Old School Hat Juggling: 1900 – 1950

Hat juggling was extremely popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I’ve already written eJuggle articles about the art of hat spinning and boomerang hats and about the originator of the “dancing hats” routine, Paul La Croix. These were all popular hat juggling styles at the turn of the century. There were lots of other types of hat manipulation and juggling popular in the early 1900s. Let’s take a look at some illustrations and videos of hat juggling tricks from the first half of the twentieth century.

Illustrations and Descriptions of Tricks

Roger Montandon’s Jugglers’ Bulletins provided some wonderful illustrations and descriptions of hat tricks, including quite a few I’ve never seen performed. Roger Montandon graciously gave me permission to use any of the content from his publications before he died. Here are some hat tricks from the Jugglers’ Bulletins, illustrated by Joe Marsh. While they feature top hats, many, if not most, of the tricks could be done with other types of hats.

While there are many other publications from the time that give instruction on hat juggling, they are mostly either very basic or are repeated above.

Videos

Here are some videos from the first half of the twentieth century that feature hat juggling.

Stetson – work with one top hat as well as a hat, cane, and ball.

Louise Maxim – Fast work with three soft clown hats and kick ups to the head with four clown hats.

Rebla – Tricks with a single derby.

Stetson – Top hats, included some of the “dancing hats” work invented by Paul La Croix.

Bela Kremo – Great work with three top hats.

Bobby May – Wonderful work with a single top hat and top hat and cigar.

Willy Woltard – Single derby manipulation.

Hat juggling is more popular than ever before, but I hope that the illustrations and videos above have inspired you to try some new, but old, tricks.

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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