Four Forgotten Weird Juggling Tricks

I love learning about juggling tricks and routines that have completely disappeared from the juggling world. I was recently given a scan of an Otto Maurer catalog from the late 1880s that featured many such tricks. I’ve shared a different Otto Maurer Catalog in an earlier eJuggle article and came into possession of a large box of Otto Maurer props last year. For those who don’t know, Otto Maurer was a magic and juggling prop manufacturer based out of New York City in the 1880s and 1890s. He was one of the earliest, if not the earliest, retail maker of juggling props. You can click here to read about the previous catalog and here to see the Otto Maurer props on display in the Museum of Juggling History. Let’s take a look at four interesting tricks found in this earlier Otto Maurer Catalog that the world has forgotten.

The Ball, Knife, and Plate Trick

As I’ve discussed in the past, complex balancing tricks were a staple of most juggling acts of the late 1800s. The first two tricks are examples of such tricks. Below you can see the first, the Ball, Knife, and Plate Trick.

The Museum of Juggling History has one of these knives and fire plates on display. $10.00 in 1888 translates to roughly $316.00 in 2023.

The Three Plate Trick

In this trick, the juggler held one plate in his mouth, on which spun another plate edge to edge, most likely via a pin in one plate and a hole in the edge of the one held in the mouth. Attached to this second plate was a stick on which a third plate spun in the normal fashion, causing the middle plate to spin. While I’ve seen many fairly similar tricks in the past, I’ve never seen this particular one anywhere. The set sold for $14, which would be $443 today.

Maurer’s Wonderful Globe

In the 1880s, there were very few toss juggling patterns. A professional juggler might only know a cascade and a shower, and possibly a half shower. Therefore, jugglers attempted to create more interesting ways of presenting basic toss juggling. Maurer’s Wonderful Globe is an example of such a trick.

The set sold for $25, which would be $792 today.

The Wonder Fountain

The final newly discovered trick from Otto Maurer combines balancing and toss juggling into an unbelievable trick as shown and described below.

The $50 price tag translates to $1,583 in 2023 value. I wonder if Mr. Maurer sold any of his pricey inventions or if it actually existed. The description sounds quite amazing for the technology of the late 1880s.

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).

Leave a Reply