Semi-random reflections, with a bit of focus on Edgar Heyl (1911-1993) . . .

I started out with the idea that this post would be something like a review of Edgar Heyl’s book Cues for Collectors.  However, upon a little further thought, I figured that I would write out some reflections on Heyl, generally.  But the way it turned out, it now consists of rambling comments with very little connection to Heyl.

I am possibly the wrong person to write about Heyl anyway, because I don’t really know much about him.  And in fact, I have never made much of an effort to find out more about him than is generally known.  I guess I figure that is just one of many topics I’d like to look into further in the future.

When I started collecting magic books, in 1965 or thereabouts, or maybe even 1964, Edgar Heyl was one of the first people I wrote to.  He was one of the leading dealers in old magic books at the time.  It was because of an announcement by him concerning Magicol and the Magic Collectors’ Association, that I joined the MCA — and then there was, as I recall, a long lapse between the first issue I received and the next.  It was maybe years before I received my second issue.  Somewhere around here I have my original membership card, and it is quite an attractive thing, signed by John McKinven.  It has been decades since I have been a member of the MCA, and I seriously doubt that I will ever rejoin, unless I figure out a way that joining would help me significantly in the marketing of some of my books.

I think few people realize that the 1977 Professor Hoffmann:  A Study, by me and J.B. Findlay, so often described as “out of print,” was available from Aladdin Books in Fullerton, California, at least as recently as 2012, and in fact I would not be surprised if they still have copies for sale.  I actually have in my possession a box of the books as received from the printer back in late 1977, and it has never officially been opened, though I think it has started to fall apart and has been taped up.

Now it is possible that I am confused, but I am pretty sure that the foregoing paragraph is correct.  If so, then the photos below represent a different box of copies of the book, from which perhaps five copies have been removed.  I just took these photos earlier tonight.

The first photo shows one end of the box, with the stenciled title.

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In the next photo, you can see the books, still neatly stacked within the carton, as they were when they left the printer.

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I don’t know how many of you have a copy of the book.  (I know David Levy has a copy.)  It was a pretty nice book at the time of its appearance, and I think it contains a fair amount of information that even now has never appeared anywhere else.  But as time has passed, its imperfections have become more and more clear to me.

I am not presently selling copies of the book.  It would be too much of a hassle dealing with record-keeping and permits and taxes and shipping.  However, I think that maybe in 2014 I may start selling some of my books again.  A few I have in a rather bountiful supply — such as S.S. Baldwin and the Press.

When I issued the second (and significantly enlarged) edition of my Victorian Age Conjuring Books:  A Guide for Collectors and Bibliographers, I dedicated it to Robert Lund and Edgar G. Heyl.  (By the way, if you are thinking of purchasing a copy of that work, you probably should look for the second edition, 1991, which is greatly expanded.  I think that copies have appeared on eBay from time to time.)

Heyl kind of disappeared from the magic-collecting scene — I am not sure when.  But I know when I sent him his copy of the book, I had to do some research to find his address, and I was never certain that it was the correct address.  To this day, I am not sure whether he ever received it.

Anyway, one of my teachers in college was a man named C. Bruce Piner.  I believe that he was one of my humanities instructors.  (He also taught painting.)  I used to bring in little sculptures I made, and he would critique them — pencil drawings also.  He arranged for one of my sculptures to be fired in a kiln at the school.

Anyway, by now, you probably are wondering, “What does this have to do with Edgar Heyl?”

Well, one of the things that Mr. Piner told me about was casting little sculptures in lead (the metal).  I am not going to go into the details here, because I do not encourage anyone  else to do it.  It is actually quite dangerous, if one does not handle matters correctly, and also I am sure that breathing in the fumes from the molten lead did not do me any good.

One of the things I used to do was make little medallions portraying magicians, which medallions I normally would cast in lead.  Most of them I think I made prior to 1974.  The Hoffmann one listed below (not done in lead) was probably more like the late 1970s.  I made quite a few:

John Henry Anderson (1)

John Nevil Maskelyne (3)

Cassie Bruce (3)  (She was Edwin Archibald Maskelyne’s wife.)

S.S. Baldwin (I believe I made two of them.)

Professor Hoffmann (A few — but none were cast in lead.)

Note:  The medallions were in some cases rather crude.  The original clay models were pretty good, but in the course of making the castings, quality faded somewhat.  This was especially true as to the later castings, for reasons it would take too long to go into here.

Now Edgar Heyl was known as one of the leading collectors of magician tokens.  I sent him one of the Baldwin medallions.

In return, Heyl sent me a copy of Selected Patience Games, which was very kind of him — and in those days the booklet was not considered common.

One of my first purchases from Ed was his Cues for Collectors, which is one of the few magic books I have consulted so much that the cover finally came off.  I think the same applies to J.B. Findlay’s How’s Your Library, which had a lot of useful advice on book-collecting, especially as it relates to magic books.

I guess that’s enough for this post.  Soon I hope to post again regarding the Cogan compilation of Hoyle mentioned recently.  I also hope to post the third installment of my “collecting nightmares” posts.

—Tom Sawyer

August 6, 2013

About 1116 words.

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