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Floating Ball

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Floating Ball is an illusion in which a ball floats freely about the stage.

The first version in print was in the September issue of The Sphinx in 1905 by Harrison Davies.[1]

The first practical one-man method was created by amateur magician David P. Abbott. In 1913, he demonstrated it to both Okito and Howard Thurston. This was when Okito was traveling with the Thurston Show while playing in Omaha, and the two were invited as guests to Abbott's home. Abbott presented each with one of his new, one-man floating ball effects as a gift.[2]

Abbott's method was described on page 30 in The Magazine of Magic, Vol. 1, no. 1, October 1914.

Okito went on to improve it, and developed a popular stage routine which he was performing by 1920.

It was also featured by Doc Nixon, by Okito's son Fu-Manchu, and by Dante.

Joe Karson patented a version he called Zombie, in which a ball floats behind a foulard, in 1940.

See also: Zombie

Prior Art

  • The Floating Ball of Paper in Latter Day Tricks (1896) by August Roterberg. Said to be "a genuine Japanese feat", a sheet of soft tissue paper of about a foot square is crumpled then suspended in the air. It can also ascend and descend.


  1. The Floating Ball Illusion, House of Mystery-Volume 2 by Teller and Todd Karr
  2. "HISTORY OF THE FLOATING BALL" chapter in Okito on Magic