A few more reflections . . .

Back around 1995, as I may have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I became somewhat disenchanted with the magic collecting field — in part because of what I perceived to be, oh, maybe a low level of scholarship, overall, among magic collectors.  (There are many outstanding exceptions to that, I hasten to add.)

Anyway, when Robert Lund (possibly the greatest magic collector ever, and founder of the American Museum of Magic) passed away in 1995, I no longer really had anybody in magic that I wanted to impress.  I think Bob was kind of a stabilizing force in the magic-collecting world, and I believe he exerted a positive influence on many magic collectors.  He sent me a lifetime pass to the museum, as I mentioned a while back in a post on my “The Armchair Bibliographer” blog.  Here is an excerpt from that post.  The extract is in boldface:

I think the fact that I included Bob Lund first (and in a tie for first) shows my consistently high regard for Lund.  I corresponded with him for more than 20 years.  He sent me a lifetime pass to the American Museum of Magic, which is probably the greatest accolade I have received in magic.  (It’s also probably the only formal accolade I’ve ever received in magic.) My last contact with Bob, or attempted contact, was when I sent him some very special family photographs in 1995.  I never received a reply, and I occasionally wonder whether he ever saw the photos.

When the American Museum of Magic opened in 1978, I issued a “Grand Opening Number” of The Hoffmann Collector.  Bob wrote me a beautiful letter in reply, in which he said something like, “Thank you for the nicest things anybody ever said about me.”

I sold most of my Hoffmann collection (with the help of m longtime friend John Cannon). It was really a wonderful collection, and it included many letters, some manuscripts, books from Hoffmann’s library, books inscribed to Hoffmann, and books inscribed by Hoffmann to others.  I also had first editions of the vast majority of Hoffmann books, and tons of other things.  I think I had about 250 books in my Hoffmann collection, including many editions of Modern Magic, and multiple editions of many other books.

I did keep a fair number of Hoffmann books, including a number of things that I particularly treasured — for example a beautiful copy of Magic at Home (by Arthur Good, translated by Hoffmann) that my parents gave me as a gift when I graduated from law school.  I still have probably sixty or eighty of the books that were in my collection.

But the point is that I got uncomfortable with the magic-collecting world — on the whole.  (I am not lumping-in everybody!)

Oh, by the way, book-wise, I have largely rebuilt my Hoffmann collection, starting back in 2008.  But I am still unhappy with the magic-collecting world, in a number of respects.

When I largely deserted magic-collecting, I dove more deeply into the world of Frank Godwin, an American illustrator.  Godwin was always my second-greatest collecting interest.  Godwin drew a number of comic strips, particularly Connie and Rusty Riley.  He passed away in 1959.

You can look at my somewhat dormant Godwin-blog here.

I had thought, or maybe deluded myself into thinking that, the comic-strip collectors “had it together” more than the magic collectors — at least with regard to Frank Godwin.

That turned out to be very wrong.

The superficiality (and inaccuracy) of much of the “scholarship” in the field of Connie and Rusty Riley is nothing short of appalling.

Does that matter, really?  Oh, probably not!

—Tom Sawyer

Thursday, November 29, 2012

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