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MagiUlysses
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Greetings and Salutations,

I have some Christmas cash burning a hole in my pocket, and after having played with my Morrisey combo cups (a fine product by the way), I have determined that I want a heavier set, with a more Renaissance-era look and feel (as I do RenFests and am putting together a street set for performing at various fairs, on the streets and other venues).

I am currently stuck between the Phoenix and new Johnson sets. I've been able to play, to a certain extent, with the Phoenix cups and balls, but there are no Johnsons available locally.

The cost would be nearly identical, and I could support a local brick-and-mortar store with the Phoenix purchase, but I've read some good things about the Johnson cups, which are based on the Paul Fox-style cups.

I realize, Danny and Koz, that you're going to advise me to get the Gazzo cups, but after picking up his book and video, I'm going to have to cut a corner somewhere until my coffers have refilled. And the Johnson cups are based on the Paul Fox' which Gazzo talks about in his book.

So my question is, what are your views on the Phoenix and Johnson cups and balls, as well as the other sets out there that I may not be considering in the $200 (plus/or minus) range.

Thanks,

Joe in KC

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Harry Murphy
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Without knowing your routine it is difficult to recommend which of these two sets (or any set for that matter) to use.

The Phoenix Cups are copies of the Ross Bertram/Miller cups. They do nave a nice antique appearance, tarnish well, and have a solid feel and heft to them. However, they don’t nest as well as they originals (there is a slight wobble and they nest lower on the bead than they should) and will not hold three 1-inch balls in the attic (between two nested cups). However if your routine does not call for more than one ball to be held out between the two cups then they will suffice.

The Johnson cups are more the Danny Drew/Paul Fox pattern. They are beautiful, nest well, stack solidly, and hold three 1-inch balls between two nested cups. Like the Phoenix Cups they have a nice feel and heft to them. They need to be kept polished, as they do not tarnish as well as a copper cup.

If you have used the Morrissey Combo cup, are used to it, and like the feel of it, then why not look at the Morrissey Copper Cups. They nest well, will hold three 7/8-inch balls between them, and tarnish well for that antique look. Their only drawback is that they are much lighter than the Phoenix or Johnson cups. But then they cost 2/3 less!
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MagiUlysses
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Greetings and Salutations Harry,

Thanks for the post, as a former or still "rennie," I was hoping you would weigh in on this one.

My current routine is pretty simple, with just a single ball nested in the cups at any one time, but that doesn't mean that someday I may not want to do more.

I want functional, but "look-and-feel" are important -- at one faire in particular, they tend to get hardcore on "period, period." If you follow me?

I like the idea of the Johnson cups, and I think I was reading somewhere else what you indicated about both sets, but can't determine if the Johnson cups are copper or brass. They claim to be brass and so should tarnish up nicely, and still have the ability to be cleaned up nicely if needed, but your "copper" comment and not tarnishing well are scaring me off.

I would go with the copper Morriseys, but they're pretty light for my tastes (and big mitts), and I worry about banging them up, and I'm having a tough time finding lemons that will fit in them for a final load. Of course, if I could find them cheaply enough I could consider some alternatives.

Thanks for your input.

Joe in KC
Danny Hustle
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The Phoenix cups, I just don't like. The Johnson cups, very sexy. The new (bigger) Gazzo cups are awesome (and very expensive).

The best value? For street performance nothing beats Pete Biro's Gali-Gali cups. They are thinner and will dent but they will hold a HUGE load full orange, look very nice, nest well, will hold 3 1 inch balls, and I beat the heck out of mine and they are still ticking. They also cost under $200 (or just $200) if memory serves.

If you must buy the Phoenix cups look on ebay. They sell the 'seconds' for under $100 and for 70 or 80 bucks they are not a bad deal. They are poorly shaped but heavy as all get out. So at that price they are a decent cup. But, I agree with Harry (as usual) and his thoughts on the cups.


For the record, the phoenix or johnson cups are not 'period' The Cellini cups which are also very nice have the classic middle ages conical shape. Anything short and squat is not going to be from the period you describe although, not many people could tell the difference. I wouldn't know the difference if I had not seen some old lithos and read some of Bob Read's stuff. For the record Bob Read is the cups and balls guru of all time in MHO as far as history and knowledge goes. He also has a brilliant routine himself.

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Payne
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If you are going to be doing a Ren Faire then may I suggest the Bosco Cups from Harries Magic. These are a very large and relatively inexpensive (around $80.00 US)cup which is also the perfect flower pot shape that was used in period.
I just got a set last month and am anxious to start using them.
you can see and order them here
http://www.harriesmagic.com/engelsk/katalog.html#cups
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Swami Bill
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Le Monde
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I just started working with my new set of Harries copper cups. They clocked in at about $95 by the time the new price and postage were figured in. I like 'em alot. They're big and they're the shape I was looking for(the "flower pot" shape mentioned above.Until I make enough dough to afford those Cellini silver cups I saw the other day I'll just have to make these do...

- Bill
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Jeff Dial
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I'll second Danny's advice on buying the Phoenix cups on ebay. I got mine for about $50. For $50 - $70 you won't cringe as much when you drop them on a sidewalk. Smile
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Kozmo
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I know a cups and balls routine....but I don't perform it on the streets.....first of all....it's what everyone does....so I'm a little different...I do a chop cup routine thats pretty good I think....now I would be doing the cups and balls routine except I haven't finished the chop cup routine.....someday when I think its done...and it's really, really good....I'm gonna sell it.....and likely do what every other street performer under the sun does...the cups and balls....by the way...I have only one set of cups....dont know who made them....cellini gave them to me as a gift....I like them just fine....

koz
BroDavid
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Doesn't anybody use the 3 1/2 inch Rose Flower pots? They are clay and cost about .59 each at Craft or garden stores. And have some nice heft to them. The regular flower pots have a narrow rim whereas the "rose pots" have about a much wider "step" that supports the nesting cups.

Just wondering if these might work on the Ren fair circuit, and you could even do some kind of "smash the cup with a hammer at the end" to prove the mystery?

Just a thought. I have Phoenix cups, Morrisey Cups, and another bigger set. But these Rose Pots handle better due to the weight and clay surface, and they stack at least as well as Phoenix, and they have a nice capacity for a top load of 2 -3 balls.

If I am ever out of town and want to do the cups and balls without my equipment, I will jsut pick some of these up at a garden or craft shop.

BroDavid
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Carlos Hampton
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BroDavid,

Don't these cups have a hole in the bottom???
How do you deal with that?
BroDavid
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A round sticker on the inside would allow you to mark it black on the outside, but not be able to see through the hole. It would still look pretty innocent.

And now that you mention it, I think that would add to the innocence of the cups themselves. But you could also put the label on outside bottom of the cup and use a marker to letter the cups or number them, or use different colored labels as a means to identify the cups to the audience.

But worse case, the hole isn't that big and unless the ball under the cup ended up directly under the hole, it would not be visible.

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Michael Dustman
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I perform with a set of Johnson cups and really enjoy them. I started with a Morrisey set to develop the routine, but they were too light for my taste.

I just got an e-mail from Hocus Pocus. If you are one of their on-line members, they are running a sale through Friday to purchase a new Phoenix set of Cups and Balls with wand, case, etc. for $99.95.
MagiUlysses
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Greetings and Salutations One & All,

And many thanks for the thoughtful responses.

OK, they're not as period as I'd like, but at $100, I got to go with Phoenix Cups and Balls at Hocus Pocus. Thanks for the tip Michael.

Thanks again, Buskers, for all the advise. See you on the streets.

Now after I make my first $300 on the streets, I'm going to have to decide between Cellini's and Gazzo's. Any comments?

Joe in KC
Danny Hustle
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Both are nice cups. The Gazzo Cups hold a MUCH bigger load. A full orange plays for a bigger crowd than a small lemon.

You can get the Phoenix cups direct from Tom Frank for under $100 on EBAY! Tom is the guy who makes the cups! Look there before you plunk down a C-Note. They are tiny and not well made. If you are not going to use them as a collectors item but a work tool who cares about the box and the stick. Also, it is NOT a Lignum Vite (Iron wood) wand.
Really big guy, save yourself a couple of bucks. The box they come in is cheap too.

For a $100 I would probably go with the Bosco cups payne mentioned. They look sweet and will tarnish quick and look and feel like a period cup. The Phoenix cups are not period cups at all. Payne knows his ren faires, I'd trust his advice.

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Pokie-Poke
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I'm going to try the flower pot Idea!
I think my goal is going to be to have All my sets of C&Bs to add up to be under the price of one of these fancy sets.
I have seen a guy wow them with 3 paper coffe cups and papper balls, price free!
I'm not saying that the cups mentiond are not nice cups, just that I am more into the show than the cup. I cruise the doller stores, yard sales, ect. looking for cups that might work. I think I spent $35 or $40 on my good set.

Some one help me understand why some of these cups cost what thay do?
www.pokie-poke.com
The Adventure cont...
MagiUlysses
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Greetings and Salutations Danny,

I must be insane, listening to some guy named Danny Hustle and his pal, Payne, but in a complete reversal of fortunes, I just ordered the Bosco cups from Harris. You gotta trust somebody, right, and a street busker and a rennie works for me.

Hey, with the money I'm saving, I'm going to pick up M. Ammar's complete cups and balls project (book and videos), and compare and contrast it with Gazzo's stuff. Besides, I like the way Ammar teaches.

To ease my weary brain, does anyone have any ideas on how much Harris charges for shipping and about how long I'm going to have to sit by my mailbox.

I want to do some in-depth history with my street act, and Sheridan's book is great on history of street performing. You guys have any ideas on books where I can get more history on the cups and the Chinese rings?

Thanks. Now go play in the street.

Joe in KC
Whit Haydn
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Pokie Poke:

Getting cups made is an expensive proposition. The original design has to be created by an artist/magician who knows and understands the requirements of the design--something rarer than you would suppose--and then the cups have to be machined or spun.

Many sets of expensive cups are poorly designed, and don't stack properly, or are too susceptible to dents, or don't have sufficient space for the balls between the cups, etc., so good design is paramount, and is an initial expense.

The copper, pewter, brass, or other metal is expensive, and the heavier the cup, the more expensive. You have to front enough money to make a lot of sets to begin with, and the market is crowded with many different kinds and grades of cups so it is difficult to know how many you can sell and how long it will take to sell them.

Street Cups are necessarily bigger than cups used in most other performing situations. This is because they must play bigger for larger crowds than a close-up worker, and also because the street performer most often works with a giberciere or poachers pouch which enables him to use bigger loads than would fit in a close-up worker's pockets.

The School for Scoundrels has the Gazzo cups made in England, and the cost of manufacture and shipping is so high that we can not wholesale the item. We would have to charge $600 retail in order to wholesale them at a profit. We did not feel there was much of a market at that high a price. Therefore we only sell them off our website at retail and do not wholesale the item.

The price of other cups depends on the weight of the cup, the method of manufacture (machined, spun, hand-spun) and other considerations. But most of the cups out there are not over-priced. They are priced at what they need to be priced in order to make a profit.

Machined cups, like Joe Porper's, are the most expensive. Hand Spun cups (Gazzo Cups)are probably the next expensive, but that is the only way to spin heavy cups and the there are very few people left in the US or in England that can or will do this kind of work. The machine spun cups are usually much lighter in weight.

I just have to say that apart from all the other considerations mentioned here, well-made metal cups are a joy to perform with. I have used many different cups over the years, and the aesthetics of appearance, sound, balance, weight and feel of a good set of metal cups just can't be touched by plastic, styrofoam, or pottery. You can do the linking ropes instead of the rings, and entertain and fool just as many people, but it just isn't as exciting for the audience--it lacks the noise, the shine, and the solidity of the metal rings.

Good metal cups are just the most practical, most appealing to the audience, and most pleasurable way from the performer's standpooint to do this ancient trick. This is just my view, but I know it is shared by most of the pros who make their livings with the cups and balls.
MagiUlysses
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Greetings and Salutations Whit,

Thanks for sharing so much of what you have done, the rings, the ropes, and your "Street Magic," which got me into this little adventure.

And more thanks on sharing why magic and props cost what they do. I'm aware of the why's and wherefore's of the whole process, but you said it in as few words as I've run across. If you don't mind, I'm going to bookmark your response so I can "share" it with others who don't always add up the why's and wherefore's.

Thanks again for sharing the magic.

Joe in KC
Payne
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I just dug out my invoice and the shipping was 22.00 US and they took a couple of weeks to get here, but that was over the Xmas holidays so you should get them a bit sooner.
You won't regret getting these cups. for the price they are a excellent deal and a wonderful period style to boot.
As for additional material on the cups
"Hocus Pocus Jr" has a period routine with patter as does "The Whole Art of Legerdemain, both of which one can find in reprint editions.
If you are lucky enough to locate a copy of "The Oldest Deception" by Kurt Volkmann do so as it gas many marvelous period illustrsations of cups and ball workers.
"Legerdemain", a reprint of the Encyclopedia Brittanica article on conjuring from 1797 is a good resource as well.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
ASW
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Joe - I would second comments made by Whit Haydn and Danny Hustle.

If you buy the Phoenix cups you may be disappointed by the attic space. I had a set of Charlie Miller/Magic Inc cups (same as the Phoenix) and they were awful. Quality control was bad on these cups - though a FEW turned out ok. I found that nest/attic space was non-existent. If you placed a 1 inch ball in a cup and stacked a cup on top, the cup rested on the ball, NOT THE CUP. The good ones were all snapped up 20 years ago when Magic Inc sold them.

I have the Galli cups and they are excellent value. They will nest three large balls and have ample room for large final loads.

I also have the Cellini cups - excellent cups that ring like bells when you bash them with a wand (loudest I've ever come across and great for getting attention). They are also built like tanks so you would not be worried to drop them when working on the street. They don't nest as well as some cups but they are excellent quality and look fantastic. And a very good price - best value on the market.

The Johnson cups look nice and have a good feel, but Brass looks awful when it tarnishes, as opposed to copper. If they made them in copper I'd buy a set in a flash.

If you want a really nice Paul Fox set, check out http://www.JESmagic.com. Their copper sets are gorgeous, though you will need a smaller final load (such as a nectarine) and smaller balls if you want to do sequences where the three balls travel under a stacked cup. I would hate to bash these up, though... To work the street I think the Cellini cups would be great (can load an orange) or the Galli (a grapefruit!).

All the best
Andrew Wimhurst
Whenever I find myself gripping anything too tightly I just ask myself "How would Guy Hollingworth hold this?"

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"I would respect VIPs if they respect history."

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