Dream Tricks Challenge # 3 – Old School / Gentleman Juggler Tricks

The two previous Dream Tricks Challenge articles challenged jugglers to attempt tricks that had never been done, at least on video. The results were quite amazing. This edition of DTC stays true to idea of attempting tricks that haven’t been done on video, but this time we’re going to go back in time quite a bit for our inspiration. This time, the tricks will come from the era of Gentleman jugglers and those of the same general era or shortly afterward. Historical accounts tell us of numerous tricks done by jugglers of the late 1800s and early 1900s that the modern world has never seen. My hope is that some of these tricks will be resurrected by my readers. This should be a fun challenge, I think. You don’t have to be one of the world’s top technical jugglers to get a few of these, although most certainly aren’t easy, by any stretch of the imagination. As with previous Dream Trick Challenges, video yourself doing the trick and upload it to youtube as an unlisted video. Then send me the link at davidcainjuggler@hotmail.com or via facebook. Prizes will be given to the best entries. Some of these tricks use knives, bottles, or plates. If possible, please use unbreakable bottles and plates and dull knives, although that might be impossible in one instance. Nevertheless, please use common sense and safety precautions. David Cain, the IJA, and eJuggle take no responsibility for injuries resulting from attempts at these tricks. So, let’s take a look at this edition’s challenges.

1. Kara Plate Trick – The inventor of Gentleman juggling, Kara, balanced a plate on his forehead, spun a plate on a stick with his left hand and juggled two plates with his right. Then he let the plate fall from his forehead and juggled 3 plates with his right hand. Let’s see if anyone is up to this challenge! Also, if you want to go a much easier route, you can replace the plates with rings.

2. Kathi Gultini’s Couch Balance – For this trick, we’re looking for a forehead balance of a couch / sofa while juggling at least three pillows. I’d highly recommend using an inflatable couch for this one.


3. E. C. Kert’s  5 Mixed Object Juggle – This trick will be most impressive to see if someone can do it. As you can see in the photo below, I’m looking for a qualifying juggle to a pool cue, plate, ball, bucket, and bottle (or club). It doesn’t have to be done in a cascade.


4. Cinquevalli’s Potato, Knife, And Fork Trick – For this trick, juggle a potato that has been boiled in it’s skin and cooled enough to handle, a knife, and a fork. While juggling the three objects, toss the potato up and, while it is in the air, cut it in two with the knife. As the two halves of the potato fall, catch one half on the fork tines and the other half on on the tip or edge of the knife. Be extra careful with this one, as a sharp knife will be necessary, most likely. Also be warned that this trick is more difficult than you probably think it will be.

5. Hera’s Multiple Candle Flip – Gentleman juggler Charles Hera originated the multiple candle flip trick that was later performed by Ferry Mader and Felix Adanos. For this challenge, I’m asking for a four candle candlestick to be used. While I don’t expect anyone to have one of these lying around the house, a decent one should be fairly easy to make using pvc pipe, cardboard (for the funnel shaped candle holder parts), and tape or glue. Simply have four candles in the prop, flip them all up at the same time to do one rotation, and catch them again in the holders. The candles don’t even have to be lit.


6. Rastelli’s 8 Plate Flash – This one is fairly straight forward. Just flash 8 plates, frisbees, or similar discs. As you can see in the illustrations below, Enrico Rastelli used a holster, as it’s pretty much impossible to release four plates from one hand. Rastelli actually started with two in holsters, one in his mouth, and five in his hands. You may want to have four in holsters or use some other arrangement. I am aware that Albert Lucas supposedly has a video of himself not only flashing, but also qualifying 8 plates. Since neither of these is publicly available, let’s just try for a flash. Also, let’s not worry about the head balance! It should be noted that I’ve recently uncovered strong evidence / proof that Frank Le Dent actually performed 9 plates!


Rastelli8plates27. Charles Perezoff’s 7 Balls With A Hat Balance – Charles Perezoff, the founder of the Perezoff Restaurant Jugglers, was famous for being able to juggle 7 balls while balancing a top hat on its brim on his forehead. The goal here is 14 catches of seven balls with the hat balance. It isn’t necessary to use a top hat. Any hat that’s actually being dynamically balanced will suffice.

Charles Perezoff

8. Truzzi’s Foot And Mouth Stick Exchange – Massimiliano Truzzi was famous for balancing a glass fish bowl on a mouth stick and balancing another glass fish bowl on his foot and then switching the two without breaking them. I’m looking for someone capable of doing this with balls rather than glass fish bowls, but using the same method (not allowing the ball to bounce on the floor or any other body part). The second photo below shows his method (kicking up the ball first while dropping the ball from the mouth stick onto the foot and then catching the ball on the mouth stick).



9. Kathi Gultini’s 8 Balls Off Of A Drum – As you may have seen in a recent article I wrote, “Lady Juggler” Kathi Gultini was the first juggler to bounce 8 balls off of a drum. The only other performer to do this that I’m aware of was Luly Perezoff. The goal for this challenge is 16 catches, but even a flash would be acceptable.


10. Kara’s 5 Balls And Hat Trick – Another one of Kara’s famous tricks was juggling four balls in his right hand and a hat and ball in left hand, catching the hat on his head, and going into five ball shower without stopping, then catching the balls in the hat. It isn’t known if the four balls in one hand were multiplexed or not (multiplexing does go back quite far), so either method is acceptable, with non-multiplexing winning out over multiplexing in regards to prizes (and the glory associated with learning this trick). I will also accept juggling three balls with one hand and two balls and a hat in the other or doing some other non-multiplexing pattern, such as a half shower or wimpy.


11. Hat Spinning While Juggling – The image below, from the late 1880s, shows a woman juggling balls with one hand while spinning a hat with a stick using the other hand. The five balls in one hand is obviously hyperbole, and since hat spinning is rare enough as it is, I’d take juggling two balls in one hand while hat spinning with the other. If you aren’t familiar with hat spinning, click here to learn more about this form of juggling. If only I knew a female juggler who was really good at hat spinning. Hmmm.


12. The Plate And Bottle Routine – This is probably the easiest trick or routine in this article, but despite it being well over a hundred years old, I’ve never seen anyone actually do it. This series of 6 moves appears in several early juggling books, including Stanyon’s New Juggling Tricks (1901) and Anglo’s Art Of Modern Juggling (1904). Simply take a bottle and a plate and video yourself catching the bottle in various positions on the plate, which you hold in your hand, all without messing up. This trick was popular enough that most early juggling prop manufacturers sold a bottle and plate set just for this routine. You may do this with a club if you don’t have an appropriate bottle to use.


I have to admit that I’m very excited about this set of challenges, as I have a love of old school and Gentleman juggler tricks. Dream Tricks Challenge # 4 will also feature similar tricks, but let’s concentrate on achieving these first.


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 16 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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