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Topic: Benson Bowl Resources
Message: Posted by: Corbett (Feb 14, 2008 07:48AM)
Looking for good resources, DVDs, manuscripts, etc.. on teaching and routining of the Benson Bowl routine. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Feb 14, 2008 09:09AM)
Classic Secrets of Magic by Bruce Elliott
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Feb 14, 2008 09:20AM)
The book, "Roy Benson by Starlight" has some great information on this effect.
Also, I believe L&L have a DVD on Benson Bowl as part of their WGM series.

Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Feb 14, 2008 09:45AM)
As mentioned above Bruce Elliott's "Classic Secrets of Magic" is one of the first resources to check out. It was the first easily found publication that described the routine and is true to Benson's routine. Amazon has a couple of copies:

The wonderful, complete, and huge book "Benson by Starlight" has it outlined move for move as Roy Benson performed it. It can be found at:

Pat Page's "Sponge Ball" magic DVD has a nice version with the Pat Page twist.

The WGM sponge ball DVD has the Johnny Thompson version of the Benson Bowl:

Or buy the whole Johnny Thompson DVD and get the Benson Bowl routine plus several more great routines:

John Mendoza has a nice version on volume 2 of his DVD set:

Steve Dacri has his take on the routine on volume 3 of his DVD:

There are at least a half a dozen more resources especially on video/DVD but that is what I have in my collection and more than enough to get you started
Message: Posted by: rannie (Feb 14, 2008 10:28AM)
Roberto Giobbi has a take on this as well. Oh I do remember having a booklet that came with my Tenyo sponge Tomatoes.

Message: Posted by: pabloinus (Feb 14, 2008 10:36AM)
I bought this ebook on benson bowl and while is only one routine, it is fine for me, maybe you could used it as well (and is not expensive)

Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Feb 14, 2008 11:10AM)
IMHO the best is the Johnny Thompson way as the finish has the best misdirection.

However you could buy my manuscript on the Rezvani Tomato Trick too and I even have some great antique bowls around I would let go cheap.
Message: Posted by: matt kemp (Feb 14, 2008 11:30AM)
Pete, how much are those bowls?
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Feb 14, 2008 11:34AM)
Of course the one that I left out (because I wanted to keep it for me - it's all about me isn't it! LOL!!!) is "The World-Famous Bowl Routine (a practical, powerful, and entertaining routine for the bill in lemon)" by Lance Pierce.

Don't let the bill in lemon bit in the title throw you. It is a very, very good Benson Bowl routine with a bill in lemon kicker (which may be left out leaving just the very good Benson Bowl routine).

Message: Posted by: sethb (Feb 14, 2008 11:54AM)
The website for Magic, Inc. says that it has brand-new hardcover copies of Bruce Elliot's "Classic Secrets of Magic" available for $20 each, click [url=http://shop.magicinc.net/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1943]HERE[/url] for more info. SETH
Message: Posted by: Corbett (Feb 14, 2008 12:04PM)
Harry, thanks for your exhaustive list of resources, and thanks everyone else for the referrals. I do have the trickshop.com manuscript, but am looking for something more exhaustive, and with some video instruction, though I know the routine at it's core is quite simplistic.

Any recommendations for where to find a nice quality magic wand for this routine and/or cups and balls?
Message: Posted by: pabloinus (Feb 14, 2008 12:22PM)
There are some benson bowl routines in youtube, one is from Werner and it is very nice, take a look
Message: Posted by: Donal Chayce (Feb 14, 2008 07:05PM)
Harry nailed it with both of his posts.
Message: Posted by: Richard Evans (Feb 17, 2008 05:35PM)
I have a list of bowl routines, some of which have been mentioned above. All are worth digging out:

[*]Anderson, George B. The Sponge Balls, in: Magic Digest. DBI Books Inc: Northfield, Illinois, 1972. p. 39-41
[*]Ben, David. A Tribute to Ross Bertram:The Benson Bowl Revisited, in: Genii, March 2003. Vol. 66; No. 3: p. 56-57
[*]Benson, Roy. It's Magic, in: Phoenix, 30th July 1948. Vol. ; No. 156: p. 627
[*]Biro, Pete. The Tomato Trick. Pete Biro: , ca 2000
[*]Cannon, P.H. Lessons in Magic, in: The Sphinx, Nov 1921. Vol. 20; No. 9: p. 310.
[*]Caveney, Mike. The Benson Plunger, in: Magicomedy: Pasadena, 1981. p. 45.
[*]Ganson, Lewis. Magic From the International Congress, Amsterdam - Part One, in: The Gen, October 1955. Vol. 11; No. 6: p. 175-178.
[*]Ganson, Lewis. Chinese Chow - Fred Kaps, in: The Art of Close-Up Magic: Volume 1. L&L Publishing: Tahoma, CA, 1996. p. 354-360.
[*]Kaps, Fred. Chinese Bowl and Chopstick Move, in: It's So Simple: London, 1986. p. 21 f.
[*]Levent and Karr, Todd. Benson by Starlight, 2006
[*]Marcom, Ralph A. Marcom Presents Magic
[*]Marcom, Ralph A. Keeping Abreast, in: Marcom Presents Magic. Magic Inc: Chicago, IL, 1979. p. 54-58
[*]Martin, Harold. Don Alan Bowl Routine, in: The Linking Ring, November 1964. Vol. 44; No. 11: p. 80
[*]Mendoza, John. The Bowl Routine, in: The John F Mendoza Lecture, nd. p. 12 ff.
[*]Nemoto, Takshi. Tokyo Trickery, . Magic Inc: Chicago, IL, 1967.
[*]Page, Patrick and Goshman, Albert. A.G. Bowl Routine, in: Magic by Gosh. Albert Goshman, 1985. p. 123-128.
[*]Pierce, Lance. Award Winning Magic of John Cornelius. L&L Publishing: , 2002.
[*]Racherbaumer, Jon. Benson Bowl (Over), in: In a Class by Himself: The Legacy of Don Alan. L and L Publishing: Tahoma, CA, 2000. p. 43.
[*]Sardina. The Tomato Trick, in: The Magic of Rezvani. Saint Raphael House: San Rafael, California, 1949. p. 47-59
[*]Thompson, John. Benson's Bowl, in: Polished Polish Prestidigitation. Busby-Corin Inc.: San Francisco, CA, 1981. p. 7.
[*]Thompson Jr, JG. Cups and Balls, in: Top Secrets of Magic. Tannen Magic Inc: New York, 1956. p. 93-103.
[*]Tiong, Phoa Yan. Rice Bowl and Balls, in: The Gen, Sept 1958. Vol. 14; No. 5: p. 133-137
[*]Tiong, Phoa Yan. Rice Bowl and Balls, in: The Art of Close-Up Magic: Volume 1, Ganson, Lewis (Editor). L&L Publishing: Tahoma, CA, 1996. p. 360-368
[*]Willmarth. Trevor's Benson Bowl Routine, in: Trevor Lewis - ESOLC (That's Close Up). Standridge Magic: Mesquite, Texas, 1981. p. 51-53.

Worth noting that although Mike Caveney published the plunger version, he was not the originator: others were doing it before him - including Pete Biro.

Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Feb 17, 2008 11:44PM)
Kaps had a bowl-type routine using a folding rubber camera lens shade. It would literally fold flat and he could carry it in his pocket.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Feb 18, 2008 12:15AM)
Wands are fairly plentiful. If you want a "serious" wand, check out the wands page of the cups and balls museum. There are over 100 wands on display with hot links, etc.
Message: Posted by: Danny Borneo (Feb 19, 2008 09:02AM)
From what I've heard "Benson by Starlight" is the only source for the accurate routine.
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Feb 19, 2008 09:39AM)
It was first published, for general use, in Bruce Elliott's "Classic Secrets of Magic" and is complete and includes a couple of Don Allen touches. Yes I know it was published prior (1948-ish) in the the "Phoenix" and in the same year in a SAM assembly newsletter. Still it was the Elliott book that gave its push into magic popularity.

What you get in Levent and Todd Karr's brilliant book "Roy Benson by Starlight" that you don’t get in the Elliott book is his later routine, with the comedy beginning fully developed, and his later ending (after he did away with the final load). Actually it is the most complete version of his later/final work on the routine (admittedly he used both endings depending on the venue, situation, and his mood).

You get the entire nuance, all the acting sub-text, all the “whys and wherefore’s” and several different endings. You also get two different routines and why Benson chose one (the later) over the other (two ball versus three ball routine). Finally, you get a complete discussion of the various props (and why), how to put it together impromptu, etc. In sum you get the bare bones (but a workable bare bones) in Elliott, and you get meat and potatoes in the Levant/Karr book. To me it was worth the price of admission!

It is a great study of a master. Read the version in the Elliott book then read the version in the Benson book and you’ll see the evolution of the trick as Benson performed it.

The basic trick/routine is not technically difficult (say compared to learning an invisible pass). However there are touches that if not done tend to telegraph the "workings" to the audience.
Message: Posted by: Danny Borneo (Feb 19, 2008 08:24PM)
Thanks for shedding some light on that Harry
Message: Posted by: Hansel (Apr 20, 2008 11:59AM)
Steve Dacri have a Great Routine in "No Filler" dvd series,
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Apr 20, 2008 01:03PM)
I am on the road -- will be home next week will sort out some great bowls and info and get back online with prices, etc. Will post photos on my blog.
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Apr 20, 2008 01:29PM)
I was at an estate sale from someone who’d passed away, and picked up three bowls I think are pretty much ideal for the Bowl Routine.

I’m going to keep one for myself, Bill Palmer got one, so I’d have one left I could possibly sell to someone truly interested in working with this effect.

They are fairly hefty and well weighted solid brass India bowls,
and they are nicely footed on the bottom,
the bowl is fairly deep, for a good final load.

The bowls are on the small side, about four-inches in diameter,
they polish up nicely, but are fairy old so have a tiny bit of discoloration here-and-there which added to their antique look for me.

They are not perfectly round but very slightly octagonal in design, and have hand etching of leaves etc on the outside.

No I don’t have a digital camera so I don’t have photos,
I’m not going into business here, just thought they might be right for someone looking into a great bowl for a good close-up presentation.

I have used some half-dozen different bowls over the years, and I think these may be my bowl of choice here on out.

PM me if you have questions, thanks.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 20, 2008 01:40PM)
That is an excellent bowl, Walt.

I have one of the old Magic, Inc. bowls that was sold with the Don Alan bowl routine. It was really too light, but it was functional.
Message: Posted by: Experimentalist (May 1, 2008 11:14AM)
What are the ideal dimensions of a bowl for this routine?
Message: Posted by: DStachowiak (May 1, 2008 11:51AM)
On 2008-02-14 10:45, Harry Murphy wrote:
As mentioned above Bruce Elliott's "Classic Secrets of Magic" is one of the first resources to check out. It was the first easily found publication that described the routine and is true to Benson's routine. Amazon has a couple of copies:


The section on Benson's Bowl in Classic Secrets is basically a reprint of the write-up originally published in "The Phoenix" (Edited by Elliott).
If you can't find a copy of Classic Secrets of Magic, the entire "Phoenix" is available on PDF from Houdini Magic for an EXTREMELY attractive price. I think I paid $15 a few years ago.
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (May 1, 2008 02:25PM)
The size of the bowl is mostly dependent upon
the size of the balls you choose to use,
three should fit into the lip of the bowl without sticking,
your final load size choice also should fit easily but snugly.
I think a smaller bowl is more deceptive and elegant than a huge one.
See the dimensions for the one I currently use above with about 2" balls.

Message: Posted by: Experimentalist (May 1, 2008 06:00PM)
Thanks Walt,

It seems that a japanese rice bowl should work.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (May 1, 2008 06:11PM)
Try a small musical tambourine... great to leave out for tips!
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (May 1, 2008 06:19PM)
Target has some espcially nice black japanese rice bowls, I bought several to do the Rice Bowls and Benson routine. Couldn't beat the quality and price either, they run about 6.99 for each ceramic bowl. I like shopping Target a lot of the times they have out of the ordianry items compared to Wal-Mart or other similiar stores.


PS. Pete great idea as usual, the tambourine, great concept.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (May 1, 2008 10:22PM)
Not only is it fun to use, but you can load a fist full of dollar coins onto a glass table top and the tambourine's natureal sound covers the coin noise. heheheh.
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (May 2, 2008 10:56AM)

What are you doing buying your props at Target?
There's this great shop called Rings 'N Things II that make the perfect bowls for Benson and Rice, you should check them out sometime.

Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (May 2, 2008 11:48AM)
And Jake gets a price break :spinningcoin: :cups: :spinningcoin:
Message: Posted by: Donal Chayce (May 2, 2008 02:28PM)
On 2008-05-02 11:56, SpellbinderEntertainment wrote:

What are you doing buying your props at Target?
There's this great shop called Rings 'N Things II that make the perfect bowls for Benson and Rice, you should check them out sometime.


I'll second that--RnT II makes the perfect Benson bowl.
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (May 2, 2008 03:33PM)
There is just something about matte black cermaic in the shape of a Japanese rice bowl that I like. Some stuff at Target just scream prop "Possibility", not like the average stuff at the other stores. They had a clearance shelf and one time I was able to by a 3 door cabinet that I was able to use for a checker cabinet after some modifications. It was 18.99, I couldn't build one for that :lol:

Thanks for the kind words about our Benson bowl, but sometimes there are household props out there at Target that have great potential. Target usually has a great selection of stainless items too that don't look like bathroom or average kitchen accessories.

Message: Posted by: James Kernen (May 2, 2008 10:23PM)
My favorite Benson Bowl is RNT2's silver lined rosewood bowl, followed by their antique bronzed bowl.... The silver/rosewood bowl is a little shallower but it is real classy looking..

Message: Posted by: Experimentalist (May 3, 2008 01:49AM)
I like the tamborine idea, especially since I'm also a percussionist. I think a very small drum would work better however. Tamborines have little openings in the side.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (May 4, 2008 12:32PM)
The point of the tambourine is the NOISE they make... covers a noisy load on a hard surface... like a stack of silver dollars on a glasw table. Pat Page did this and fooled a lot of magicians with it. The concept of a noisy bowl to cover a noisy load is mine.
Message: Posted by: tdowell (May 4, 2008 02:55PM)
I like RNT II's cocobolo wood benson with wand. Its a little smaller and easier to work with. http://www.rnt2.com/product.aspx?productno=448
Message: Posted by: Experimentalist (May 5, 2008 09:06PM)
I'd use a handfull of jingle bells as a final load. Thematically consistent.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (May 6, 2008 11:28AM)
Sound good to me.
Message: Posted by: billappleton (Oct 23, 2009 09:37AM)
Japanese restaurant supply houses will have a selection of rice bowls. I like them because

1) they are vertical at the edge; in other words, they have a boxy profile

2) come in different sizes for 2 or 2.5 inch balls

3) have a round ring at the bottom which can be used for pick up

4) if you are lucky, they might have dragons, Japanese characters, etc.

5) many have a dark red interior; this is GREAT for a little extra cover
Message: Posted by: BCS (Oct 23, 2009 09:49AM)
Bill... Thanks for the tip. Now, I have something to do tomorrow.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 23, 2009 11:11AM)
Don't forget flea markets.
Message: Posted by: Corbett (Oct 23, 2009 12:17PM)
Glad to see this thread resurrected! Keep it comin', guys!
Message: Posted by: Mac_Stone (Oct 23, 2009 08:52PM)
Mike Caveney uses a plunger. You can find the routine in Magicomedy, although long since out of print there are copies floating around on eBay and Amazon.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Oct 24, 2009 01:04AM)
I have been using a rubber toilet plunger for maybe 40 years.
Message: Posted by: Corbett (Nov 4, 2009 02:30PM)
Pete, are we still talking about Benson Bowl routines, or do you just need more fiber in your diet?
Message: Posted by: furplesnort (Mar 22, 2017 08:47PM)
Had this bowl made by a friend in ceramics class. Looks short but is heavy enough to keep the balls down. It also has a dimple on the top where a ball can sit. Looks more like a lid but it works great. I had her put ridges on the side for easy grab ability.