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Author Topic: A little of top history  (Read 8480 times)

Watts' Tops

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A little of top history
« on: October 26, 2009, 10:00:32 AM »

A bite of history.  In 60-62, Jim Schriber, from the Oak Hills Bible College, was instrumental in getting Duncan to see the bigger picture of tops.  He instructed some of the first demonstrators in the basics of top spinning and provided three students as well.  You may know Don Winters, Fred Mills, and Dwight Paulson.  I was recommended by Jim as well and interviewed in Chicago.  I was offered a job if the company survived a law suit over the name yo-yo.  They lost and I was not hired but they gave me some Sir Duncan tops, the heavy original ones before they started the pop top.  They also gave me a Duncan spinning top patch which I treasure even if I did not earn it in contest.  This was in 1962 when they made the really good tops.  I still have a couple of the heavy ones.  Lighter ones followed and the inovative pop top to avoid returns from broken tops.  This destroyed their quality for production. 
« Last Edit: October 29, 2009, 12:49:51 AM by ta0 »
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Watts' Tops
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SpinQueen

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2009, 01:11:21 PM »

Thanks for that Walter.  It's so wonderful having you here with us sharing spin-top history.  Do you know where Jim Schriber learned to do spin-top tricks?  What was the most difficult trick to do back in the 60's?
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poptop

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2009, 01:40:02 PM »

I wonder if there is a link between the folks (kids and adults) spinning in Chicago and Jim Schriber and others?  I also wonder if ther were any other "hot spots" where top spinning had a chance to progress in the US and abroad.  Clearly Mexico has become one of the more active places since the 1970's.  I wonder what other cities/places might have had top spinners before the 1960's?
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Erratic Wobbler

Watts' Tops

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2009, 05:55:29 PM »

I do not know where Jim Schriber learned to spin tops.  I do know he was spinning when he was a student at Moody Bible Ins.  I do have vidio made in the 50's of  Jim doing his spinning top ministry.  I think this is available from Don Olney or at least was for a time.  I do know as a little kid, I learned to spin tops at Bible camp from Jim.  Age 7.  I was always facinated by his tricks which in todays top spinning world are very primitive.  They are the ones that I still do and a bit old to be learning new ones. 8)
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the Earl of Whirl

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2009, 06:16:40 PM »

I did get a copy of that video of Jim Schriber (or is it Schreiber) from Don Olney.  It was in video form.  I passed it along to Jorge and he put it into dvd format so that it could be better preserved.
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poptop

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2009, 07:33:13 PM »

Here's a cool link showing some discussion we had relating to Rev. Schreiber who I believe was also from Chicago:

http://www.topspinning.com/toptalk/viewpost.php?post=6698

and some more discussion about how we learned to spin:

http://www.topspinning.com/toptalk/viewpost.php?post=15069

I would love to hear from Don Olney/Silvertop about how & from whom he learned to spin.
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the Earl of Whirl

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2009, 08:14:25 PM »

Hmmm.  I am sure I have heard the Don Olney story about how he first started spinning but I can't seem to remember it now.  Don.....help us!
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silvertop

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2009, 09:53:21 PM »

It has been a while, but as I remember the story from the film, Jim knew how to spin tops as a kid - as pretty much "all" kids did back in the day - early 1900's.  The story is that Jim saw some kids playing with tops while he was in seminary, remembered playing with tops as a kid, and thought this toy might be a good way to illustrate points in his sermons.  The "tricks" he used were all very simple by today's standards, but he embellished them with lots of good Christian messages, and seemed to captivate his audience!  He certainly inspired a lot of kids at the summer camp and Bible College that he ran for many years.... click below for some history of Oak Hills Christian College - including some pictures of Jim.  Jim passed away in 1996 after some time with alzheimers disease.  http://www.oakhills.edu/about/history/1920modelt.htm 

When I get a chance I'll do some digging - I think I have some old articles and pictures about Jim.  If anyone has that DVD from my copy of the film, I love to have a copy!
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the Earl of Whirl

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2009, 10:13:08 PM »

Thanks for the info. on Jim Schreiber.  How did you (Don Olney) learn to throw?  What is the story behind your spinning start?
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ta0

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2009, 10:23:06 PM »

I'll make a you copy, Don (I see your address is in your signature.) I separated the three spintop preachers who were in the VHS, Jim Schreiber, Joe Mauk and Stan Watson, into three chapters on the DVD. By the way, there is now better and newer footage from Mauk on youtube.


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silvertop

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2009, 10:20:55 PM »

Oh!  You wanted to know about me???   ???  Here goes with more that you probably wanted!

I'm one who is interested in spinning all kinds of tops.  I've been a very active collector and player with all kinds of tops from all over the world for many years.  My first top was a metal pump top that was a gift from my Aunt Rowene - Dad's sister, since passed on - way too early!  That top was a gift for my third birthday, and was recorded in my baby book!  In those days there was no "foot" on the bottom of pump tops, and I remember a lot of effort trying to get the top going without the bottom slipping sideways!  Advance to around 1972 when I started making wooden toys for a living, and worked out a simple finger top made from a wheel, with a dowel sharpened in a pencil sharpener.  One of my very early "Power tools" was a battery operated pencil sharpener given to me by my mother-in-law!  Several years later - I really don't have an exact date in mind - I became fascinated with the "flipover" top - tippe top.  I spent hours on the lathe trying to figure out how to make them!  A few would work, but most did not.  One day a bag of wheels arrived from my wood parts turning supplier, that had 4 purple 1 1/4"  balls in it.  I connected in my mind to the flipover top idea, and with the help of my drill press, some vise grips, and some 1/4" dowels I created 4 flipovers that worked!  I immediately ordered 500 more of those balls from my supplier, and to make a long long story short, after about a year or so of experimenting, came up with a way of making flipovers that worked about 99.9% of the time.  Over the years I sold literally millions of them!  Naturally I wanted to repeat this great product, and I started exploring other tops.  A visit to Judith Shultz and her collection - I think she had about 600 at the time - got me hooked on collecting.  The sickness was confirmed when I went to London, England in 1990 and bought 185 tops from the collection of Geoffrey Budworth.  The collection even included some that my company -The Toycrafter- had made.  I met Monsieur Malafosse at the auction, and he and I pretty much split the collection.  I spent over $2000 in 7 minutes.

I gave lots of tours of The Toycrafter over the years, and always ended with a top show demonstrating all the tops we made, and many from my collection.  I had taught myself to spin a peg top on the ground - oddly amazing to people who have never seen that done?  I don't remember who taught me the boomerang, but that and the sky rocket were about the extent of my skills.  I even turned some peg tops on a lathe as a demonstration at the New York State Fair around 1973?

In August of 1991 I attended my first International Jugglers Festival at the invitation of Paul Kyprie, one of the board members, to run a workshop on spinning peg tops.  The Toycrafter distributed over 600 wooden peg tops imprinted with the IJA logo - one to each attendee - and I ran a modest but enthusiastically received workshop.  Most had never seen a peg top, but many embraced this "new" juggling prop, and the workshops grew from year to year with the great help of some of the "original" 1960's top folks like Val Krantz and Dale Oliver, and with great new tricks added by the likes of  Paul Kyprie, Jon Gates, Mark Hayward, and others.  From that first year, I especially remember Cliff Spenger demonstrating lighting his flaming juggling torches from a match lit on a bit of sandpaper on the crown of a spinning peg top....match was held in his teeth!  (the South Dakota convention a few years later saw a small but determined group of top folks working very hard to create a flaming top - it didn't work, but I still have mine!)   Later years added "early" top spinners like Don Winters, Stan Watson, Byron and Walter Watts, Bob Rule and others to the list of folks drawn to the IJA festival each year for top spinning and Yo-Yo workshops.    New comers like Steve Brown, Mike Hout and others swelled the size of the spin top workshops each year. 1991 also marked the first year that Masahiro Mizuno performed Japanese top tricks at the IJA festival.  The magnificent Japanese tops and the tricks done with them by Masahiro played no small part in fueling the growing interest in top spinning.  Those early top spinning workshops at IJA helped to build a solid group of skilled players who shared information and skills and, 8 or 9 years later, formed the basis of a group large enough to support the several regional and national contests of the past few years..... and now this forum!  I remember the first top spinning "contest" at IJA when we pretty much had to teach some kids to spin tops first, and then held the contest!

My personal skills with the peg top have never been anything outstanding, but those early IJA workshops that I organized revived interest in an ancient toy. (Dale Oliver once asked me why I was running a workshop on throwing tops when I couldn't do it very well.  My answer was that I really wanted to see this classic toy revived.)  I've always felt like the Yo-Yo, while a very cool toy, sort of destroyed the spinning top as a toy that pretty much every kid knew how to spin.  Being attached to the string cuts down on a lot of the early frustration of trying to learn to work a yo-yo.  The spin top must be chased down and fished out from under a lot of stuff before you get that first spin right!

I still can't hold a candle to the skills that any of you guys and gals on this forum demonstrate, but I'm very pleased and proud of taking those 600 wooden tops to that IJA festival, and kicking off a new generation of top spinners!
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poptop

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2009, 10:48:40 PM »

Fantastic!  This is exactaly what I hoped to hear!  I wish we had similiar details for more of the folks who have helped keep tops spinning over the years.  Thanks Don for the effort and for sharing your story.  Many of us may never have known what a peg top was had it not been for your interest and skills in the shop.  I think many of us who have come to enjoy tops share your desire make sure they pass to future generations.  Cheers!
« Last Edit: October 27, 2009, 10:55:48 PM by poptop »
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ta0

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2009, 11:32:31 PM »

I just printed what you wrote, Don. History.

By the way, I learned to throw a top on the ground from the instruction sheet I got with my Monarch. Thanks!
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SpinQueen

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2009, 12:48:53 AM »

 Monarchs and Tippe Tops rock!  Your Toycrafter peg tops were the very first tops that I purchased for the kids at the school.  That Dale Oliver bit cracked me up...sounds like Dale, so blunt... a lot like someone else I know..Me  :-[   I'm really glad you paid him no mind and kept spreading your love of tops.  We have all benefitted from your passion.

I hope this didn't sound like I don't like Dale...quite the opposite.  I love the guy!
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 12:33:00 PM by SpinQueen »
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jim in paris

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A little of top history (split)
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2009, 03:33:55 AM »

great story , Don !
thanks a lot for taking the time of writing all this
i wish we could hear more of the good old times around a campfire somewhere  ;)

good day to you all


jim
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