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Topic: The evolution of balls for Cups & Balls
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Mar 2, 2010 02:50PM)
Why do you think it is that the standard-size ball for Cups & Balls today is a whole lot bigger than the balls that were used in the old days? And why are they generally quieter now (with the crocheted covers that are now the norm)? And why has red become the most popular colour instead of the tan-coloured or flame-blackened cork that was the standard in ages past?

As for the balls being BIGGER, is it perhaps because the cups have gotten bigger, so that the relative proportions have had to be adjusted accordingly, resulting in larger balls? Or is it perhaps because most ball-handling techniques today only require that one ball (occasionally two) be secreted in the hand at one time whereas in the old days (according to several of the old books) three, sometimes even four or more balls would often be secreted in one hand at the same time – clearly difficult to do with one-inch balls!

As to why balls are generally made to be QUIETER now, is it perhaps because the close-up performance of Cups & Balls is now more the norm than before, and the closer you are the quieter you have to be (OK, that one may be a bit of a stretch!).

And finally, the COLOUR of the balls. Why has red become the most popular colour? Is it because most table tops or pads tend to be black, making black balls unsuitable for contrast? Or is it perhaps because black clothing has become more the norm for the modern magician, again, making black balls unsuitable for contrast.

What do you think? Why are the balls today generally bigger, quieter and more brightly coloured than in the past?

Fortasse
Message: Posted by: HerbLarry (Mar 2, 2010 03:20PM)
Good questions and your theories are in line with mine.
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Mar 2, 2010 03:38PM)
Intriguing questions Fortasse!
I can tell you that I advocate brighter colored balls because they look larger and are more visible at greater distances - which are both theatrical reasons. So, it may be simply that the performance is more theater today than it has been in the past.
Along that same line of thought, a performance of the cups and balls from 200 years ago was perhaps more of a "task of labor". Santitary conditions being considerably less than they are today, it may be that the performer just used balls that blackened over time and new balls had to be blackened so they matched older balls.
I would guess that the brighter, bigger, quieter balls used in today's performances are simply a by-product of higher budgets, running water, and good sanitation in our modern world, allowing the modern performer the luxury of using even white balls if he wishes. Combined with an evolution of the cups and balls towards a theatrical performance, and away from a short con, the quality of the props have improved.
As to why they are predominantly red today though is another matter. I think it's because red balls just became the default color to include with inexpensive cups. The manufacturers only made balls in one color and chose red because all the other guys were doing it. Somewhere down the line, someone must have established the standard and everyone else followed.

Of course, I'm only guessing. I'm far from an historical expert on the subject.
Message: Posted by: Etienne M. (Mar 2, 2010 03:44PM)
Maybe a bit off topic but the most used color in spongeball routines also is red.
The first set of sponges I bought were also red.

Etienne
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Mar 2, 2010 06:19PM)
Fascinating responses so far! The thing that intrigues me about red balls is that they really know how to "flash" (bearing in mind that this is an open forum here) so you would think that performers would want to steer clear of them and gravitate instead to darker, duller colours, black being the best for this purpose because at speed, it comes across as natural shadow and thus greatly reduces the risk of getting caught out. Then again, red has more visual oompf and that may compensate for the added risk.

Fortasse
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Mar 2, 2010 06:47PM)
Where do you get your history? The C&B museum has a section on balls. Maybe you should start there.
Message: Posted by: dcjames (Mar 2, 2010 07:14PM)
Very interesting thoughts and questions Fortasse.

Perhaps the balls are larger to maintain the appropriate scale with the larger cups that have grown so popular in the past decades. Of course, with larger cups, and larger working balls, and bigger final loads are required... Could it be that, as Donnie pointed out, these larger props are a result of a more theatrical based entertainment today vs. the routines of so long ago? Or perhaps the increased size is based on the fact that people typically grow taller and have larger hands now than hundreds of years ago due to better nutrition, etc.

The question of why red is used so predominantly for C&B balls is quite interesting... Many children's toys, warning lights, signs, fire engines, etc. are red. Why? Red commands attention. It is one of the most naturally visible colors when seen in daylight, and is often used in advertising for this very reason. Perhaps this high visibility is why red was selected by so many ball manufacturers? (And also why it is so prone to flashing.) Many color theorists also state that red over any other color creates a physiological response in the viewer. Increases in pulse rate, blood pressure, and overall excitement are all reputed to be associated with the color red.

As you suggested, perhaps the advent of the crochet covered ball was to allow the performer to work much closer to his audience without fear of the tell that can occur when a ball is added to a metal cup. Does anyone know when crochet balls were first made for magical purposes? The '50's perhaps?
Message: Posted by: Keith Mitchell (Mar 2, 2010 07:40PM)
They did not have Magic Café 200 or 2000 years ago, therefore they had it hard when we have it so easy!
Message: Posted by: Tilman (Mar 2, 2010 07:51PM)
Hello Fortasse,

It's not exactly the same set of questions, but some of the questions you asked were adressed in an older thread - with some very valuable input that only Bill Palmer could give. It also reminds us of how long he has been teasing us with an English translation of the Joro book... :)

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=96083&forum=130&start=0

Kind regards,
Tilman
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Mar 2, 2010 08:16PM)
Tilman : what a fascinating thread! Thanks for sharing it.
Fortasse
Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (Mar 3, 2010 01:13PM)
I use 1 inch crocheted balls that are off white in color. I think they show up better from a distance than the red. Up to 10% of the male population that is red green color blind may not find see the red ball as something that stands out brightly as normal individuals see it.
Message: Posted by: djkuttdecks (Mar 3, 2010 02:19PM)
The balls are red for the same reason every ones first vanishing silk was red.
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Mar 3, 2010 03:37PM)
I would additionally assume that while most current performers of cups and balls are not surrounded, that was not true in the past. Wood cuttings of cups and balls performers of the middle ages are working surrounded on the street. Flashing a ball would be a concern so a darker ball, or a cork ball would probably be preferred in those situations.

If indeed the street performers of the middle ages were hustling the crowd with a rigged game then we can imagine the routine was more like a shell game presentation of today and getting busted with a ball in your hand would be big trouble.
Personally, I'd love to be able to get in my time machine and go back and witness what REALLY took place after the mountebank stood on his chair, blew his horn, gathered a crowd, and played a game of cups and balls.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 3, 2010 07:49PM)
[quote]
On 2010-03-03 14:13, Larry Barnowsky wrote:
I use 1 inch crocheted balls that are off white in color. I think they show up better from a distance than the red. Up to 10% of the male population that is red green color blind may not find see the red ball as something that stands out brightly as normal individuals see it.
[/quote]

Red or Green will look like grey to a person who is red-green colorblind. However, yellow will still show up better against black for them.
Message: Posted by: KirkG (Mar 4, 2010 11:39AM)
I think we perform in quieter venues today than back then. Enclosed carpeted homes, theaters and so forth. You no longer have the sounds of the street fair to cover the sounds of the balls in the cups.
Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (Mar 4, 2010 11:57AM)
Bill,
You're right that yellow (as well as white) will show up better than red or green to a colorblind person because more light is reflected back to the eye. Red-green colorblind individuals don't see red or green as gray. People with the rare achromatopsia see no color. Red-green colorblind people can distinguish a gray object from a red or green one. They just can't easily identify a red object as red. For example a red ball sitting in green grass is easily seen by people with normal vision. It's much harder for them to pick it out. Red green colorblind people either have a defect or absence of the medium wavelength cones (green) in their retina. Most of these folks can see red if it is a bright red or bright Kelly green when in strong light. Once the red colors get muted toward pink or the green colors get lighter they have trouble seeing them as a specific color.

Larry
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 4, 2010 12:33PM)
Yellow still gives the best contracst against black, though.
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Mar 4, 2010 02:12PM)
Which colour ball do you think contrasts best with (1) silver or chrome cups; (2) brass cups; and (3) copper cups.

Fortasse
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Mar 4, 2010 02:17PM)
Tomorrow I will do the cups on a TV show and will ask the director which balls, red or white (that I bring) will show up best on the TV screens. I have red and white Mike Rogers's balls, white knit balls and white dull rubber no covering.
Message: Posted by: Richard Evans (Mar 4, 2010 04:42PM)
[quote]
On 2010-03-04 15:12, fortasse wrote:
Which colour ball do you think contrasts best with (1) silver or chrome cups; (2) brass cups; and (3) copper cups.

Fortasse
[/quote]

I think it depends on the colour of your clothes and working surface.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Mar 4, 2010 08:10PM)
I just did a test video and the knit bright red's show up best with black mat, dark gray wardrobe and nickle plated PF Cups. Will still let director decide.
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Mar 5, 2010 09:22AM)
[quote]
On 2010-03-04 15:12, fortasse wrote:
Which colour ball do you think contrasts best with (1) silver or chrome cups; (2) brass cups; and (3) copper cups.

Fortasse
[/quote]

I LOVE this question!
It is a matter of personal taste, and of course your working conditions, but if you could adjust your working conditions (performance surface and wardrobe) to fit, the following color combinations are what I've found attractive.

Brass cups - bright blue balls - the contrast is just gorgeous.
Silver cups, like chrome or sterling, - just about any color is compatible with silver cups except white or black. The white ball tends to get lost in the reflective silver surface & so does the black. And again, a bright blue ball looks terrific with silver cups and is my favorite.
Copper - yellow or white POP your eyes out, and is even stronger with a dark patina.

I've always been an advocate of white balls because they are so visible (unless you are working on a white table cloth), and was very surprised how versatile bright blue balls were. I never would have considered that color as a preferred color, but when I combined it with the silver and brass cups - it was just lovely. I remember when I was photographing 1 3/8" Parakeet Blue chopped ball sets, I dropped one on the saddle of a brass Don Alan chop cup and just went gaga over it. The photo is on the website in with the 1 3/8" chopped balls.

I know this sounds like a shameless plug, but it's not - I genuinely do love the color combination of blues with silver and brass. Who knew?

Ironically, while red has always been the standard it is the least interesting to me. Maybe I'm jaded but to me red is just uninspired when we have so many wonderful options. Look at the beautiful work James Tong does with balls on his website http://uniquemagicballs.com or the gorgeous Glitter balls that Brett Sherwood makes in Jade and Turquoise. You don't have to settle for plain old red anymore.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Mar 6, 2010 01:13AM)
I think the chief consideration when you do the cups and balls is the color of the stage and the backdrop. Next is the color of the stage furniture.

Your table surface or close-up mat is the stage. Your backdrop is your shirt (or jacket). The cups are the stage furniture.

So, take a shirt or jacket like the one you most often wear and hang it on a hanger behind your working surface. Place the cups on the same surface. Now place balls of various colors on the working surface and on top of the cups. Look at them from the front. Make your own decision.

BTW, this link http://www.idea.org/vision-demo.html?gclid=CKrTroXPo6ACFQmfnAodoENPaw will give you a really good idea of what things look like to someone who is colorblind.

It's obvious to me that balls should contrast with the cups.

Regarding the sizes, though -- I think that the evolution of the balls has almost as much to do with the evolution of the size of the audiences. If you go back to Hocus Pocus Junior, the performing venue in this case was probably a pub. It certainly wasn't a large gathering, because a 1/2 inch ball will not be visible to the audience at a distance of more than a few yards.

Charles Bertram worked with fairly large red cork or pith balls. They are about an inch or so in diameter. Bosco worked with a similar size of ball.

P&L sold their cups with white cork balls -- no crocheted covering. I believe that the crocheted balls came into fashion about the time that Vernon was gaining international popularity, sometime around the late 1940's - early 1950's.

BTW, Vernon sometimes remarked about the crocheted covering on the balls. Not to question the judgment of the master, but I don't believe this is necessary. No matter what kind of ball you use, if you don't have any questions in your mind as to what they are, neither will your audience.

There is a possibility that the crocheted ball came from some kind of fashion accesory. My great-grandmother had a bathrobe with a waist tie that terminated in crocheted balls. Something like this may have inspired the early crocheted balls.
Message: Posted by: J.G. the magnificent (Nov 30, 2010 11:26AM)
First off I would like to say the the first balls only needed to be small because magicians didn't have routines requiring larger balls for the most part. Only large ones for final loads in the cups and balls. Or ball and vase things like that but no larger sizes for manipulation. Until 1875 when the Multiplying Balls were introduced sponge balls didn't come out to my knowledge until 1926. Not sure about crotches but they were not the first to be used. The first balls were for the cups and balls being burnt cork. Which I have tried and now use. They have grip and I think the only reason crotches are used are because of their beauty. Multiplying Balls can be impossible to manipulate beyond basic slights and displaying between the fingers. Both the smallest and largest sizes are very awkward. THen again I am no expert and that is just my opinion but sizes in between like 1 3/4 in balls are perfect with 2 in being difficult. Sponge balls I have found easier to start with smaller sizes but more visual larger. Now that I have experience with them I find the larger sizes better. I like what people have said about the colors though that is interesting. Depending on your manipulation or lack their of different balls are used.
Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Nov 30, 2010 11:45AM)
This one has really gotten me thinking! I typically perform in a grey or black suit with a dark shirt. I've found that the patina on my copper Mendoza set, matched with the Phoenix Sunfire balls that Donnie makes, looks fantastic on a black surface...amd even better on the blue pad I'm currently using from Tony Clark. It pops with just the right amount of color without looking cheesy. Still a very classy look.
I'm with Donnie...for some reason I'm just over the red. Maybe it's because I've seen it everywhere, so it doesn't stand out to me as being anything special.
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Nov 30, 2010 12:26PM)
Thanks Andrew, the Phoenix Sunfire balls have been discontinued. I can no longer get the thread. Whatever is left in inventory is the last of them.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 30, 2010 05:57PM)
@ J.G. -- "Crotches"? This is where you need to bear in mind that specific words have specific meanings.

Do you mean "crochet"? I don't want to see your crotch on a table when you are performing the cups and balls.

Second -- you have an interesting mix of fact and fantasy here. To say that "the first balls only needed to be small because magicians didn't have routines requiring larger balls for the most part" is rather strange. If you pay attention to the size of the cups that were used up until the middle of the 19th century, you would understand that they were rather small. The cups described in Hocus Pocus, Junior, for example were not even three inches tall. Neither were the cups that are described in Ozanam and Guyot. You start seeing larger cups toward the end of the 1700's and even larger ones through the 19th century. You basically couldn't use a larger ball with a small cup.

Performers tended to use a small ball, about 1/2" in diameter, because that's basically what they worked with. The venues weren't large. They were mainly performing for people across the table from them, not on stage. Some of the paintings show the use of a larger ball, but there isn't much in the literature to indicate that larger balls were used until roughly the middle of the 19th century. At that point, you have performers such as Bosco performing in larger venues. Consequently, they would need to use a larger ball, simply so the audience could see it. This also necessitated the development of a differernt concealment, which Robert-Houdin called "The Bosco Palm."

Charles Bertram used a cork (or pith) ball that was about 7/8" in diameter or slightly larger. The ones he used are on display in the Magic Circle museum.

Crocheted balls came into vogue somewhere around the 1940's to 1950's and have been used ever since. We know that Vernon used them, for example. I haven't found any earlier references than this.

However, there is no reference at all in any of the material for Vernon using his crotch.
Message: Posted by: ddeckmann (Nov 30, 2010 08:46PM)
My first set of balls were crochet balls that came with the cups that my father gave me... They were too light, because of the styrofoam core...

Then I made the Wonder pompons. and they were really big, for the ball transpo in the spectator hands. He recommended a warm color, because of flashing issues...
Today I finished my first set of leather monkey fists with a wooden ball core, and they talk a lot! I'm thinking about re-rehearsing the routine to fill the 'load moment' with patter :S

[quote]
On 2010-03-03 16:37, Donnie Buckley wrote:
Personally, I'd love to be able to get in my time machine and go back and witness what REALLY took place after the mountebank stood on his chair, blew his horn, gathered a crowd, and played a game of cups and balls.
[/quote]

Me too! That's why I made the monkey fists, and I have made them in dark brown...

Another thing about colors, I don't remember where I've read that Ramsay used black balls because he said that they look like shadows when palmed...

So my monkey fists are noisy, if I can hear them... can spectators hear them too? I'm really afraid of doing my routine in a quiet place... and I've enough of threading pompons o.O

The material of the cups has something to do with noise? Mine are made from aluminium...
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 30, 2010 09:10PM)
The core of the ball has more to do with the noise than the material of the cups. Any metal cup is going to make noise with a wood core ball. And yes, your spectators can hear them, too. A cork core will produce less noise.

I can verify that Ramsay used black cork balls. I have a set of them in the museum.
Message: Posted by: Swann101 (Dec 1, 2010 01:59AM)
I used to use bright yellow sponge balls, silver cups a black matt and a mercury wand, the whole setting was nice and bright and modern.
Now I am working on a more historical classic presentation and have changed to dark red crochet balls, copper cups, a persion carpet style matt and a dark stained teak wand. So I gues the type of presentation will also influence the balls cups etc.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 1, 2010 04:03AM)
If you are going to do this in a stand up or stage situation, make sure that the dark red balls are visible against the Persian carpet.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Dec 1, 2010 04:44AM)
A minor issue, but shouldn't it be "crocheted balls" rather than "crochet balls" -- the latter implying balls made completely from crocheted yarn?
Message: Posted by: Swann101 (Dec 1, 2010 06:05AM)
I played around with the Persian carpet today, but you are right the balls do not stand out very well.
I think I will go to the basic green felt material with a victorian type of card table.
Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Dec 1, 2010 08:09AM)
The Persian style mat sounds interesting...is that something that someone makes specifically for this purpose?
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Dec 1, 2010 11:12AM)
[quote]
On 2010-12-01 05:44, funsway wrote:
A minor issue, but shouldn't it be "crocheted balls" rather than "crochet balls" -- the latter implying balls made completely from crocheted yarn?
[/quote]

You are correct.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 1, 2010 11:43AM)
That would be correct, of course. "Crochet balls" has become a written shorthand for "Crocheted balls." It is less ambiguous than "crotches," though.

No, on second thought "crotches" isn't ambivalent. It's just the WRONG word!
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (Dec 1, 2010 12:28PM)
You're really just splitting hares.
Message: Posted by: Swann101 (Dec 2, 2010 02:55AM)
"The Persian style mat sounds interesting...is that something that someone makes specifically for this purpose?"

I have seen Eugene Burger use something similar in his performances. I don't know if anyone sells them as close up mats, but you can get them in almost any size at carpet dealers.
Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Dec 2, 2010 06:37AM)
Interesting...I'll check that out. Thank you!
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 2, 2010 06:05PM)
There are also some "Persian Carpet" mouse pads.
Message: Posted by: dcjames (Dec 3, 2010 10:04PM)
http://www.mouserug.com/
Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Dec 4, 2010 09:29AM)
Great link! Thanks for posting that :)
Message: Posted by: J.G. the magnificent (Dec 12, 2010 07:16PM)
[quote]
On 2010-11-30 18:57, Bill Palmer wrote:
@ J.G. -- "Crotches"? This is where you need to bear in mind that specific words have specific meanings.

Do you mean "crochet"? I don't want to see your crotch on a table when you are performing the cups and balls.

Second -- you have an interesting mix of fact and fantasy here. To say that "the first balls only needed to be small because magicians didn't have routines requiring larger balls for the most part" is rather strange. If you pay attention to the size of the cups that were used up until the middle of the 19th century, you would understand that they were rather small. The cups described in Hocus Pocus, Junior, for example were not even three inches tall. Neither were the cups that are described in Ozanam and Guyot. You start seeing larger cups toward the end of the 1700's and even larger ones through the 19th century. You basically couldn't use a larger ball with a small cup.

Performers tended to use a small ball, about 1/2" in diameter, because that's basically what they worked with. The venues weren't large. They were mainly performing for people across the table from them, not on stage. Some of the paintings show the use of a larger ball, but there isn't much in the literature to indicate that larger balls were used until roughly the middle of the 19th century. At that point, you have performers such as Bosco performing in larger venues. Consequently, they would need to use a larger ball, simply so the audience could see it. This also necessitated the development of a differernt concealment, which Robert-Houdin called "The Bosco Palm."

Charles Bertram used a cork (or pith) ball that was about 7/8" in diameter or slightly larger. The ones he used are on display in the Magic Circle museum.

Crocheted balls came into vogue somewhere around the 1940's to 1950's and have been used ever since. We know that Vernon used them, for example. I haven't found any earlier references than this.

However, there is no reference at all in any of the material for Vernon using his crotch.
[/quote]
I never claimed to know all my history. You obviously know it better than I probably most of us. Anyway I think it is really how you look at it. Yes they were small to fit in small cups. None the less though were their really any other magical applications for balls besides juggling when the two arts were still seen closely. Their was really no need for bigger balls. P.S. Sorry if my spelling was off I loved your joke at me though. That gives me an idea for a final load that would be appropriate for adult audiences. Probably an adult themed routine.

[quote]
On 2010-12-02 19:05, Bill Palmer wrote:
There are also some "Persian Carpet" mouse pads.
[/quote]
Yes my mom recently got one from a old high school friend of hers that just came back from Iraq. It is a true work of art.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 12, 2010 08:44PM)
[quote]
On 2010-12-12 20:16, J.G. the magnificent wrote:

I never claimed to know all my history. You obviously know it better than I probably most of us. Anyway I think it is really how you look at it. Yes they were small to fit in small cups. None the less though were their really any other magical applications for balls besides juggling when the two arts were still seen closely. Their was really no need for bigger balls. P.S. Sorry if my spelling was off I loved your joke at me though. That gives me an idea for a final load that would be appropriate for adult audiences. Probably an adult themed routine.
[/quote]

Jeremy:

The history is well-documented. If you would read some of the FREE downloads that are available on the cups and balls museum site, you wouldn't make some of the statements you make.

I seriously doubt that you have ever considered the relationship between the length of the skirt of a cup and the size of a ball that will fit between two cups. It can be expressed in a very simple mathematical formula. d = l - t, where d represents the diameter of the ball, l, represents the skirt length and t represents the thickness of the metal of the cup. Basically you can look at a cup and tell what the maximum size ball that will fit under it is. In 1634, when [i]Hocus Pocus, Junior[/i] was written, there were no shoulder beads on the cups. So there wasn't as fixed a distance between the inside of the upper cup and the top of the lower cup when they were nested. In the Ozanam and Guyot manuscripts, the distance is defined, and it isn't very large. That right there put a restriction on the size of the ball.

The Guyot manuscript and its routine are very important, because most of the routines that were printed during the 1800's were translations of that routine. It appears in German books, English language books and some that are in Spanish as well. The Guyot routine actually has color changes of the balls. The only thing that is missing is the larger loads. We know that they were being done from the graphics of the period, though.

In fact, there is a hint of this in HPJ. Right after the cups and balls section, there is a segment that explains how to pass a large ball through a table. The kind of ball used was called a "stoole ball." Stoole was a game similar to cricket or baseball that involved hitting a ball with a stick and running toward a goal.

But to limit what was being done in magic to the little balls used in the cups and balls and the balls used by jugglers shows a complete lack of knowledge of what was going on. For example, [i]Sports and Pastimes[/i] shows tricks that use larger balls, such as the Globe Box (similar to a ball and vase). And even though you didn't see people doing the multiplying billiard balls on stage, it doesn't mean they weren't doing tricks with billiard balls.

My problem is simple. It's not that you don't know all your history. You barely know ANY of your history. So you make it up. And you don't start off with any kind of statement that indicates that what you are saying is conjecture.
Message: Posted by: Dale Houck (Dec 12, 2010 09:17PM)
[quote]
On 2010-12-01 12:43, Bill Palmer wrote:

No, on second thought "crotches" isn't ambivalent. It's just the WRONG word!
[/quote]

There's a term for this: malapropism

The term came from a Richard Sheridan play "The Rivals" in which a Mrs. Malaprop was constantly using words incorrectly that sounded similar to the correct words. Of course, this misuse occurred well before Sheridan's play. My younger sister and I used to have fun with this, talking about "an ellipse of the moon" or "I'm cereal about this." The problem is, if you play games like that you can use the wrong word when you don't mean to and it becomes a bad habit. It might be fun to do a complete routine using malapropisms but I'll leave that to someone else.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 12, 2010 10:33PM)
Norm Crosby made this famous of course. His skill at malapropisms came from being very hard of hearing.

My mother would have made Mrs. Malaprop proud. Mom had a particular skill at confusing various words.

However, in response to J.G. the Mangificant and his thoughts about the history of magic with balls and the way balls were used in juggling, I would like to suggest that he find a copy of [i]The Art of Jugling[/i], a treatise on magic and juggling that was published in 1612. There are several tricks with balls that J.G. will find of some use.
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Dec 13, 2010 03:09AM)
Dale:

What you say reminds me of the line from the spoof-comedy "Airplane" when the pilot tells the late Norm Nielsen "Surely, you can't be serious", to which Nielsen famously replies "Yes, I am serious, and don't call me Shirley".

Posted: Dec 13, 2010 4:18am
Sorry, that was LESLIE Nielsen...now of happy memory.
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Dec 13, 2010 03:18AM)
Sorry, that was LESLIE Nielsen...now of happy memory.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 13, 2010 10:46AM)
Here is a piece of trivia concerning Leslie Nielsen.

Does anyone know what popular recent joke item Leslie Nielsen basically invented?

Related to that -- Does anyone know what he requested to have as his epitaph?
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Dec 13, 2010 11:41AM)
In the past, the balls were referred to as nutmegs. That suggests a rather small size. Perhaps, they were the less expensive carved wooden nutmegs, sold by the Rom in 18th. century market places.
Message: Posted by: Tom Fenton (Dec 13, 2010 12:33PM)
No idea Bill.
Message: Posted by: HerbLarry (Dec 13, 2010 01:10PM)
Joke item is the fart noise gimmick?
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 13, 2010 01:19PM)
[quote]
On 2010-12-13 12:41, ringmaster wrote:
In the past, the balls were referred to as nutmegs. That suggests a rather small size. Perhaps, they were the less expensive carved wooden nutmegs, sold by the Rom in 18th. century market places.
[/quote]

This is where a look at the literature is crucial. The French works and the German works both use the word "muscade" or a variation thereof to indicate the ball. However, when you actually read the text, it says something completely different. For example, the works of Ozanam and Guyot both refer to using a cork ball. Ozanam says that the ball is about the size of an aveline, which is a filbert. Guyot says that the cork balls are called "muscades". Similarly the German texts refer to the balls as "Muskaden" or "Muskaten" which is clearly a muscade. But they continue to explain that the balls are made of "Pantoffelholz."

I had never heard of "Pantoffelholz." The word literally means "slipper wood," that is wood that one would use to make slippers. I called the Goethe Institute and asked one of the ladies there if she knew what that was. She looked it up in one of her multi-volume dictionaries and found that it was the bark of a tree called "cuercus suber."

Don't google it. "Cuercus suber" is the cork oak. The balls were made of cork.

So, why did the French and German conjurers call them "muscades?" Because they look like nutmegs, and they probably did not want the spectators to know that the balls were light cork instead of the denser nutmegs.

Unless Lawrence O has information to the contrary, I don't have any legitimate references to these conjurers using anything other than the burnt cork balls.

[quote]
On 2010-12-13 14:10, HerbLarry wrote:
Joke item is the fart noise gimmick?
[/quote]

Yes, specifically the remote controlled "electronic whoopie cushion." Leslie explained on the Letterman show that he thought "the voice from the rear" was the funniest sound a human being could make. He even rigged one up underneath a seat in the set of one of the serious scenes in one of the movies he was making. It was a courtroom scene. I think that when it went off, two of the actors left the set to check their briefs.

BTW, his epitaph is to read "Let 'er Rip!"
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Dec 13, 2010 01:24PM)
Verrrrry interesting ...... you've solved one of the mysteries.
Message: Posted by: J.G. the magnificent (Dec 13, 2010 02:50PM)
[quote]
On 2010-12-12 21:44, Bill Palmer wrote:
[quote]
On 2010-12-12 20:16, J.G. the magnificent wrote:

I never claimed to know all my history. You obviously know it better than I probably most of us. Anyway I think it is really how you look at it. Yes they were small to fit in small cups. None the less though were their really any other magical applications for balls besides juggling when the two arts were still seen closely. Their was really no need for bigger balls. P.S. Sorry if my spelling was off I loved your joke at me though. That gives me an idea for a final load that would be appropriate for adult audiences. Probably an adult themed routine.
[/quote]

Jeremy:

The history is well-documented. If you would read some of the FREE downloads that are available on the cups and balls museum site, you wouldn't make some of the statements you make.

I seriously doubt that you have ever considered the relationship between the length of the skirt of a cup and the size of a ball that will fit between two cups. It can be expressed in a very simple mathematical formula. d = l - t, where d represents the diameter of the ball, l, represents the skirt length and t represents the thickness of the metal of the cup. Basically you can look at a cup and tell what the maximum size ball that will fit under it is. In 1634, when [i]Hocus Pocus, Junior[/i] was written, there were no shoulder beads on the cups. So there wasn't as fixed a distance between the inside of the upper cup and the top of the lower cup when they were nested. In the Ozanam and Guyot manuscripts, the distance is defined, and it isn't very large. That right there put a restriction on the size of the ball.

The Guyot manuscript and its routine are very important, because most of the routines that were printed during the 1800's were translations of that routine. It appears in German books, English language books and some that are in Spanish as well. The Guyot routine actually has color changes of the balls. The only thing that is missing is the larger loads. We know that they were being done from the graphics of the period, though.

In fact, there is a hint of this in HPJ. Right after the cups and balls section, there is a segment that explains how to pass a large ball through a table. The kind of ball used was called a "stoole ball." Stoole was a game similar to cricket or baseball that involved hitting a ball with a stick and running toward a goal.

But to limit what was being done in magic to the little balls used in the cups and balls and the balls used by jugglers shows a complete lack of knowledge of what was going on. For example, [i]Sports and Pastimes[/i] shows tricks that use larger balls, such as the Globe Box (similar to a ball and vase). And even though you didn't see people doing the multiplying billiard balls on stage, it doesn't mean they weren't doing tricks with billiard balls.

My problem is simple. It's not that you don't know all your history. You barely know ANY of your history. So you make it up. And you don't start off with any kind of statement that indicates that what you are saying is conjecture.
[/quote]
Bill I have actually read you cups and balls ebook Hocus Pocus Junior. I understood it up until the end. Involding the ball penatration through the table and a bit before that. I have thought of using the skirt of the cup to determine the ball size. I had not known of your formula though. Nor did I understand that bit of information about the jugglers. Didn't know that magicians were using billiard balls before they multiplyed either. I feel I do know my history though to an extent. I have read Ricky Jay, Jim Steinmeyer, and some others all very detailed books. Read your material as well and I read everything carefully. My memory may not be perfect, so when I reference things on the magic Café I try my best to be accurate. I look back through the book or a website if the book is not at hand to double check. Sorry if I am not perfect but I feel as though I did make good statements. I listed dates, and to my knowledge I had the understanding that magicians didn't have routines requiring larger balls for the most part. Correct me if I am wrong in any of my other statements. Are balls really used for those reasons. Are Crocheted really just for looks?

[quote]
On 2010-12-12 23:33, Bill Palmer wrote:
Norm Crosby made this famous of course. His skill at malapropisms came from being very hard of hearing.

My mother would have made Mrs. Malaprop proud. Mom had a particular skill at confusing various words.

However, in response to J.G. the Mangificant and his thoughts about the history of magic with balls and the way balls were used in juggling, I would like to suggest that he find a copy of [i]The Art of Jugling[/i], a treatise on magic and juggling that was published in 1612. There are several tricks with balls that J.G. will find of some use.
[/quote]
Thanks

[quote]
On 2010-12-13 12:41, ringmaster wrote:
In the past, the balls were referred to as nutmegs. That suggests a rather small size. Perhaps, they were the less expensive carved wooden nutmegs, sold by the Rom in 18th. century market places.
[/quote]
I do recall a very old book mentioning nutmegs.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 13, 2010 03:37PM)
Here's a rule of thumb concerning what magicians could and would use. They used whatever was at hand.

If you read the Hoffmann books and those that are contemperaneous with them, you will see a lot about tea caddies. These were boxes that every middle class and upper class family in England had at the time. They were lockable boxes that held tea. Tea was quite costly and heavily taxed (Remember the Boston Tea Party???). The locks were to keep the servants from stealing the tea.

So parlour magicians had trick boxes made that looked like tea caddies. These appeared to be normal accessories to the Victorian magician.

But here's part of the problem, Jeremy. You don't really understand what you are reading. It doesn't sink in. I did not say that magicians WERE doing tricks with billiard balls. Reread what I wrote. I said specifically "And even though you didn't see people doing the multiplying billiard balls on stage, it doesn't mean they weren't doing tricks with billiard balls." That's not the same thing at all.

"Stoole" was a very common game. It was played in the streets. So stoole balls were commonplace. It does not take a leap of logic to figure that if the magician could make a stoole ball pass through a table, that he also might be able to load one into a cup, if the cup were big enough. Remember, these early magic books were not really supposed to be exhaustive instruction manuals. They were, to a large part, a way to keep the constabulary off the backs of the performers.
Message: Posted by: J.G. the magnificent (Dec 13, 2010 03:38PM)
Bill I noticed in your cups and balls museum their are two very old sets with the final loads as juggling balls. I am curious were they used for juggling at the time then by magicians. Or used as loads by magicians then adopted by jugglers later being called juggling balls. Besides magicians used to be called jugglers as well.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 13, 2010 04:49PM)
Jeremy:

Those "juggling balls" are not juggling balls. They were horsehair stuffed segmented cloth balls. Just because something looks like a juggling ball doesn't mean that's what it is. They also had some like this that were stuffed with sawdust. This design was popular because it was brightly colored and easy to see.

Are you aware that most street jugglers probably didn't use balls?

Have you ever seen a circus juggling act? They don't use balls for the most part. Why? Because the audiences can't see them well. They use clubs, knives and torches.

I know that magicians and jugglers used to be lumped together into one category. If you would read [i]The Art of Jugling[/i], you would understand this.
Message: Posted by: J.G. the magnificent (Dec 13, 2010 06:41PM)
I caught that they were stuffed with different materials. Nonetheless though for whatever reason sectioned multicolored stuffed beanbag like balls are seen as juggling balls. Yes their are many other things to juggle. I will read the book though. Check the library for it now.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 13, 2010 10:19PM)
It may be hard to find in the library, but you can probably find it on line. BTW, when you search for it, make sure that you spell Jugling with just one "G". That's the way it is in the title.

Also, there is a book called [i]Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars[/i] that has the entire text of the book in it, but transcribed into modern type, which makes it much easier to read.
Message: Posted by: J.G. the magnificent (Dec 14, 2010 09:48AM)
Your the best, I was wondering if you could tell me authors or any other information though.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 14, 2010 04:04PM)
The author of [i]The Art of Jugling[/i] is given only as S.R. or Sa. Rid. Some people think his name was Samuel Rid. That's conjecture, though. The author of [i]Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars[/i] is given as Arthur F. Kinney, editor and John Laurence, illustrator. I just noticed that it is available in paperback on Amazon.com.
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Dec 14, 2010 05:23PM)
J.G :

There's an excellent deal over at the Miracle Factory website (Todd Karr) . For only $30, you can buy a CD that has pdf copies of the seminal magic classics, including the Art of Jugling, no fewer than six different editions of Hocus Pocus Jr., four different editions of Hocus Pocus, and several editions of the Discoverie of Witchcraft, and a few other books as well. It won't give you the tactile sensation of holding a book in your hands but for $30 and 2,500 pages, hard to beat a price like that.

Fortasse
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 14, 2010 05:28PM)
That's not a bad deal at all. I have most of these as photocopies, I think; however, back when I got them, it required some real searching to find them.

The biggest advantage of the Arthur Kinney book is that it is in modern type.

I found some real gems at the Miracle Factory web site. It is definitely worth a visit.
Message: Posted by: fortasse (Dec 14, 2010 07:08PM)
Indeed it is.
Message: Posted by: J.G. the magnificent (Dec 15, 2010 02:14PM)
[quote]
On 2010-12-14 18:23, fortasse wrote:
J.G :

There's an excellent deal over at the Miracle Factory website (Todd Karr) . For only $30, you can buy a CD that has pdf copies of the seminal magic classics, including the Art of Jugling, no fewer than six different editions of Hocus Pocus Jr., four different editions of Hocus Pocus, and several editions of the Discoverie of Witchcraft, and a few other books as well. It won't give you the tactile sensation of holding a book in your hands but for $30 and 2,500 pages, hard to beat a price like that.

Fortasse
[/quote]
Wow thanks!
Message: Posted by: panlives (Dec 16, 2010 05:33AM)
[quote]
On 2010-12-14 17:04, Bill Palmer wrote:
The author of [i]The Art of Jugling[/i] is given only as S.R. or Sa. Rid. Some people think his name was Samuel Rid. That's conjecture, though. The author of [i]Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars[/i] is given as Arthur F. Kinney, editor and John Laurence, illustrator. I just noticed that it is available in paperback on Amazon.com.
[/quote]


Bill, thank you for this lead!
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 16, 2010 08:52AM)
You are welcome. Byron Walker or Claude Crowe pointed me toward that book a few years back. Now copies of [i]Art of Jugling[/i] are quite plentiful.
Message: Posted by: J.G. the magnificent (Dec 16, 2010 10:46AM)
Regarding the Art Of Jugling when I googled it I only found a few good sites. The cheapest I found it was on Miracle Factory for $50 I was unable to find the $30 C.D. edition. Could someone direct me to the $30 C.D. I looked around the site but was unable to find it. Also any other sites with good prices.
Message: Posted by: Woland (Dec 16, 2010 12:26PM)
Here it is:

http://miraclefactory.net/zenstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_29&products_id=35

Woland
Message: Posted by: J.G. the magnificent (Dec 19, 2010 05:08PM)
Thanks Woland I was looking for a different title.
Message: Posted by: malaki (Apr 20, 2018 03:28PM)
[quote]On Mar 2, 2010, fortasse wrote:

And finally, the COLOUR of the balls. Why has red become the most popular colour? Is it because most table tops or pads tend to be black, making black balls unsuitable for contrast? Or is it perhaps because black clothing has become more the norm for the modern magician, again, making black balls unsuitable for contrast.

What do you think? Why are the balls today generally bigger, quieter and more brightly coloured than in the past?

Fortasse [/quote]

An old thread, but this point was not made in the previous posts:
From an designer/artist's point of view:
Of all of the bright colors, each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. White and yellow balls show up wonderfully, but they are easily stained or discolored. I have a perfectly good white crochet load ball that I no longer use due to a stain. Speaking practically, red is the best of both worlds. It shows up well, provides contrast (unless you wear a red suit or use a red close up pad) and hides the dirt better.
If you are handling a cloth prop on a regular basis, then it will absorb the dirt and oils from your hands, as well as patina from your cups and whatever happens to get onto your table. If you drop them, anything is possible. Since the crochet balls really cannot be washed (if they can, PLEASE let me know how), the magician is left using what he/she can that does not blend in with or clash against what they wear.
Manufactures know that they must appeal to the largest group of people to be able to sell their wares. This is the same thought process I went through when deciding upon a color for tying monkey's fists of suede around my spheres. I too, chose red.
Message: Posted by: karnak (Apr 21, 2018 11:47AM)
[quote]On Apr 20, 2018, malaki wrote:
Since the crochet balls really cannot be washed (if they can, PLEASE let me know how).... [/quote]

The Rings-n-Things website advises: "Our Crochet Balls [which have hardwood cores] can be safely laundered in cold water (to preserve color) and detergent. It is highly recommended that the balls be placed in a lingerie bag or some other mesh bag that would be used for delicate fabrics. This ensures that the balls will not get trapped in recesses in the washer or get lost in the washer. Simply put the balls in a mesh bag and throw them in with other cold water laundry to keep them clean and fresh. Air-dry the balls. It is not recommended that the balls be placed in a dryer."