© The Collection of Crispin Mindebender by S.B. Sims
The Age of Invention with its seminal discoveries was in full bloom in the 19th century and its conjurers enjoyed a renaissance of magical achievement, fame and wealth. The "scientist", a title coined by William Whewell in 1833, was the New Conjurer. Magic effects based on technologies that had never before been seen created reputations and fortunes for magicians such as Professors Liebholz, Seeman, and St. Roman. This was also a time of spiritual and mystical discovery. Like other "sciences" of the day such as phrenology and mesmerism, Spiritualism made the attempt to reconcile spirit with matter and religion with science. It was in this fertile (and rather unstable) environment that a particularly enterprising and self-serving madman, for there is no other appropriate and proper term for this individual, took it upon himself to obtain and eventually create objects that did indeed manifest extraordinary powers. The unfortunate actions of this individual are arguably the cause of many misfortunes and disasters still unanswerable to this day.

Phineas Meek was a conjurer who arrived in Europe from Canada around 1845 and frequented the magic circles of Great Britain, Austria and Germany. Strangely absent from the usual trappings of an illusionist of his day were the devices and apparatus associated with his craft. He did however travel with a small satchel which, except for performances, never left his side. Also conspicuously absent was the entourage normally associated with magicians of his caliber. He had but one assistant who travelled with him whom he introduced as Indian mystic Hadji Twilight, though he was by all accounts a native Canadian Haida shaman and not Hindi or true Indian at all. His part was to guard the satchel while Meek was performing.

Unique to Phineas' performances was his extensive and almost exclusive use of wands. When he wasn't openly using one he had up to several secreted on his person. Phineas Meeks' wands were of unusual design. There was a primitive elegance about them, crude in some instances and described by eyewitnesses as completely disturbing. They were ostensibly credited, and accepted as being, the source of his amazing abilities. It was the concept of hiding openly so to speak.

Along with the usual magical fare of his day, Phineas would select a group of people from the audience to accompany him to a modest backstage pavilion furnished as a sitting room where, on one noted occasion, he severed the head of a dove which would "miraculously" recover via a flick of his wand.
In the summer of 1851, while performing in London, Hadji received a telegram and requested leave to return to Canada to attend to his ailing father. Meek refused and an argument ensued. Later that evening Hadji left, taking the wands with him - hoping to sell them to some interested parties as a way to finance his journey home. Meek became enraged when he discovered his loss and canceled all engagements before obtaining passage aboard a steamer sailing for New York. Phineas Meek never arrived in New York and at the time foul play was suspected. Hadji sold several of the wands to a London-based conjurer before boarding a ship to . . . New York. Whether or not it was the same ship Meek was on is only conjecture, but it could explain Phineas' disappearance.

While in New York Hadji Twilight sold a wand to a very impressed Carl Hermann. External sources confirm that Hermann collected an additional 13 wands, which he reluctantly sold during a financial crisis he experienced in 1873. Some of these ended up in private collections in Texas and California by the 1920's. The wands Hadji sold in London were to a magician who went by the pseudonym Crispin Mindebender. Mindebender, like Hermann, had little need for contrivances and apparatus in his performances owing to his "fingers of steel" and Svengali-like influence.

One evening Crispin attempted to use one of the wands to vanish a dove perched on his hand - something he had tried only once in private and had succeeded in achieving. On stage however, the attempt resulted in the instantaneous combustion of the dove and the obliteration of three fingers on his left hand. The resulting carnage lost him his engagement as well. Realizing what he had in his possession, he set out to acquire the entire Meek collection, if for no other reason than to stop the wands from ever being used again..

I'm happy, no, not happy but obliged to announce that the Collection of Crispin Mindebender has been rediscovered and is being offered for sale at this time to recover the expenses incurred after the attic they were stored in collapsed, destroying the owner of the home, a Mr. Edwin P. Meek of Carlsbad. The surname is not a coincidence.

As a close relative of the Meeks (this at least is absolutely true), it has come to me to divulge this history of the wands and serve as their administrator. The entire collection will be sold, as well as any subsequent acquisitions, should they exist.
The diary includes a paragraph indicating that in July, 1868 Mindebender was approached by a man carrying a leather bag offering to purchase any and all magical items, including any wands he may have in his possession, as he was an avid collector and would pay a premium for any truly unusual items. Crispin declined the offer and, fearing for his safety, sailed the next day for America.

With sincere regards,

S.B. Sims