very first shell was placed over a pebble, man has been performing one
rendition or another of a Cups and Balls routine. The Rosellini/ Wilkinson
drawing (left), sketched from a mural in the tomb of Baqt III at Beni Hassan
- circa 2500 B.C., is a representation of what is commonly regarded as
the first depiction of a conjuring feat. Not just the first rendition
of the Cups and Balls...the first depiction of ANY trick.
Did the cavemen perform his manipulation? Probably not, but think about this for a moment. How advanced did man have to be top put a shell of some kind on top of a pebble and then, to the amazement of his or her child, make that pebble disappear? How long did it take a fairly dexterous member of a Pharaoh's court to "master" a routine using multiple cups and balls (and perhaps a large piece of fruit for the finale), and therefore gather additional favor and trust from his king? Probably not at all...and for good reasons. No fancy gimmicks or gadgetry are needed. All the magician needs is a good imagination, the ability to "weave" a routine into a story and the skills that come from practice.
and India the cup-and-ball performers knelt on the ground; in Turkey they
conjured on a carpet in the open air; in Greece and Rome they preferred
to work standing behind a table. Seneca the Younger, who was born
in Spain in 3 B.C., said the bewildering sleights were similar tot he tricks
of speech used by orators. Both were "pleasing descriptions, harmless
to those who do not know them, and without interest to those who do."