Magazines, newspapers, journals, newsletters: the sources for recent historical research. When records of current events began to appear in the 17th century in what we now call “newspapers,” and began to be printed in hundreds, then thousands of copies, maybe nobody realized how important these papers would have been a couple of centuries down the line for all kind of historical research.
The popularity of this new media inspired the creation of journals dedicated to specific subjects, mainly literary or political, and indeed even conjurers put their hands to the new media. The first magical magazine in the English language was The Conjuror’s Magazine, or Magical and Physiognomical Mirror published in England from 1791 to 1793 by one William Locke. The title was slightly deceiving for a magician, as very little conjuring was contained in its pages, the subject having mainly to do with astrology.
Newspapers and magazines are ephemeral objects by nature: it is well known that “yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish-and-chips paper,” and the survival of these ephemeral publications is amazing, especially for complete files. We are now in an era where we are seeing the decline of printed publications and the rise of digital ones: the latter having a great advantage for the publisher as production costs are much lower than a printed edition. Preservation of digital content is a different subject, with many risks associated, but here is not the place to discuss it.
For magic collectors and magic historians, there are only a few resources available now: the best-known are Gibecière, by the Conjuring Arts Research Center and Magicol, by the Magic Collectors’ Association. Both magazines are printed media and publish academic research on subjects of magic history; Magicol also dedicates a quite some pages to magic memorabilia and collections. Other entities, like New England Magic Collectors Association (NEMCA) publish ever so often newsletters or semi-regular publications (the Yankee Collector journal) of interest to the magic historian and collector.
Yours truly has now decided to add his voice to the field, by publishing a new magazine, but with a difference. Ye Olde Magic Mag is the result of my efforts in trying to provide a digital vehicle for the diffusion of magic history and discussion on magic collectibles to the audience of the 21st century.
Before starting this magazine, I asked myself what I would have liked to see in a publication dedicated to this subject, and I realized that I may have liked to see articles on the history of magic that don’t require the academic depth that only an historian could enjoy. Quick, quirky, unusual articles on interesting magical subjects which could be read, assimilated and digested while reading the magazine on a tablet standing on the metro on the way to work. I would also like to see information and comments on the current magical collecting scene: what’s hot and what’s not, where the interest of collectors, at any moment in time, is going.
Then, I would like to be kept informed on the current events in the magic history and collecting scene: it is certainly important to know about the kind of paint used by a magical builder 100 years ago, but it will be important, in 20, 50 or 100 years, to know about what has been sold at auction today, where the specific copy of The Discoverie of Witchcraft sold at auction, has gone. But, most importantly, I would like to have a vehicle to share information, both historical and about collections, so that any reader could gain from other people’s experience and research, in order to progress his own research or help somebody else in their researches.
As an experiment, I’ve released a taster issue of Ye Olde Magic Mag for free download. That issue should give an idea of what the format will look like providing a few articles on the history of magic (Robert-Houdin, first and foremost) and my view of some of the most interesting items that have come up for auction in the past few months.
What does the publication of this magazine, a quarterly one, will mean for this blog? Fear not: this blog will continue unchanged: in it, I talk about items in my own personal collection, rather than about magic events of the past or current auctions. Indeed, I have been frustrated in the past for not being able to publish here some researches of mine that have no link to items in my collection: the magazine will be a way to publish that kind of material and material from other historians/researchers/collectors, not only me.
As you have been reading my post and, hopefully, some of my other posts, you will probably be interested in the magazine: please, go to Ye Olde Magic Mag and download your free copy of this new, exciting, magazine about old magic and let me know what you think.