Close the door and mute your phone because when you start to look at this scrapbook, you will be in collector’s heaven. It is one of nine scrapbooks formerly owned by Harry Houdini that are now in the collection of the Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities at the University of Texas, and which have been digitized! http://hrc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/collection/p15878coll22#nav_top
While they are all worth looking at, my favorite one, as you scroll down, is the fourth one, simply titled “magicians scrapbook.” Starting with a page that has a portion of a Houdini King of Cards poster, it pretty much covers the top conjurers of the mid to late 19th century, with wonderful pieces from Anderson, Heller, Robin, Compars Herrmann, Alexander Herrmann, and on and on. This priceless scrapbook – probably compiled by Henry Evanion and later sold to Harry Houdini - is a wonderful sampling of some of the best engravings that you could hope to find that document the popularity of conjuring for that period. Here is how Harry Houdini, in his book, The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, spoke of his first encounter with Evanion and his stunning collection; “With some hesitancy of speech but the loving touch of a collector he opened his parcel. "I have brought you, sir, only a few of my treasures, sir, but if you will call - " I heard no more. I remember only raising my hands before my eyes, as if I had been dazzled by a sudden shower of diamonds. In his trembling hands lay priceless treasures for which I had sought in vain … In the presence of his collection I lost all track of time.”
The Ransom Center apparently has organized things a bit since we last visited them in 2003 and wrote about it on this website. All I can say is, enjoy!
Eddie Dawes is one of the most pleasant, and knowledgeable magic historians/collectors who you will ever meet. I have long appreciated his erudite and entertaining lectures at magic collector conferences, and his monthly column on magic history that can be found in The Magic Circle's monthly magazine, The Circular, is extraordinary in its longevity and content. In late 2014 I was so pleased to host Eddie, his wife Amy and son Adrian for a visit when they passed through Washington on a family event. In the few hours we spent, looking at broadsides and posters, we did not get very far, because for each item, Eddie had an anecdote or insight about the performer or the actual poster, that made the visit fascinating for me. Just weeks later, I was saddened to learn of Amy's unexpected passing. I had not spent much time with her until that visit, although she often had accompanied Eddie to magic collector events that we had both attended. Amy Dawes was a lovely person, with a sweet nature and a clever wit. In her own right she was extremely knowledgeable and aware of magic arcana. My condolences to Eddie, Adrian and the rest of their family for their loss.
Suspension of Disbelief! I love the suspension illusion in all of its different variations, and in collecting, am always looking for broadsides and early posters that depict the suspension illusion. Here is a street performer that I happened upon this past summer when vacationing in Brussels. He attracted quite a crowd with his impersonation of a statue. Isn't this clever?
Finally joining the 21st century! Though I do not yet tweet (something keeps me from taking that step) and I barely look at Facebook, my sons encouraged me to occasionally post posters from my collection – particularly ones that I have not posted on this site, on Instagram. So if you are into that particular
time waster clever technology, you can follow me, or simply view my postings at magic_posters. If you are not an Instagram aficionado, check out this link [http://websta.me/n/magic_posters]. I hope you enjoy some of the eye candy!
In 1958 when I was in the throes of having been bitten by the magic bug, Milbourne Christopher was America's preeminent magician. In addition to being a frequent fixture on stage and television, Mr. Christopher he would later share numerous highlights from his amazingly vast collection of magic in two wonderful books, Panorama of Magic and The Illustrated History of Magic. When you consider that every engraving, poster, photograph and piece of ephemera in both works came from one man's collection, it is astounding.
Milbourne Christopher and I briefly crossed paths only twice. In 1963 or so, he came to Holden's Magic Shop in downtown Boston, to lecture for the local magicians. He showed us much practical material, including a vanish of a card box that I still perform today. I was a teenager then and had a copy of his recently published Panorama of Magic, which he very graciously signed for me.
The second time I saw him was in 1981 in New York City, when he auctioned off a small portion of his magic collection through Swann Galleries. I went up to Manhattan for the day for this, my first real magic auction. Although I ended up not purchasing anything, I loved seeing the posters and ephemera, as well as meeting some of the collectors. I think that Ricky Jay, Jay Marshall, Ray Goulet and many others were in attendance. I will never forget Mr. Christopher, standing in the back of the room, smiling, clearly relishing every minute of the sale.
On April 20, 2011, almost thirty years after the first Christopher auction, I was in New York for another Christopher sale. This one was organized by my good friend David Haversat, who assisted Mr. Christopher's widow, Maurine, in selling a number of choice pieces from her late husband's collection. While the bidding was unpredictable, and many one of a kind items fetched sky-high bids, some bargains were to be had that day. I went there hoping to snag an amazing half sheet poster of Robert Heller that is reproduced in Panorama. I am pleased to say that it now hangs in my study-family room, and I do not expect to tire of looking at it any time soon.
Thank you, Mrs. Christopher for carrying on your husband's tradition of sharing the fruits of his magic passion with other collectors. Reading and rereading Panorama decades ago, ignited my interest in magic history and fascination with magic posters. That some of the items now in my collection were once part of his collection, and that a few even appear in Panorama or Illustrated History is tremendously special to me. In that tangible way, Milbourne Christopher's love of magic and his collecting spirit live on in my collection and in the collections of many others. It is exciting news that a comprehensive biography of Christopher, authored by magic history stalwart Bill Rauscher, will be published later this year.
An invitation to speak at the 2011 European Congress of Magic History gave me a perfect excuse to fly to London this past August. Held at the Magic Circle's Stephenson Lane headquarters, as well as at other selected venues for dinners and selected events, it was a whirlwind three days. I was pleased to give a talk at the Circle about my collection. Despite my efforts at humor - I could hear the sound of crickets chirping when I attempted some one-liners that would have likely fared better back home – everyone was most gracious. Notwithstanding my aforesaid culture shock, I found my British hosts to be warm and welcoming. Definite high points were visits to the homes of collector friends, Peter Lane and Dean Arnold. I hope to get back across the pond in the not too distant future, because as Dr. Johnson observed "he who tires of London tires of life." At right a photo of Peter Lane before one of his many amazing artifacts of magic's past.
To those who regularly visit this site, your patience has hopefully been rewarded, as I have recently added a number of Chung Ling Soo and other posters, as well as a number of scarce engravings. As to the latter, just visit the abracagraphics section, by clicking here [http://www.magicposters.com/abracagraphics/index.html] to find that elusive cups and balls print or some other highlights. I have also added a few new sites to the links page! Until next time…..
Viva la Magia! My wife and I recently returned from a two week vacation in Argentina, visiting our youngest, who wisely decided to defer grad school and post-college employment by traveling, teaching English in Buenos Aires then working on a farm. We had a super time in Buenos Aires, with side trips to Patagonia and Iguazu Falls. Of course, yours truly was always on the prowl for magic. While I did not acquire anything for my collection, I saw a very unusual street performer in the San Telmo street market, who creates an illusion of an invisible man. Quite clever.
Martin Pacheco, is probably one of the preeminent magic collectors in all of South America. In anticipation of our recent trip, I wrote Martin – whom I had only previously met via email - that my wife and I would be visiting his city. He graciously responded with an invitation to see his collection and to have dinner. When he asked me if we ate meat, I knew that we would be in for a memorable Argentinean evening, and it was. Martin is the proprietor of Bazar de Magia, an impressive retail operation in Buenos Aires. As a collector, one of his interests is the great Fu Manchu, whose memorabilia and posters are beautifully displayed alongside other wonderful magical imagery, in the Pachecos’ lovely Buenos Aires apartment. Martin’s impressive collection was featured in a major Argentinean museum a couple of years ago. Here he is posing with a fantastic poster of a shadowgraphy act.
As you will see, I continue to add posters, prints and ephemera to the site. I hope that you find something of interest, and I would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have about any of the items Of course, should you have anything to sell or trade, I am all ears.
Harry Houdini continues to capture the public imagination, even though he passed away over 85 years ago. If you find yourself in New York City between October 29 of this year and March 27, 2011, I urge you to pay a visit to the Jewish Museum, whose upcoming exhibit, "Houdini; Art and Magic", promises to be a blockbuster. In addition to numerous artifacts of original Houdini memorabilia from a number of collections across the country (including items on loan from yours truly) the museum will also be exhibiting contemporary art that has been inspired by Houdini's life. Given the amount of items that are supposed to be on display, it sounds like the exhibit will include much material not ordinarily available for viewing, and so should be well worth the visit. The exhibit, by the way, will subsequently travel to the Skirball Museum in LA, and other museums thereafter.
The Bambergs, Alexander Herrmann, The Great Lafayette and Horace Goldin had something in common with Harry Houdini other than their vocation as magicians; they were all Jewish. So it stands to reason that given the high number of Jewish magicians in the history of magic, that the Skirball Museum, in conjunction with its hosting the Houdini exhibit, will also mount an exhibit on "Jews in Magic" starting in March, 2011. In talks with one of the curators I learned that the museum has been wanting to explore this heretofore not widely celebrated topic, and for those interested in magic history, it will be a special treat.
The magic collecting world will never be the same. I remember that in 1976 or so, when I first laid eyes on Charlie and Regina Reynolds wonderful 100 Years of Magic posters. I had that same feeling of excitement - the anticipation of knowing that I was about to see some wonderful imagery for the first time. That's exactly how I felt when I learned that the soon to be published book entitled, MAGIC, 1400's - 1950's , can now be viewed on-line. I envy you as you click on the book to the right.
Go to the right side of the page where it says"leaf through", turn off your cel phone, sit back and enjoy your exploration of it. While only 122 pages of the entire book are now available for a sneak preview, it will give you a taste of what is to come.
Earlier this year, two photographers spent two days in my home, to eventually produce some 40 or so �images of the over 1200 (!) that you will see in this wonderful book. While I am thrilled to have some pieces from my collection in this historic book, I was even more thrilled to recieve my copies in the mail this week. Having obtained a copy of the wonderful CIRCUS book that preceded MAGIC , I knew full well that Taschen's production values and editor Noel Daniels' knowledgeable eye are such that the on-line sampling would not even come close to the experience of the paper version, and boy they have surpassed themselves with the Magic book. After you have pored over the sample pages, you can order the book here at the pre-publication price. Kudos to the indefatigable Noel Daniel, who criss-crossed the world, hunting down the wonderful images in this book; and to Jim Steinmeyer, Mike Caveney and Ricky Jay respected magic collectors and historians all - who authored together the text that make this book as entertainingly readable as it is simply a beauty to browse through.
Is that your final answer? To celebrate TASCHEN's soon to be published MAGIC, I invite all those kindred spirits who share a love (okay, perhaps an obsession) for literally the"Art" of magic (posters and ephemera) to participate in an appropriate competition. Your assignment is to determine how many of the images - be they posters or ephemera or some other image - appear in both this website and the "leaf through" sampling of the Taschen book. So, you will have to look at all of the pages on this website , magicposters.com, as well as leaf through the 122 sample pages of Taschen book. The first person to email me with the correct answer will win several original items that I have personally selected from our ephemera page. We will not be responsible for eye strain, myopia, double vision or any bodily manifestations lasting more than four hours for which you should consult a physician.
Even if you do not bother to participate in this little contest, I invite you to still explore the Posters, Abracagraphics and Ephemera pages. As you will see, I have added a bunch of new items for sale to all of those pages. Happy hunting!
Big site update. Wow, I can't believe that it has been over a year since we last updated the website! I Have added a number of posters for sell and trade, as well as some prints that were not previously listed. You will please note a deal on Carter window cards which, by the way, are in extraordinarily great condition Nicola ephemera, some newly listed posters and some wonderful engravings.
But it has been quite a year, hasn't it. I am pleased that on little notice, a bunch of D.C. area based magicians came together to put on an evening of close up magic in my home to raise money for the man who will be our next president. Our evening of A-Barack-Cadabra raised over $21,000.00. Kudos to Alain Nu for putting the stellar array of talent together. You can see some photos of the event here. Read a few more details about it here.
Home sweet home. It was great fun to recently return to Massachusetts for the 2008 meeting of the New England Magic Collectors, which meets every two years. Having begun my magic hobby as a member of the Presto Club, a Newton, Massachusetts junior high school magic club that flourished in the 1960's, it felt like I had gone full circle in attending the convention not far from where I grew up and presenting a lecture on collecting magic ephemera. In fact, here is a great piece of magic ephemera, a 19th century English print known as The Juggler at the Chateau D'eau. Click on it to see a lesser-known version of this print. It is the seldom seen, "Juggler at the Chateau d'OH"!
It's not magic but... While many magic lovers, understandably, have an interest in circuses and side-shows as well, even those with no prior interest in this allied area will enjoy seeing a new, huge opus of a book simply entitled Circus, that was recently published by Taschen Books. Of special interest to visitors to this site is that Taschen is currently putting together a similar book on the history of magic. As it is likely to be as image driven as the circus book, which boasts numerous circus posters and photographs, the upcoming magic book will assuredly be a visual feast. I have a copy of the Circus volume, which I highly recommend. You can explore it here.
There's no place like home- Now that we are "empty nesters," my wife and I took a trip to
Prague, Vienna and Budapest. While I was unable to track down Houdini's baby shoes while in Budapest
, we had a fascinating holiday nonetheless. On a whim, I called Magic Christian, Austria's well-known magician and magic historian, who very kindly invited us over that evening to see his outstanding collection. What started as a short visit continued several hours later at a restaurant for a wonderful Viennese dinner. I am so pleased to have made the acquaintance of this kind and scholarly kindred spirit. It was evident from his passion in sharing with us some of his research on the life of Johann Nepomuk Hofsinzer, that Christian has left no stone unturned in tracking down original source material regarding the life of this important figure in magic's history. With the upcoming publication of an English translation of his Hofzinser biography, those of us who are not fluent in German will be in for a treat.
Vienna, by the way, is a bibliophile's dream, with numerous shops offering rare books and prints. After visits to a number of such shops, probably thwarted by my very marginal high school German, I found very little. Surprisingly, though, it was in
Madrid, where we had an overnight layover before returning to the U.S., that I chanced upon a small shop near our hotel where I found a few vintage magic themed prints. As a couple are duplicates from my collection, you can see them in the Abracagraphics section of this website. Yes, my friends, I travel to these locales so that you don't have to. It's a nasty job, but someone's got to do it......
The LA Conference On Magic History is set to begin on November 8, 2007. Having missed the only other known performance of the Hooker Card Rise in my lifetime which was performed at an earlier LA Conference - I am looking forward to the upcoming weekend. These conventions, first and foremost, offer a chance to see old friends and to make new ones. And if I pick up a poster or two, that wouldn't be so bad either.
Wow, maybe we should call this the Friedlander Gazette. A European collector friend has referred me to an amazing website of hundreds of incredible magic, circus, freak and other entertainment posters. Just for openers, I had never seen this wonderful Servais Leroy poster before. Click on it to travel to www.circusmuseum.nl.
MCA in DC is now a fading memory! Over this past April Fool's Day weekend, we had a memorable time. Highlights for me were the unforgettable Library of Congress magic exhibit followed by a tour of the amazing building, Bob Sheets interview with Washington magic legend Al Cohen, the surprise eight minute manipulation act of Arthur Trace, Roxy on waters spouters, Charles Greene III on his dauntless Ionia research, Bill Kalush on his groundbreaking Houdini research, Michael Claxton's well done talk on minorities in magic, Dick Hatch on Jews in magic followed by Werner Reich's riveting presentation about his Holocaust experiences Mark Mitton, Dean Arnold, Arthur Moses, Gabe Fajuri and more. Thanks to all those who made it a successful conference. The Library of Congress folks, especially, were stellar in every way. Next year in Chicago!
I first saw Jay Marshall perform some time in the early 1960's, when he was one of the acts appearing in the Boston Magicale, an annual show produced by the local Society of American Magicians group, Assembly #9. I remember that his act included his unique hand puppet Lefty, Troublewit and the linking rings - and I went backstage after the show to get his and the other performers' autographs. Hey, I was only about 12 at the time. In the years following, although I would see Jay perform on the Ed Sullivan Show and at many conventions, I never tired of watching his act. Working "in one," before the curtain, he was the sophisticated professional, with a timeless quality that fit in as well in the 40's night clubs, I am sure, as it did in the years that I saw him from the 60's into the 90's. In the more recent decades, I got to know Jay when I began attending the magic collector conventions in Chicago, New England and LA. His sometimes gruff exterior hid a warm and unpredictably irreverent man who had a tremendous love for things magical and those that peopled that quirky world. After we had become friends, I made a point of taking him to lunch when I was in Chicago for business. It was, as were most times spent with Jay, memorable. I will not soon forget his unpredictable bits of business - the impromptu"table crap", his suddenly descending behind a podium as if he were standing on an elevator, or his performing a spontaneous display of hand shadows between the acts at a collectors' show. He was both an encyclopedia of arcana and a walking vaudeville show. Jay Marshall passed away on May 10, 2005 at the age of 85 and will be greatly missed.
Another magic legend whom I first saw in the 1960's was the great Silent Mora. Those from New England, will know that Boston's chapter of the International Brotherhood of Magicians is named after this respected late performer. As a 14 year old member of the Silent Mora Ring, I was privileged to see Louis McCord, aka silent Mora, perform on the wonderful little stage in the back of John Booth's church, where we had our monthly meetings. Watching him perform classic sleight of hand with charm and wit was truly a link to another age. Fast forward some 40 years and I get an email from a man in California who wants to buy a poster of Silent Mora that he saw on my website. You see, this fellow is Mora's grandson, and he wants to give the poster to his 94 year old mom as a gift. Well, now you know why my lone Silent Mora poster, which will continue to adorn the Trade section of this website, is now out of circulation.
G-day mate! There I was in a hotel room in Las Vegas, attending the annual Magic Collectors' convention this past spring. I had left a lecture on Les Levante and Maurice Rooklyn, two Australian magicians, to bid by telephone on a bunch of old magic posters in an auction several time zones away in Sydney Australia. Coincidence? I think not. Apparently an Aussie who worked in a theatre at the turn of the century had accumulated a wonderful cache of posters and other memorabilia including scarce images of Maskelyne and Cooke, Chung Ling Soo, Carter the Great and Houdini. which his heirs decided to sell. Judging from the low bid estimates, I imagine that the consignors were a bit blown away when they learned of some of the prices that were reached in this no reserve auction.
Speaking of conventions of magic collectors, the 37th Magic Collectors' Weekend will be, for the first time, in Washington DC. We are planning an activity-filled weekend for March 30 - April 1. Okay, so the hotel where it will all be happening is not technically in DC, but in Rosslyn, VA, just a stone's throw across the Key Bridge. But, as we say in our nation's capitol"it's close enough for government work." Those who have attended past conferences know that these gatherings are a chance to hear interesting speakers on subjects of interest to magic history devotees (in past years, everything from a Power Point presentation on"wee books" with a magical theme to highlights of traveling with the Blackstone show), to have the chance to purchase vintage magic collectibles in the amazing dealer's room, and to spend a few days with kindred spirits not necessarily in that order. If you wish to attend but are not a member, you will need to remedy that deficiency by joining the MCA, so click here for an application, and you will be well on your way. The weekend will be dedicated to the memory of Jay Marshall, who started the whole mess (as he would have put it) back in Chicago, almost four decades ago. We promise varied and interesting presentations, as well as other fun and surprises, all of which I am sure Jay would have relished.
This day just stopped being productive. That is the thought that went through my mind when I learned that the catalog for the auction of Christian Fechner's European magic posters had gone on line; vintage posters and engravings, antique apparatus, objets d'art with a magic theme etc went to auction in Paris, France in June of this year. Had my oldest son's high school graduation not precluded me from personally attending, I would, I am sure, have immensely enjoyed the event - not to mention the chance to add to my own collection. I did, through a friend, acquire one poster, an interesting Robelly. Roughly a half sheet, I had always liked the image since first seeing it in the catalog for the Findlay collection at Sotheby's in the early 80's (a publication otherwise known as "my want list". Although but a portion, albeit a sizeable one, of M. Fechner's collection, the recent items for sale truly constituted a catalogue of European magic posters from the 19th and 20th centuries. My admiration and support go out to Christian Fechner. He has bestowed upon us a gift in making these items available to the magic community, and he should be applauded and admired. Between his writing, inventing, performing and collecting - he has contributed much to the world of magic. I wish him all the best in the future.
A few stock answers, please. In my endless search for interesting magic poster images that I have not seen before, I recently acquired this half sheet litho printed by Great Western Litho company. Unfortunately, it is missing a couple of pieces, especially at the top. So, if any of you out there in cyber-space have a copy - or even a photograph - of this poster, I would be grateful if someone could email me the complete image. Thanks.
I have added some new posters to the site that you can now purchase. A couple of them do not belong to me, but are owned by a friend, for whom I have agreed to list them. Should you have an item that you would like to consign for sale, feel free to contact me. And thank you for visiting this site. I appreciate the support of both old and new friends who tell me that they stop here on a regular basis. Happy Fall.
Has it really been over a year since I last updated this website? Why is it that I don't get around to updating until the summer months, you ask. Hey, if you lived in the Washington DC area, you wouldn't want to do much more on a sweltering July day than sit in air conditioned comfort at the computer. In any event, my apologies for the delay that has preceded this update. In the future, I will try to tweak things more frequently. Really. So help me Russell Morgan. At a minimum, anyway, I will occasionally add items to the BUY/TRADE sections on a piecemeal basis without prior fanfare or notice - so you have been warned.
Do you have a particular poster or other collectible that really pushes your buttons? Is there a collecting holy grail for you? For me, ever since I first laid eyes on Christopher's Panorama of Magic, it has been a simple Kellar levitation poster - the one with the dark blue background and the lightning bolts coming from Kellar's fingers. Finally, after years of attempted trades and a few times when it seemed to be almost in my grasp, I recently landed one. It is the half sheet version with the older version of the lettering, not the "Kellar" at an angle with which we are so familiar. So, here it is in all its magical glory, to be enjoyed by all. Now, if I could only find the version of Kellar's levitation with the moorish arch.............
Well, some might call it "irrational exuberance" but the last couple of months saw serious magic poster activity on ebay. Between May and June of this year, a Strobridge "Mantle of Magic" one sheet (!), an 1890 Kellar's Wonders, and a killer Houdini milk can escape poster precipitated some awfully high bidding on ebay. Yes, the Houdini did not meet its reserve, but didn't the bidding get up into some serious numbers !? Although perhaps more a function of desirability of these particular images than a harbinger of price inflation generally, these sales (the two Kellars sold) may have signaled us that magic poster values, and perhaps our sluggish economy, are coming out of the doldrums.
A Poster Road Trip!
Actually, the DC heat is reminiscent of what I encountered in the spring of last year when my work took me to Austin, Texas for a couple of days. Fortunately. the business part of things was concluded sooner than expected, so I was able to spend the good part of an afternoon at a place I had often heard about and always wanted to visit. No, not the OK corral, or the infamous tower at the University of Texas, but the U. of T's Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities. This wonderful building houses numerous collections, including a wealth of posters and broadsides that once belonged to Harry Houdini. The collection, which is particularly strong in 19th century broadsides - some bearing notations in Houdini's hand along the margins - also has a significant cache of photos, challenges and other HH ephemera as well.
When I phoned a couple of days in advance to make arrangements for a possible visit, I was told by the very helpful librarian that they are rarely visited by persons desiring to view the magic posters. In fact, when I called during the morning that preceded my afternoon visit, I was informed that the librarian was, as we were speaking, encapsulating for the first time some of the items contained within folders that I had requested the day before for viewing. It was thrilling to sift through a portion of them, as but a small sampling could be viewed in the few hours time that I had to spend there - and time really does go fast when you are having fun. Just so that you can share in the fun, click here to see a poster that you don't exactly see every day. I look forward to a future visit to Austin in order to take in more of the pleasures that the Ransom Center offers, and suggest that you do the same.
Since the last update of this site, I have sold or traded a number of items that were previously offered. So you may see that some things have disappeared. But take heart; I have added a few new items as well. Please do keep in mind that items for sale are always available for trade - and that I will consider offers for items on the trade list, although trades are preferred. So until next time, you'all come back now, you hear?
And a happy August to you! How better to beat the summer doldrums than to go for a nice walk in the woods. Okay, maybe it is not quite like a day at the beach, but it is a great excuse to unroll a classic Kellar half sheet by our good friends over at Strobridge.
In answer to those who have asked me if I will consider cash offers for the items listed for trade, the answer is, "yes, depending on the poster." So, if you see a trade item and want to make me an offer, go ahead. I promise that I will not be offended. And finally, this is also a not so subtle reminder that I am very interested in purchasing collections of magic posters and related memorabilia, and would be grateful to hear from you if you are looking to sell a collection, or simply trying to prune things down a bit. End of commercial.
By now, you have probably purchased your cache of Houdini stamps. The specimen at the left is an especially rare one. Can you see why? First correct email answer receives an original item of HH ephemera.
If you missed it last time around, keep reading this and - three paragraphs down - you will reach a link that will take you to a useful article on window cards, written exclusively for this site by none other than Gabe Fajuri..........Well, I hope that you enjoy the updated site. In these sometimes difficult times, it helps to have interests to which we can turn that offer us a momentary escape. Hopefully, this site will occasionally serve as an entertaining diversion for you.
Kudos to Glen Gold, whose Carter Beats the Devil (Hyperion, 2001) has garnered awesome reviews! After I put the book aside so that I could savor it when I had some leisure time, I finally read it over the December holiday - and what a pleasure it was! Glen designs his plot like a magician lays the groundwork for a clever trick, with subtle twists that set you up for one surprise after another. And if you are interested in magic and its history, you will especially enjoy this novel novel. Having been so inspired by a window card as to write a book, adopt the title of the window card as the title of the book and utilize the window card's design on the dust jacket (at least on the U.S. edition), perhaps Glen's next book will be inspired by a magic poster. How about, "The Mighty Cheese?" After you read Carter Beats the Devil, try The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Picador USA, 2001), by Michael Chabon. It has plenty of magic in it, and is also an engrossing read.
And, just as the window card inspired Carter Beats the Devil, a classic poster has inspired the artwork for the long overdue Houdini stamp, which will be released at the Society of American Magicians convention in New York City in July, 2002, to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of the SAM. The artwork is taken from a fantastic Strobridge poster that collectors call "Houdini for President," as it is reminiscent of a campaign poster. For Houdini fanatics such as myself the announcement of the stamp is tremendously exciting, and the culmination of years of lobbying and letter writing. How long from the time these are issued to the time that you see them on sale on eBay as "rare" items? Probably not too long, I suspect.
Gabe Fajuri, an up and coming magic collector, is also one of the more prolific authors on the magic history and collecting scene today. We are pleased that he has contributed an excellent article on collecting window cards. To be magically transported to this article, you need but to click on the window card to the right. We are fortunate that this recent University of Michigan graduate's talents and interests assure his active participation in the field of magic collecting for many years to come.
Well, that's it for now. If you have not visited this page before, we invite you to keep on reading. A bit further down, you will find a link to frequently asked questions about magic posters that will hopefully be of assistance to some ...... Meanwhile, send your suggestions, URLs for new links that might enhance the site, and ideas for more articles!
So, why another website? After procrastinating for a couple of years I have finally gotten off my duff and launched a website about my collecting passion. To those who are familiar with the increasingly elusive stone lithographs from magic's "Golden Age", the Strobridge moniker requires no explanation.
To those who are new to the world of vintage magic posters, the title is intended - like the imps offering obeisance in one of Kellar's glorious levitation posters - to pay homage to the Cincinnati lithography house that produced posters (not just magic posters, but circus, theatre and other categories) considered by many to be among the most beautiful.
This site will, hopefully, offer occasional tips or insights to the advanced collector - while providing answers to basic questions for the tyro, as he/she begins the journey into this fascinating area. That said, let's begin with some frequently asked questions about magic posters, which you can reach by clicking on our friendly little poster imp to the right.
Wuzzzuppppppppppp? As I write this, the sale of the David Price collection is still recent news. I first came to know the now late David Price in the 1970's, when I found one of his small ads in Genii Magazine. As a then 20 something student performing magic semi-professionally, I had earlier become attracted to the magic posters in Milbourne Christopher's wonderful Panorama of Magic , later republished as Magic: A Picture History (Dover), the pages of which I had cut out as a teenager and taped to the walls of my basement "magic den." David would sell duplicates from his amazing collection. I still have a couple of his lists, which I will scan and reproduce for you, if there is enough interest.
I was fortunate to obtain a few items from David over the years, and one of the posters, which I present for your viewing pleasure, is a fine example of the lithography of the same Strobridge of which we spoke earlier. The litho, often referred to as the "Golliwog Balls", depicts a fantastic nether world into which Harry Kellar apparently descended between shows. Yes, it is a wondrous poster. Multiply that by a couple thousand and you get a sense of David's collection.
In 1997 I felt that it was finally time to accept David's open invitation to visit, and took my oldest son (then 10) to Nashville, for a long overdue journey to this Mecca for magic collectors - David's incredible, absolutely mind-numbing, knee-knocking collection of stone lithographs, broadsides, scrapbooks, ephemera etc (partly a collection of collections, and partly the gatherings, piece by piece, of the remnants of magic's past). It held too many riches to be fully appreciated in that one visit, but that was to be the only one.
During that brief southern sojourn, I finally got to meet David, as well as his wonderful wife Virginia, and his witty and knowledgeable son, Dave. Despite some physical infirmities that limited David's ability to stand, and, by that time, his ability to spend more than a couple of hours with me at a time (and I later felt guilty about persuading David to extend that time, much to Virginia's chagrin), it was a truly unique experience for both me and my son - and I shall always remember it with special fondness.
In reflecting on David's collection, which was never consigned to a staid museum or packed away in a warehouse, I am reminded of a quote emailed to me by my late collector friend, Joel Miller, from the book, Utz by Bruce Chatwin, (Penguin Books, 1999);
"An object in a museum case must suffer the de-natured existence of an animal in a zoo. In any museum the object dies -- of suffocation and the public gaze -- whereas private ownership confers on the owner the right and need to touch. As a young child will reach out to handle a thing it names, so the passionate collector, his eye in harmony with his hand, restores to the object the life-giving touch of its maker. The collector's enemy is the museum curator. Ideally, museums would be looted every fifty years, and their collections returned to circulation."
By the way, this book was made into a movie, which will be especially appreciated by those of the collecting persuasion. It is worth a visit to Blockbuster.
I do hope that you find this website useful - and invite you to contact me with your input, suggestions and opinions. I would be delighted if someone might have an article or essay to offer, and am as close as the "send" button on your computer!
Yours in Bavarian limestone*,
*Bavarian limestone was widely used for creating stone lithos a century ago. But you knew that. Right?