Last year, I challenged the juggling community with twelve old school / gentleman juggler tricks of which I was unaware that anyone had accomplished on video. A number of intrepid jugglers did succeed in meeting the challenge of these very difficult tricks. Below are the tricks I listed and the amazing videos that resulted.
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. I also allowed for the much easier route of replacing the plates with rings.
Jonathan Jackson accomplished a version of this with rings.
2. Kathi Gultini’s Couch Balance – For this trick, we were looking for a forehead balance of a couch / sofa while juggling at least three pillows. I highly recommend using an inflatable couch for this one.
No one accomplished this trick.
3. E. C. Kert’s 5 Mixed Object Juggle – I was looking for a qualifying juggle to a pool cue, plate, ball, bucket, and bottle (or club). It didn’t have to be done in a cascade.
Again, no one sent in a video of this challenge.
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.
Brian Koenig was able to demonstrate this very cool trick.
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 asked for a four candle candlestick to be used. While I didn’t expect anyone to have one of these lying around the house, at least a few jugglers made props for this. The challenge was to have four candles in the prop, flip them all up at the same time, and catch them again in the holders.
I’m told that a number of British jugglers attempted this, but weren’t successful in getting all four. Therefore, I decided to try myself. Below is my best result. Right after getting this, one of the funnels broke in half and the prop was done.
6. Rastelli’s 8 Plate Flash – This one was 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. I suggested that you may want to have four in holsters or use some other arrangement and to not worry about the head balance.
Scott Sorensen achieved two 8 plate flashes on video, doing so without the use of a holster! The video below shows Scott catching the first 8 throws of 10 followed by a clean flash. Below that video is a longer video showing the progression of Scott learning the trick.
7. 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 was 14 catches of seven balls with the hat balance. It wasn’t necessary to use a top hat. Any hat that’s actually being dynamically balanced would suffice.
Scott Sorensen demonstrated this trick with seeming ease.
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 was 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).
Dan Menendez stepped up to the challenge of accomplishing this trick.
9. Kathi Gultini’s 8 Balls Off Of A Drum – 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 was 16 catches, but even a flash would have been acceptable.
I’m not aware of anyone attempting this trick for the challenge.
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 was acceptable, with non-multiplexing winning out over multiplexing in regards to prizes (and the glory associated with learning this trick). I was also willing to 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.
Here is a video of Brian Koenig doing this trick but without the shower, as this venue’s height didn’t allow for flashing the five balls in a shower high enough to catch them in the hat.
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 would 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.
Gena Shvartsman Cristiani accomplished this one, as I hoped she would.
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.
Florian Brooks demonstrated the plate and bottle routine quite impressively.
A great example of this type of routine is shown in the last third of the following short video.
And here’s another historical example of these skills, by Tex Glanville.