Multiplying Billiard Balls
Multiplying Billiard Balls is a magic routine in which the magician uses sleight of hand to manipulate a number of billiard balls (the balls are often smaller than actual billiard balls), giving the impression that he is making them appear and vanish at his command.
In this presentation, the magician will hold a single ball in his hand. The ball suddenly becomes two balls, in plain view of the audience. He then proceeds to produce a third and fourth ball, all in the same hand. The magician will then vanish the balls, one at a time, until only one remains. Often, part of the routine involves the magician giving the impression that he is "passing" the balls through his body, in and out of his mouth, fingertips, and pockets.
Buatier de Kolta, in 1875, was possibly the first to perform an effect where one ball magically was produced, and then multiplied into three balls. It however was a bit different then the way magicians know it today where the balls appear from the fingertips. In Hoffmann’s book More Magic (1889), Hoffmann describes, with credits to de Kolta, a small variation.
August Roterberg published two books containing effects with balls: The Modern Wizard (1894) and Latter Day Tricks (1896). Soon afterward he published a small manuscript, with the props, titled "Excelsior Ball Trick" (1898). This was performed as most magicians know it today from between the fingers."
It was performed by magicians such as Charles Bertram, Paul Valadon and Cardini. T. Nelson Downs developed a method using pure sleight of hand around 1909. Clement de Lion developed a method for producing 12 balls (6 in each hand at the same time).