The Juggling Props of Jay Green – Part 1

Jay Green (born Gerald Greenberg) is an American juggler best known for the innovative props he has created, including the first modern, multi-piece club with a cushioned handle and foam knob and end cap. He also created the first plastic break apart devil stick and many other novel props. In Part 1, we will examine Jay’s historic clubs.

Jay Green with his history-making clubs

The Modern Juggling Club

From 1920 to 1960, most American jugglers used hollow wooden clubs made by Harry Lind. When Lind passed away, there was a void needing to be filled for juggling clubs. A number of jugglers started to make their own clubs from plastic toy bowling pins. The earliest known maker of plastic toy bowling pin juggling clubs (PTBPJCs) is Dave Madden from New York City. He had seen another juggler use such clubs, but never found out who this mystery juggler was. He recalled that they had a plastic bowling pin body, a very thick dowel rod for a handle, and a large knob made from a foam ball. Below is a re-creation of what this club looked like, made by Jay Green:

Unknown PTBPJC

In 1963, Dave decided that he could improve this design and make some clubs for himself. He made 6 sets of clubs for the Juggling Jesters (Dave Madden, Jay Green, Dick Luby, Mickey O’Malley, Harry Deido, and Art Bassett) to use.  These PTBPJCs were quite simple, consisting of the bowling pin body, a thinner hardwood handle, and a rubber crutch tip for a knob.  Tape was used to smooth the transition from plastic pin to hardwood handle. When Juggling Jesters member Jay Green saw how durable the Madden clubs were, he thought that he could again improve upon the design. He ended up making the first multi-piece clubs, which will be discussed later in this article.

David Madden club

Jay Green with David Madden clubs

Jay Green had used these clubs as part of the Juggling Jesters and thought he could improve on their design. In 1964, Jay took the plastic bowling pin body and hardwood handle and added a funnel that went from the thickest part of the body to the handle. He also added the first flex cushioning on the handle and foam knob and end cap, creating what we now recognize as the modern multi-piece, or composite, club. Jay called these “Poly Clubs.”  Below are pictures of original Jay Green composite clubs on display at the Museum of Juggling History.

Jay Green club from 1966

One of Robert Nelson’s Jay Green clubs

More Jay Green American clubs in the Museum of Juggling History

Here are some other original design Jay Green clubs.

Jay Green American clubs

Jay later found smaller plastic toy bowling pins and created a thinner European version of his clubs, versus the fatter American clubs shown earlier. Here is an example of a Jay Green European club, donated to the museum by Arthur Lewbel.

Jay Green European club

Old Jay Green composite clubs are quite difficult to find today and are actually more rare than Harry Lind or even Edward Van Wyck clubs.

Jay Green with both his American and European clubs

Below are photos showing how Jay Green made his clubs. They are courtesy of fellow juggling historian Erik Åberg.

Jay Green still occasionally makes clubs, but not often.

Jay Green modern American clubs

Jay Green modern American clubs

Jay Green modern European clubs

Jay also makes an extra large version of his signature clubs. Jay is pictured holding three of them in the following photos.

Jay Green with his extra large clubs and his regular American clubs

Jay Green receives the 2018 IJA Extraordinary Achievement Service Award, holding three of his extra large clubs

Jay Green and Mark Nizer

Jay Green made a few other sizes of his clubs, such as a children’s club and jumbo clubs, as you can see in the following photo.

Jay Green’s various hand made clubs

You can see Jay Green juggling three of his jumbo clubs at the beginning of the following video from the 1970 IJA Convention. He is front and center wearing the club shirt.

Supersonic Clubs

In 1990, Jay unveiled his Supersonic Juggling Equipment business. Included in his line up of props were hollow plastic clubs with padded bumpers in spots that were most likely to hit the ground when the clubs were dropped as well as cushioned handles. The intention was that these bumper areas, which were covered by foam tape, would prevent the body of the clubs from getting any damage over time. The tape could be easily replaced and the clubs would stay in ideal condition. You can see some of these clubs at the top of the following photo.

The Museum of Juggling History has six of these clubs, which you can see below.

Jay Green’s Supersonic Nova clubs

Transformer Club

Jay Green created a proto-type club that he calls the Transformer Club. The top of the club unscrews and detaches, revealing a torch underneath. The Transformer Club is on display in the Museum of Juggling History.

The Transformer Club

The Transformer Club

In Part 2, we’ll look at the other props that Jay Green is famous for inventing and / or making.

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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