The I.B.M. Blog & Articles

The International Brotherhood of Magicians

01 Sep

Dennis Anyone? Magicians as Accidental Collectors

Category: Blog   Posted by: C. DENNIS SCHICK

Magicians are famous -- or perhaps more accurately, infamous -- collectors.

I made this observation in the cover story of the March 2016 issue of The Linking Ring, which featured Mark Horowitz and his fabulous multiple magic collections in Florida. In Mark’s case, virtually everything he has concerning magic is a collection. What has brought him fame and acclaim is his collection of magic comic books (1,600). But equally impressive are his collections of magic sets (550), magic business cards (over 10,000), and magic books (3,000). And he even has all the programs of magic conventions he has attended (82 and counting), as well as convention badges, magic-themed jewelry, ticket stubs, magazines -- you name it.


Anyway, most magicians buy an effect or prop because they want to learn how to do it or because they just want to know how it is done. Then they buy a second version of the same effect, which might be a good thing in case you lose, wear out or break the first one. But it is when they buy a third one that we can now call it a collection.


Sometimes faulty memories come into play. You see some magic item in a magic store on a trip, or in a vendor booth at a magic convention, and buy it. Then you get home and discover you already bought one of those wonderful tricks several years ago, and forgot all about it. Of course if the new purchase prompts you to revisit the trick and you end up liking and using it, the new purchase was worthwhile. But if the new one goes back in the drawer or closet, next to the old one, you’ve wasted your money again. At least you have started another “collection.”


That’s why some veteran magicians give cautionary advice when it comes to buying magic tricks. Stop and consider whether this trick fits your act, personality, and  character. Ask yourself if you will ever actually use the trick, or do you just want to know how it is done? Consider all those other tricks you already own, and whether any of them might accomplish what you think this new one will do for you (astonishment? laughter? wonder? etc.).


Now if you don't even know what you already have, maybe it is time to do an inventory. Invest the time in going through everything you already own, and making a list. While you are doing it, take the time to (1) categorize them by type of trick. It also would be helpful to find them later on by (2) alphabetizing them, and (3) listing the author or creator of each one. It will be a Christmas-like experience. You will find all sorts of neat things and stuff you forgot you had.


So now that you discover you own two or more of some trick (and don't want duplicates), what do you do? If you are not into the idea of being a “collector,” get rid of unwanted tricks. (1) Sell them at a Ring flea market or auction. (2) Put an ad in your Ring newsletter or stand up at a Ring meeting and offer an item for sale. (3) Give them away to young aspiring magicians. (4) Trade the trick for a duplicate of some other trick another magician has. Many of them have the same problem as you do.


If you want to be a magic collector -- even an accidental one -- so be it, but be a good one. However,if you don’t want to be a magic collector, be a better, more-thoughtful magic buyer. Get better organized. It is a running joke that every magician -- even David Copperfield and Lance Burton -- has a drawer, closet or garage full of magic stuff they never use.


Only you can downsize from being a magic collector to a more manageable magic owner. (I've got to start doing that!)  


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