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fortasse
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Why do you think it took so long for the shoulder bead to become a fundamental feature of cup design? According to Bill Palmer, the shoulder bead did not make its appearance until the (early?) 1700s, by which time, of course, Cups and Balls had already been around for a millennium or two. I wonder if the emergence of the shoulder bead may have been influenced by the increasing popularity of C&B routines that emphasized the stacking of cups (and thus, the need for cups that would facilitate stacking). This is just a wild guess. Would be interested in hearing what others think. Of course, who really knows why it ever takes so long for a light to turn on inside some inventor's head? Just look at how long it took to invent....well, just about everything we take for granted today.

One other thing (apropos of the above and Jim Riser's new shoulder-beadless cup), do you think this may be the start of a trend? It does have the advantage of imparting a more natural, everyday (i.e. less gimmicky) appearance to the cups. Further, many of the more popular routines today (including Vernon's) do not really involve very much stacking at all.

Aesthetically, though, it would be a sad day if the shoulder bead were to become extinct...then again, some compensating aesthetics would doubtless come along.

Fortasse

Posted: Feb 25, 2007 5:35pm
One other thing I should have mentioned : perhaps the shoulder bead was developed for the simple reason that it facilitated the manipulation of the cups (less tendency to slip and fall from the performer's hands)?

Fortasse
Bill Palmer
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Although Jim's Innocent Cups do not have a protruding shoulder bead, they do have a shoulder break which serves one of the purposes of the shoulder bead, i.e. keeping the cups from jamming together. This is not a new idea. Ravel's "super cups" have this kind of construction, as do the cups that were sold at auction a couple of years ago that were allegedly from Bartolomeo Bosco.

The question is interesting, though. I doubt that it can be answered simply. It might have something to do with a design for a cup by some metalsmith. Looking at tableware from the period might prove to be a way of determining this.

If it was for the purpose of preventing the cups from being dropped, it certainly hasn't worked. Cup workers still drop their cups from time to time, bead or no bead.

BTW, the information that the shoulder bead first made its appearance ca. 1700 does not come from me. It came from Bob Read. I got the information from the manuscript of his book containing photos of all the graphics he has collected or photographed that show the Cups and Balls being performed.
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Richard Evans
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Quote:
On 2007-02-25 18:39, Bill Palmer wrote:
Looking at tableware from the period might prove to be a way of determining this.



I like that suggestion.

Presumably, beading would have been largely decorative (though there's the obvious practical advantage of being able to store cups in a stack). I suspect that cups in common everyday use would have been fairly plain, even crudely made.

Bearing in mind that the street magicians/jugglers were largely performing for the lower classes of society (and would have been members of that class of society, too), so they would probably have used what was available and familiar to them. The potential problem in looking at tableware from the period is that this might reflect the styles of cups from higher levels in that society (i.e. what has survived is the more expensive stuff).

The cups from the 17th/18th engravings all show the traditional tall shaped cups. Bill, do you know if Bob ever discovered whether these cups were specifically made as magicians' props, or whether this shape of cup was also common in everyday use?

Richard
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fortasse
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This may be helpful to the discussion : In "The Secret Out" (Cremer(?), 1859) which antedates both Robert-Houdin's "Secrets of Conjuring" and Hoffman's "Modern Magic", the shoulder bead is referred to as the "second rim". According to the author, this second rim "should be half an inch or so from the one at the edge of the cup." This second rim, according to the author, "serves to raise the cup easily; it also enables you to hold it conveniently in the hand, while slipping the little ball of cork, called a juggler's ball."

This suggests that the shoulder bead was "purpose-built", rather than an aesthetic feature.

Fortasse
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I wouldn't place much stock in anything Cremer said. There is no evidence that he actually was a magician. I would look for an earlier source for everything he wrote. He was a 19th century magic hack writer.

The actual evidence for the cups conjurers use being a purpose-built prop is in Hocus Pocus, Junior. That is the drawing of the cup with the recessed bottom. This one feature is more important to performing the Cups and Balls than the shoulder bead. None of the 17th century drawings or paintings I have seen show the shoulder bead. In Bob's manuscript, though, he shows a graphic dated ca. 1710 that shows a performer doing the Cups and Balls dockside, and his annotation is, "This is the earliest graphic I have seen that shows cups with a shoulder bead." (or words to that effect). Sadly, I did not write down which graphic this was. A day after I returned that portion of his manuscript to him, I asked him if he could remember which drawing it was, and he said that he was unable to.

Some of the graphics that apparently show cups with shoulder beads (or second rims) actually show a stack of cups. This is particularly true of the illustrations in books of hours, books of planets and tarot cards.

Hopefully, Pauline will find the wherewithal to publish the book.
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fortasse
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I wouldn't be so dismissive of the "Secret Out" just because of Cremer's putative authorship of it. The author may actually have been Frikell. That's why I put a question mark after Cremer's name in my last post.

Fortasse
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It has been firmly established that Frikell had nothing to do with Cremer's books. The inference that Frikell and Cremer might have been the same person came from a reference in the introduction to one of Cremer's books and the appearance of Frikell's name on the title page of some of the editions of The Secret Out.

On page 73 of A Bibliography of English Conjuring 1581 - 1876, Raymond Toole-Stott says the following about this:
Quote:
"The Secret Out" purports to be a translation of a book by Wiljalba (Gustave) Frikell, whose name appears on the title page of some editions, but actually most of the tricks are taken from "The Magician's Own Book" published in New York in 1939. Cremer himself acknowledges his indebtedness to this book in the American edition of "The Secret Out" and to "many others of like character and value," but in the English edition he gives as his source "Le Magicien des Salons", revised by references to Decremps, Ozanam, etc. Wiljalba Frikell was in London in 1858 and published a little duodecimo under the title "Professor W.F.'s Lessons in Magic" but it has no relation to Cremer's compliateion (although he is given as the translator and editor) and Frikell did not publish anything in German. When Frikell's son was in London in the '70's Cremer may have thought it would give the book more authority to create the impression that it was a translation of a book by a well-known conjuror. The book was reprinted several times, both here and in America, and was last reprinted in "The Secret Out" series by J. Grant, Edinburgh.


So Frikell had NOTHING to do with any of Cremer's material. It was a promotional move on Cremer's part to foist off his writing as that of someone much more respected in magic than he was. Cremer wrote a fairly large number of mass-market conjuring books, including The Secret Out, The Magician's Own Book, Hanky-Panky, and Magic, No Mystery. None of these are as well-written or as relevant to magic as the Hoffmann books. There are a few things of historical interest in The Secret Out, such as "The Dagger Sleight," which is a very interesting variant on the paddle move. But this is not material that is worthy of mentioning in the same sentence with the name of Wiljalba Frikell.
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fortasse
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Not so fast. Toole-Stott was hardly drawing a definitive conclusion about the authorship of "Secret Out", so neither should we. Clearly, he was casting doubt and raising suspicion about the claims that Frikell wrote the book, but he was careful not to dismiss the claims completely. He was speculating about the authorship of the book, not presenting proof that Frikell had nothing to do with it. Similarly, Clarke's "Bibliography of Conjuring" cautiously states (viz. "it is believed") that Frikell was not the author, but rather a writer by the name of H.L. Williams. Another celebrated conjuring bibliographer, H. Adrian Smith, also speculated that the true author was H.L. Williams. So did Stanyon (Magic, March, 1910), who went even further and suggested that the book was actually just a translation of a French book on magic. However, neither Smith nor Stanyon, nor Clarke, nor Toole-Stott ever stated categorically that Frikell had nothing to do with the authorship of the book. It is clear from what they wrote that, although they had their theories, they weren't entirely sure. Neither should we be.

Fortasse
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You are flogging a dead mule on this one. Stanyon's conclusion was drawn upon the fact that Cremer listed Le Magicien de Salon as the source of the book in one of the English editions. That's covered in Toole-Stott.

I have all of the Cremer books referenced except for Magic-No Mystery. Why would he use the French book as a source, when he had already written the source material himself (or plagiarized it!) almost 20 years before in Magician's Own Book?

The answer is simple. He used these references to sell books.

He was a HACK.

Regarding H.L. Williams -- what other magic books did he write? Remember Cremer's period of production. Cremer published during the time, roughly from 1839 to 1878. Dick and Fitzgerald re-hashed some of his material. But Cremer's material was basically the same stuff, restated in some way or another. That fairly well defines a hack writer.
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fortasse
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How can you be so definitive on this point when the very sources upon which you rely - Toole-Stott among them - are themselves anything but definitive? That is the irony of your argument. I don't have a horse in this race (nor a dead mule!), but I do think it's important not to overstate the position. The best you can state, based on your own sources, is that there is considerable doubt that Frikell was the author, but then again, you can't really say - as indeed you have - that it has been "firmly established" that Frikell was not the author or that "he had NOTHING to do with Cremer's material". Such an absolute conclusion is simply not supported by the sources you have cited.

One other thing: you take Stanyon to task for attributing the authorship to one H.L. Williams, but you ignore the fact - stated in an earlier message - that conjuring bibliographers of the first respectability, like Clarke and H. Adrian Smith, suggested precisely the same authorship, as well.

Fortasse
Julie
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Didn't the so-called "Garcia Cups" have an alternate design that had the same function as the shoulder bead?

Julie
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Well, sort of. Bill has pictures of them in his museum. They were rather ugly, raised bumps on the sides. It looked very much like it was an afterthought and, according to what I read, there's no evidence to support that Garcia ever used cups like this.
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Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2007-03-01 15:49, fortasse wrote:
How can you be so definitive on this point when the very sources upon which you rely - Toole-Stott among them - are themselves anything but definitive? That is the irony of your argument. I don't have a horse in this race (nor a dead mule!), but I do think it's important not to overstate the position. The best you can state, based on your own sources, is that there is considerable doubt that Frikell was the author, but then again, you can't really say - as indeed you have - that it has been "firmly established" that Frikell was not the author or that "he had NOTHING to do with Cremer's material". Such an absolute conclusion is simply not supported by the sources you have cited.


I have quoted one source -- Toole-Stott. Toole-Stott does not mention H.L. Williams anywhere. You haven't answered my question. What else did H.L. Williams write?

If you have no horse, or even a mule, in this race, why do you keep riding him so hard?

You have a habit of making outrageous statements about Cups and Balls, then coming up with nothing to support them. This is not the first time you have done this.


Quote:
On 2007-03-01 15:56, fortasse wrote:
One other thing: you take Stanyon to task for attributing the authorship to one H.L. Williams, but you ignore the fact - stated in an earlier message - that conjuring bibliographers of the first respectability, like Clarke and H. Adrian Smith, suggested precisely the same authorship, as well.


I'm not taking Stanyon to task. I have the older edition of the Annals of Conjuring. I could find NO reference to H.L. Williams in the book. YOU are the one who is quoting Stanyon, not me. I don't have Stanyon's Magic. My question about Williams is an honest one. What did he write that we can actually put his name on? What were his dates of writing?

Quote:
On 2007-03-01 17:44, Julie wrote:
Didn't the so-called "Garcia Cups" have an alternate design that had the same function as the shoulder bead?

Julie


They had the famous "ugly knobs." According to one of my sources, Garcia never used these cups.
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fortasse
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I have absolutely no idea what Williams wrote, but what I do know is that he is cited by three eminent authorities- Clarke, H. Adrian Smith, and Stanyon - as the probable author of "Secret Out". That is what is directly relevant to the present discussion. I am surprised to learn that you do not have access to Stanyon's Magic as I distinctly recall having read on this forum that you are a member of the Conjuring Arts Research Center. If you go on their website and "Ask Alexander", he will direct you to a PDF copy of the relevant page of Stanyon's Magic - and the reference to H.L. Williams. The same website will lead you to the relevant page of Clarke's bibliography where he makes the same attribution of authorship. If you can't find the references, let me know. I will give you more specific search directions.

It is regrettable that you feel the need to inject personal invective and insult into your discourse. You should have more confidence in the power of your own arguments than to stoop to that sort of thing. It is unworthy of you. Besides, what outrageous statements have I made? All I dared do was question whether Frikell might be the author of Secret Out - a line of speculation that places me in good company when you look at the illustrious conjuring historians who have engaged in similar speculation on this very same question over the years. I also dared to remonstrate with you for presenting Toole-Stott's bibliography as authority for the proposition that Frikell was not the author of Secret Out when, in fact, Toole-Stott said no such thing. He certainly presented a compelling case against Frikell, but he most assuredly did not present a definitive, end-of-story conclusion on the matter. Instead, he kept an open mind. Why, then, are you so desperate to proclaim Frikell's non-authorship (and now H. L. Williams') as an absolute, immutable truth? When you presume to pontificate on these things, you need to have something to back it up, and the source upon which you rely most assuredly does not serve this purpose. All you need do to satisfy yourself of this is to go back and re-read the earlier post in which you quoted Toole-Stott verbatim. He was not being definitive. So how on earth can you be if, as you say, he is your only source?

Incidentally, on eBay, right now, copies of "Magician's Own Book" and "Secret Out" are on offer from H&R Magic books. Each item is accompanied by a detailed description that draws heavily from H. Adrian Smith. Based on this, authorship of both works is attributed to H.L. Williams, not Cremer. See eBay item #270093768858 (The Magician's Own Book) and #270093738941 (The Secret Out). This is in line with what I said earlier and should give you fresh reason to question whether Cremer was really the author of these books. As I pointed out in an earlier post, Smith, Clarke, and Stanyon all suggest Williams as the author, not Cremer at all.

Fortasse

Fortasse
Bill Palmer
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There seems to be some confusion on your part about what books these authors are referring to. First of all, there are two complete sets of The Magician's Own Book, The Secret Out, and Hanky Panky. The English set, published by Chatto and Windus, are the ones that were "edited" by W.H. Cremer. The latter two were the source of the American editions, which were published by Dick and Fitzgerald. In the case of The Magician's Own Book, there were at least two English editions of these. One predated the other books (ca 1839, not 1939 as I stated previously - sorry about the typo), the other was published after The Secret Out with a notation in the introduction that this second publication was brought about due to the popularity of The Secret Out.

So, what does this have to do with the discussion at hand? First of all, let me say that I do not consider Clarke or Stanyon as authoritative for bibliographical material as I do Toole-Stott. Toole-Stott had material and people at his disposal that neither Clarke nor Stanyon had. Also, he was a trained bibliographer as is plain to see from his work.

H. Adrian Smith is an entirely different matter. He is much more contemporary than Clarke or Stanyon, and he had a huge amount of material in his personal library. I finally found a reference to H.L. Williams in Books at Brown in a chapter about Dick and Fitzgerald. He states that H.L. Williams, a "hack writer" (sic) undoubtedly wrote The Secret Out with help from John Wyman. But he doesn't give any similar authorship to the other books. Not only that, his article in this section, particularly in the footnotes, has a number of errors.

He questions Cremer's authorship of The Secret Out and the date of publication given in some sources, but offers no proof other than his feelings.
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JR-mobile1
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Getting back to the original question...
As a cup maker, it is my feeling that some insightful magician figured out that a ball, or more than one, could cleanly nest between cups if the cups were held apart slightly by a "shoulder bead". I feel this is the reason for this feature - not to improve the grip of the cup while in use. On most utilitarian items, such a feature would serve two main purposes: 1) strengthen the wall of the cup and 2) decoration. Such cups would not have been made until the tools necessary for forming the beads had been developed. The above time frame seems appropriate for the development of the required machine for forming this "shoulder bead". Once the tooling was available, the "shoulder bead" could be added to the props. Perhaps a magician saw such dressing added to a vessel in common use and understood the use of such a feature to the working magician. After other magic workers saw the newer style of cups, this feature would become the sought after item of the times. This would be much like today with others immediately copying something new done by another. Times really have not changed.
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Getting back to the question about The Secret Out, I have done the research now concerning who wrote what. Ask Alexander is not necessarily the best place to go for the information. The Library of Congress provided me with information not in Ask Alexander, such as the fact that they have 51 books on file that were written by H.L. Williams, who was probably too young to have contributed anything of value to The Secret Out or The Magician's Own Book. Only one of these had anything to do with magic. The others were on various other subjects.

The results of my research are posted here:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......35&4
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
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