Up until now, I have concentrated on items that
were still quite common or easy to get a hold of. Some of the rarer books that
you might like to track down include, such titles as the Badminton Library,
this book was first published in 1896. This book is becoming more of a
collectors item, all the time. My copy is in good condition and was
obtained by swapping a hand-spliced cue with my friend Andy Hunter. If you have
never seen a copy of this book, take a look at the illustration on the left.
I have seen many lists of books for sale, but to
this point none of them has included a picture so that you know what to expect.
My books are not for sale but I feel that you
might like to see a picture so that you know what you are looking for or what
to expect when your parcel arrives through the post.
The chief writer of the Badminton Library
billiards book was Major Broadfoot; the book also contains sections written by
other writers. The book is particularly interesting due to the black and white
photographs and the section on the history of the game told in contemporary,
turn of the century language. My copy is a first edition, I have seen others
that are marginally better in terms of condition but I feel that the book is
looking well for a centurion.
A book that is much thinner and brighter in the
cover is The club series billiards by Major General A W Drayson.
This book is among the first to mention the game of snooker within its text as
it concentrates mainly on how to play billiards. Snooker warrants a few lines
in the back of the book along with Russian pool, Black pool and Pyramid pool.
These games are all gambling games, played on a billiard table with a variety
of coloured balls and of course a cue. My copy see illustration, is an 1892
version with a title page that includes the words the art of practical
billiards? This book can be picked up quite cheaply and is a nice little book
to have in your collection.
If you look at the cover of this book, it seems
clear that other books in the series would have covered Chess and Card Games of
one sort or another?
An early book that exclusively looks at snooker,
is the book by the Bosun, the title of this book is
Snooker how to improve your play.
I have only seen this book with a stiff
paperback, if a truly hard backed version exists, I have never seen one. The
text and diagrams are quite good, but the most interesting part for me is the
section on temperament. It seems that regardless of skill and the passage of
time, the people playing then were little different from the players of today.
This book is well worth getting, if you have the opportunity. Again for a look
at the cover, our illustration is to your left.
I recently bought another little red book from
Roger Lee at the Crucible in Sheffield. This book is entitled, Practice
strokes at billiards by F M Hotine editor of Modern Billiards. This book is
particularly interesting for the advertisements that it contains as for the
text about the game of billiards. One of these pages is for Kent and co while
another mentions the company of A W Gamage. Incidentally a friend of mine
recently sold an A W Gamage cue. This book is written with a little wit and is
easy to read when compared with more serious works. The illustration to your
left gives a nice view of the attractive red, green and black cover.
My copy is not dated but in the introduction
mention is made of the Great War, thus dating it after 1918.
While on the subject of little red books, I must
make mention of my fourth edition copy of Billiards for everybody" by
Charles Roberts, son of the great John Roberts. This book carries a stern
warning about fake chalk being sold as genuine St Martin Blue Chalk. The need
for such an entry must have caused something of a stir at the time?
This book is filled with lots of detailed text
and some quite intriguing photographs and warrants serious attention, if you
should come across a copy. Another interesting part of this book is the offer
from Charles Roberts to carry out coaching at his home.
I dont know whether the text inside was
represented in any other of his books but this is one of three that he wrote.
At a glance you might think that from the
illustration, these last two books were printed by the same company but from
reading the dedication, this seems not to have been the case.
I have concentrated in this piece on the little
pocket books available around the turn of the century and a little after the
first world war, I couldnt finish without showing you the covers of the
Melbourne Inmans book on billiards and the prettily titled book,
Dainty Billiards, by Tom Reece.
My copy of the Reece book was published in 1925
and is packed with intricately drawn diagrams and contains text explaining them
all. The sub title of the book reads How to play the loose cannon
game as you will see from the illustration conveniently placed to your
left. This book clearly took many years to research and was produced towards
the latter part of Mr Reeces career. As you are no doubt aware Tom Reece
hold the world record for making a beak at billiards although it never receive
d official recognition as neither a referee nor member of the public were
present throughout, the break was 435,135 and is, commemorated on every model
of Reece cue that was produced.
I like this book although the text is somewhat
beyond my level of understanding.
Finally for this little piece, I want to mention
the Melbourne Inman book in more detail, the copy that I currently own is a
little different from most of those on offer at the moment as the cover is
slightly altered. The book has a very good section on great players of the time
and also some players recently retired at the time of writing. My copy is a
reprint and yet seems slightly less common than the earlier edition. Many of
these books are sold without their dust wrappers or make sure if you buy on
mail order that yours still has the wrapper in place, it is worth paying extra
as it will have protected the book quite well over the years.