Something I have been thinking about lately . . . also, some “collecting” memories . . .

“Thinking about lately”?  Well, not just lately.

Occasionally I think about the issue of “what if I started collecting today?”  You know, what kind of a collection could I put together? Is all of the good stuff gone?

(P.S.: Just skip to the final three paragraphs of this post, if you want to, where I address the foregoing.)

I suppose that it is possible that this post was to some degree encouraged by the fact that my friend Jon Bright recently gave me a copy of David Meyer’s book Inclined Toward Magic, a title which sounds like it has some other meaning as well as the obvious one, but if so, I am clueless on that. On the dust jacket, the book is subtitled “Encounters with books, collectors and conjurors.” He tells many anecdotes in that book, and maybe it reminded me that I have some anecdotes as well. (Not as many as David dealing with magic collecting, I imagine. I am sure he has countless ones he has not told.)

Many years ago, I was acquainted with the late Leslie R. Cole, a collector who hailed from England. Leslie passed away many years ago, but I think about him often. I imagine that many other collectors also think of him, and I suppose not so charitably in some cases, for it is more or less common knowledge that Leslie’s collection, which included some prize rarities, is now in the possession of another person, who I won’t name in this post. Notice, though, that I do not use the word collector to refer to this person, although many people do.

The best source of information about Leslie, by the way, is my periodical Aphelion, in which I discussed Leslie, and in which Edwin A. Dawes did so as well, at some length. Well, it may not be, and probably is not, the best source, but it is the best of which I am aware.

So, anyway, I first met Leslie at a meeting of The Magic Circle, in London, back in 1973. Two years later, I was able to visit him at his home. I am not really the kind of guy who likes to visit other collectors, and as a matter of fact never have been that kind of guy. But in those days, a million years ago, I was more apt to step out and do those kinds of things. Thus I was able to visit in England other collectors as well. I visited Allan Jamieson on the Isle of Wight, and George A. Jenness, who as I recall lived in Inverness. These collectors all treated me wonderfully, by the way, so it is not as though I became soured on the concept because of the conduct of the collectors.

I do remember kind of inviting myself over to Fred Rickard’s place to see his collection, and he game me some line along the lines of “not just now,” and I think he might have made some excuse that probably was plausible, but regardless, I never brought it up again. (Fred lived in Pasadena, or some similar place, so he was practically next door, as these things go.)

And this was in spite of the fact that Fred used to drop in on me, without invitation and completely unannounced. Convenient for him, I guess. Can’t remember how many times he did this, but it was at least two times, and might well have been more. And if I recall correctly, it was on Thanksgiving Day, for crying out loud.

Anyway, as I was starting to say, when I visited Leslie Cole, the question came up as to whether the present (then late 1975) was a good time to begin collecting Professor Hoffmann material. At that time, I had been collecting Hoffmann books for, oh, almost ten years, I suppose, and I thought I knew everything, or, at least, I thought I knew more than I did. I expressed the view that the good old days had passed, as far as collecting Hoffmann stuff was concerned. Leslie took the opposite view.

Leslie was proven right on this, and to a greater degree than I imagine he expected. As a matter of fact, I kinda think that a person could start collecting Hoffmann material TODAY, and with the expenditure of maybe $10,000 and the passage of a year, I think that collector might end up with one of the best Hoffmann collections around.

As a lot of you know (that is, “a lot of you,” if every person I have ever met or corresponded with is reading this), I sold a great deal of my Hoffmann collection many years ago.  I forget exactly when this was, but it was probably in the 1998-2000 era. Except for quite a few Hoffmann letters and a few manuscripts, and some great books that were either inscribed by Hoffmann or were formerly in Hoffmann’s possession, I suppose that almost all of what I sold was in the category of “replaceable.”

But during the past decade I have built my Hoffmann collection back up so that in some respects it is quite a bit better than it was earlier. (Not as to association items and similar items, however.)

But anyway, what about the title to this post? What is one of the things I have been thinking about lately?

Well, I have been thinking I might start a new, additional collection of Goodall card-game booklets, while keeping the old. This would be sort of an experiment, and I would be able to point to the booklets and say, “Look, this is a collection I started to put together on May 6, 2017. In theory, any new collector could have done this!”

Anyway, that is what I am officially doing, effective today. I am pretty sure it will require new “selection criteria.” And needless to say, I am already aware of quite a few booklets that are available for sale. So that could give me a bit of a jump-start, to the degree that I obtain any such. But those items are, at this writing (5-6-17 at 2:48 a.m.), available for anyone to buy.

So, here I go!

–Tom Sawyer

May 6, 2017

2:48 a.m.


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