Published April 23, 2019
One cold morning on December 14, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, a young man called me about finding an original, autographed copy of Olney H. Richmond's 1892 book, "Temple Lectures of the Order of the Magi". As you can imagine, I was thrilled to hear about this valuable find and the possibility to acquire a rare book signed by the Father of Cardology and Grand Master of the Order of the Magi himself. My excitement grew as I thought about being able to add this "collector's item" to the International Association of Cardology's expanding library and collection of cardological artifacts and Cardology books and materials.
[If you are not familiar with "Temple Lectures", it contains a collection of metaphysical/occult lectures delivered by Olney Richmond, a Three of Diamonds (3♦), on the history, philosophy, and practices of the Order of the Magi. It offers us a glimpse into this fascinating man through his biographical articles. It's a mind-expanding read for all students of Cardology, the mystical science of playing cards.]
As the conversation ensued, the man explained that he was a housing contractor in Indiana and that he had recently found "Temple Lectures" sealed inside an interior wall of a house that was built in 1907. He was tearing the walls of this old house down to the studs for renovation when he found not only the deteriorating book carefully hidden inside the wall, but also a baby's christening gown and a copy of an old newspaper published in 1909.
Here are some photos [see below] he sent me that morning--dirty hands and all. Since I am not an expert in ancient or rare books and didn't have any real knowledge about the publication of Richmond's "Temple Lectures", I decided to consult with Iain McLaren-Owens, IAC Founding Member and the association's official Historian/Archivist. What would this rare find really be worth?, I wondered as the young Indiana housing contractor was now asking me for $895 for the book.
Iain was also intrigued by this unexpected find and asked to see all the photographs. He said he would get back with me soon. While I was waiting for his reply, I asked the contractor for his birthday and discovered that his card is a Six of Diamonds (6♦). Of course!, I laughed to myself. His card sits in the Jupiter/Mercury position in Richmond's Grand Solar Spread. He was ready to cash in (Jupiter) on his literary find (Mercury). You know, friends, there are things in life you just can't make up!
While I continued to wait to hear from Iain, the Six of Diamonds (6♦) contractor also told me that he had a degree in Theology and really wanted to find a good home for the book where it would be appreciated and valued for its contents. He said he had already made a few calls to some publishers and libraries and had one interested party in London, England, who was willing to pay him $1000.
All of this sounded quite exciting but the bottom line was neither the association nor myself was in a financial position in the middle of December to pay that much for the book. He said that he really wanted the association to have it and would accept $500. While he seemed genuine in his offer and I was tempted to somehow find the requested amount, I knew I had to wait to hear back from Iain, whose card, thank goodness, is a King of Diamonds (K♦). Again, I really had no idea what this book was now worth but I did know that I was dealing with a clever contractor who was very gifted at selling, and up-selling too, when he said he would also include the christening gown and 1909 newspaper in his deal.
While I continued to wait to hear back from Iain, I told the contractor of all the good deeds that the International Association of Cardology (IAC) was doing but that we just didn't have a budget for large purchases. Being a Queen of Diamonds (Q♦), I tried to convince him to donate his find to the association and that we would happily pay for postage and give him credit for this incredible discovery. He said he would get back with me later in the day when he got off work.
In the meantime, Iain wrote back to me after reviewing the pictures with his findings. "That's likely to be 1st 1892 or 2nd 1893 from the looks of the Table of Contents - BUT sorry to say that's not a signed copy - that photo and Fraternally Yours with signature is printed in all of them, but if there's a signature elsewhere then that would be real. In that condition, it's not worth more than a few bucks, maybe $25 at most just because of age and rarity."
Later that evening I shared Iain's assessment with the contractor. His reply was amusing, indeed. Despite his heart's desire for the IAC to have Richmond's book, he still wanted $500. I told him that I really appreciated him contacting me but I had to pass on his offer. I explained again that we just weren't in a position to pay out that much for a book, especially one that Iain said was only worth $25.
Even though the book wasn't in pristine condition or what any of us had hoped it would be, I still wanted the conversation with him to continue. I wanted to learn more about this house in Indiana and its previous owners. I wanted the story behind the person who so cherished Olney Richmond's book so much as to hide it in a wall, under wallpaper and plaster, safely hidden from any prying eyes or potential household thieves. I wanted to know if they had met Richmond, attended his lectures, or were possibly in the Order of the Magi themselves.
I asked the young man for the street address of the house and for any additional information or photographs that he could provide. I guess at this point, with no hopes of collecting any money from me or the association, he ended the dialog. I wished him the best and hoped that the book would, indeed, find a nice new home, preferably not hidden in a wall. A home, possibly in a museum or library archive, where it would, in fact, be truly valued for what it is.
Unfortunately, this contractor's "find" wasn't really an original, autographed copy of Olney H. Richmond's, "Temple Lectures" but it definitely made for an exciting day, lessons learned about the value of rare Cardology books, characteristics of Diamonds♦ people, and certainly made for a fascinating story!
Fortunately, for you, me and everyone else in the world, Richmond’s, "Temple Lectures" is now available in its entirety online for free at:
Gina E. Jones is the Founder of The Cards of Life and the International Association of Cardology.
Gina's website is: www.TheCardsofLife.com
[DISCLAIMER: Any explanation, information, opinion, terminology, theory, and/or any cardological method or reference included in this article are not necessarily approved of or endorsed by the International Association of Cardology. This article's publication on the IAC website is purely for informational purposes only.]
Apps | Books | DVDs | eBooks | Materials | MP3s | Videos about Cardology are listed in its directory.