Archive for June, 2011

Break time

Friday, June 24th, 2011

I’m going to take a break for a while to work on another project – have a look back here towards the end of the year…I might start again.

In the meantime if any of you would like to publish some articles for your area let me know in the comments or via the contact page. I’m happy to host them here or even help you set up a site of your own.

See you around


Franco Piper at Sunderland Empire

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Franco Piper, “The Maestre of the spinning, tossing, juggling, and swinging banjos” was on the bill at the Sunderland Empire for the week of 26 September 1910:

Franco Piper at Sunderland Empire Poster - From the Tyne & Wear Archives

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

I described the Howard Brothers doing something similar a couple of weeks ago, so it appears there was a fad for this kind of act at the time – but fortunately the Royal Magazine ran a four page article on Franco Piper in 1901 – it’s a really interesting read.

We can see that Franco was performing at Hammerstein’s Roof Garden in New York from this June 1903 article in the New York Times – though he admits to still struggling with the 4-banjo part of his act. The 6 banjos shown in the Royal magazine article in 1901 must have been a little further away then he admitted back then.

There’s also a copy of his promo material from 1925 in both ‘Juggling the Art and its Artists’ and ‘4000 Years of Juggling’ by Karl-Heinz Ziethen:

Franco Piper - Promo from 1925 - Scan from K-H Zeithen's Juggling: The Art and its Artists

Scan from K-H Zeithen's Juggling: The Art and its Artists

Unfortunately his story doesn’t end well – his listing in Michael Kilgarriff ‘Grace Beauty and Banjos’ states rather baldly that in 1933 he, “depressed at wife’s illness and lack of bookings killed himself”.

RIP Franco.

Enzer at the Sunderland Empire

Friday, June 10th, 2011

For the week of 1 August 1910 Enzer “Late Sergt. Major Instructor H.M. Army Gymnastic Staff, the Soldier Juggler, Sword Expert, Etc.” appeared at Sunderland Empire “assisted by Miss Clarice the Lady Ju-Jitsu Expert”:

Enzer at Sunderland Empire Poster - From Tyne & Wear Archives

From Tyne & Wear Archives

There’s no other reference that I can find to Enzer apart from this (unfortunately undated) article from the Scarborough Evening News –  it seems that five boys were accused of breaking into a shop over the weekend and Enzer’s son Leonard was there for at least part of the time, helping himself to some chocolates.

Mr Whitfield for Enzer pointed out that he was a lad of some ability, having passed, although only 13 now, the 7th standard last summer. He was not the originator of the mischief, and that had to be considered. He was not in the shop till the Sunday. He was the son of respectable people, his father having been a sergeant major in the Army on the gymnastic training staff, and he was at present on the music hall stage, a brother of the defendant being with him. The father intended to take the defendant, who had been training as a juggler, with him, and although, unfortunately, the lad had been in some trouble before, he submitted that under his father’s control he would be all right, and that it would be better than sending him to a reformatory.

Unfortunately the magistrates seemed to think that handing a thief (with previous) over to the care of a music hall juggler wasn’t “suitable for the lad”, and sent him to reformatory for 5 years. Who can blame them?