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Japanese Top


In 1957, over a decade before they released their film Tops, the Eameses made a film for the weekly Los Angeles television program Stars of Jazz. The show, which ran from 1956 to 1958, was hosted by pianist Bobby Troup and presented live performances by jazz musicians. It also incorporated experimental film and other visual media as backdrops for the performances. The Eameses contributed two films to this effort. One, titled Blacktop, showed patterns of water and foam shimmering on an asphalt-topped schoolyard as it was washed. The other was a three-minute-long precursor to Tops. Like the later film, it showcased spinning tops filmed at close range. It was, however, shot in black-and-white, so did not capture the colorful nature of many of the toys. This would not have detracted from the appeal of this Japanese wooden top, which features a few painted stripes but is more notable for its unusually low profile. By hollowing the top’s body into a concave surface, its maker cleverly concealed its stem within its body.

  • Medium:Wood, paint
  • Dimensions:3/4 x 1 3/4 in. (1.9 x 4.4 cm)
  • Item:T.2019.2.246.34