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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » From The Wizards Cave - by Bill Palmer » » Collecting -- How to, how not to (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Bill Palmer
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Collecting -- wow!!! What an interesting aspect of magic!

I have two collections and a bunch of accumulations, so I'll give you some ideas of how to go about collecting in such a way that you can keep track of what you have and what it may be worth.

I'll use examples of two of my collections. The first one, the one most of you have visited, is my cups and balls collection. I have sets of cups that I have owned ever since I was in High School. But when I really got serious about collecting cups, it was about three years ago. Better than 90% of what you see in my museum has been obtained within those three years. Shortly after I started collecting in earnest, I realized that I couldn't make the mistakes I had made with my paddle collection. I needed to keep track of all of my acquisitions.

So, each time I purchased a set of cups, I added its name to a list. This list is divided into several parts. Each cup has a coded number. I also photograph each set of cups, and the result of this is what you see on the internet. Although my main criterion for acquiring a set of cups is whether or not I have a set like it, I do have some guidelines I follow.

No matter what you collect, be it cups, paddles, baseball cards, coins, stamps, old tires, dog collars, or whatever, there are certain "key" items. These are the items that basically define the genre of collecting -- things that your collection really should have. In cups, this would be Paul Fox cups, Bertram Cups, P&L Cups, Rings and Things Cups -- things that are of value that aren't made any longer. There are also items that are now available, but which may not be available in the future -- James Riser products, Van Dokkum products, RnT II cups. Some of these items have already avanced to the first list. There are also "filler" items -- things you can purchase almost any time -- most Ickle Pickle, Bazar di Magia, recent Morrissey, etc. None of these classifications are necessarily indications of quality or lack thereof; they indicate availability. Then there are the absolute rarities that you may never ever get to actually see, much less own. Vernon's cups, Charles Bertram's cups, Hofzinser's cups, these would fall into that category.

So, basically, you figure out what you want, set your goals, and then tell everyone you know who might be able to help you find them about it.

Finally, at some point, you should insure your collection.

How NOT to make a collection could be exemplified by my paddle collection. It is in several jeweler's cases, shoe boxes and storage containers. I have no idea how many paddles I have. I have a lot of key paddles, but I can't even begin to tell you what that collection is worth. I don't even have a list. I know that there are more than 250 paddles in it, but I don't even want to begin cataloguing them.

Start early!!!!
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Bill Palmer
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Eternal Order
Only Jonathan Townsend has more than
24133 Posts

Profile of Bill Palmer
Now, here's a subject that most of us don't want to think about, but it is important. What is going to happen to all our "treasures" when we shuffle off this mortal coil?

Let's say you have assembled a really large collection of belly button fuzz from famous magicians. Chances are this will be difficult to dispose of. On the other hand, if you have a collection of vintage magic apparatus, you may have some really valuable pieces in there. It's very important to make sure that you provide some way for your survivors to dispose of it, if they don't want to keep it.

I see this on eBay all the time. A fairly famous magician passes away, and his widow has no idea what he's got. So she sells it to the first "estate sale specialist" and they list the pieces or lots on eBay. Parts of tricks get separated. Pieces are misidentified. Sometimes they sell for too little. other times, an estate sale specialist who knows a little about magic may think they have a prime prop when all they have is a homemade piece of junk. It may have sentimental value, but no collector's value. Yet they put it up for auction on eBay for a huge price. It eventually ends up in the trash.

So, what to do?

I can't tell you how to organize your collection. All I can do is tell you how I organized my cup collection. I have kept a running list with a code number for each set of cups. Each set that is not easily identified from a photograph (such as the cups and balls museum web site) has a sticker on it that identifies it. I use removable stickers that won't affect the metal or other finish.

Still, I recommend that you instruct your survivors to get a reputable magic auction firm, such as Kenna Thompson, to handle disposal of the props for you.

They will know what you had, they will know how to list it, and they will get the best deal for you.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
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