In the early part of the
20th century there were many players capable of making huge breaks
at English billiards. One of these great players was John Roberts Junior
(1847-1919) who dominated professional billiards from about 1870 to 1910. His
highest break was 1,392 spot barred 1894. He made a break of 821 in 1905. His
father was also named John Roberts. Cues remembering these two Great players
can still be found. Most of these cues were made by Burroughes and Watts and
carried their trademark made famous by the Roberts family, of the crossed cues
motif on the badge.
W J Peall made a break of 1,922
in 1895 consisting of 634 spot strokes. W J Peall was a so-called spot stroke
specialist making many of his biggest scoring efforts largely from potting the
red from the spot. He made a break of 3,304 in 1890, 3,174 of the points were
accrued by potting the red from it's spot. This break is commemorated on many W
J Peall cues, most notably the picture badge cues and the dated cues which
state that the break was made on November the 7th 1890.
Tom Reece made a break of
499,135 in 1907; official recognition was not given for this unfinished break
as neither press nor paying spectators were present throughout. This break is
commemorated on all the Reece cues, arguably the best to collect is the 1907
cue with both breaks recorded being made in 1907. The break was made using the
cradle or anchor cannon.
A cradle cannon break was made
in 1907 by William Cook, this break is the "official highest" ever made. The
total was 42,746. This break is also recognised on the badge of a cue and is
quite a sought after which is also a facsimile cue.
H W Stevenson made the first
thousand all round break since the limitation of the spot stroke, scoring 1,016
on October 11th 1912 at Thurstons. This break too is
remembered on the butt of a cue, the cue looks something like a tom Newman
champion cue but with an Ivory badge, the only one that I have seen, I
purchased for £35 with a cracked badge. Rule changes can make some breaks
appear less significant than they truly were.
Willie Smiths breaks are
recorded on more than one type of cue and cues that were made by two different
companies. His highest breaks were 2,030 in 1929 against Clark Mc Conachy in
Australia and 2,743 against Tom Newman in Manchester England. This latter break
was made on the 24th November 1928; this break is the record for a
break without nursery cannons.
These breaks are remembered on
cue badges, the later version being made by Peradon/Thurston and being very
attractive with it's Tulip wood front splice, The other cue that records these
breaks is a Burroughes and Watts, with a black butt. Willie Smith Champion Cues
by Burroughes and Watts are a particularly attractive cue though they neither
record his highest breaks nor do they carry the representation of his
signature, Tony Knowles uses a Willie Smith Champion Cue as an aside.
The factor that proves that the
Willie Smith record cue with the splice, could not have been at the time of
these breaks is borne out by the reference on the badge to the 7 breaks over a
thousand in one season, which were made in 1932. My feeling about these cues is
that they were made some years later as a retrospective look at notable
achievements from the past in about 1940? Unless you know, differently?
The next two players who deserve
a mention are undoubtedly Joe Davis and Walter Lindrum
Joe Daviss highest
billiard break was 2,501 made in 1927 this break was made in the most part by
employing the pendulum cannon.
Walter Lindrums highest
break was made in the championship in 1932, His break was 4,137, the scoring
method that accounted for most of these points was the nursery cannon.
The cues that commemorate Walter
and Joes achievements in both billiards and in Joes case Snooker
are numerous; suffice it to say that the earliest ones are the most
Incidentally Joe Davis made his
146 break in 1950 and the 147 in 1955.
I personally like Tom Newman
cues; most of them refer to his break of 1,370 made in 1924. This break was the
largest recorded with Ivory balls and superseded his previous best of 1,274
made in 1921.
Cues that record the 1,274 were
made by Burroughes and Watts and are to my eye, very attractive indeed.
Tom must have changed his cue if
we are to believe that all three facsimile cues are a true copy of his cue.
I wonder if
Peradon/Thurstons Limited produced a range of cues reminiscing about the
great players of the past in the 1940s? As some of the cues that I have
seen refer to events that took place in the 1930s on their badges but are
styled in a way that suggests, they were made in the 1940s at least.
If you know of the time scales
perhaps, you could let me know thus allowing me to clarify this apparent
I have written this piece in an
effort to show that cue collecting is a way of getting a hold of a small slice
of history. In the case of the Walter Lindrum, Joe Davis, Willie Smith and Tom
Newman cues, enough different cues exist to specialise in, the so-called big
four. If your taste is the earlier players such as, the Robertss or
Peall. Equally large selections of cues still survive from this era.
Some collectors attempt to
gather together examples of cues made by different manufacturers, some of these
cues were in fact made by either Peradon/Thurston or Burroughes and later given
different companies badges by table makers to carry their name as a publicity
aid. Such cues should not be considered as counterfeit but rather an
interesting, business collaboration and interesting in their own right.
I wouldn't mind a single piece
cue in the older style with a "Mike Russell champion cue" badge, if any cue
makers are listening.