In late October of 2016, juggling historians David Cain (me) and Scott Cain traveled to a suburb of Chicago, IL (USA) to acquire the late Paul Bachman’s enormous historical juggling collection to add to the Museum of Juggling History, which is located just north of Cincinnati, OH. The Bachman Collection contained hundreds of amazing props, about 250 posters, 150 books, hundreds of magazines, an unknown number of videos, and over 80 large albums containing at least 8000 photos, including a huge number that have never been seen by the global juggling community. Through the generosity of donors Dan Holzman, Aaron Bonk, Merry Spahr, Michael Karas, Alex Bluemel, Dina Scharnhorst, Kathy Doutt, Craig Barnes, Thom Wall, Rick Robinson, and Niels Duinker (sorry if I forgot anyone), the truck rental and other travel costs to acquire the collection were covered. Thanks also to the Bachman Family for entrusting us with the collection.
I was very familiar with Paul’s collection, having partnered with him in the History Lounge at the 2013 IJA Festival, where our two collections were combined. You can see a photo of our combined collections from that festival below.
Paul and I were good friends and would talk often about our collections, which were the two largest in the world. If one of us received new props for our collection and had a duplicate prop, we would send the other the duplicate. Therefore, I knew that I would be getting many props that I had given Paul in the past. I also did the last interview with Paul before he passed away in October of 2015, so I certainly was well aware of what he had, at least regarding the prop portion of the collection.
Scott and I made the 6 hour drive on a Wednesday after Scott finished work and then we checked into a motel room. We were very excited to see what treasures we would find the next day. After a rough night of sleep, we were awakened by a call from the truck rental company telling us that our truck was not available, as it hadn’t been dropped off by the previous user yet. They said that they would call if they had a truck available. With that uncertainly in mind, we drove my car to meet with Paul’s widow and children. They welcomed us into their home and started to show us the various locations around the house where the collection was stored. Most of the collection was in boxes stacked in various locations around their spacious basement. Scott and I began to go through each box, notating it’s contents and checking off items from our previously created list of known items in the collection.
Eventually the trucking company called and said that they had a bigger truck available and would give us that one to use. We filled my car with about eight tubs of props and loaded the rest of the stuff in the truck. This whole process took about 7 hours.
We drove back to Ohio and got home around 11:30pm. The next morning, Rick Robinson drove down from Piqua, Ohio to help us unpack the car and truck and put around 120 new props on display. Thanks, Rick. You were a giant help to us.
Just a few of the hundreds of incredible props that we acquired include spinning balls from Francis Brunn and Lottie Brunn, a Trixie plate, an Ernest Montego mouthstick, Frank Ledent and Selma Braatz color changing torches, a plate and lighted club that belonged to Salerno, an Alexander Kiss plastic ring, a cup and saucer from Rudy Horn, a cup and saucer from Dieter Tasso, various props from Gus and Ursula Lauppe, and a Van Wyck club owned and used by Stan Kavanagh. One unexpected surprise was that the collection contained five Bobby May clubs, including his performance club shown below.
Here are a few other new props on display in the museum.
The two upstairs rooms of the museum showcase the props of famous jugglers, including many of the best known performers in the field. In the first two display cabinets alone you’ll find props from Francis Brunn, Lottie Brunn, Michael Chirrick, Ernest Montego, Anthony Gatto, Gil Dova, Selma Braatz, Frank LeDent, Bobby May, Salerno, Kara, Adanos, Trixie, Rudy Cardenas, Fudi, Eva Vida, Gran Picaso, Picaso Jr., and Kris Kremo. The rest of the upstairs continues to showcase history’s greatest jugglers all the way to today’s stars.
A downstairs room was recently added to display non performers’ props. These include the rare and innovative clubs collection, the vintage juggling sets collection, a hands-on area, vintage rings display, the vintage spinning plate collection, and the vintage diabolo collection. It also holds the photo and poster archive area. The archive holds at least 10,000 photos, most of which have never been seen by the global juggling community.
Not all of what we expected or hoped for was in the collection. Rumored props such as an Enrico Rastelli stick, an Alexander Kiss bounce club, a Massimiliano Truzzi club, and Bobby May’s bounce drum did not turn up. Even some props that we know Paul had, such as a Kris Kremo hat, a Lottie Brunn stick / club, a Howard Nichols hoop, and a Bob Bramson hoop, couldn’t be located. The same is true for a framed W.C. Fields painting and a framed Francis Brunn poster, as well as copies of both volumes of 4,000 Years of Juggling.
Acquiring the Paul Bachman Collection was a large financial investment. We are hoping that some donors or benefactors will come along to help support the museum by reimbursing part of the cost of obtaining it, so if that’s you, please contact us. I’m happy to say that the photos, literature, and videos that we got as part of the collection will help fuel years of research, and as a result will provide eJuggle readers with years of new content.
If you would like to visit the museum and archive, we are located 30 minutes north of Cincinnati, OH, USA. I’m also delighted to announce that we will be bringing all of the props on display at the museum to the 2017 IJA Festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It will be on display Tuesday-Friday, so please come see us in the Juggling History Room. Since this will be the 70th annual get together of the organization, much is being done to celebrate juggling history, including the museum display, lectures, and, if all goes as planned, a very special Juggling History Show / Video Night. I hope to see you all there.