[J. B. Findlay, Scottish authority on conjuring.] Seven Typed Letters Signed (all ‘Jimmy’) to ‘Barry’ [theatre historian and dealer Barry Duncan], with two letters from his widow Elsie, and three related items.

Author: 
J. B. Findlay [Jimmy Findlay; James Black Findlay] (1904-1973), Scottish author and authority on conjuring, who amassed a notable magic collection [Barry Duncan (1909-1985), London theatre historian]
Publication details: 
Findlay’s seven letters from between 1962 and 1973; some on letterheads of the Findlays' Firbank Private Hotel, Shanklin, Isle of Wight. His widow’s two letters sent from same place immediately after his death in 1973.
£150.00
SKU: 23891

A correspondence between two individuals with shared interests and points of reference. The twelve items are in good condition, with light signs of age. Findlay’s seven TLsS amount to 9pp, of which two are in 4to; four in 8vo; and three in 12mo. The correspondence begins with Duncan about to begin a stay at the Findlay’s hotel; later topics include; the purchase of inscribed copies of a book by Duncan; staff troubles at the hotel; a forthcoming magic convention; a visit to Duncan at Southampton with his associate Allan Jamisson; Duncan’s work on his autobiography. A letter of 21 February 1973 is typed on the back of a duplicated flier for his ‘International Guide to Magic Posters and Playbills’, and in it he declares ‘I am f[a]tally engrossed still in the collecting mania’, before claiming that new book ‘at least I have recorded something hitherto n[o]t done in this particular sphere’. Findlay’s widow’s two letters (totalling 5pp, 12mo) are both in autograph: the first is signed ‘Elsie M. Findlay’ and the second ‘Elsie’. In the first, 29 September 1973, she discusses the manner of her husband’s sudden death: ‘It was the end of a very brave man. / I am cataloguing his library; he had dictated all the relevant details so it will be in print probably next year. [...] On the Friday before he went into the Middlesex he had a couple here who were very interested in Anderson. She was writing a book as she thought he was one of her ancestors. Whilst he was looking at a book in the Library she took a snap of him. It is going to be the frontis. to the Catalogue.’ In the second letter, 10 October 1973, she explains that she is ‘working on the Catalogue but like the Hoffmann book which is being published by The Magic Circle, there is not much likelihood of it being printed before the beginning of next year. [...] Jimmy left the Library to David [the Findlays' son Dr. David W. Findlay] and David intends keeping it intact, anyway for the time being, and I’m to be “Curator”.’ The other three items are two printed Christmas cards from the Findlays, one with illustration of ‘Vauxhall Gardens c. 1840’, and an unsigned carbon of Duncan’s letter of condolence replying to the first of Mrs Findlay’s letters, in which he writes: ‘So many people all over the world will miss him personally as well as sans his correspondence and literary efforts.’ He asks to be informed if the library is for sale, though he ceased business on leaving London, is not in touch with anyone, and is only in Southampton temporarily. The Findlay collection of magic books, was dispersed at public auction in 1979 and 1980.