Easy Cups and Balls Tutorial

By Tom Interval

The Conjurer, Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1500)

The Conjurer, Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1500)

One of the oldest, if not the oldest, magic effects is the cups and balls.

While some magicians still believe it dates back to around 2500 BCE—based on a simple painting on the wall of a burial chamber in Beni Hasan, Egypt—most historians today believe the image depicts two people playing some sort of an ancient game with four bowls.

In his Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, written more than 2,000 years ago, Seneca the Younger described in Letter 45 a magic trick that somewhat resembles that of the classic cups and balls: acetabula et calculil (Latin for “dishes and dice”).

Seneca’s letter may very well reflect the origin of the cups and balls, but a more modern version was unambiguously depicted in Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, The Conjurer, circa 1500. Bosch’s depiction is probably much closer to the beginning version I teach in my recent 40-minute video tutorial for people who support me on Rokfin and Patreon.

Please watch the following 10-minute preview, like it, share it, and support me on one of the platforms I mentioned. Thanks, and enjoy!


magic tutorials, magic lessons, magic classes, cups and balls, magic tricks


About Tom Interval

San Diego Magician Tom Interval, owner of Interval Magic, provides magic entertainment and training to private and corporate clients locally and nationally. A member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), Society of American Magicians (SAM), and the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA), Interval has captivated tens of thousands of people at numerous venues, including Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia. With a BA in professional writing and minors in communications and business administration, Interval writes magic-related e-books, magazine articles, and blogs and produces tutorials and related videos for his YouTube channel. Most recently, Interval earned The Linking Ring Award of Excellence for a cover story he wrote for the magicians' publication. To learn more, please visit https://www.intervalmagic.com.
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