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Topic: Sponge Ball History - putting together a timeline
Message: Posted by: MINDPSYCHIC (Oct 20, 2008 05:25AM)
Hello all. Long time lurker, recently turned poster. I am working on a project and would like to know something of the history and evolution of spongeballs, so that I can give credit where credit is due. I've done a Café search, but can't quite find what I'm looking for. I'm sure this topic has been covered by another thread- but I can't seem to find it. Any info, book titles, or search criteria would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
Message: Posted by: pepka (Oct 20, 2008 05:31AM)
I'm certainly no expert on the subject as I find most sponge ball routines repulsive, and don't perform one myself. However, I do believe that Frank Garcia wrote the Encyclopedia of Sponge Ball Magic.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Oct 20, 2008 06:00AM)
I believe the trick was performed with tissue paper before the sponge balls. But who was the first to use sponges...good question.
Message: Posted by: Eddie Torres (Oct 20, 2008 06:04AM)
Which is expensive as heck but is absolutely worth it even if just as a collector. Any serious spongeballer should pick this up, just to have it... The Encyclopedia, that is.
You can also look through any older books that go into any details on spongeballs and many will go into details on how to make sponges which are obviously pre-Goshman, when no one was manufacturing them. If you have the Tarbell books, look through them. You may also want to contact the fine folks at Goshman and see if they have any info available for whatever it is you want to know.
I have a huge collection of sponge items if you need any specific info on any current items, as well.

Eddie
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 20, 2008 09:57AM)
Start with [i]The Sponge Book[/i] by Laurie Ireland. It was published by Irelands Magic, which later became Magic, Inc. It is still in print.

Ignore any references to tissue paper. Sponge rubber has characteristics that tissue paper doesn't have. Do a search in the files of the Jinx and the Phoenix to see when sponge balls first appeared there.

Also check [i]Classic Secrets of Magic[/i] by Bruce Elliott. There is a mention of sponge balls in there.

The Goshman style sponges were originally made by Ravell, who sold his business to Al Goshman.

Also, post this in the historical section. You will get responses there that you won't get in this part of the forum.
Message: Posted by: MINDPSYCHIC (Oct 20, 2008 10:19AM)
Thanks for the helpful replies. Just the type of info I was looking for. Thanks again!
Message: Posted by: Payne (Oct 20, 2008 10:40AM)
This ad from Rohn Magic in the Vol. 3 of the 1925 Linking Ring states they are a "New Effect"

MYSTIC SPONGE BALLS - A new
principle in Magic. The newest and best
pocket trick out. Four balls in right
hand vanish one at a time and appear in
left hand. Also done in spectators own
hands. It will fool magicians.
Price complete $1-00

So it looks like they came out in the 1920's sometime
Message: Posted by: Jimeh (Oct 20, 2008 11:17AM)
I didn't realize sponge balls went that far back!
Message: Posted by: Open Traveller (Oct 20, 2008 11:36AM)
In [i]The Vernon Touch[/i], Dai Vernon names the person who probably originated the effect of the sponge balls in the hand.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 20, 2008 11:57AM)
You might try going to Google and doing a search on Polyurethane foam. When you do, you will find a patent number. Go to http://www.uspto.gov and do a search for that patent number.

Look at the reference for claims -- these are the things that inspired the patent. Use these to find earlier examples.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Oct 20, 2008 02:13PM)
Thanks, Bill. You did it again. :)
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Oct 22, 2008 04:43PM)
In some XVIII century books, sea sponges were used as large loads for the cups and balls
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 22, 2008 05:58PM)
True; however, the sponge ball didn't really become a viable performing medium until the advent of foam rubber. That gave the magician a chance to do certain things that were difficult to make convincing, because of the individualty of certain sponges.
Message: Posted by: beverage (Oct 23, 2008 12:50AM)
[quote]
On 2008-10-20 06:31, pepka wrote:
I'm certainly no expert on the subject as I find most sponge ball routines repulsive, and don't perform one myself. However, I do believe that Frank Garcia wrote the Encyclopedia of Sponge Ball Magic.
[/quote]

Repulsive? Gosh why. Be interested to hear why you have such a strong reaction. Genunine question, not the start of an argument :)
Message: Posted by: pepka (Oct 23, 2008 06:17AM)
Because they squish up. I know why most magic fools people, sponge balls, I'll never know. I've only seen 2 routines that I enjoy. One for pure originality and shock value, (Eugene Burger's) and one for brevity, (Marc Desouza's.) I've argued this point with magicians for years to no avail. The same goes for sponge bunnies. I have seen people kill with it, but I just don't know why.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Oct 23, 2008 11:36AM)
Francis Carlysle told me that the first magician to use sponge balls was "Count Orloff" -- Anyone know anything about him? I know I used to buy big sponges, the dark reddish/brown ones at Woolworth's and cut my own.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Oct 23, 2008 01:03PM)
Pepka, I think we tend to look at the sponge balls and other sponge tricks too much as magicians and not as laity. About a year ago, at a metropolis clergy-laity conference, I did a very simple sponge ball routine at the table during the banquet. One of my brother priests who was at the table immediately got up, ran over to the Metropolitan and told him that I needed to be exorcised. This coming from a graduate educated man raised in the U.S. in a major metropolitan city.

What laity see and perceive in the sponge routines is different than what we see.
Message: Posted by: pepka (Oct 23, 2008 02:33PM)
HA! That's a great story Father. I think we've all gotten reactions like that at one time or another, but YOU? I do understand that people get fooled by them all the time, but it just makes no sense to me. That stated, I'm REALLY considering starting one; Marc Desouza's. His uses a wonderful production of a steel ball bearing at the beginning. The actual sponge ball routine is nothing more than it jumping from his hand to the spectator's. As Marc says, "That's my entire sponge ball routine, when it disappears in your hand, and reappears in yours, it does not get any stronger."
Message: Posted by: Eddie Torres (Oct 24, 2008 01:41AM)
It does get stronger. In my restaurant set I used to do a basic routine building up to 3 green 2 inch spongeballs and end with 14 multicolored 2 inch balls in their hands. That's a tough one to beat in strength. I do a sponge pumpkin routine these days so I've ditched the multicolored ball ending, at least for this month.

Eddie
Message: Posted by: DGillam (Oct 24, 2008 08:47PM)
Somewhere rattling around in the back of my mind is the following:
Jes Lyberger - Linking Ring - 1926
I will try to verify if any or all of this relates to the first published sponge ball trick.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 24, 2008 10:38PM)
Eddie:

I really liked Dr. Jaks' Multiball, which I presume is similar to what you do. Tannen's came out with "Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits," which I think was actually made by Tenyo.

And Burger ran with the Multiball idea, as well.
Message: Posted by: Eddie Torres (Oct 25, 2008 08:21PM)
I'm not familiar with "Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits", did you mean "Rabbit Explosion"? That's definitly from Tenyo, it's the 40 rabbit finale from the magicians' hands. I use that during parlor shows, but with the 3-D's.

Eddie
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 25, 2008 09:14PM)
That's it! It was based on the Jaks Multiball, but was much more effective because of the size of the load. If you use the principle from Multiball, which is also the one from Burger, it is miraculous.
Message: Posted by: Eddie Torres (Oct 25, 2008 09:38PM)
Does Multiball use different colored balls? Do you know where I can find a copy of the routine?

Eddie
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 25, 2008 10:06PM)
No. It uses balls that are all the same color. It used to sell for a couple of dollars. I think it's out of print.
Message: Posted by: MarkTirone (Oct 26, 2008 05:20PM)
I heard on another forum that sponge balls used to be done with rocks. Goshman popularized these. Try wikipedia.
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Oct 28, 2008 03:19AM)
[quote]
On 2008-10-23 12:36, Pete Biro wrote:
Francis Carlysle told me that the first magician to use sponge balls was "Count Orloff" -- Anyone know anything about him?
[/quote]

Coud it be the same person

Ivannow Wladislaus von Dziarski-Orloff or Count Orloff was born in Hungary in 1864. While he was completely normal during his childhood, at the age of 14 he began to experience an unknown wasting disease. By early adulthood, Orloff was little more than a living skeleton – unable to stand and in constant pain. To deal with his tragic pain, Orloff took to the opium pipe – strangely enough the pipe became something of a trademark as many of his pitch cards pictured him puffing away and ‘chasing the dragon’. While during his career Orloff was known as an ossified man, his condition was actually quite the opposite. Orloff actually had a lack of bone density and this allowed his bones to bend and twist. Furthermore, his skin was paper thin and his musculature so atrophied that – with the aid of a bright spotlight - spectators could actually see the blood coursing through his veins. Not only that, but when a bright light was placed behind Orloff, the warm glow could actually been seen from the other side. As strange as Orloff was – many promoters felt a need to further embellish it. As a result - to this day, some still claim that a person could read a newspaper through the body of Orloff. A claim made in an early pamphlet. Orloff was known primarily as the “Living Ossified and Transparent Man”, “The Only Living Transparent and Ossified Man" but later in life he adopted the moniker of "The Human Window Pane". His tendency to show himself as a medical specimen allowed him to travel around the world. Eventually he went into business for himself – he owned his own successful sideshow. Houdini performed alongside side show performers in dime museums. He became close friends with many of them and came to appreciate the differing abilities that we all have. According to one author, “[Houdini] did enjoy knowing the freaks. They were the museum stars, capable of drawing large crowds and matching salaries. Harry worked with and befriended Count Orloff, the atrophied “Human Window Pane” (“You Can See His Heart Beat! You Can See His Blood Circulate!), who gave him a picture and autograph -- “To my friend Houdinis [sic].” Count Orloff died in 1904.
Message: Posted by: pepka (Oct 28, 2008 03:35AM)
[quote]
On 2008-10-25 22:14, Bill Palmer wrote:
That's it! It was based on the Jaks Multiball, but was much more effective because of the size of the load. If you use the principle from Multiball, which is also the one from Burger, it is miraculous.
[/quote]
As I said, I'm no expert, but I believe the method of the finale from Dr. Jaks routine is different from Eugene's. According to Eugene, in the Jaks routine, you are holding the balls and the spectator's wrist. They sort of, get added in the drop. In the Burger routine, ALL the balls are really in the spectator's hand. It's one of the most magical things I've ever seen.
Message: Posted by: Riley (Oct 28, 2008 10:37AM)
The late Ken Brooke told me he always carried a SPARE set of sponge balls, as well as his working set. I could never understand why, and like Pepka I just didn't like the effect, and ignored it for many years. That all changed when I tried it. The effect of a ball vanishing in your hand and appearing with the ball held by the spectator is just SO good. A useful tip: Carry a set of red and a set of green (I use 2")...if the venue is using red table cloths the green balls will be more visible. I've been using sponge balls now for many years and it is a great effect for lay people!
Message: Posted by: Eddie Torres (Oct 28, 2008 01:30PM)
[quote]
On 2008-10-28 04:35, pepka wrote:

As I said, I'm no expert, but I believe the method of the finale from Dr. Jaks routine is different from Eugene's. According to Eugene, in the Jaks routine, you are holding the balls and the spectator's wrist. They sort of, get added in the drop. In the Burger routine, ALL the balls are really in the spectator's hand. It's one of the most magical things I've ever seen.
[/quote]

I was wondering about that too, I thought maybe Burger had a different routine that used this technique.

Eddie
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Oct 29, 2008 01:08AM)
Lawrence. My goodness, you are a fountain of information. Too bad there aren't any others about that knew of Orloff and if he, indeed, was the one Carlysle talked about. Perhaps Persi Diaconis, who spent a lot of time with Carlysle might know.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 29, 2008 02:24AM)
[quote]
On 2008-10-28 04:35, pepka wrote:
[quote]
On 2008-10-25 22:14, Bill Palmer wrote:
That's it! It was based on the Jaks Multiball, but was much more effective because of the size of the load. If you use the principle from Multiball, which is also the one from Burger, it is miraculous.
[/quote]
As I said, I'm no expert, but I believe the method of the finale from Dr. Jaks routine is different from Eugene's. According to Eugene, in the Jaks routine, you are holding the balls and the spectator's wrist. They sort of, get added in the drop. In the Burger routine, ALL the balls are really in the spectator's hand. It's one of the most magical things I've ever seen.
[/quote]

You might be right. I learned of Burger's routine a long time ago. I think it was from one of his booklets. I learned the Jaks routine before that.
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Oct 30, 2008 04:39AM)
I thought I would add from Tarbell, Vol. 1 - 1927, p 163:

The magician is quick to take advantage of certain new creations and inventions and as these appear on the market new ideas open up for mysteries.

Manipulations with small balls have been popular with magicians. Mora, the magician, features small ball manipulation in his act. The Chinese and other Oriental magicians have interesting routines. Ching Ling Foo used small red balls which he called Chinese Cherries.

The introduction of sponge rubber was a blessing to the magician because of its compressive and expanding powers.

Ireland worked out a variety of routines using balls of varying sizes. Many of the routines while beautiful are quite complicated, much to the delight of the magician who likes the unusual...

P 164 - Paraphernailia:
Four sponge rubber balls. These are easily made by getting a rubber bath sponge at a drug store or department store (dark red rubber preferred) and cutting out four round balls about an inch in diameter with a pair of scissors. Best way is to cut our squares at first and then trim the squares into round balls.

For an impromptu emergency, cut a paper napkin into four parts and roll up each part tightly for a ball. The tissue balls work nicely, particularly in the home or at the dinner table.
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Nov 1, 2008 01:19AM)
In the Berg book, it is cclaimed that Joe Berg was the first one to introduce the sponge balls into the cups and balls. I'm sure that the claim is made but I'm not shure that it is accurate (or that it is not)