I dont know about you but
a hundred years seems a long time to get your head around.
I recently looked again at my
book collection and realised that many of my books are over a hundred years
I have a John Roberts senior,
"Roberts on Billiards" from 1868. This book was, I understand, one of the first
books ever to contain colour diagrams and certainly one of the first Billiard
books to do so.
The book is quite a stout little
volume and is beginning to show signs of wear, we all would, I suppose, if we
were over a hundred and twenty years old. The publisher of this book was
Stanley Rivers and Son of London.
My next oldest book is the one
by William Dufton published in 1873 by Routledge. This book was on the shelves
just after the first World Billiards Championships took place in 1870.
The picture of Mr Dufton that
can be found just inside the book shows someone looking like a character from a
Charles Dickens novel or perhaps a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. This book would
not stand up to a high wind such is its frailty now, however the outer cover is
original and looks a little like Leather.
Joseph Bennett wrote a book on
Billiards in the 1880s; the version that I have is from 1884 and is the
fourth edition published by De La Rue of London. The book is surprisingly heavy
in a physical sense as it seems far weightier than other books of a similar
size and shape. It is quite a technical book and has many diagrams.
One thing that makes this book
impressive is the way that the publishers have commissioned an illustrator to
capture Mr Bennett in play; the drawings are quite detailed and are to a very
high standard. The cover is lined with gold leaf lettering and gives the
appearance of an old style marking board.
I also have a little pocket book
by Major General Drayson from 1892. This book has just had its one
hundred and tenth birthday and is pleasing because it has a short chapter
towards the end of the book about the game that is, at the time of writing,
clearly growing in popularity, youve guessed it, Snooker. This book has a
bright red cover and is a nice little book to own and can be bought for as
little as £30 today.
I have a "Billiards Simplified"
published by Burroughes and Watts in 1889, this book is interesting because it
contains match reports concerning leading players of the day, including; names
that appear on the badges of many old cues, such as Peall, Dawson, Roberts and
Another book from the same year
is the book by William Cook, this book was also commissioned by Burroughes and
Watts and reads throughout like an advertisement for their products, in fact
the last quarter of the book is a reproduction of their product catalogue. The
individually drawn product illustrations are very technically done but are also
The cover of the book is quite
attractive, with its gold leaf lettering and the illustration of two gentlemen
playing billiards. This book too is packed with history and is well worth
getting hold of if the opportunity arises.
A book that will be a hundred in
two years time is the excellent "Practical Billiards" by Charles Dawson, this
book was self-published in 1904 and is packed with photographs and information
about the players of the era around the turn of the century. 19th to
20th century that is.
This book is signed by the
author and is one of my most pleasing acquisitions of recent years. Like the
Cook book mentioned above, this book too has a pleasant illustration on the
cover in gold leaf.
I have other books by John
Roberts and Tom Reece, but these that I have described to you above are the
oldest that I currently own. The reason for this piece is to give those of you
who have not yet come across these books an idea of their contents and
appearance. This should help you to recognise them, should you come across them
when you are out hunting for a bargain on some warm afternoon delving through
the contents of an antiquarian booksellers dust covered shelves looking for