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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Where to put it all... » » Nowhere Is Safe (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22842 Posts

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Nowhere is safe for your treasured magic props. I am finding this to be true today more then ever. Now that I am getting on in years and living situations have changed, I am finding that useful magic props are in danger of being lost forever.

The title of this forum is very true, Where To Put It All?

I once went to an auction of an estate, they said they were auctioning off some magic. After the auction, I strolled around the household items. There I found a Chop Cup with the kitchen glassware and a huge P&L Copper Lota Bowl with the flower pots. Evidently, the auction house that said they knew their craft, does not know anything about magic.

Not even thinking of natural disasters, it is very hard to keep valued working props that cannot be replaced due to availability on the market. Put them in a paid storage facility, and as long as you don't miss a payment, they are a little safe, but miss a payment and they empty it out to the trash, so they say. Then of course every time you want something it is a laborious trip to the storage room.

Friends and family do not want to give assistance, they just see it as junk, and if you tell them it has any value, then they sell it for the cash. I even experienced people thinking that trick coins that look ordinary is spending money for themselves.

So I have summed up, if you can't have it with you, nowhere is a safe place to keep your working magic props.

So bag it, label it and use it, or sell it, and you will not have to suffer any feeling of remorse over a lose or theft. And please keep the instructions with the props, typed or DVD.

Here is another suggest, after taking an inventory of your props, bagging them in plastic bags, this really keeps playing card in new condition as well. Provide a container for your bags of the props you are currently using. So remove the item from it storage place, take the props for performance. Then place the bag with the instructions in the container. Usually you will have only about 10 bags in this box. When you are finished using the prop, place them back in the bag, and then move the bag to the original storage place.

Even if your prop is only a sight gag with no instructions, you know it is either a working piece or it is in storage.

Just some insight on where to put it all, and a system the late Hank Moorehouse mentioned once and seems to work very well. If you want to place the price you paid on the bag, that is okay as well.
Magicalpro
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Denver, CO
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I would go 1 step further, and create a database, and number the boxes. It is a lot easier to scroll through a database, to find out which box you need to go thru, then to start going thru boxes and many moe boxes trying to find that one prop you are looking for, and it will make it even easier, if you write on the bag, what belongs in that bag, and what box, that bag belongs to, so when it is time to put it back into storage, you will know where it goes,, I am moving in 2 months, and after the move, this is the project I will begin.
Kurt "Lee Curtis the Magical Wizard" Flickner
Magic Estate Sale
http://www.MagicEstateSale.com
MartiniMagic
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I keep track of my magic in a spreadsheet.
Herr Brian Tabor
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West Virginia
726 Posts

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I also use Excel sheets, but Bill's advice is spot on. All of my cards are in bags, I keep all of my instructions with the props, unless they are in my case for performing, in which case they go in a three ring binder.
Wizard of Oz
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Inner circle
Most people wish I didn't have
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The props that I have in storage are all kept with the instructions. For the vintage and collectible props I have on display, I keep the instructions in binders. They are alphabetized in order of manufacturer (e.g. Milson Worth, Viking, Collector's Workshop etc.). For me this works the best since for the most part I'm very familiar with who made what, so I can usually find the right instructions within minutes.

When I get some spare time (ha), I hope to begin cataloging my collection in photographs, ala Martins Magic http://www.martinsmagic.com/?nd=collection . I know this is a painstakingly long process, but really - for a visual reference - the only way to accurately document everything since the titles of props are so inconsistent and rarely intuitive. I would imagine this kind of photographic database would help my heirs when they go to sell the collection. The plan is to give several dealers or auction houses whom I trust, the opportunity to either compete with one another for the purchase of the collection, or, manage an auction for a percentage of the sales. I still need to figure the pros and cons of both approaches (and of course, I'm making an assumption that there would be an interest in my collection in the first place). Long story short, photos in conjunction with a brief written explanation, + estimate of worth for every item, would give an accurate description and visual reference for those folks unfamiliar with magic props (e.g. my family). I would hope that a photo catalog would also help with insurance claims if needed.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22842 Posts

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I also use to keep instructions in binders, it is the worse thing one can do. I have attended many magic auctions, and just stopped bidding on anything. I kept getting stung with props with no instructions. Why, because the last item on action was the binder with all the instructions.

Do you think they would give me my instructions for the magic props I bought, no they would not. Even when it was the top page in the binder and I pointed to it.

People are just to lazy to take the time to match the instructions with the props. So the 2nd hand buyer gets it stuck to him.

From then on, I took the advice of the late Hank Moorehouse and Bill McComb. Put tricks in a plastic ziplock bag and include the instructions any additional props.

My method is if I take magic out to perform with, I take the bag with the instructions and place them in a container marked, "In Use". If an when I return them to the bag, I then put the bag back in it container with the like tricks.

I find this system best for me, as sometimes the instructions gives me inspiration concerning that particular trick.

I realize if you collect and display your items, it is a little different, but I think the instructions and extras should be nearby, in a drawer in the cabinet or even in a bag attached to the back of the cabinet.

This is what I have found successful for keeping everything together. I have some cards, coins, boxes, that I have totally forgotten what they went with when I took on this system. Lesson learned!
Wizard of Oz
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I hear what you are saying Bill, and it is certainly sound advice. I am definitely more of a collector and performer for friends and family, vs. actually maintaining a working set of effects. I am lucky enough to have a "magic room," which is essentially my man-cave. The room has ended up looking more like Dumbledore's library, all dusty with props piled everywhere. I actually like the look, and spend whatever free time I have nestled in a corner, working with a prop I haven't looked at in awhile. The binders and instructions are very accessible should I need them for the effects on display.

However...you bring up a very,very good point which I never thought of. My wife or son couldn't give two s**ts what the binders are. For all they know, they are just more junk I've been obsessively hoarding. If I croaked tomorrow, why would they match the props up with the instructions? And as you would expect, the props that are on display are worth the most...so at auction, without instructions they are in fact worth less. This is definitely something to consider.

Thank you Bill. This could have ended up being a costly oversight.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Herr Brian Tabor
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West Virginia
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Bill, I like the "in use" idea, and I'd imagine in the long run it will work better than the binder. Thanks for the tip.
Ed_Millis
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Yuma, AZ
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Perhaps a CD with a short video of how it works could be helpful. I'm thinking more of routines where you incorporated some "bits of business" items along with the main prop. It might also help others see the value in "that stupid thing he played with once in a while."

Ed
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
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Yes, I do such a thing in my Opening sequence and my Ching Soo Fire Cracker Routine that I have developed over the years. Being I use these routines all time they are in my performance case. The instructions are in the in use box, with the bags they fit in.

As for the routine, it is written down on paper, with a list of the props needed and how many spectators are involved.

If you would talk to people that actually perform professionally, most of the ones I know of, have written down their act material, routines, and even patter. Now that can be kept in a 3 ring binder. In todays computer word, they can be even connected to your data base program. Inventory is important once your props go beyond a one foot locker size container. Location and with a list of props so at a glance everything is recalled.
Herr Brian Tabor
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West Virginia
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I use Michael Ammar's cue sheets to keep track of my routines and the important patter and such, and that's in a binder, but I also use a video camera to record my routines, and do a short run of the method afterwords, just in case I forget or haven't done it in a while. It's very helpful.
jay leslie
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Southern California
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Bill what do you do when you have about 9000 props.

I just put them on shelves and in drawers. if I were to die, my landlord would just get a bulldozer and push everything out the back door.
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22842 Posts

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Quote:
On 2013-07-20 15:52, jay leslie wrote:
Bill what do you do when you have about 9000 props.

I just put them on shelves and in drawers. if I were to die, my landlord would just get a bulldozer and push everything out the back door.


Then you start a museum of course. LOL

Jay, if I had all the cool magic you have, I would still pack it away as suggested. When the items are to large for plastic bags, then of course larger containers should contain several related items. I purchased those new plastic footlockers and have a lot of my tricks in them. Everything should be marked and inventoried. Remember, you only have to do it once.

Your cool collection should be photographed and identified and keep on a DVD, if you don't want to set up a special room with the collection lining the walls on shelves.
paulapaul
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Nevada
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Bill, You are right when you say "you only have to do it once". It drives me nuts to type the same things over ... and I don't! Besides listing props, wardrobe & routines in a database, I have columns for filtering and sorting. I use merge documents for packing lists, show line-ups, routines, carne (customs), taxes, maintenance, insurance, pre-set lists, shipping, light & sound cues and more. Good paperwork has saved me plenty of times. And a dynamic database (or spreadsheet) saves a lot of time.

But, as passionate as I am about my precious lists, I'd find 9000 items pretty daunting. The idea to put photos and ID on DVD is a great solution. Still - 9000? Yikes. Whew! OK, (taking a deep breath here)let the photo sessions begin!
Jerry
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Some where in Florida
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I'm keeping the instructions in a binder, works best for me (plastic sheet cover).
If I die I could care less if some dude doesn't get the instructions in a estate sale, that would be the least of my concerns.

The flash paper storage is the most difficult item. It was a lot easier when we had real local magic shops. Then you could purchase as needed, and not store it.

Jerry
Alan Munro
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Kentwood, Michigan, USA
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I prefer to keep instruction sheets with props. That way, I don't have to worry about forgetting which deck is for what, for instance. Also, it makes it easier if your heirs turn over the magic collection to the local magic club. The clubs will have people who know what much of the collection is.
Dick Oslund
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So Bill Hegbli!!! YOU HAVE CONVINCED ME!!!

For YEARS, I've carefully filed instructions for props/effects that I own and/or use, in a (now) fairly full file drawer. I've also kept copies of props/effects that I have owned and sold (in case a friend ever needed instructions)

I've bought and sold a number of estates, so the drawer is reaching capacity!

After reading over your idea, I've decided to put a copy of inst. with every prop I own, (i.e.: the working props, and the "collection".)

Thanks for writing up your system!!!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
1KJ
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Warning: We will run out of new tricks in
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This is a great topic! I have a large number of effects and props. I keep a spreadsheet where I've logged every item. The spreadsheet also tracks which props or effects I have my own performance notes. I keep these in word documents. I also keep props and effects in ziplock bags. If I have any notes, I print them and place them in the ziplock with the prop. I like the idea of having an "in use" spot. Not something I have done. Frequently, I have a duplicate of those "few" things I really use, so the original is in it's bag.
The thing I am trying to work on now is a system of storing items so that I can get more use out of those things that I don't get to often or at all. Sometimes the back of the drawer items aren't there because they are no good, they are there because they just get forgotten.
KJ
RajeshLGov
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India
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Excellent ideas, I usually put everything on spreadsheet too. As told by many what is of extreme value to me would be trashed after my time Smile I've a few videos made for the innovations I've done & for my own routines. I thank you Bill for starting this topic, it has made me ponder over my TREASURE which many in my family consider TRASH. God Bless us all. Raj.
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