D’Alvini – Juggler and Magician

D’Alvini (1847-1891) was born William Peppercorn in England. He was a famous magician and juggler. He was the cousin of celebrated clown Governelli, who also took on an Italian sounding name to seem more mysterious. D’Alvini traveled to Japan at one point, where he learned many skills and even began passing himself as Japanese. Before launching his solo career, he toured the United States and Europe with some actual Japanese performers. During his career, he performed for many world leaders, including the Mikado of Japan, Napoleon III of France, Queen Victoria of England, Czar Alexander of Russian, Emperor William of Germany, and the Sultan of Turkey. His wife, Isabella English, performed with his as Madame Kara. During his relatively short life, D’Alvini performed in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America.

D’Alvini, shown out of costume

William Peppercorn a.k.a D’Alvini

As I stated earlier, D’Alvini was both a talented magician and juggler. Let’s take a look at his juggling repertoire.

The book Around the World with a Magician and a Juggler by Hartwig Seeman was published in 1891 and gave a fairly detailed listing of D’Alvini’s act, which went back and forth between juggling and magic routines. Below are the juggling portions listed.

Feats of Juggling using bottles, plates, balls, bullets, etc. – more than 20 original effects.

Comical Juggling Act

Non-Plus Ultra – Grand balancing act with square wooden blocks, nothing like it ever produced. Years of practice by a skillful performer necessary to produce this Jewel of Juggling Feats.

Next came a section called “Balancing Feats of D’Alvini,” which included the following.

This was followed by an assortment of juggling tricks between magic routines.

The three balls and Japanese bow routine listed was one he was well-known for performing. Below is a description of D’Alvini presenting it, followed by an illustration from the Otto Maurer catalog showing the props in action.

Next came the main juggling section of D’Alvini’s show, which consisted of 56 routines.

There are illustrations of D’Alvini performing some of these tricks, although they are sometimes combined together. You can see these illustrations below.

Some of D’Alvini’s tricks

Some of D’Alvini’s tricks combined together. Note the depiction of ball spinning, which is the earliest know illustration of the skill.

D’Alvini passed away while on tour in Chicago, IL (USA) at the young age of 43.

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-six books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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