I previously wrote an article about the history of cigar box juggling, but I was asked to research alternate props that have been used like cigar boxes. I found a number of very interesting variations.
Félicien Trewey (1848 – 1920) used three “round blocks,” which were sold in the oldest known juggling catalog, the Catalogue Of Fine Juggler Goods Manufactured By Prof. Otto Maurer, which was published in New York City, NY (USA) in the late 1880s. You can see an advertisement for Trewey’s Round Blocks below. This was the first known example of cigar box-type props for sale.
A very popular set of props that can be used to do cigar box-like manipulation is the “ball and two sticks.” It originated with Japanese Diakagura jugglers but was eventually picked up by Western jugglers in the early 1900s. You can click here to read an entire article I wrote on the subject. Below are an image and video from that article.
Rupert Ingalese’s 1921 book, “Juggling,” featured an advertisement for the “Ball and Two Sticks,” as can be seen below.
One variation of cigar box juggling that was popular in the middle of the twentieth century was the use of spools to do standard box moves. You can see a routine using these at the beginning of the following film of Mayes and Roth from 1920.
You can briefly see these being used in the following video of the 1950 IJA Convention, from 6 seconds to 9 seconds from the start of the film.
Nick Gatto juggling 3 spools like cigar boxes at the 1957 IJA Convention
Two spools used by the Juggling Jacksons from the Museum of Juggling History
David Lucas also used juggling spools to do cigar box moves in his act. You can see the spools in the foreground of the following photo.
Russian superstar Evegeni Biljauer performed cigar box-like moves as the beginning of his routine with three large balls, as you can see in the following video.
The Modern Era
Greg Kennedy has created a unique take on the cigar box with Rhombi. Using six wooden triangles joined in pairs, he has discovered many shapes and tricks with his inventions, as you can see below.
Daisuke Hagiwara (Ryuhan) of Shizuoka, Japan uses Tetris-shaped cigar boxes to perform a unique act.
Finnish juggler Jani Suihkonen manipulates five cigar box-like frames, as you can see in the following video.
Renegade Juggling made a six-sided version of cigar boxes for Erik Åberg. You can see them below.
A new and novel idea by Dawn Dreams is to manipulate letters to spell different words using cigar box-like moves. You can see one example of her work below.
As you can see, many jugglers have applied cigar box moves to variations of this popular prop. Perhaps future jugglers will continue to explore their creativity with designs and ideas that we’ve never thought of.