In this section I write a list of books that may be interesting for to research the history of bubbles as a form of Art.
This is a compilation from the point of view of the research, so there will not be listed books that contain only standard information about working with bubbles or (with the exception of the volume of C.V. Boys) books about the Science of bubbles; I will list and discuss only book from which it may be possible to get information about performers from the past, soap bubbles amusements (forerunner of many effects still performed today on stage and during show) and, in general, any publication in which it may be found any interesting information about soap bubbles as amusement or performing Art during the Centuries.
The list is not to be considered complete and exhaustive; if you have any information that you think it is necessary to add, just send me a note complete with the front page and it will be listed below.
NEW GAMES AND AMUSEMENT FOR YOUNG AND OLD ALIKE
This list is not compiled in order of time or importance, however I want to start with this book because the writer have to be considered somehow as the first person that consider bubbles as a performing art.
When in a lot of books about scientific amusement (see the list below) that appeared on the market between the end of the XIX Century and the beginning of the XX Century you will find just a compilation of experiment with bubbles (even if some extremely important), the book of Nugent it is the only one that have a section regarding bubbles described as a real performing art.
It is the real first book that consider soap bubbles not a simple amusement but a form of professional entertainment.
It must be said that everything the Author describe (bubble competition, name of bubble performers...) it is fictitious and written more like a novel, however some of the effects described are part of professional repertoire of today Bubble performers. This led to the conclusion that M. Nugent was either a talented visionary or that, indeed, he did make real experiment and trial with it. My personal opinion it is in the middle as some effects appear a bit too extreme, while other describe even in the image what the effect should look like.
In the picture on the left it is the cover of a recent reprint that can be easily found today, as the original it is scarce. This is to be considered as a MUST to be read for everyone interested in the research.
Book of Scientific amusement
As I wrote before, between the end of the XIX Century and the beginning of the XX Century, amusement science was very popular and many books where published around this argument. Somehow they are all similar, either in the content or the structure, it is hard to say if this was because the effects described was very popular at that time or if one author was "phishing material" from the other, the fact is that date of first publication of all are quite close one to the other and none of this book it is exact copy of the other, so, perhaps, all are just compilation of known practical application of science.
Also, almost all this book have been translated in many language, as you can see from the book cover that I report below (English, French, Italian, Russian between the most popular that can be still found).
The most known are the following:
ARTHUR GOOD (Tom Tit): SCIENTIFIC AMUSEMENT
GASTON TISSANDIER: LES RECREATIONS SCIENTIFIQUES
ITALO GHERSI: 500 GIUOCHI
Inside each of this books you will find a section with experiments with bubbles. Some are very interesting because are simplified version of effects that are still performed today; other are fair too complicate to reproduce during live performances and other are very creative and leave open the possibility to create new effects.
My opinion it is that all this book should be studied from everyone seriously interested in to understand the process and evolution of modern bubble show and also from all of those interested in to develop new effects.
The book of Boys it is considered as the first that explore the Science of bubbles and his mathematical aspects. There it is possible to find many scientific research about the bubbles, description of the first experiments of Plateau and other aspect connected to the physic and nature of bubbles.
I include it in this section mainly because it is known that Boys was doing scientific demonstration of many effects, explaining the mathematical and physic principle behind the bubbles. Not much like a bubble performance as we intend it today, but for sure many of the effects that he demonstrated was for sure source of inspiration of Vaudeville performers and it is not a case that Ollie Young & April was billing themselves also as "Scientific soap bubble experts", that show how this kind of demonstration was popular, at the beginning of XX century.
It is also interesting to note that Boys give in his book some more technical description of bubble solution, to be used for the purpose of laboratory experiments
Of this book I have the original in German Language and I found also the translation in English that it is included in the booklet of Conradi "Some more exquisite conjuring".
This book and his translation in English (titled "Soap Bubbles") it is indeed very interesting and, even if very short, it give some ideas still used today by modern soap bubble performers and some other ideas that could be explored.
There are balancing effects with bubbles, the classic "ping pong" effect played with tennis rackets and a lot more including 2 formula that I had never seen before.
Many of the effect described was lately copied and reproduced in the book "Magic with Bubbles" by O. McGill (see description below).
MAGIC WITH SOAP BUBBLES
Interesting book with many ideas for to create a "Circus of Bubbles".
Big part of the first section have been just copied and reproduced from the book "Seifenblasen Tricks" of W. Sperling (see before) but there are also interesting variant and ideas.
The second section it is a tentative to adapt magic tricks with soap bubbles that result again in something that is worth to explore and sometime that look just like a "filler".
In general recommended for all those who want to expand the repertoire and experiment new ways.
BOLLE DI SAPONE tra arte e matematica
I had the lucky to speak personally with Michele Emmer, a retired Professor of Mathematics at the University "La Sapienza" in Rome, with the passion of soap bubbles and he sent me as a gift his book.
This is a fantastic book that explore the connections between Bubbles, Art and Science.
There are different full colors reproduction of popular paintings and objects related to bubbles from the XVII Century; a description of the "Homo Bulla" and his historycal meaning; notes about connection with the bubble, Architecture and Modern Art; pictures and information of movies where bubbles have been involved; information about bubbles as a performing art, including many pictures of popular performers as Tom Noddy and Pep Bou and so much more.
It is an amazing overview about soap bubbles that show how this fragile but mesmerizing thing had influenced over the centuries the mind of artists, scientist and humankind in general.
Even if it is written only in Italian language, it should be absolutely checked from anyone interested in to research about soap bubbles even only for the large quantity of beautiful pictures contained in within.
This is the well known book written in the '80 by popular bubble performer Tom Noddy.
The real interest within this book, related to this section, it is not about the effects that he explain but about the personal experience of Tom and how he developed his act.
There are described a lot of personal experience of Tom and I found also interesting the note about the many people that showed him many effects with bubbles.
He mention, for instance, at page 9 "David the Minstrel" that showed him for the first time the Carousel. Before to read his book, I always thought that the idea of the Carousel was of Tom, but, reading his world, look that somebody else already developed it, and, perhaps, this same person learned from someone else, this is a fact that soon or later I will check with Tom Noddy.
Tom also mention a Musician named Bill that helped him with the Bubble Cube and so on. At the end of the book it is a description with his meeting with Eiffel that is worth the reading and must absolutely not be missed as well as his other encounter with friends or people blowing bubbles. This is a book that it is really necessary to read and check carefully and not only for the effects explained.
THE UNBELIEVABLE BUBBLE BOOK
John Cassidy - David Stein
As well as the book wrote by Tom Noddy, also this is a book written in the late '80 where it is possible to find not only explanation about techniques (and you can read more about this and the Tom book in the section "INVENTION AND HIS INVENTORS") but a lot of information about bubble performers from Eiffel till Richard Faverty, Sterling Johnson and the same Tom Noddy, just for to quote same.
There it is also possible to read about A.V. Grosse and his research; the very first World Bubble Festival of 1984 and other science related facts.
If the book of Tom Noddy it is more about personal storytelling (still very interesting and useful as a source of information) this is more structured as a collection of different information or separated chapters about different facts/information.
Another book that it is very important to browse and read until the very last page
Not a book but...
As I wrote at the beginning, this list may not be complete, any suggestion is welcome.
Another source for to find news about the past, of course, it is the web. Today it is possible to find almost any information there, if enough time it is dedicated to browse it.
I added on the left an image of an interesting promotion made during the end of XIX century: A bubble contest to be played at home between friends or during a party.
The promoter of this game (fact that will be, for sure, very interesting for almost all bubble performers) it is the Procter & Gamble...
Another interesting fact it is in the same description, where it is possible to read "Bubble parties are the latest fad in New York this season". One more demonstration how entertainment with bubbles was very popular also in this period.