The supplement this month is, as promised, the bookplate supplement. The 18 examples enclosed include all sizes and shapes, and I would like to thank publicly all those subscribers who helped with this effort. There are several interesting bookplates here. Milt Kort's was designed by Steranko. Wilford Hutchinson designed his own, and in the background can be seen several famous London landmarks. The most interesting, to me, tho', is Rex Conklin's. He writes: "Enclosed is one of my bookplates, which has been made from an original Bewick (pronounced Buick) woodcut. Bewick was born in the latter part of the 18th Century and was noted for his exceptional woodcuts. He was the first person to completely illustrate Aesop's Fables, and this was done in Vol. 2 which was published in 1820. I happen to own one of the exceedingly rare copies of this book. The woodcut on my bookplate was, to the the best of my knowledge, executed very early in the 1820's prior to the series he did for the Fables book. It depicts a 13th Century magician with his bag of tricks loaded on his back and the Devil hanging on behind accompanying him on his journey to the next village."
That time of the year has rolled around again, with the new year just around the corner, and we wish to extend to all our subscribers and friends our very best wishes for a "VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR". We can't close for the year without one final thought. When you start making resolutions, don't forget that you get out of your hobby only what you put into it. Resolve to support Magicol and the Magic Collector's Association, and the other magazines that need your support. Magic collecting can be rewarding and fun, but not if everyone sits back and waits for someone else to do the work. So, let's have that article you've been meaning to write, but just haven't gotten around to doing. Joyous Noel to all......
F. O. S. PORTRAIT GALLERY
A popular illustrated comic journal of the Victorian era was called ALLY SLOPER'S HALF HOLIDAY. It was published on the 3rd of May 1884 from 99 Shoe Lane, Fleet Street London, E.C. by a certain Mr. Gilbert Dalziel who was both proprietor and editor. It appeared regularly every saturday. The prototype of the absurd Ally Soper was said to have been a clerk in one of the offices of our Customs. This particular gentleman. a frequenter of the once famous Horns Assembly Rooms in Kennington had the head and nose of Ally, the latter feature probably being accounted for by his liking for the grape when it was red.
I give the foregoing exordium to guide a brother enthusiast who may have the urge to make a collection similar to that which forms the subject matter of this article.
Featured regularly in the journal were little cartoons of celebrities of the day, all embellished with amusing and often highly imaginative paragraphs about the lives and activities of those featured. The favoured gentry were awarded the SLOPER AWARD OF MERIT and created F.O.S. viz: Friend of Sloper.
My own collection with thirty- four of these charming trifles is, alas! incomplete, to what extent I really do not know; I wish that I did. W. Bridport and Prof. Alberto are two that I know have so far eluded my search; there are doubtless others.
It will be noted that my old friend Louis Nikola had the honour of being twice created F. O. S., once as Walter J. Obree-Smith (his birth name) and a little later as Louis Nikola, his professional name. In both of these, the cartoon and text are alike, the names in text being, of course, altered.
Although the reproduction of the cartoon of Charles Morritt which accompanies this article gives the actual size of the original, the others though the same in width, vary in length between four inches and six and three-quarters inches .
THE PIDDINGTONS - MORE FOR THE POINT-MANIAC
by Dr. Edwin A. Dawes
In 1950 appeared Russell Braddon's biography of the two young telepathists who, in the summer and autumn of 1949, had taken Britain by storm as a result of a series of broadcasts on the B. B. C. This comparatively recent book, "The Piddingtons", which for several years was remaindered by British booksellers, can provide the magical point-maniac with some interesting material. I have noted the following variants, but the list may not be exhaustive:
1. Bound in red cloth, has the error Robert Searle for Ronald Searle on the title page and, verso, "Copyright 1950". (The dust wrapper does not have the error.)
2. Bound in green cloth, has the error corrected and reads Ronald Searle on the title and, verso, "First published March, 1950 / Second Impression March. 1950".
3. Green cloth, as 2, but "Third impression March. 1950".
It will be recalled that this book contains a libellous statement concerning Mr. Francis White who, at that time, was Secretary of the Magic Circle. In some later copies of the book a printed slip (3 in. by 1 in.) was inserted which bore the statement:
and this was also the subject of a press statement by the publishers (referred to in the editorial of Abra 219, April 8th, 1950).
It seems likely that the second impression was put out to rectify the mistake of Searle's first name, but whether the red binding is an infallible guide to the original issue is uncertain. Did the third impression mark the insertion of the printed slips of apology? The answers to these and other queries concerning the numbers of each impression run off are likely to prove difficult, for T. Werner Laurie, the publishers, have been taken over by The Bodley Head Ltd. and apparently the records for "The Piddingtons" were not available when the take-over occurred .
Three impressions within one month for a book of this sort is rather remarkable and one might speculate whether advantage was taken in the binding of different batches of the original printing to re-run the title page sheet with the modifications incorporated. On the other hand, the undoubted popularity of the Piddingtons might well have accounted for three printings. One final point, my copy of variant 1 is signed on the title page by the Piddingtons, Searle and Braddon, but Searle has not bothered to amend the printed error of his name - or perhaps he never even noticed: (N.B. something of the controversy engendered by the Piddingtons may be recalled by consulting Abra 184 to 189 inclusive; the book was reviewed by Goodliffe in Abra 215.)
THE MAGAZINE COLLECTOR
by Robert Lund
It was the greatest collection of its kind at the time. You have to take my word for it, because I am not going to use the man's name.
He collected magazines, nothing else. He worked at it a long time and spent a lot of money on it. It was his life. He cheated himself of sleep to make time to carry on a vast correspondence . But the nights were not long enough, so he devised small economies to stretch the minutes, like typing his letters in solid uppercase to save the shadow of a second it takes to shift the keyboard from caps to lowercase. He was not wealthy and it took every penny he could spare to feed the hydra that taunted him. "It's an obsession:" he sighed in the sad way of a man confessing an addiction to narcotics.
He said he had more than 22,000 magazines, not counting duplicates. I do not think he exaggerated. "But there are hundreds I do not have," and he produced a mimeographed list of those he wanted to acquire.
It was the obvious question: what are the greatest rarities among magic magazines? He thought a few minutes, consulted a card file, and typed this list: "Magazine of Magic and Conjurors Companion" (London, 1840), "The Magic and Conjuring Magazine and Wonderful Chronicle" (1795), "Magicky Ktub V Praze" (Poland}, "New Conjurer's Museum and Magical Magazine" (London, 1802-03), "The Magician" (Cerro Gorde, Illinois) and "Sequachi Italiani Arte Magica".
"I have none of these," he commented, "But I suppose there are others equally as scarce."
He disposed of the collection after a few years and the story was put out that he quit because he had jeopardized his health. The truth is his wife forced him to give it up. His decision is to be admired, because a good wife is worth more than all the magazines in the world. Even so, I find it difficult to speak kindly of the woman.
The only imperishable collection, impervious to the whims of wives, fire, theft, careless hands, the ravages of time and sundry misfortune, is the one a man hoards in his mind. The memories fade, and some become better than they really were. But what's left is unique and belongs to you alone and nobody can take it away.