield, that have essentially hoarded an inconceivable amount of unique items that will likely never be available again for purchase. Will they continue to hide away in some undisclosed vault, or will one day a large institution appropriate this collection and turn it into another commercial museum. Is that for better or worse?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opOczQeFIb4
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_o ... (2009_film)

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 4th, 2018, 1:25 pm
by Richard Kaufman
David has not "hoarded an inconceivable amount of unique items."

He does not "hoard."

"Inconceivable" means that the amount cannot be counted or understood, which is false.

Plenty of people go to David's museum.

David is far from the only person with a large collection of unique magic, and many of those other collections have been sold at auction in recent years. David buys items at auction just like anyone else.

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 4th, 2018, 1:38 pm
by reburbia
I wasn't using the word "inconceivable" literally. And yes, when I think of those massive collections, it's hoarding. That doesn't need to have a negative connotation. Plenty of people may see David's (or a similar) collection, but it is not open to public, and not commercialized in the way modern museums are. I was just wondering what it would look like if an large institution took hold of a collection of that size

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 4th, 2018, 2:46 pm
by Richard Kaufman
Here's what it will look like: packed in crates and boxes in an offsite facility, seen by no one. Museums can only afford to keep a tiny percentage of their holdings of fine art on display, so what do you think would happen with magic?

At least with David's museum, a visit can sometimes be arranged.

And, again, I refute your use of the word "hoarding."

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 4th, 2018, 3:04 pm
by Joe Mckay
Penn Jillette described vising the Copperfield collection on an old podcast. The key point he made was that the tour would be ten times was if the collection was open to the public. Since security concerns would mean that everything would be behind glass cabinets. As opposed to the relaxed and informal display that Copperfield has where everything can be picked up and touched. Of course - such a relaxed environment only works when dealing with small groups of vetted visitors.

Do something noteworthy in magic - and Copperfield will happily invite you to have a look at his collection. Think of it as the ultimate reward for those who contribute back to the art of magic.

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 4th, 2018, 5:18 pm
by reburbia
Thank God I've done nothing "noteworthy," because seeing a collection like that without ever being able to own any of the pieces sounds like torture

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 4th, 2018, 6:36 pm
by Brad Henderson
there is a distinct difference between hoarding and collecting - - - price point.

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 4th, 2018, 7:51 pm
by Jonathan Townsend
reburbia wrote:Thank God I've done nothing "noteworthy," because seeing a collection like that without ever being able to own any of the pieces sounds like torture


There are other rewards for doing noteworthy work in magic. And it's okay to decline the offer of a tour if that comes your way.

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 5th, 2018, 5:08 pm
by Kevin Connolly
To me, the difference between collecting and hoarding is pretty simple to define. Collecting is focused on items in a specific field. Hoarding is an accumulation of random items with no rhyme or reason.

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 5th, 2018, 11:46 pm
by reburbia
Your definition reminds me of an answer Klosterman gave in a Club808 interview. "My advice would be to follow a certain item. For example, my collection has everything. And that's not the best way to build a collection...Specialize on cards, stay on cards. If they're going to specialize in magic wands, stay on magic wands... Don't be a mishmash like I am."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C14nMLK9XbU&t=4m58s

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 5th, 2018, 11:59 pm
by Joe Mckay
There is a great post over here about a magician's first visit to see Ken Klosterman's legendary collection:

http://www.themagiciansforum.com/post/a-story-about-one-of-our-great-collectors-ken-klosterman-7939671

Ken seems like a very generous and very kind gentleman.

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 6th, 2018, 5:14 am
by Jim Riser
To me one of the critical considerations when building a collection of anything is storage. Do you have adequate climate controlled storage? It is important that the collected items are safely stored so that they do not deteriorate due to moisture, cold, heat, or excessive dryness.

Display would be my second consideration. Why collect the items if I can not easily look at them?

I do not have lots of room to store magic apparatus. I prefer to use my limited space for machinery and tools for creating or repairing the apparatus. I am what I would term a "temporary collector". I purchase items for two main reasons: to study it for manufacturing techniques used to create the items or to repair and pass the restored items on to others who will use them. I hang on to very few items. To me it is all about learning new skills and techniques.

Collections are like a reference library to me. I am more interested in studying the items than owning them. We are merely caretakers of the items anyway. We gather, care for, and then pass the treasures on to the next generation. In my opinion, private collections are a much better parking spot for items than museums or libraries which often discard rare items through ignorance and apathy. I applaud folks who devote their energies and earnings toward saving the history and apparatus of the past. Knowledge is rapidly being lost to time and people like David Copperfield attempt to prevent such loss by their collections.

An example of lost information is a levitation method that I am studying. I am interested in exactly what made the Warnecke lift so special. Now, this apparatus dates back to approximately 1905. Folks who claim to know, indicate that Ken Griffin used a Warnecke lift yet the plans later sold by Roberta (though workable) are not really for a real Warnecke design. This is only a little over 100 years ago and Griffin was much more recent. The actual info is all but vanished. A handful of folks know part of the story but no one knows to whole story. I have slowly been able to piece together what his design really was and the excellent thinking behind it. Another levitation mystery is what exactly were the improvents that Kellar made to the version that Blackstone ended up with? This info apparently has been lost during my lifetime. Collecting is about preservation.

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 11th, 2018, 5:18 pm
by reburbia
Jonathan Townsend wrote:
reburbia wrote:Thank God I've done nothing "noteworthy," because seeing a collection like that without ever being able to own any of the pieces sounds like torture


There are other rewards for doing noteworthy work in magic. And it's okay to decline the offer of a tour if that comes your way.


Yes I agree. My "noteworthy" comment was made tongue-in-cheek to another member whose post was quickly deleted.

Re: The Future of Magic Collectibles?

Posted: February 11th, 2018, 5:45 pm
by reburbia
Jim Riser wrote:Collections are like a reference library to me. I am more interested in studying the items than owning them. We are merely caretakers of the items anyway. We gather, care for, and then pass the treasures on to the next generation. In my opinion, private collections are a much better parking spot for items than museums or libraries which often discard rare items through ignorance and apathy. I applaud folks who devote their energies and earnings toward saving the history and apparatus of the past. Knowledge is rapidly being lost to time and people like David Copperfield attempt to prevent such loss by their collections.

An example of lost information is a levitation method that I am studying. I am interested in exactly what made the Warnecke lift so special. Now, this apparatus dates back to approximately 1905. Folks who claim to know, indicate that Ken Griffin used a Warnecke lift yet the plans later sold by Roberta (though workable) are not really for a real Warnecke design. This is only a little over 100 years ago and Griffin was much more recent. The actual info is all but vanished. A handful of folks know part of the story but no one knows to whole story. I have slowly been able to piece together what his design really was and the excellent thinking behind it. Another levitation mystery is what exactly were the improvents that Kellar made to the version that Blackstone ended up with? This info apparently has been lost during my lifetime. Collecting is about preservation.


Space is an under-appreciated issue, good point. And your Warnecke dissertation sounds promising. If you're interested in mainly learning from these preserved artifacts, I'm guessing that eliminates a large portion of the market. What is there to learn to from a scarce Houdini Window Card or Blackstone Tailcoat, unless you are a historian?

One of the issues I deal with a lot is authenticity. I see so many questionable items flaunted around as the real deal. Multiple sellers telling me they are convinced they have a certain item, despite no hallmark or provenance. Another seller last month sold me a "guaranteed Magiro" that was blatantly fake. It was missing the right wood, craftsmanship, methodology, etc. My suspicions were confirmed by both Magiro's colleague and wife. :roll: