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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Oldies... but goodies! » » What's happening to the collectors? (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

61magic
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It seems like there are less and less magic collectors. There doesn't seem to be nearly as much interest in persevering magic history as in the past.
I'm interested if any of you feel the same way, I have been selling magic estates off and on for years, but the market seems to have dwindled.
Let me know what your thoughts are.
Professor J. P. Fawkes
Wravyn
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In todays times, it is my humble opinion, disposable funds for things have been dwindling and like everything else, the prices put on some of these collectors items are out of reach. There are things I wish to add to my collection, yet needs overcome wants. I now have to let the collecting go to those that have the disposable income.
61magic
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Wravyn, your points are well taken. Certainly, the additional cost of shipping has really gotten out of hand and becomes a discouragement to any potential buyer.
My concern is with losing a great deal of history when the apparatus made by other Magicians and Craftsmen are disposed of or even trashed when a Magician passes.
Builders now long passed whose creations are now classic and/or vintage should be kept and treasured.
Sad state of affairs when finances destroy history...
Professor J. P. Fawkes
Julie
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Quote:
On May 5, 2023, 61magic wrote:

...Sad state of affairs when finances destroy history...


I'm not certain the condition of which you speak is necessarily being created by troubled finances. People who buy/collect appararus are still spending money, lots of money. People who are looking for "bargains" and/or to resell, not so much.

It's as much a generational thing as anything else. Sure, you will see crazy inflated prices on e-bay and other sites and locations, BUT comparativly few of these items wind-up selling for the ridiculously high prices being asked.

Of course, if the item is a true collectible and a collector needs/wants it for his own collection, that's a different story altogether. There are still completists out there, too.

Another valid point is that some sellers seem to not understand the difference between "not being made any longer" and "collectible". Then there's the differnce between "used" magic (contemporary or otherwise) and genuinely "rare" magic. Even seasoned magicians--hobbyists or otherwise--need to make a carefully considered judgement if repurchasing his/her youthful memories is prudent at this point in time.

...And then there is this harsh reality of Life; many of our current performers and collectors are shuffling off this plane to explore the mysteries of the next and no one is coming along behind them to appreciate their magic.

It's been decades since the magic of olde gradually morphed into card & coin tricks with a smattering of mental magic (using props). Kids' performers seem to be the last holdouts of the glorious days of prop magic.

Who cares? Of couse, there are still the live "Big Name acts" in the resort areas, very successful "cruiz ship" performers, "trade show" experts, "table hoppers" and fun loving "Part Time Pro's" in pockets all over the country. 'Even a couple of really good productions on television. Smile

We care! Share the history, tips, and/or performance techniques. Share your personal stories behind the acquisition of your favorite pieces. In today's inflationary times, maybe it's practical to concentrate on magic you already own. After all, magic you already own is pretty good or you wouldn't have purchased it in the first place, right?

Julie
Wizard of Oz
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Well said Julie.

I share the opposite view of 61magic, and feel that magic collecting as a whole is thriving, and arguably doing better than ever. Thank you internet.

The world wide web is making it very easy for collectors to find one another and interact, trade, buy, sell, share information, and research. There are dozens of social media groups, and auctions - while continually fluctuating in their pricing - continue to flourish.

Now, while I have no knowledge of what 61magic has tried to sell in the past, I'm sure the quality was good, but I would say like any market, trends change and supply and demand are constantly in flux. Magic collecting is a niche and will always be a niche, so there is a limited pool of interested parties to pull from. And, as Julie eluded to, their tastes are finicky and ever-changing. I would argue that the market is basically the same, but the methods we employ as sellers, and the products we make available, need to evolve.

And also the economy stinks.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
61magic
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Interesting views Oz, since I sell estates and have been for years you would think the internet would been a boon for collectors/dealers which to a degree it is.
However, the people who would be collectors are the same generation that is passing on. With the trend for younger generations to want only the latest and greatest and move onto the newest things that come out.
There actually isn't an increase in collectors. In fast some of the more widely known collector/dealers have either quit the business or passed on themselves.
While the economy is a factor it is not the main driving force. The buyer's motivation is what has changed the most.
The sales techniques and the ability to advertise the items has evolved to provide access to more potential buyers than any time previously.
I have watched items list not only on the big auction house but with respected shops, both on-line, and brick & mortar have very good quality items just sit and not sell. And not due to pricing.
I have personally been involved with magic about 50 years and have been selling estates for over 25. I can tell you though time there has been a steady decline in collecting even as the ability to reach buyers has increased.

I recently attended a magic flea-market sponsored by a prominent magic club, the large majority of sellers and buyers were mostly grey beards. Very few of the younger buyers had any interest in any of the classic and/or collectable merchandise.
One comment from a young (20 something) buyer made to his peer about a complete set of Tarbel in super condition offered at about $18 a volume spoke to the problem. "That only has a bunch of old stuff no one cares about anymore", nothing could be further from the truth. The books have stood the test of time and are cornerstones for many libraries for generations. This is buyer perception.

I try to encourage all younger hobbyists to study the classics and the history so to allow them a chance to help preserve the apparatus which will never be offered again.
Thanks everyone for adding to the discussion and do your best to help preserve and perpetuate the hobby.
Professor J. P. Fawkes
Wizard of Oz
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Great insights 61magic. Thank you.

I guess I would be counted as one of the older collectors, and totally understand where you're coming from, especially as a seller. I never thought of the age of collectors, but now that I think more about it, you're absolutely right. It does seem to be a generational attraction and - as Julie eluded to - I'm guessing it has to do somewhat with the decline of apparatus-driven performances. I'm no magic historian, but if one were to look back I'd venture to say that many current collectors are like me, and are fans of the art and grew up seeing parlor and stage shows with props we couldn't afford. Then, when we had disposable income and able to afford these vintage pieces, we began pursuing them as a way to capture our youth and collect memories.

In many ways I love the progression of contemporary magic and the evolution into more organic effects, but also long for the mysteriously painted boxes, and oddly decorated tubes. They were the tools of the old ones, and perhaps the old ones have had their time. Even more important that the remaining curators of these magical remnants hold fast and as you say, perpetuate and preserve.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Julie
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Speaking of "painted boxes" (and "oddly decorated tubes" Smile) I wonder if anyone has a massive U.F. Grant collection hidden away somewhere?

Can you imagine the bulk of his writings and creations being available in one giant book?

Curious Julie
Magical Moments
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I suspect that there are serious collectors of UF Grant props. A million years ago when I worked in a magic shop, we carried the entire Grant line. He would send us a large carton full of copies of his catalog from time to time and we would give them out to customers. I demonstrated and sold many Stratospheres and Temple Screens as well as quite a few other Grant items. We always had one of his Flying Carpets in stock and on display and I would demonstrate it if I had the appropriate person to sit on it. I believe it sold for $100. I remember the designs and design changes on his props such as the metal tubes and wood boxes. He even changed the Temple Screen designs but settled on the green and orange set when I was selling them. Stratospheres went through several changes as well. Some were more subtle differences than others.

Anyway, a book on his catalog of offerings is certainly doable! I could help out a bunch if I were asked to do so! I do not have a large collection of his magic but a decent memory of what he offered. I sold his stuff for a decade.
Julie
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My husband had a very similar background to yours when he was working in a "Trick Shop"...

Back in the Olden Days Smile

Lotsa fun!
Anverdi-museum
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I would have to agree with the point that the younger generation in our art really need to expand their knowledge…they do indeed consider such books as Tarbell obsolete and passé.

When I have a chance to perform at a local magic ring I cannot tell you afterwards how many times younger kids come up to me and ask ‘where did you get the idea of that trick from’…I endlessly reply it is in Tarball, Greater Magic or the Hoffman books…which they stare blankly at me.

C’mon youngsters…you can do better…learn the history of magic! We are dependent on you to carry the torch.
Moxahalla
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NOT growing up with Magic Catalogs (and ordering from same) equals a generation(s) that no longer understands the terms: "Foo Can", Phantom Tube", "Lota Vase", "Super-X", "Square Circle Box", etc.

Now its all about Cards & Coins, with some interest in Mentalism.

Ask a young magician to name 5 well-known Magicians - prior to the year 2000 - and for what are they known for...and they'll most likely stop after saying "Houdini" and "Penn & Teller".
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