The premise of this concept was described in French in Récréations mathématiques et physiques by Jacques Ozanam in the revised edition of 1723 done by a so-called Grandin. There is wax or mutton suet on the balls or in one Cup.
It was popularized by Al Wheatley, a professional magician who performed under the name Chop Chop. His original Chop Cup, created in the mid 1950's and presented in 1955 Santa Barbara Convention, was made out of a section of hollow bamboo and marketed as Chop Chop's One Cup & Ball Routine. By 1957, Wheatley's company, Excato Magic, was advertising a modified aluminum Chop Cup in magic magazines.
The Chop Cup became a popular magician's tool in part due to the celebrity of Don Alan, who made it a staple of his act. Don Alan performed his Chop Cup routine on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1960.
Wheatley saw Larry Jennings perform his Chop Cup routine at The Magic Castle shortly after it opened in 1963. It was noted for its loading of a big ball and the use of a silk handkerchief and a shot glass. He was so impressed that he asked Jennings to please not reveal his method or routine in print until after his death. Larry kept his promise, and did not publish his routine until a year after Wheatley's death. It was published in Genii Magazine, Volume 29, Number 7, in March of 1965. Don Alan used a version of the Chop Cup on his national TV show and popularized it with magicians everywhere.
The trick has spawned many variations, leading to elaborate routines developed by Larry Jennings, Ron Wilson, Earl Nelson, Alan Wakeling, John Mendoza, Danny Tong, and Jim Swain. The Nelson and Wakeling routines eventually appeared in The Chop Cup Book (1979). Ron Wilson's Uncanny Chop Cup saw print in The Uncanny Scot: Ron Wilson(1987).
Chop cup routines in print:
- Tea Cups and a Ball by Ajit Krishna Basu, in The Magician Monthly, november 1932. Vol. 28, no. 12, p. 144. It's not a Chop Cup routine but a transposition between a ball and a liquid in two tea cups but it seems to be the first use of a magnetized ball.
- A Novel Cup and Ball Effect by Fred Lodge in The Mysteries of the Mystic Seven (1936). The FIRST routine with a magnetized ball and a cup.
- High Ball Cup by Ken Brooke in The Gen, July 1962. Vol. 18, no. 3, p. 69-71, written by Lewis Ganson.
- Chop Cup to the Max by Ed Marlo in The New Phoenix, 1962, no. 366, feb. p. 292. Reprint in Arcade Dream, page 164, 1997.
- Do It yourself Chop Cup Routine by John M. Gilliland in The Linking Ring, December 1966, Vol. 46, no. 12, p. 77.
- One Cup - Two Balls by Rink in The Art of Close-up, Vol. 2, written by Lewis Ganson. Harry Stanley Unique Magic Studio: London, 1969.
- Hemingway's 'Simplex' Chop Cup Routine by David Hemingway in Exclusive Routines, Part 2. Preston, 1972, p. 42-43.
- Combination Larry Jennings' One-Cup Three-Ball & Chop Cup Routine by Fred Kaps in Fred Kaps Lecture Book. London, 1973.
- Chop Cone by Rick Johnsson in The Linking Ring, June 1975, Vol. 55, no. 6, p. 73 & The Banbury Extrusion, page 74.
- The Chop Cone Routine by Rick Johnsson in The Linking Ring, April 1976. Vol. 56, no. 4, p. 73.
- The Soft Chop-Chop or You Don't Have to be Chinese to do this Trick by Frank Garcia in The Encyclopedia of Sponge Ball Magic, 1976. p. 173-177.
- The Larry Jennings Chop Cup Routine in Larry Jennings on Card and Coin Handling written by Nina Jennings. Jeff Busby Magic Inc. Oakland, 1977, p. 57.
- Start for a Chop Cup Routine by Rink in Rink's Magic from Holland written by Hugh Miller. Supreme Magic Company, Bideford, 1978. p. 41-44 & A Chop Cup Prelude, page 44-49.
- Chop Cup Capers by Ralph A. Marcom in Marcom Presents Magic. Magic Inc. Chicago, IL, 1979. p. 59-62.
- The Reel Works: Letter From Danny Korem written by Pete Biro in Genii 1980 June, Vol. 44, no. 6, p. 395-396.
- My Chop Cup Routine by Ken Brooke in Ken Brooke's Magic: The Unique Years. Supreme Magic Co, 1980. p. 216.
- The 'How To' Book of the Chop Cup by Merlyn T. Shute. Morrissey Magic Ltd. Montreal, Canada, 1980. p 45.
- Commercial Chop Cup Routine by Trevor Lewis in Trevor Lewis - ESOLC (That's Close Up) written by Philip Willmarth. Standridge Magic, Mesquite, Texas, 1981, p. 95-97.
- New Look Climax to Cups and Balls...Colombini in Magigram, Feb 1982. Vol. 14, no. 6, p. 383.
- The Chop Cup Revisited, page 51 in The Close-Up Magic of Frank Garcia, Part II, 1982.
- Tommy Wonder Entertains. Three Novel Routines based on the Cups and Balls by Jos Bema written by Gene Matsuura. Jeff Busby Magic Inc. Oakland, CA, 1983.
- Revised Chop Cup Routine by David Roth in The New York Magic Symposium - Collection 3 written by Stephen Minch. New York, 1984. p. 21.
- New Wave Chop Cup by Danny Korem in Korem without Limits. D. Robbins Publication. New York, 1985, page 52.
- Imprompchop by Karrell Fox in For My Next Trick... The Supreme Magic Company. Bideford, England, 1986. p. 15.
- The Uncanny Chop Cup by Ron Wilson in The Uncanny Scot: Ron Wilson written by Richard Kaufman. New York, 1987. p. 78.
- Knowing the Chop Cup (and Other One Cup One Ball Routines) by Will Ayling. The Supreme Magic Co Ltd, 1989. p 40.
- New Theory Chop Cup by Finn Jon in Spectacle written by Stephen Minch. L&L Publishing, 1990, p. 111-114.
- Chop Cup and Balls by Jerry Mentzer in Close-Up File. Magic Methods, 1994. p. 126-131 & Ultimate Cup Routine, page 131-136.
- Chop Cup Load by Tommy Wonder in The Books of Wonder, Vol. 2 written by Stephen Minch. Hermetic Press Inc, 1996, p. 94-97.
- The Bayberry Bag Swindle by Paul Harris & Eric Mead in The Art of Astonishment, Vol. 1, 1996, p. 63-66 & Uncanny by Paul Harris, page 225-228.
- Larry Jennings' Famous Chop Cup Routine in 21st Century Card Magic written by Jim Swain. Tampa, FL, 1999. p. 149.
- My Best Friend by David Regal in Close-Up and Personal. Hermetic Press Inc. Seattle, WA, 1999, p. 90-94
- Lean Mean Chop Cup by Don Alan in In a Class by Himself: the Legacy of Don Alan written by Jon Racherbaumer. L and L Publishing, Tahoma, CA, 2000. p. 269.
- The Dennis Loomis Routine for the James Riser/Dennis Loomis Micro Chop Cup. Loomis Magic. Bay Point, CA, 2002, p 11.
DATES PLEASE !
- Dr Bob's Complete Chop Cup Routine.
- One Cup Three Ball Routine by Fred Kaps. Denny & Lee.
- New Chop Cup Routine by Joe Riding.
- The Working Professional's Chop Cup by Jim Sisti in The Confidential Manuscript Series #2.
- Lean Chop by R. Paul Wilson in The Little Black Book, p. 17.