Mad dealers #1

I stumbled across the Jewish photographer and loveable Georges Glasberg, on his photographic and pre-cinema stand in the Paul Bert market in the marche Cignancourt in the late 70s.

Overnight from being a specialist antique games and dexterity puzzle dealer between Paris and London, I became involved and fascinated in the magical world of pre-cinema.

Optical toys included attractive French tin magic lanterns made by LaPierre or Aubert circa 1895. I scoured the photographic French dealers weekly in the flea markets of Vanves, Montreux, Paul Bert, Jules Vallet and the Foires of La Bastille, Chatou and La Villette. Soon I was known and optical toys, magic lantern glass slides and persistence of vision paper items, such as thaumatropes, were put aside for me probably because I paid more than my French colleagues. This world overlapped into vintage photography, early cinema ( Les freres Lumiere and Georges Melies), cameras, reference books, prints and ceramics showing the image of the magic lantern. I was fascinated and learnt everything from my colleagues who were usually photographers and my clients who had private collections or small private museums. Some, like Bill Douglas, were known film directors or Howard Kazanjian the film producer. I would ask Scottish Bill about his early life and he would answer that I must watch his trilogy!

Georges had a wonderful lined face full of life's experiences, a ruddy complexion and a broken vein nose from probably drinking copious amounts of red wine! I only wish I had taken his portrait. He worked side by side with his mistress Marie-Mad, a suitable name as she was madness itself. I would hang out with them on the stand on Saturdays and Sundays and watch the world go by meeting a few compulsive collectors and listening to intense photographic technique conversations with other photographers.

I recall buying a magic lantern and Marie-Mad had to remove the lens to wrap it separately. She opened a drawer to find some newspaper and then put the rather phallic lens, after carefully wrapping it, into a small very familiar looking plastic bag. A recycled sanitary towel bag of all things!

Soon I got invited for dinner at Georges's Montmartre studio just off the famous Place du Tetre where artists drew caricatures of the ever present tourists.  I knew he had a house in Oppede in the south of France with a wife and children but he lived in harmony with Marie-Mad until she became a radio ham staying up all night talking to truck drivers and the like. Georges grew jealous and irritated when she arranged to meet one of these hams at night! Maybe that was why he decided to leave Paris and his younger mistress because he couldn't keep up with her vitality and her youth! Exciting seductive Paris was far far away from the quiet life that Georges would return to when he finally left Paris and his cozy studio. 

He showed me his black and white landscape photographs, books and exhibition catalogues from his work in the 50s but I was only interested in portraits like the fashion photographer Willy Maywald had shot and hung up on his studio walls in Montparnasse. I would go every Saturday to Willy's Salon and meet photographers and artists until he was rediscovered in the early 80s and became well known again and off to New York to be feted. Fame came at the end of Willy's life. Georges, by contrast was unknown, and  retired to his home and family in the Luberon.

We lost touch. I called him once from Menton hoping Oppede was close by as I had no idea where it was located. We didn't have Google maps in those days. We chatted and laughed about the good old days and then he rang off and exited from my life forever. He died in 2009. He also broke with his best friend, the art dealer Elliot Baruch, who I introduced to my close friend American Carmen Salis Aul who would became his mistress for 25 years and a successful vintage poster dealer, because of me, between Paris and New York. But that's another story. 

I googled George and am pleased to see that his daughter has catalogued his fine work and an exhibition in 2014 was curated. Vive Georges! Vive La belle France!

Written in the Plaza Cavana Hotel, Nerja, Spain during Carnaval on 24/2/17.


Wikipedia - Georges Glasberg co-author with Jean-Paul Clebert
John Barnes obituary - The Guardian 2008.
Wikipedia - Howard Kazanjian
Wikipedia - Ernst Hrabelek - magic lantern collection - Vienna - Prater museum and Vienna airport.
Dick Balzer -
Lester Smith pre-cinema collection London
Google - Georges Glasberg
Wikipedia - Bill Douglas cinema museum
Wikipedia - Willy Maywald