We Remember The Magic Café We Remember
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » For the record » » History of spongeball magic (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Terrible Wizard
View Profile
Inner circle
1785 Posts

Profile of Terrible Wizard
I like to trace the history of tricks that I do. Would like some help writing up an entry for my notebooks on spongeball magic. I posted this in sleight,y and am putting it here too.

What I've got so far (including stuff I got from the magic Café):

Although sea sponges may well have been used as loads in cups and ball routines at least as far back as the 1700s, modern spongeball magic didn't really develop until the invention of foam rubber/polyurethane foam around the early 20th century.

According to Dai Vernon in a Genii article, and according to something Francis Carlye told Pete Biro, the earliest user of sponges for magic was Count Orloff, though I can't find much supporting evidence. If this is the same Count Orloff as Ivannow von Orloff the 'human window pane' and 'ossified and transparent man' who exhibited himself as a medical curiosity and ran a sideshow then this would indeed place sponge magic early, as Orloff died in 1904. However, the Magipeda entry puts spongeball magic firmly in the 1920s, with Jesse Lyberger's 'Phantom Balls' routine being published in the Linking Ring in 1926, and the same year seeing Joe Berg use spongeballs for his cups and balls. According to Daryl, Berg may have become the first dealer in spongeball props in his magic store around that time, although Master Payne found an Rohn Magic advert for 'Mystic Sponge Balls' in a 1925 volume of the Linking Ring. There is also an entry in Tarbell, Volume 1, 1927, that talks about the benefits of sponges and connects them to Ireland (Laurie?).

In what appears to be a case of independent creation, Al Cohn 'The Spongeball King', claimed inventor of spongeballs, started selling his 'Streamlined Spongeball Routine' in New York in 1944. Later, magician and dealer Al Stevenson developed a method for making perfect spheres from polyurethane foam (I don't have a date for this; he died in 1966), a process improved upon, and forever associated with, Albert Goshman (again, I don't have a date for this).

Many names have been associated with spongeball magic: Audley Walsh, Frank Garcia, Frances Ireland Marshall (who wrote 'The Sponge Boom in 1960), and Steve Dacri to name but a few.

In my own routine I use the sawing of the ball in two second production developed by Poi Yung Chong, though I don't have any more details on this. I also use the 'passé passé sponge' sequence developed by Martin Gardner apparently first shown at a SAM convention as early as 1940 - which doesn't fit well with the dates I have above! I have no idea who first did the transposition into the spectators hand effect.


So, that's what I got so far. Can anyone help with more details Smile
Is anyone interested in the results of this survey:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=642502&forum=27
Terrible Wizard
View Profile
Inner circle
1785 Posts

Profile of Terrible Wizard
OK - some more stuff from the Conjuring Credits website:

'Frances Marshall, in The Magic Dealer, c. 1982, states that Jack Strothers invented sponge balls and the sponge rabbits, and that Martin Gardner should be credited with the commercial sponge ball routine that is the foundation of what is practiced today.'

'In March 1925, Carl Brema advertised a set of Cups and Balls using “7 sponge rubber balls”. See The Linking Ring, Vol. 24 No. 1, Mar. 1925 p. 29. The ad states: “I have used this method for over 30 years”.' This is not a spongeball routine though - 'Brema's application was not a Sponge Ball routine, but a forefather'.

'However, Amos C. Rohn's advertisement for the “Mystic Sponge Balls” in The Linking Ring, Dec. 1925, which states: “A new principle in Magic. The newest and best pocket trick out. Four balls in right hand vanish one at a time and appear in left hand. Also done in spectators own hands. It will fool magicians.” When this ad appeared, Martin Gardner was eleven years old.'

'Jesse J. Lybarger contributed “Phantom Balls” to The Linking Ring, 1926, p. 33. His trick also has a ball vanishing from the performer's hand and appearing with another in a spectator's.'

Starting to put this altogether is interesting ... Smile More to follow as I find it. If you know something else please add Smile
Is anyone interested in the results of this survey:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=642502&forum=27
Terrible Wizard
View Profile
Inner circle
1785 Posts

Profile of Terrible Wizard
More from the conjuring credits website, showing how early sponges were used as rabbits:

'In Magic Manuscript, Vol. 8 No. 2, Sept./Oct. 1986, p. 39, Charles Reynolds claims that Carlo (Sommer) invented the idea behind the Multiplying Sponge Rabbits, by marketing a trick in 1930 called “The Gopher Birds”. (See also Magicol, No. 152, Aug. 2004, p. 3.) Bob Nelson is commonly credited with the later multiplying sponge-rabbit variation, which he marketed c. June 1941 as "Peter Rabbit Goes to Town", showing himself as the creator. Coincidentally, in early 1942 Jack Strothers moved from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio, to work for Nelson.'

A possible timeline might be, then:

1700s - sea sponges used in C&B
c1900 - Count Orloff uses sponges in magic (???)

1925 - Rohn Magic advert for 'Mystic Sponge Balls'in Linking Ring - first mention of ball to spectators hand effect

1925 - Carl Brema advertised a set of Cups and Balls using “7 sponge rubber balls”. See The Linking Ring, (he developed it 30 years earlier)

1925/6 - Jesse Lyberger's 'Phantom Balls' routine being published in the Linking Ring in 1926 (he supposedly invented it 1925)- also includes ball to spectators hand

1926 - Joe Berg use spongeballs for his cups and balls. According to Daryl, Berg may have become the first dealer in spongeball props in his magic store around that time

1927 - Tarbell, Volume 1, 1927, that talks about the benefits of sponges and connects them to Ireland (Laurie?).

1930 - The Gopher Birds by Carlo (Sommer)as forerunner to multiplying rabbits

1940 - Gardner passé passé routine at SAM convention

1941 - "Peter Rabbit Goes to Town" - multiplying rabbit sponges origin - by Bob Nelson

1944 - Al Cohn 'The Spongeball King', claimed inventor of spongeballs, started selling his 'Streamlined Spongeball Routine' in New York in 1944

19?? - Al Stevenson developed a method for making perfect spheres from polyurethane foam

19?? - Spngeball making process improved by Goshman

It seems there is a separate and earlier strand of development for sponges in C&Bs (early as 1700s) to the development of actual spongeball magic (1920s).
Is anyone interested in the results of this survey:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=642502&forum=27
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » For the record » » History of spongeball magic (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2017 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.16 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL