Collecting books on Carom Billiards



Collecting books on Carom Billiards


Most British Billiard Book collections stick to English books, because apart from the odd Canadian, Indian, Australian and American (Phelan’s game of Billiards, for example) books. All others are about the Carom or cannon game played on pocket-less tables.

The number of people in the UK who collect overseas books can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. Although we may pretend that we can learn something of practical value (how to make masses for more and better cannons), the main reasons we collect are that A/. we have many of the English books B/. we are a bit obsessive about billiards or C/. there are some interesting foreign books about.

There are plenty of opportunities out there to collect none English produced books for us to make a worthwhile start at building up an interesting collection.

According to Guy Huybrechts in his 2001 bibliography of Billiards there are 104 English books, 95 French, 56 American, 38 German, 37 Dutch, 30 Belgian, 20 Spanish and 18 Italian, plus smaller numbers for Portugal, Mexico, Japan, Sweden, Russia, Argentina and so on (these figures are a little lower than in reality as they are based upon his own collection).

What is surprising about this list is that of the 131 books published between 1980 and 2000 only three relate to English billiards. So a collector of Carom Billiards books has a greater number of recent and in-print books to choose from.

As you will probably appreciate you cannot readily get books on Carom from British booksellers, but the Internet has opened up the possibility of buying such books and made such an endeavour a great deal easier. 

You can often pick up bargains on ebay, and a large range of books can be viewed on Abe books and Addall, these are large web based second hand book selling databases.

As with English books, remember to shop around and not assume that just because a book is offered for a certain price that it can not be obtained at a much more reasonable or affordable price elsewhere.

European books tend to be slightly cheaper than English books due to the rule of supply and demand and due to the fact that there are very few collectors of this type of material around. Rare books published in the USA tend to hold their value very well and sell for greatly enhanced prices because there are a great many collectors of such books in the United States.


The Billiard Encyclopaedia by Victor Stein and Paul Rubino

A huge lavishly illustrated book about the origins and history of billiards with a large section on US Custom Cue makers, perhaps the most sumptuous book on any sport produced, second hand copies cost about £100. 

Books by Robert Byrne

The best is a modern sports classic “Mc Goorty” 1972 the autobiography of Danny Mc Goorty” a three cushion billiards player from Chicago.

Plenty of drinking, gangsters and sex as well as billiards stories told in Mc Goorty’s cynical and colourful language, talk about a miss spent youth.

Other books include; the wonderful world of pool and billiards and great pool stories. Byrne is a great enthusiast and a fine writer with a good sense of humour. Most of his books can be ordered from either Abe Books or Amazon for about £5.

Le Billard by Vignaux

The standard older French book, perhaps equivalent to John Roberts Modern Billiards.

Plenty of diagrams for cannon fanciers produced in huge numbers so should not cost more than £50 at the time of writing.

Billard; das Buckder Spiel by Heinrich Weingartner

The author runs a billiard café in Vienna which has a billiards museum attached, this 371 page book is rich in colour photos and diagrams.


Captain Mingaud’s 1827 Le Noble jeu de billard

Copies of this work are owned by Andy Hunter and Roger Lee, rare compared with the 1830 and 1836 English translation. Its value is about £2,000 to £2,500, not bad for a book of trick shots.

Jack Ben Nathan has the only known copy of Traite du jece de billard by monsieur B H 1825

While I have an 1828 book called Guide de l’amateur de billard which also appears to be the only copy around. I also have a very scarce American book called The Hosier Pocket Billiard Champion by E P Henning 1913. In which the author recounts his unsavoury adventures as a Hustler and warns people not to play for money.

Another novelty is Three Cushion Billiards by E Helm 1950 which is bound in billiard table cloth.


Guy Huybrechts has a web site it contains lists of his books, cues and other items.

Wieter Haase is the author of Das Billiard; eine bibliographee, Kassel University 2001. This book lists all Billiard books and journals in some detail. A second edition is planned for 2006, a must for Billiard book collectors.

If anyone has any Carom books to sell or would like a free valuation, please feel free to contact me;

by e-mail at

or write to
Harry Smith
60 Church Road
West Kirby

Harry Smith