Collector

I didn’t start out with the idea of becoming a collector. I just had access to so many things, and found them all so interesting, that a collection emerged.

 

David Ben Collection

My collection now consists of, among other things, thousands of magic books and magic magazines, thousands of pages of personal correspondence of magicians from yesteryear, hundreds of photographs, posters and magic ephemera, hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings, and dozens of props that once belonged to or were made by renowned magicians.

It was all acquired over the course of forty years. The bulk of it came in chunks from many of magic’s elder statesmen, mostly Canadians, that I befriended in my youth including Stewart James, Sid Lorraine, Ross Bertram, David Drake, Bruce Posgate, Willis Kenney, P. Howard Lyons, Allan Slaight and, most significantly, the family of Dai Vernon, perhaps the most influential magician of the twentieth century.

I have augmented the collection by purchasing items from other collectors, both privately and at auction, and by receiving books and other items from other magicians, mostly friends of mine, scattered around the world.

I try to make use of all of it.

The collection inspires me. I sort it, catalogue it, and study it. It helps me reconstruct the work of the past, and develop new work for the future. It also helps me answer the questions of others.

True collectors are merely custodians. The material must be passed on.

To this end, thousands of pages of personal correspondence have now been placed in the hands of the Conjuring Arts Research Centre in New York for digitization as part of their online, public access holdings, and scores of images and ephemera have been reproduced in various magic journals and online exhibitions.

We hope to continue to do just this.