Colecting Cues




Colecting: Cues

Collecting cues is to me a very interesting pastime; I have met many interesting people. When I first started, I didn’t realise that it was even possible to get a hold of cues as old as 1890 or if one was lucky even older. 

The first cues I collected were various examples of cues that were readily available at the time, such as Barracuda, Craftsman, John Parris and so on. A shop near me managed to get hold of a Rex Williams original for me which, was numbered with a signed plaque. Every now and then Barry the proprietor used to sell off cues that he had acquired when buying and renovating old tables. I went into the shop and was amazed to see the old cues were still in single piece form and so I purchased a couple.

After a while as I said in an earlier piece I saw an advert for Craftsman Cues and finally found out where they were. This was about ten years ago so the prices I am going to mention are well out of date. I went in and selected two hand spliced cues, one a Riley cue black butted with a tombstone shaped badge with two screws in maple and the other, which I wish I still had. A Wainwright Professional Cue with a large screwed in plate with four screws in the badge with green writing. This was a particularly nice cue beautifully smooth with a full-length shaft and a ten-millimetre tip. Just the way collectors like them.

At this time I bought just about any old cue that I could lay my hands on. I bought a two piece. George Gray cue for £35 from someone who came into the club, thinking that I was preserving a rare piece of history even though the cue had been jointed. After a while I realised that unless the cue was originally made as a two piece most serious collectors consider them a curiosity but largely worthless. In the end I swapped it with someone for another cue as they wished to use the cue as their regular match cue, I feel that this was a success for both of us.

At about this time I stopped collecting new cues more or less all-together preferring to seek out older cues to build up my collection of famous endorsed cues by the top players of years gone by.

The next lesson I learned about collecting old cues was to always look at a cue before you make payment. I rang a well-known person in the business side of Snooker who said that he had a Tom Reece cue for sale for £125. This sounded to be too good to be true, so I sent him a cheque. To his credit the cue arrived but sadly it was a two-piece with a new top shaft. I was very unhappy with this cue so I rang and asked why these factors were not disclosed, the vendor replied, “I thought you knew as the condition was reflected in the price”. I have never bought from this person since.

Old cues should be in original condition as near as possible to be considered collectable, If the cue was made 58″ in length but is still of a playable length, this is often acceptable. The cue should have at least a 9.5mm tip and if possible retain its original lacquer. The badge should if possible be readable and complete. I have seen cues with badges that have been added at a later date, most of these cues have disc badges, which often fall out, and end up being replaced by other similarly sized badges. These are of course not considered original.

After a few years I began to notice that many cues with different names on the badges bore a remarkable similarity to each other, after some digging I realised that three major manufacturers made most cues in the old days. Burroughes and Watts, Peradon/Thurston’s or E J Riley Limited. Of course other companies cues turn up from time to time in lesser numbers such as Cannon, Orme, and Hixon.

After more study I began to be able to identify which company made which by a combination of looking at the overall cue, the badge, the weight stamp and the feel of the cue. Fortunately Burroughes and Watts almost always put their name on the badge along with a given players name and perhaps the name of the cue itself such as “Burwat Champion” or “Eureka” for example.

Some people think that all old cues were made in such a mass-produced way that they are not truly collectable, however so many cues were split in the seventies and eighties that the numbers of old cues in original condition were greatly reduced.

I have two interesting and perhaps particularly rare cues one of them is a black-butted Tom Newman cue made by Burroughes and Watts with mention of his 1370 break and the name of the manufacturer plus a copy of his signature on the badge. I have never seen another Tom Newman cue without an additional splice with a black-butt and this particular badge. There are at least five different Tom Newman cues three Burroughes and Watts and Two Peradon/Thurston’s cues which are almost all more common in my experience.

The other cue that I have which may be quite rare is a Sidney Smith record cue which, commemorates his total clearance of 136 in the Gold Cup Snooker Tournament of 1939. I believe that Peradon/Thurston’s made this cue around the same time the tournament took place. The badge on this cue is somewhat faded but again it is the only one that I have ever seen.

Have you managed to acquire any cues that you think are rare and would like a valuation as I indicated earlier I have paid my dues in terms of collecting old cues having paid the price many years ago for my inexperience. If I do not know about your particular cue, I will confer with my co-columnist Andy Hunter and get back to you.

Good hunting.

David Smith

Sidney Smith Gold Cup cue images