Blue Book of Magic 2005 by Ron Cortlidge
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii March, 2006)
The Blue Book of Magic begins with a question "Why a price guide to magic?" which the author, Ron Cartlidge, then answers with another: "Why not?" But he then adds a succinct and effect explanation, to wit: "Antiques, sport cards, and comics have price guides and so should magic.". He then goes on to thank Michael Canick, whose A Price Guide to Magic Books 1639-1990 was published in 1997 (reviewed in June 1997 Genii) for inspiration in the project at hand, with the point perhaps being made implicitly that the second most important thing about a price guide second, that is, to accuracy is keeping it current.
That's just what Mr. Cartlidge is apparently trying to do, since this is the second edition, and you can already pre-order the 2006 version, which he intends to offer "after the Collectors' Meeting in 2006." He admits that his debut effort "was a 'hit and miss' project and there were as many misses as there were hits." But rocky starts can give way to solid voyages, and this second trip appears, at least on the face of it, to have avoided some of the pitfalls of its predecessor. The book is usefully bro-ken down into 52 categories, up from 32 in the previous edition, so whatever you're looking for will quickly be found (or found to not be present, as the case may be). Whereas three internet auction sites were used as sources in the 2004 edition namely eBay, Martinka's, and MagicAuction.com additional listings have now been drawn Swann, T.W. Conroy, Lone Star Magic Auction, and the Great Houdini Auction. (In the latter case, there is a complete record of sales that can be matched by lot number to the auction catalog.) The author notes some trends in the marketplace, with some items rising in price while others have fallen. He also provides "tips for buying and selling on the inter-net," which serves to point out that this book is a must for those selling magic collectibles on the internet, as well as for buyers and collectors. He also points out that "in some cases, some of the more popular items are list-ed more than once," which will often serve to provide a more accurate valuation than will single sales, which can be notoriously out of whack in the post-eBay world. All in all, with only 150 copies having been produced, the asking price seems meager for this unarguably valuable tool. If you order the 2006 edition in advance, shipping is free. Keep in mind that you won't see the same items repeated year to year; only what was sold in that year, so it makes sense to get your hands on the 2005 version even if you're preordering this year's.