One of the rarest types of juggling memorabilia are cabinet cards featuring jugglers. Cabinet cards are photographs taken between 1860 and the very early 1900s that are mounted on a thick, heavy card. They often featured celebrities and popular entertainers, so it was not too uncommon for jugglers to be featured in the images. Usually the juggler is just shown standing next to his or her props, but occasionally they are shown actually juggling next to their prop stands. Looking at the props on these stands gives us valuable information about what jugglers of the time were performing with. While the names of the jugglers are often unknown, the photographers are usually indicated on the front or back of the cabinet card. Below are three famous cabinet cards featuring jugglers.
Photo by the Drake Brothers, 1890
Photo by Barenblatt
J.T. Doyle, 1902
The archives of the Museum of Juggling History contains around 13,000 photos, but only a few are cabinet cards. Below are the ones in the archive. They include well-known juggler Rosani, whom you can learn more about by clicking here. Below are six newly acquired Rosani cabinet cards.
The follow cabinet card shows the props and set of Louis Knetzger. I obtained this from Roger Montandon.
Here is another juggler cabinet card I obtained from Roger Montandon.
Perhaps the most famous cabinet card photographer was Charles Eisenmann (October 5, 1855 – December 8, 1927), who started working as a photographer in New York City in 1879. He specialized in taking photos of sideshow performers and “freaks” and selling the cabinet cards. Any of Eisenmann’s cabinet cards are valuable, so I’m glad to own the following one of the Native American juggler White Eagle.
Below are two other Eisenmann cabinet cards that I believe show White Eagle as well.
Here are some other rare cabinet cards of jugglers that I recently found online.
Cabinet cards give us a rare glimpse into early jugglers. If you come across any online or in person, I’d love to see them.