In part one of this four part series, we looked at the Catalogue Of Fine Juggler Goods Manufactured By Prof. Otto Maurer, which was published in New York City, NY (USA) in the late 1880s. The next catalogs we’ll look at were published starting just a few years later. They advertised the juggling props created by Edward Van Wyck.
Edward Van Wyck opened his juggling prop manufacturing business in Cincinnati, Ohio (USA) in 1895. He was the first retail maker of hollow juggling clubs, but eventually made and sold a very large number of items for jugglers and other circus arts. Below are images from various Van Wyck catalogs from the very early 1900s.
As you can see, Van Wyck offered a huge array of props, most of which have never been seen by modern jugglers. Many of the props were more “routine specific” rather than general purpose props like we’re used to today. Even in the category of clubs, Van Wyck offered some very novel versions, including Electric (electrically lit) clubs, Musical clubs, Bounding (bouncing) clubs, and Bell clubs. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any of these novelty clubs still in existence. The sheer number of balancing props, many of them gimmicked, is quite interesting. Many different tricks using oil lamps were offered, as lamps were an extremely common juggling prop of the day. The quite different look of early juggling torches is also something we don’t see anywhere now. Note that the “New Swinging Fire Ball” shows that fire swinging isn’t a new phenomenon for jugglers, but was sold to them 115 years ago. It’s also worth noting that the Van Wyck catalog featured rolling hoops endorsed by William Everhart. Although Van Wyck continued to make clubs for a few die hard fans of his props who refused to switch, he passed the club making mantel on to Harry Lind in 1919. Lind’s clubs were lighter and sturdier and became the world’s most popular clubs for the next forty years. Van Wyck did continue to make non-juggling circus props for several decades, though.
Below is a photo of the Van Wyck clubs that are on display in the Museum of Juggling History.
Below are various other Van Wyck props that can be found in the Museum of Juggling History collection.
Below are some Van Wyck props, including two wooden juggling bottles, that are in the archives of the University of Pittsburgh Library.
Here are Van Wyck clubs and axes that were used by John Phillips Thomas.
In the part three, we’ll look at some other very early juggling prop catalogs.