Thomas Matthew St. John

Fun With Soap-Bubbles Kit. © 1899

In 1900 when a little soapy water + an old tobacco pipe = all the bubble fun you could imagine. . . this advertisement would have blown your bubble mind!

A fantastic Bubbleology kit. I think it is Amazing!

Thomas M. St. John (1865-1949). Graduated Columbia College in 1890 with a degree in metallurgical engineering. Soon after he started to produce educational toys, games and books for young people.

After 10 years I finally found a kit to buy in 2017. The booklet (below) is terrific. The bubble tools were well made.

He believed fun was an important part of science education. I do too.


THE OUTFIT contains everything necessary for thousands of beautiful bubbles and films. All highly colored articles have been carefully avoided, as cheap paints and dyes are positively dangerous in children's mouths.

The outfit contains the following articles:

One Book of Instructions, called "Fun With Soap-Bubbles," 1 Metal Base for Bubble Stand, 1 Wooden Rod for Bubble Stand, 8 Large Wire Rings for Bubble Stand, 1 Small Wire Ring, 3 Straws, 1 Package of Prepared Soap, 1 Bubble Pipe, 1 Water-proof Bubble Horn. The complete outfit is placed in a neat box with the book. (Extra Horns, Soap, etc., furnished at slight cost.)

Fancy Bubbles and Films are not easily blown without special apparatus, and even with the proper outfit one must "know how." That's why we furnish a 16–page book with every set to show just how to do it. With the aid of the 21 illustrations and the directions you can produce remarkable results that will surprise and entertain your friends. A child can do it as well as a grown person.

Contents of Book: Twenty-one Illustrations.—Introduction.—The Colors of Soap-Bubbles.—The Outfit.—Soap Mixture.—Useful Hints.—Bubbles Blown with Pipes.—Bubbles Blown with Straws.—Bubbles Blown with the Horn.—Floating Bubbles.—Baby Bubbles.—Smoke Bubbles.—Bombshell Bubbles.—Dancing Bubbles.—Bubble Games.—Supported Bubbles.—Bubble Cluster.—Suspended Bubbles.—Bubble Lamp Chimney.—Bubble Lenses.—Bubble Basket.—Bubble Bellows.—To Draw a Bubble Through a Ring.—Bubble Acorn.—Bubble Bottle.— A Bubble Within a Bubble.—Another Way.—Bubble Shade.—Bubble Hammock. —Wrestling Bubbles.—A Smoking Bubble.—Soap Films.—The Tennis Racket Film.—Fish-net Film.—Pan-shaped Film.—Bow and Arrow Film.—Bubble Dome. —Double Bubble Dome.—Pyramid Bubbles.—Turtle-back Bubbles.—Soap- Bubbles and Frictional Electricity.

Soap-Bubble Parties using these outfits create real sensations. Why not be the first in your town to give a "Fun with Soap-Bubbles Party?" Just write and ask about the price for any special number of them—say six or a dozen.

"There is nothing more beautiful than the airy-fairy soap-bubble with its everchanging colors."

This outfit gives the best possible amusement for old and young.

The Book and Complete Outfit will be sent, POST-PAID, upon receipt of 35 cents, by_THOMAS M. ST. JOHN, 407 West 51st St., New York City. ** Three extra packages of prepared soap, postpaid .10


For the Amusement of Young and Old.


Author of “Fun With Magnetism,” “Fun With Electricity,” Fun With Puzzles,” “How Two Boys Made Their Own Electrical Apparatus;” Inventor of “Hustle Ball,” Etc.




1. Introduction.- There is nothing more beautiful than an airy fairy soap-bubble with its ever changing colors. To Thoroughly enjoy them, however, they should not be allowed to end their little lives so quickly by falling upon the floor, or by dashing themselves to pieces against hard, cruel objects that care nothing for things of beauty.

Many pretty experiments can be done with properly‐ made soap-bubbles, and many great men have studied and played with these little fairy worlds. Sir Isaac Newton, the philosopher, spent a great deal of time studying bubbles and films, and many scientific facts were learned from the results of his experiments.

2. The Colors Of Soap-bubbles change constantly, because the thickness of the film constantly changes. The bubble at first is almost colorless, but as the film stretches out, getting larger and thinner, the various tints appear, until it gets so thin that it bursts. As the film constantly evaporates and gets thinner, when the bubble stands, a colorless bubble will slowly become tinted. The colors first appear at the top; it is here that the film gets thinnest, and when black spots appear at . the top, the bubble bursts, for the film is only about one millionth of an inch thick at those, spots. Even the colored parts are but a few millionths of an inch thick.

3. The Outfit contains everything necessary for thousands of beautiful bubbles and films. All highly colored articles have been carefully avoided, as cheap paints and dyes are positively dangerous in children’s mouths. The outfit contains the following articles: One Book of Instructions, called “ FunWith Soap‐ Bubbles,” I Metal Base for Bubble Stand, I Wooden Rod For Bubble Stand, 3 Large Wire Rings for Bubble Stand, I Small Wire Ring, 3 Straws, I Package of Prepared Soap, I Bubble Pipe, I Water-proof Bubble Horn . (Extra Horns, Soap, etc., furnished at slight cost.)

Note.--‐A. small piece of paper should be wound around the lower end of the wooden rod to make it fit tightly in the base. The three rings should be placed in the hole in one end of the rod. (See Fig. 6.)

4. Soap Mixture for strong bubbles that will last long enough to be thoroughly enjoyed can not be made of cheap soaps or powders. To make strong, elastic bubbles, place I teaspoonful of the prepared soap in 1/2 tumblerful of cold water. Stir Thoroughly with a spoon until the soap dissolves and a strong suds stands on the top. After this has stood for a few minutes, the suds should be removed with the Spoon, to which it will cling strongly.

Part of the mixture should be placed in a saucer for use, as this is much better than a tumbler. The bubble pipe gets too wet when the mixture is contained in a tumbler. Remove all suds and bubbles from the surface of the mixture, and be careful to keep the surface clean. The mixture will last for several days; if it gets too thick, add a little water. You will soon be able to tell when the solution is just right.

5. Useful Hints. The pipe or horn should not be dipped too far into the mixture. Blow gently at first,---‐ just breathe into the stem. Hold the horn straight up and down while starting the bubble, to get the best results. Hold your tongue over the end of the stem, while taking a breath, so that the air will not escape from the bubble. Avoid draughts of air. A drop of water can be removed from the bottom of the bubble with a wet finger. Cover the table with newspapers before blowing bubbles. A large tray should be used to hold the saucer of mixture, pipes, etc.

6. Bubbles Blown with Pipes. Fig. I shows the ordinary method of blowing bubbles. For some purposes there is nothing better than the bubble pipe. Have the surface of the pipe wet with the mixture, to begin with, but do not stir up the solution and make suds. The pipe used in the outfit is almost unbreakable, and the bamboo stem is much better, in the mouth, than clay ones.

7. Bubbles Blown with Straws. Straws. Fig.2 shows a very good form of blower that is especially useful in rapidly making small floating bubbles, or small smoke bubbles, as they are so easily set free from the straw. With a knife split one end of the straw into quarters, then bend the parts back, as shown. Each part should be about 1/2 inch long. Blow very gently at first. A quick puff will generally free the bubble.

8. Bubbles Blown with the Horn. Fig. 3 shows the bubble horn. This is best for blowing large bubbles, or for rapidly blowing bubbles for the stand (Fig. 6). When it is necessary that the bubble should be quickly formed, the pipe is too slow; use the horn.

9. Floating Bubbles are made by quickly shaking them from the horn or straw. The colored bubbles float best, because they are thin and light. Bubbles made with the horn float better than those made with the pipe, because they can be blown more quickly and, therefore, contain warmer air. Large bubbles can be sent directly upward from the end of the horn. To do this, start the bubble as usual, then hold the big end straight up, and quickly blow it. The pressure of the air will free the bubble and send it upward.

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10. Baby Bubbles, real small ones, bubbles that are no larger than a small marble, can be made by breaking a floating one into parts by means of strong blasts of air made by a fan. Quickly fan the floating bubble, but do ‘not strike it. They will sometimes break into several small ones, which float beautifully.

11. Smoke Bubbles are very pretty; the small ones look like pearls. These may be made by calling in the services of a friend who smokes. The bubble should be well started before the smoke is blown in.

12 . Bombshell Bubbles. Make small smoke bubbles with a straw (Fig. 2), and float them, when they strike, the smoke rushes out, and we have the effect of an exploded bombshell.

13. Dancing Bubbles. Let the bubbles fell upon a woolen cloth, heavy felt, or upon a Brussels carpet. They should last for some time upon any of the above, but they quickly break when they fall upon cotton cloth. Have friends hold a felt table‐spread by its ends, then drop a bubble upon its center. They can make the bubble dance by moving the felt up and down. Place several side by side upon the felt. The effect is very pretty when about half of the dancing bubbles contain smoke.

14. Bubble Games. There are several games or tricks that may be played with bubbles.

(A) Blow a small bubble with the horn float it, then catch it again upon the end of the horn. See how many times you can repeat this with the same bubble.

(B) With four or five around the table, float a bubble over the table, and see how long it can be kept in the air. Each should help to blow it upwards as it comes near.

(C) See who can blow the largest bubble using but one breath. This is a good test for lung capacity. The best results are obtained with the horn.

(D) See Who can blow the very largest bubble.

(E) See who can float the smallest bubble.

(F) See who can draw the largest bubble through a ring.

15. Supported Bubbles. Fig. 4 shows how a bubble can be held upon a wire ring. The wire should first be thoroughly wet with the mixture. Blow the bubble with the horn, let it rest upon the ring,then remove the horn. If the bubbles break, wet ring again. Fig. 5 shows how a large bubble can be supported upon a glass tumbler, the bottom of which should be wet. they may even be supported by a wet hand.

16. Bubble Cluster. Fig. 6 shows 3 large bubbles supported upon the 3 rings of the stand. The ring should be thoroughly wet. Blow the bubbles quickly with the horn. (See§ 15.)

17 . Suspended Bubbles are held from the under side of rings. They may be easily attached to wet supporting rings. Hold the bottom of the horn in the center of the ring when you blow. The top of the bubble will cling to the ring.

18. Bubble Lamp Chimney. Fig 7 Support a bubble upon a ring of the stand (See§ 15,) then touch the small wet ring to its top. Slowly lift the upper ring. Notice that the colors get stronger as the film gets thinner.

19. Bubble Lenses, Fig. 8, are made by drawing the small ring up from the chimney (See§ 18.) until the film breaks. The colors produced are wonderful, provided the original bubble is not too thick.

20 Bubble Basket. Fig 9 looks like a crystal basket. It is made by suspending a bubble (See§ 17.) from the little wire frame that is furnished. Hand these to your friends.

21. Bubble Bellows. Fig. 10 shows how elastic the films are. Support a bubble upon a large ring held in the hand, and place the wet basket frame on top of the bubble. You can then draw it out like a bellows.

22. To Draw a Bubble Through a Ring. Fig. 11 shows how a bubble can be made to act like an “india-rubber contortionist”. Support a bubble upon a ring (§ 15), then join the small ring to the bottom of the bubble and draw it downwards. If the bubble is not too large it will slowly pass through the ring. Suspended bubbles (§ 17) may be drawn upwards.

23. Bubble Acorn. Fig. 12 looks like a fairy acorn. It is composed of two separate bubbles. Blow a small suspended bubble (§ 17) first, then rest upon this a larger supported one. They will make a flat surface between them. See the relative sizes in the illustration. Try an acorn with a smoke bubble below.

24. Bubble Bottle. Fig. 13 shows a bottle made of two separate bubbles. Blow a large bubble supported upon the wet bottom of a tumbler (Fig. 5). Now blow a small suspended bubble on the under side of a wet ring, and slowly lower it against the first one, to which it will cling. The effect is very pretty when the small one is a smoke bubble; it then looks like a bottle with its cork in place. You can change the shape of the bottle by changing the positions of the rings.

25. A Bubble Within a Bubble. Fig.14 shows one way of getting a bubble inside another. Blow a suspended bubble (§ 17) of fairly good size. Remove the pipe, then push it through the top of the film again and blow gently. The pipe will generally gather enough film in piercing the large bubble to make the inside one ; but it m a y be slightly dipped in} the mixture before starting the inside one. The horn may be used for this purpose also, but in either case the finger should be placed over the end .of the stem after the inside one is blown, to keep the air in. A most beautiful effect is produced by making the inside one a smoke bubble. The beauty of these combinations can not be described.

26. Another Way to produce the above is to blow a supported bubble first; the inside one can then be made by pushing the pipe up through the bottom of the first. Turn Fig. 14. up sie down to see the effect. The wet horn or a straw can also be pushed through the top of the supported bubble.

27. Bubble Shade. Fig. 15 looks like the large glass shades that are sometimes used to protect fancy clocks, etc. It is really a large bubble supported upon two rings.

Have both rings wet, then blow two supported bubbles far enough apart so that they do not touch each other, as in Fig. 6. The bubbles should not be too large or thin. Move the rings toward each other, so that the bubbles press against each other. The rings should be about 1/2 in. apart. There should be a sort of explosion of the two, the final result being shown in Fig. 15. You will soon be able to get the right sizes and distances. Sometimes, however, the bubbles will cling together, making a flat surface between them, without making the dome. Either effect is very beautiful.

Make one clear and one smoke bubble, and let them unite as above. Next slowly draw the rings apart after the dome has formed.

28. Bubble Hammock. A combination that looks very much like a hammock can be made by an inverted dome. Blow two suspended bubbles, then let them jump together as described above. The effect can be seen by turning Fig. 15 upside down.

29. Wrestling Bubbles. Fig. 16 shows two bubbles that seem to be struggling with each other. Blow one on top of a ring, and one suspended bubble, then bring them near enough to allow the films to touch. They will rush at each other and pull until they get into the shape shown. In Fig. 16 the rings only are shown, for clearness. These are, of course, supported by the stand. One ring should be a little above the other so that the rim of one can just pass over that of the other, in order to get the films together, they can then be pulled slightly apart, as shown. surfaces formed between them.

30. A Smoking Bubble. Blow a bubble with the horn, and when fairly started, take the horn from your mouth. Notice how rapidly the bubble gets smaller. It contracts, forcing the air out. Now blow a smoke bubble with the horn, and then see the smoke rush out from the stem (Fig. 3). Hold the stem near a lighted candle and see the result.

31. Soap Films, if of the proper kind, are quite strong; they are very elastic, as will be seen. They continually try to get smaller and smaller. This was seen also in the bubbles (§30). You can make many queerly shaped films upon wires.

32. The Tennis Racket Film. Fig. 17 shows what happens when a ring is entirely dipped in soap mixture and then withdrawn. These fiat films are often made when a bubble breaks that has been supported by a ring. To thoroughly wet a ring for supporting bubbles, dip it bodily in the mixture.

33. Fish-net Film. Fig.18 shows what a good film will do when you blow upon it; that is, by blowing upon a flat film gently at first, and then gradually increasing the pressure, you can form large nets. Allow it to come back slowly to its first form (Fig. 17).

34. Pan-shaped Film. Fig. 19. Get two flat films upon two wires by dipping them into the mixture. Touch the films I together, then pull the wires slowly apart. You can get many shapes in this way.

35. Bow and Arrow Film. Fig.20. Make a flat film on the ring by dipping it into the solution, then . support it on the stand.

Wet a thread thoroughly, and lay it across the ring. It will also cling to the film. Break the film on one side of the thread, and see how quickly the thread shoots to one side of the ring, the whole film disappearing. Pull the two ends of the thread tight, and see the rubber-like film follow it (Fig. 20). Suddenly let go and see the thread shoot back again. Now see if you can again pull the film over the entire ring.

36. Bubble Dome. Wet the bottom of a plate with soap mixture, then rest a large bubble upon it, letting it spread out over the Whole bottom of the plate.

37. Double Bubble Domes. Fig. 21 . Blow a dome (§ 36), then remove the bubble horn. Wet the horn again, push it through the top of the dome, and blow a second bubble. This will also rest upon the bottom of the plate.

38. Pyramid Bubbles. Blow 3 bubbles of about the same size upon the bottom of a wet plate. Notice the beautiful flat surfaces of contact between them. Now place a small bubble on top of the three, and see the extreme beauty of this combination.

39. Turtle-back Bubbles. Blow many small bubbles on a plate so that some will surround central ones. This gives the shapes seen on the backs of turtles.

40. Soap-bubbles and Frictional Electricity. ( A ) Blow a large supported bubble on a ring, then bring near its top an electrified rubber comb. What happens to the bubble? To electrify the hard rubber comb, rub it thoroughly with a dry flannel cloth. If you have the ebonite sheet that belongs to the " Fun With Electricity " outfit, use this instead of the comb, as it is much better.

(B) Hold the electrified comb near one side of a large supported bubble. See how you can draw it out in a most mysterious manner without touching it.

(C) Float a small bubble, and as soon as it begins to fall hold the electrified comb- near it. It should be pulled towards the comb. Very small bubbles will be drawn several inches out of their course.