what makes cups and balls collectible

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Postby Guest » 03/24/06 08:29 PM

I finally decided having a medium lik the Genii Forum, to "educate" myself as to why Cups and Balls are "collectinble"
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Postby Guest » 03/24/06 10:50 PM

Mario:

I took your poll, but I found the questions were really not well selected or well worded.

For example:

How many sets do you have and why?

The answers provided were not applicable at all.

It did not allow input of the number of sets, and relatively few sets of cups are turned. Most of them are spun.

The final question about Paul Fox cups was rather odd as well. Early Paul Fox cups weigh about half what the later sets weighed.

Rather an odd poll.

But I may not be qualified to discuss why anyone would collect cups and balls sets.

However, in order to give you a more in-depth answer to the questions in your poll, I have posted a short essay on the collectibility of cups at the bottom of this web page.

http://www.cupsandballsmuseum.com/cupsa ... museum.htm .

If you have dialup, go to this page:
http://www.cupsandballsmuseum.com/cupsa ... seumdu.htm
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/25/06 12:00 AM

I agree Bill, the questions made no sense at all.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 12:32 AM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
I agree Bill, the questions made no sense at all.
DITTO...
Rennie
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 12:45 AM

I'm not trying to put Mario down at all. After all, he sold me several of the sets I have in the museum.

I hope my little essay answers some of the questions from my point of view.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 02:07 AM

Why is anything collectible? Chung Ling Soo posters are supposed to be collectible, yet a friend of Mine has three for sale (including the scarcer blocks one) , he has contacted a number of collectors, they all say they're interested but never get back to him - and price hasn't even been discussed.

Certain things go in and out of fashion - in magic and other areas, frequently for no apparent reason.

In 1985 a friend showed me his large private collection of paintings, the cheapest of which cost him at the time 10,000. There wasn't a single one I would hang on my wall if you gave it to me.

If you are in business the best you can hope for is a bunch of rabid collectors all looking for similar items, and you have a source for them :)
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 07:21 AM

I'va always said:

"Nothing is dumber than somebody else's hobby"


sam
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 09:36 AM

People collect because it is a pastime that takes them out of their ordinary work-a-day world. Sometimes, creating a collection is an expression of their individuality/creativity, creating "something" out of "nothing."

Sometimes people collect to say to other collectors, "I have this and you don't!"

Sometimes, people collect simply because it gives them pleasure.

Sometimes the reasons change. Thirty years ago I began a collection of 20th Century silhouettes because I was interested in how other people worked. Gradually, as the collection expanded, I began collecting to preserve the work. Now the collection - some 3,500 pieces and growing - will be the basis for a book on the history of 20th Century silhouette artists.

There are as many reasons people collect things as their are people collecting.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 10:32 AM

Exactly the answers I expected so far.

The reviews posted thus far, have practically up to an extent "answered" what was behind my poll questions. They were purposely made that way.

In my educated eye, there is no beauty, artistry or mechanism to a set of cups regardless as to how/who they were made, metal used; wether they were spun,turned,spinned, molded etc etc..

No "passionate" Cup and Ball collector has yet stated in the Forum or in my lifetime in Magic CVollectibles, what is the "beauty and craftsmanship" quality of a "Cup".

In my eyes, the "mechanics and the beauty" are provided by the performer. In this regard,the late Senor Mardo an old friend, mentor and MASTER of the Cups and Balls, used Cocktail Shakers and lemons(those found in a Bar) and made miracles with them. So, did Frank Garcia that showed me a routine at with Dixie paper cups that left me speechless!

My point, unless I can be convinced otherwise is that regardless of maker, age, finish or crafting a cup, is a cup, is a cup. Compare it to a Thayer Locking Card Box, Expanding Ball Stand or a Conradi Horster Loop the Loop or awatchwork mechanism piece of equipment and perhaps you will understand my point.

In any case , will await for more poll answers to help my "psychological research" as to why these simple containers are considered "collectibles" and makes them so.

Thanks all so far!
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/25/06 11:43 AM

Senor Mardo. Hah... he was MY teacher with the Cups and Balls.

Mario, I still don't think the actual questions in your poll made sense TO MY WAY of thinking, but now your explanation gives me your perspective.

In hindsight, I see why you asked certain questions... but again, I (and others) would probably have worded them differently or asked different questions.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 11:43 AM

Mario:

I'm glad you feel that way. This means that the next time you get a set of cups, whether they are Paul Fox cups or Uday cups, you should simply send them to me, and I will gladly put them up on my site.

It's kind of funny, Mario. You are a merchant. I am a customer. You can call yourself a "specialist in antiquities" or an "expert in collectible magic," but the relationship between a merchant and a customer remains the same.

Look it up sometime, and you will see that I'm right.

And it's really not your job to determine why anyone would want to collect cups. It's your job to sell them.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/25/06 11:45 AM

Going back to the poll, one question, "How many sets to you have and why?"

There is no place to enter a number or a reason.

My answer would be 80+ and the "Why" answer would be "I want(ed) every set/style made" at one time... Now that I obtained all I deemed desireable and have had them for some time, I think I'll start to sell them off.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 12:00 PM

I think that was intentional.

Mario is like a cat. When he falls off the back of the sofa, he lands on all fours, looks around as if to say, "I meant to do that."

I won't post how many sets of cups I have. You will have to go to the web site and count them.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 01:08 PM

I own 4 sets of cups and while I wouldnt classify myself as a collector, Ive benefited from Bill Palmers collection firsthand. Being able to look over his sets has allowed me to educate myself about different cups and how they feel in hand. When I purchase another set, Ill be much more educated about my choices.

Just being able to look online at his collection has been beneficial to me. Not to mention the historical data there, but also the historical work by people like Jim Riser. Gold in them thar pages.

There are almost as many reasons to collect as there are people Id imagine, but something as fascinating as cup designs would be a cinch to figure out Id think.

For example, Id love to get my hands on an old deck of Aristocrats, or Alladins or Angel back Squeezers to have and look at, feel occasionally. And cups are at least as symbolic and important to other traditions as cards. Historical, technological, and what they symbolize are but a few of the myriad of reasons people collect.

Mario, you used to sell a lot of old books, maybe you still do. Do you question why people collect books? I think the majority of people who collect them probably never read them so why do they want them so that theyd pay incredible prices for them? Only they can answer that.

I have respect for Seor Mardo if for no other reason than he posed for a few of the photos in Amateur Magicians Handbook (or so I've been told), he mustve been good. But to cite him as THE cup worker because he used shaker cups is missing the whole point I think.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 01:14 PM

Pete Biro- So you knew Charlie Mardo (Everardo Ordas), a nice old Cuban gentleman and a great showman and unblievably clever. He performed an entire show out of his pockets: :eek: Cups, Ropes, Thimbles and Cards. That was it. He also worked in his early years in LA for Floyd Thayer and used to deliver personally everything that Thayer turned or made to Orson Wells personally. I always wondered what happened to Mr Wells' Magic?.

Anyway, thanks for participating.Please do the best you can, if you will.


Bill Palmer- boy oh boy, my my, you seem to be a bit "shaken" with my posting!Please don't forget this is a hobby, it should be fun and a pastime not your LIFE!

1- I am not insulting anyone or playing a cat and mouse game or proving a thing or "landing on my legsd" no matter what (when I am wrong I admitted, why shouldn't I?).

2- I am just trying to learn (this particular are of collecting has always left me shaking my head, $700 for a set of metal cups!) what motivates you and others like you to have "10,000" sets of cups when they all basically do the same thing and estehetically likewise, basically.THIS IS MY OPINION. I would like to understand it if I am wrong. It seems that you canot do that but act defensively. Bill, please tell as one of the top collectors of Cups, int he World and I meant that, why can't you sell me?

3-Incidentally, I don't need to be lectured as to what a client and seller relationship or what my "job" should be I think I have done a prety good job of that.

I don't have any records of you being a SUBSTANTIAL buyer of Cup sets from me. However,I do remember you getting tin ones c. 1970's on eBay for some $40,. Am I right?

4-And, no I am not going to your web site (didn't even know you had one) to count your sets, I don't have the time or inkling to do so.Wish I did
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 01:22 PM

Eric, you don't know or never heard of Charles Mardo? When I said he used Cocktail Shakers I meant that the same moves you do with your $700 cups Charlie or Garcia did it better with Shakers and paper cups.

Look for his little pamphlets from the 1940's, Routine Magic, Cups and bALLS, The Hands Only, etc etc

Comparing Cups to Books,mmmmmmm. A book was created, written and printed (cups are just made regardless of design, weight etc, that is they are modified from one basic "mold");Production of early Victorian books can't be duplicated (cups can be duplicated) etc etc.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 01:24 PM

Mario:

I'm not "shaken" by your post. I'm confused.

Let me explain something. You are a merchant. I'm a customer. That's it. The customer is always right. Or have you forgotten this basic tenet of salesmanship? Even a rug merchant knows that.

The only reason I haven't purchased more sets of cups from you over the past years, is that you haven't offered but a couple of sets. One was a set of French tin cups, which I purchased about 2 years ago. Another was a set of Kort cups, which you did not recognize, but I did.

I won't tell you how many sets I have, but it is well over 200 sets. Some of them belonged to prominent performers, such as Bill Malone and Allen Okawa. I even have a set of cups that Danny Dew used for a while, along with a letter of provenance for it. Several of my sets are extremely rare. Maybe if you opened your mind a little and visited my site, you would learn something about cups and balls.

Just to help you out, it is www.cupsandballsmuseum.com . Bring a lunch. It will take some time.

BTW, I never bought anything from you before about 2002.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 02:12 PM

I never said that I wasn't familiar with Seor Mardo. What I said was that you weren't making any sense by using him as an example, a bit arbitrary like the poll I think.

Never have I spent $700 on a set of cups, nor forseeably would I.

I do own one set of Fox cups I bought from Danny Dew in earlier 1992 I think, it was possibly the last set Danny sold. I purchased them for $100 and whereas I don't know what they'd go for today, they would conceivably go for many times that. I also own a set of Ross Bertram's, and I bought them from him as well a year later, just before he died. I think I paid $120 for them and the same holds true; I could sell them for many times what I paid.

Yet another reason why people collect things, whether they be cups (that can be remade), or books (that can be reprinted).

Sorry if my tone is somewhat adversarial here, that's not my intention, your question just doesn't make much sense to me.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 05:30 PM

I have respect for Seor Mardo if for no other reason than he posed for a few of the photos in Amateur Magicians Handbook (or so I've been told), he mustve been good. But to cite him as THE cup worker because he used shaker cups is missing the whole point I think.

Eric you missed my point, what I am saying or trying to get accross, is that I have never been impressed by any style of Cups, and I have had and sold many if not all of the different classic makers, over the years.

Of course Mardo also used commercial Cups (Max Holden's as a matter of fact) but he accomplished the same by using anything that nested.In fact he felt they were more effective to the lay audience that paid his rent, than fancy, "magic" looking , cups. The same went for Frank Garcia.

If you ever had seen these guys perform you wouldn't have cared if they were solid Gold Cups or those that belonged to Houdin himself!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/25/06 05:36 PM

Senor Mardo was one of my early heroes--a great guy, very generous.
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Postby Guest » 03/25/06 10:52 PM

Mario, I'm not questioning your opinion regarding cups, nor apparently those of Mr. Mardo's or Garcia's. I would disagree with you all however if you tried to tell me what I should use where I work. If I made a habit of performing in bars impromptu, I'd gleefully use cocktail shakers, or do as Malini did and wrap some shaker glasses in newsprint.
What I'm trying to understand is why you are questioning what other people/performers would rather use and/or collect. For those same shaker glasses with a high center of gravity would be easy to tip over and off of my table at awkward moments I'm sure.
And perhaps on a final note, if I collected any cups, I'd probably collect those that had seen the world more than a few times. Like the set I first saw in the Leidesplien(sp?) in Amsterdam, the most beautifully beat up cups I've ever seen. The set was in the possession of one "Rocky" a.k.a. Sonny Holliday. Now those were some cups. Hard to believe they could still nest.
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Postby Guest » 03/26/06 12:46 AM

People collect things for several reasons. One is because they like the things they collect. Another is because they can afford them.

Some people collect beer bottles, others bottlecaps, others matchbook covers. If it were a matter of investment, I'd probably collect gold coins or proof sets.

But I don't. I collect cups.

And I buy them from people who have them for sale, not from people who don't even bother to find them. I have five vintage magic dealers and about a dozen individuals I buy cups from on a regular basis.

They don't question the collectibility of the cups, any more than they question the collectibility of my money.

I seriously doubt that I have spent more than a total of $500 or $600 with Mario over the past four years. But other people in the business know what I have spent with them on various cups and balls sets.
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Postby Guest » 03/26/06 05:38 AM

The first two questions simply don't make sense. Why bother asking a question that can't be answered? Why not re-set the poll so that some meaningful information can be shared with everyone?
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Postby Guest » 03/26/06 09:32 AM

Q: What makes cups and balls collectable?

A: A VERY understanding wife (sorry, I don't qualify for collecting :) ).


-- Frank
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Postby Guest » 03/26/06 01:02 PM

Cups do have a long respectable history in magic, so it's not surprising that any set has a certain traditional appeal to all magicians or collectors of magic. Though simple and ungimmicked, so much magic can be done with any set.

I collect magic because it's enjoyable and, if you choose carefully, quite an investment, too.
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Postby Glenn Farrington » 03/27/06 01:19 PM

All I know is, if anyone ever asks me any questions about cups or the collecting of them, I tell them to either speak to or visit Bill Palmers site...he is the man. I use to have over 200 sets, now I narrowed that down to around 30, but a damn good group of 30. Ha.
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Postby Guest » 03/27/06 01:35 PM

Glenn:

I know. I have some of your old sets!
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/27/06 03:24 PM

If anyone is selling the Houdini cups and balls set from the mid 1930's, please let me know.

Thanks,
Kevin
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I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
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Postby Guest » 03/27/06 04:51 PM

Those are really hard to find. I've only seen one set of them. I know there must be more of them out there. Some of the neatest cups didn't survive because people thought they were junk, or that they were thimbles or flowerpots.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/28/06 10:19 AM

Yah, but Glenn's 30 sets are all the same :D
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/28/06 10:21 AM

Diaconis bought the engraved Dai Vernon cups from an antique dealer (George Karger) in N.Y., asking about "Those little metal flower pots." Karger said "Not for sale." Persi came back later and made an offer (cash) he couldn't refuse!
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 03/29/06 01:06 AM

Hey Pete,

Assuming we are talking about the same George Karger (of Stars of Magic fame), did Mr. Diaconis know who it was when he entered the shop? I would think that they at least knew each other by reputation, though perhaps not by sight.

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Postby Guest » 04/01/06 03:41 PM

Question for Bill Palmer and other C&B lovers:

What is the oldest set of bona-fide cups (and balls) known? It would be wonderful to find a set of 17th century (or earlier!) cups with a proven magic provenance.

Clay
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Postby Guest » 04/01/06 09:22 PM

There are some early 19th century sets in the Magic Circle museum. I know of one collection in the US that has a civil war era set.

I know another fellow who may have some 18th century cups.

Cups belonging to Conus and Bosco recently came up for auction.

Much of the information about the cups and their shapes comes from graphics.
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Postby Guest » 04/03/06 06:03 AM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Diaconis bought the engraved Dai Vernon cups from an antique dealer (George Karger) in N.Y., asking about "Those little metal flower pots." Karger said "Not for sale." Persi came back later and made an offer (cash) he couldn't refuse!
The way I heard this was that the cups were bought from George Karger's widow. She didn't know what they were.

There is some speculation about the number of these sets that Suri brought into the US. Some say 2 sets, others say 3. I have even heard that there are as many as 6.

At one time, Vernon had one set, Diaconis had one set and Charlie McFarland had one.

Charlie gave his set to another magician as a wedding gift.
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Postby Guest » 04/03/06 11:41 AM

This info on the set Dai Vernon gave to Larry Jennings may be of interest...look at the very bottom of the web page.
Click here to see the cup info

Enjoy.
Jim
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Postby Guest » 04/03/06 09:04 PM

Thanks! That's very interesting.
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Postby Pete Biro » 04/03/06 10:45 PM

I guess I'll have to make some calls and get more information.
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Postby Guest » 04/04/06 05:10 AM

The information in Bill Taylor's note, unfortunately, is not correct. Further, there is some debate whether Vernon gave Jennings the cups. The photographs, however, are beautiful.
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Postby Guest » 04/04/06 08:55 AM

David;
Can you enlighten us as to which parts of Bill's note are incorrect? I am trying to get the "facts" on my web site ;)

The cups do appear to be plated. I would have guessed the engraving to have been possibly from Iran (the design and work seem to me to be "Persian") rather than from Morocco; but I'm not an expert in such things. It would be very difficult to compare the cups metal weight with that of a silver cup. Actual measurement of the metal's density would a more valid indicator of the metal content of the base metal.

As for who owned what and "gave" what to whom, I can only go by what I am told by others who supposedly know. Will the real story be in your new book? There are way too many incorrect rumors going around and accepted as fact.
Jim
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