Harry Lind: Not Just A Propmaker

Harry Lind 1908

When we think of Harry Lind, we almost always think of his work as America’s premier juggling prop maker from 1920 to 1967. You can click here to learn about his prop making career. However, he was a successful performer before taking on the mantle of juggling club maker extraordinaire. Let’s take a look at his time as a solo and team performer.

Harry Lind 1898

The Summer 1987 Edition of Juggler’s World Magazine provides us with a summary of Lind’s early life and about the start of his career.

He was born in 1879 in Jamestown, New York, where his Swedish mother ran a rooming house for Swedish immigrants and where his Danish father worked as a bookkeeper. Both parents were staid, God-fearing people and were undoubtedly shocked by the decision of Harry and his brother, Eugene, to enter show business.

Lind’s devotion to juggling was a return on the gift it had given him: it had saved his life. As a young boy working in a furniture factory, he was riding in a freight elevator when a broken cable whip snapped down on him, putting him near death for a month and partially paralyzing him. His therapy was to swing one Indian club gently in his weakened hand, then increase the arc. He slowly regained the use of his arms, putting the lie to the doctor’s verdict that he’d never use them again.

He made his debut on Oct. 1, 1900, at Nate Fenton’s Pekin Restaurant and Concert Hall in Buffalo, New York. Between shows, he was sent by cab to repeat the performance at Fenton’s Main Street Saloon and Concert Hall. This was not only his first professional show, it was his first public show ever.

The above description fails to mention that the first juggler Harry ever saw was Ollie Young, one of the first jugglers to do complex tricks with clubs. Seeing Young would greatly influence Harry Lind’s style. Young was the first juggler to do kick ups with clubs. Lind would learn this skill as well and become the first to kick up a fourth club into the pattern.

Harry Lind is credited as inventing triple singles with four clubs. He was also an amazing club swinger, as the following two videos from his retirement years attest.

Harry Lind 1900

Lind often worked solo, but did have various partners. Most of these partnerships didn’t last very long, as Lind’s demanding practice schedule was more than many others were willing to put up with.

One well-known partnership was with a juggler name Allaire. It isn’t known when this partnership began or ended, but we do know they were working together in 1907. You can see some of their promotional material below.

Allaire and Lind

David Cain with his framed Allaire and Lind photo

Below is a clearer version of the same image.

Another of Harry Lind’s partners was Thomas Martell. Like Allaire, we know nothing about him other than his partnership with Harry Lind.

Harry Lind also worked with a juggler named Stone as Stone and Lind.

Stone and Lind

Stone and Lind

Harry Lind’s most famous partnership was with Rose Sheldon. Sheldon and Lind performed together as the Throwing Tabors, although they were sometimes billed as the Tossing Tabors. It was during this partnership that Rose became the first woman to pass 7 clubs. Lind and Sheldon worked together from around 1912 until at least 1916.

As you can see, Harry Lind was a talented performer in his own right, and not just an iconic propmaker.

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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