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c. 1964

In 1965 Charles Eames was quoted in a magazine declaring, “Among the great and elegant design exceptions is a toy produced this year that has swept the country. What is it? A small bouncing ball—Superball.” The Superball was introduced by the California-based toy manufacturer Wham-O in 1964 and quickly caught the attention of millions of Americans. Charles understood that the Superball aligned with the Eameses own design principles of simplicity and truth-to-materials, meaning designs should take advantage of a material’s inherent properties, such as rubber’s bounce. The Superball is made from a high-density synthetic rubber, dubbed Zectron, that was invented by chemist Norman Stigley and improved in collaboration with Wham-O until the balls were durable enough to warrant commercial production. The Superball’s astonishingly powerful bounce was the core of its appeal, but Wham-O’s marketing acumen also contributed to the toy’s success. The company, which had already popularized the Hula Hoop and Frisbee, advertised nationally and packaged the Superball in eye-catching graphics that showed the balls careening over children and houses. Charles sent many Superballs to his grandchildren but kept these two packages for his own collection.

  • Medium:Rubber
  • Dimensions:Package 1: 7 1/2 x 5 x 2 in. (19.1 x 12.7 x 5.1 cm)Package 2: 5 1/2 x 5 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (14 x 13.3 x 3.2 cm)
  • Item:T.2019., T.2019.