Juggling Museum Prop Rescue Road Trip

In late December of 2020, I was on Facebook and decided to look up juggling props on Facebook Marketplace. I noticed a posting for a large collection of juggling props that featured many juggling clubs that I didn’t recognize. For me to not recognize a type of juggling club is a rare occurrence, as I literally wrote the book on the history of juggling clubs. This obviously peaked my curiosity, especially since the collection contained 65 vintage or unknown props, was only a 75 minute drive from my house, and was for sale for only $150. I contacted the seller, Pete Klein, and found that he had made the mystery clubs as a part of his work as a professor at Ohio University, where he taught a course in Industrial Plastics. Pete has been juggling since the early 1980s and attended the 1986 and 1988 IJA Conventions.  Below are some photos of Pete from the 198os.

Pete and his family

So, on a very cold December 29th, my twin brother Scott and I drove to rural south central Ohio to rescue this collection, meet Pete, and learn about the clubs that he made.

Pete greeted us and led us to his workshop / garage. There we saw a table filled with random props and three duffle bags full of other props.

Pete Klein and David Cain with some of the props

We questioned Pete about the clubs he had made and were told that he used a rotational molding method that took 45 minutes to make two clubs. There were two styles of clubs he made around 2010. The first style he tried was top heavy, so only three clubs were made. You can see them below.

The next design was much more successful and resulted in a one piece hollow American-style club similar to what Dube, Todd Smith, and Jugglebug made, but with a longer knob. You can see three of these below, although there were 30 such clubs in the collection in a variety of colors.

Scott and I purchased everything and started our way home. I got a flat tire about a half hour into that drive and we (and several bystanders) were unable to get the tire off the car despite jacking up the car and removing the lug nuts. An hour later an AAA truck arrived and eventually helped us get the tire off and my spare on. A few days later, Scott and I met at the Museum of Juggling History, which I own and which we both curate. We spent the day cleaning, examining, and cataloging what we got. Below you can see photos and descriptions of the props.

The entire collection, including 30 of the Pete Klein American clubs at the top

 

Two antique hollow exhibition swinging clubs, the precursor to the juggling club

Spun aluminum plate and basin, most likely made by Jenack Circus or The Juggling Arts in the 1980s

3 Jugglebug “Asian” hexagonal clubs from the 1980s – only 600 were made

A plate spinning mouth stick, most likely made by The Juggling Arts in the 1980s

Early Dube plastic spinning plates

Hawaiian cane knives and early Dube torches

Vintage Jugglebug kids’ clubs

Vintage Jugglebug clubs

Vintage Jugglebug color change rings

A vintage Jugglebug whistling diabolo

Some of these props will go on display in the museum, while others will be shared with other collectors. The rest will be sold to help support the museum. If you’re interested in possibly buying anything, please feel free to contact me. Thanks to Pete Klein for sharing his creations and collection.

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 15 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-four books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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