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Cups and Balls

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Revision as of 12:44, 11 August 2008 by Jpecore (Talk | contribs) (Final loads)

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Cups and Balls

Effect in which cups are used to cover balls which impossibly travel and vanish. Generally ended with several productions of large loads.

The cups and balls is a classic of magic with many adaptations. The effect known as acetabula et calculi was performed by Roman conjurers as far back as two thousand years ago.

One popularly painting of a man holding two inverted cups over two small round objects has been taken as evidence to suggest that the effect dates back as far as Ancient Egypt, though experts now doubt that is what the picture shows.

The most widely performed version uses three cups and three small balls. The magician makes the balls pass through the solid bottoms of the cups, jump from cup to cup, disappear from the cup and appear in other places, or vanish from various places and reappear under the cups (sometimes under the same cup), often ending with larger objects, like fruit, or even chicks or mice, appearing under the cups.

A typical cups and balls routine includes many of the fundamental effects, such as vanishes, appearances, and transpositions. A convincing performance also requires many of the basic skills, such as misdirection, manual dexterity, and audience management. Because of this, learning the cups and balls is often considered an almost complete education in modern magic entertainment.

Instead of cups, other types covers can be used, such as bowls or hats. The classic shell game con is taken by some to be a variant of the cups and balls.

Houdini has been quoted as saying "I consider no man to be a magician unless he can perform the cups and balls".

See also all pages in the Category:Cups and Balls.


Michael Ammar - Aldo Colombini - Alex Elmsley - Paul Gertner - Larry Jennings - Jason Latimer - John Mendoza - Gary Ouellet - Jay Sankey - Dai Vernon - David Williamson - Tommy Wonder


Cup Suppliers - Cup Resources - Cup Lists

(see also Thimble Rigging, Three Shell Game)

Final loads

  • Live baby chickens : Galli Galli, Ross Bertram and Johnny Ace Palmer
  • A block of ice: ?
  • Another cup: Jay Sankey
  • Lots of other balls: Jay Sankey
  • The bag that the cups and balls came in: Tommy Wonder and Pete Biro
  • Salt: Alex Elmsley
  • A live mouse: Lance Burton and Petey the Magic Mouse
  • Lit votive candles: Richard Robinson
  • Water/liquid: Ronnie Gann (1964) The Wizard of Odds (published by Max Holden)Liquid Finish For Cup and Ball.
  • Cups are shown to be solid blocks of steel: Shawn Farquhar