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Required reading (and viewing): Jamy Ian Swiss shares the history of the cups and balls


“The oldest trick in the book” might be just a familiar turn of phrase to laypeople, but to a magician, the words most likely brings to mind the cups and balls. This old chestnut really is old, and magic teacher and historian Jamy Ian Swiss has delved into the beloved routine in his latest blog post for Magicana.

Swiss knows a little something about this routine. He co-wrote the The Magic of Johnny Thompson with the man himself (also known as The Great Tomsoni), which has several sections on the routine’s variants. He recently released his own instructional video on the bit. And by his own accounting, six of his past Take Two essays have included video of the cups and balls. If you want expertise on the cups and balls, he’s your guy.

The essay includes some of the history and legend surrounding the cups and balls. He’s also dug up several videos of the greats from Paul Daniels to Johnny Thompson putting their spin on the classic. If you have any interest in magic history, or just in finessing your own presentation of the act, this is a must-read.