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Topic: Cups on eBay -- quality?
Message: Posted by: Sean (Jan 12, 2005 10:04AM)
There's two sets of cups posted repeatedly on eBay that I've been tempted to bid on. My fear, however, is that I'll be paying too much money for substandard product. Could any of you experts out there (Bill?) provide some input as to the quality and value of:

1. Phoenix Cups and Balls in Original Presentation Case; and

2. The "Collector's Brass Cups and Balls," found listed as "MAGIC TRICKS TRICK BRASS CUPS AND BALLS BRAND NEW"

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
Message: Posted by: Jim Wilder (Jan 12, 2005 10:14AM)
As far as quality, I can vouch for the Phoenix Cups. I added a set to my collection, and I use them often when performing close-up.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jan 12, 2005 10:47AM)
I have PM'ed you about the cups.
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (Jan 12, 2005 11:36AM)
The collectors cups you see are very nicely spun brass. It's almost hard to believe you can get set of cups that well made and heavy for 45.00. I bought a set to practice with and was very suprised with the quality.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 12, 2005 02:19PM)

Can you copy me on that same info, please?

Message: Posted by: BerkleyJL (Jan 12, 2005 04:42PM)
Me three Bill. I value your opinion on all things C&B related.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jan 12, 2005 04:50PM)
I'll just post it here. The original Phoenix cups are fairly nice. They are quite heavy and are suitable for street work. However, there are two other levels of Phoenix cups available, and this is what I believe you are seeing on eBay.

The factory seconds have various types of blemishes. You can refer to James Riser's web site to see these. The others, which are like the ones I was selling on my web site, don't have any structural problems; however, each set I sold required a lot of cleanup. They had residue of spinning lubricant on them, and it took quite a bit of time and Tarn-x to get it off, as well as a scotchbrite pad. If you don't mind putting some "sweat equity" into your cups, then they are okay. They do not come with the certificate of authenticity, though.

Now, the "Collector's Cups" are a different matter. They are similar to the Paul Fox cups. However, the range of quality on these varies also. There may or may not be lube residue on the cups. The quality of the workmanship also varies. Some have an open bead, some have a closed bead, some have a bead that is open on one side and closed on the other. If this is not important to you, then go for it.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 12, 2005 10:44PM)
Thanks for all your help, sir!
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jan 12, 2005 11:30PM)
Glad to help.

Please bear in mind that the Phoenix cups are not actually inferior, but they do take a LOT of cleaning up. And the quality on the "Collector's Cups" is quite variable.
Message: Posted by: KirkG (Jan 13, 2005 12:25AM)
I would vote against both of these cups, now that the penguin cups in copper are on the market. They are a better cup for the same or near to the same money. Just make sure that if you get a set that wobbles when you stack it, that you make them exchange it until you get one that you like. I heard this was a problem with some of the early sets.

The best Phoenix cup wobbles no matter what. I think copper is a better metal for a spun cup than brass.

Kirk G
Message: Posted by: Mr. Muggle (Jan 13, 2005 02:26AM)
What about the cups that Ammar is selling for $100? They are supposed to more or less the same as the Johnson cups. M.A.'s Fab Fruit also fit in the cups for final loads. I already have various sets, but to someone out there looking for a decent starter set these may prove to be a good start. Does anyone know anything about these cups? If Bill Palmer is out there, are these in your collection? I found them by mistake, looking if Ammar had updated his site at all since I last visited it.

If you want to see them, click on this link... http://store.yahoo.com/ammarmagic/greatcups.html

And Kirk is right about the phoenix cups wobbling. However, they are a good starter cup though, and they are pretty durable for the pricing. I still use mine quite a bit, but you do have limitations with 3 in the attic with larger balls. If you don't use stacking moves(as I don't), you have nothing to worry about.

Oh, I almost forgot; who buy's things at penguin anyway? I thought there was a huge boycott against them because of some of their selling practices. Before I forget, I also heard that a bunch of the same cups went over to Brad Burt, but were in gold. I wonder, is he still selling magic?

Message: Posted by: KirkG (Jan 13, 2005 12:02PM)
The cups on the Ammar site are the same ones as the Penguins, except in BRASS ONLY. So forget the silver cups in the picture. They are quite different to the Johnson cups, and although I think he is trying to capitalize on the name value, they are actually better than the Johnson cups when they are made in copper. The weight is better.

With the exception of the Sherwood Cups and perhaps one or two others, it is not possible to stack the cups with three one(1) inch balls between them. This includes the Johnson and Paul Fox. You can stack with three 3/4 inch balls in all cups, except perhaps for the Phoenix Cups(PC).

Since the Penguin and the Phoenix(PC) SECONDS cost with in $15.00 of each other, there is no reason to buy the PC's.

I have had my Paul Fox cups since 1975 and they have lasted so I guess they are durable enough. The Penguin cups, in copper, are actually heavier than the Paul Fox, so I would expect them to be even more durable. Those who really feel the need to beat their cups to draw a crowd, I recommend getting a cow bell.

Kirk G
Message: Posted by: John Cass (Jan 13, 2005 05:42PM)
Unless you just MUST have a set of cups that look like the Paul Fox cups, I would recommend the Laurie Ireland Memorial Copper cups. They are available from
http://www.adessoverlag.com . I got a set of these right after they came out. They are just a little lighter than the Penguin cups. They nest with three balls between them. And they cost less than the Penguin cups.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jan 13, 2005 05:49PM)
Okay. Here is the skivvy on the cups Michael Ammar is advertising on his web site. They are the Magic Makers Collector's Cups. I have a set of these, as well as the Penguin cups and the "kind of rare" chrome plated Collector's Cups in the museum. I don't stock any of these for resale. They are there strictly for historical completeness. I also have some of the Paul Fox cups that Jeff Busby made, for the same reason.

There is no reason that the Magic Makers cups should be any worse or better than the Penguin Cups. They are the same cup, just a different metal. They are made on the same machines, by the same workers and sent to the same warehouse before they make it up to Penguin. Calmagic has also been known to stock them.

There were some gold plated sets that went to a few dealers. J.P. Jackson had some of them. Brad Burt may have had some of them. I don't have a set. The chrome plated ones are a tad on the rare side because many of them didn't pass inspection. At least that's what the fellows at MM told me.
Message: Posted by: KirkG (Jan 14, 2005 12:50PM)

My point was that the copper was a better metal than brass, ergo better cup. Of course, that is only IMHO.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jan 14, 2005 01:35PM)
I'm not sure that anyone can say that copper is inherently a "better" metal than brass. It depends entirely upon what you want from the cups. It's a personal preference.

Danny Dew had a large percentage of his cups made from copper. He did a few runs in brass, and these varied in weight from lot to lot. I have two brass sets from different time periods. The weight of the cups is greater on the later cups.

Now, here are the facts about copper vs. brass. Copper is a softer metal. It is much more likely to dent than brass. Brass, on the other hand, is more difficult to spin. It requires more frequent annealing. If it isn't annealed properly, two or three years down the road, stress cracks and fractures will begin to show up on it. Copper will also work harden, but not as much.

Stainless steel is a much harder metal. It is much more difficult to spin, but it will last longer.

The difference between copper and brass is a matter of percentages of zinc and tin.

The "copper" cups we get nowadays are not pure copper. They are really a bronze. Bronze will be 80% to 90% copper, with 10% to 20% zinc in it. Some architectural Bronze has as little as 60% copper, and will contain other metals as well, such as lead, nickel and phosphorus.

The more zinc there is in the alloy, the yellower it becomes. In fact, the alloy that is called "red brass" is compositionally identical to "bronze."

Both bronze and brass sometimes contain a lead component and/or a tin component, as well. Lead makes the alloy easier to machine. Some bronzes/brasses, such as Naval bronze or "Tobin" will contain as much as 10% lead or more.

But lead is not a component you want in spun cups. It makes them too soft. And pure copper is also a bit soft to use for cups, although I suspect that some of my older cups, such as the Stubby cups, may have been made from an alloy that was about 5% zinc. The Michael Lee cups are very soft. They may be made of a close to pure copper alloy.
Message: Posted by: The Great Blackwell (Jan 15, 2005 12:57AM)

Is there any danger in repeatedly handling cups that have a high lead content? Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jan 15, 2005 01:18AM)
Not unless you drink something hot out of them. The percentage of lead in a high lead alloy bronze is no more than about 12%. That's not enough to cause any trouble.
Message: Posted by: The Great Blackwell (Jan 15, 2005 10:43AM)
Thanks, Bill, nice to know!
Message: Posted by: KirkG (Jan 16, 2005 09:34PM)
Bill, As always you a font of information. But copper cups are better!!! ;-)

Kirk G