A magical collection

October 15, 2006

For K. Bailey Freund, MD, the magic of science and the science of magic are overlapping and, sometimes, ambiguous. Dr. Freund, a retina specialist with Vitreous-Retina-Macula Consultants of New York, is a magician and a collector of vintage magic props.

Learning the tricks

Dr. Freund began his foray into magic as a youngster, learning sleight of hand tricks with a deck of cards.

His father, too, shares this appreciation for woodworking. He collects Chinese and Japanese woodcarvings and has amassed a very large collection, some of which is now on permanent display at the Spurlock Museum in Champaign, IL.

Dr. Freund is self-taught, learning magic from books and other magicians.

"I would go to Tannen's Magic Shop and meet the people who wrote the books I was using," Dr. Freund said. "It was a hangout for them and I learned a lot there.

"Magic, or sleight of hand specifically, and ophthalmology interest me for similar reasons," Dr. Freund explained. "I have always liked doing things with my hands. And, I love gadgets, gizmos, clever apparatus-including the technology we use as ophthalmologists/surgeons."

Another of Dr. Freund's hobbies is playing acoustic guitar, which also keeps his hands busy.

Tools of the trade

Dr. Freund always admired the elaborate and intricate props used by magicians, and, now that he has the resources, is an enthusiastic collector of these props.

"I was always interested in props and learning how they work," he said. "My pent-up demand for these items exploded about 10 years ago! Now, I collect vintage magic props and current props made by little-known and highly skilled craftsmen."

"The attention to detail is unbelievable," Dr. Freund said.

Some of his favorite items in his collection are micro/mini magic items made of teak, crafted in England by Alan Warner. Each item takes Warner months to complete.

"They are all very special," he said.

Demand for these items is increasing, according to Dr. Freund, making his collection a good investment-or so he has attempted to convince his wife, Nina. She explained that this is an apparently common challenge for collectors of magic!

The performance

While some of the mysterious items in his collection are displayed on his office shelves, patients are unaware of their function.

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