The Mysterious Ader Brothers

Every few years a previously unknown or forgotten juggler is discovered, resulting in a surge of information being found about them. Hermann Sagemuller’s discovery of E.C. Kert is a great example of this, as were my efforts to share about Zarmo and John P. Thomas after their families reached out to me. Often it starts with a few photos, as was the case with my research into the juggler Youna. Well, we have a new case where we have many photos, but almost no information whatsoever.

In August, 2018, a series of photos came up for sale on Ebay, showing the Ader Brothers of Philadelphia, PA (USA). The photos appeared to be quite old, as some of them are cabinet cards, which were popular in the late 1800s. The Ader Brothers appear to have started quite young as club swingers, as you can infer from the following photograph.

The brothers apparently soon moved on to toss juggling, as you can see in the next photos.

As the Ader Brothers matured to young men, so too did their juggling abilities. On brother could apparently juggle six clubs and four clubs in one hand.

Eventually the Ader Brothers developed a musical juggling act that included passing and playing banjos like the Howard Brothers as well as passing and playing six trumpets and bouncing balls off of a wooden xylophone known as a bellaphone to play a tune.

Despite the apparent talent and novelty of the two brothers, I can only find a few mentions of them online or in any of the books and other literature that I have access to. One is a mention of them performing in Reading, PA in the October 30, 1909 New York Dramatic Mirror. The others are from the Reading Times from the same month, apparently advertising the same show. It’s almost as if they worked for decades to develop their skills and a novel act to only perform it in one show! While this certainly wasn’t the case, the lack of information about them is quite a mystery. If you have any information about the Ader Brothers, I’d love to hear from you. For the time being, I want to see some duo learn to pass and play six trumpets like the Ader Brothers!

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

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