George Nelson Cues



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George Nelson Cues
By Andy Hunter & David Smith

George Nelson was Champion of Yorkshire between 1906 and 1911. He also arranged the first United Kingdom tour of the Australian wonder-boy, George Gray in 1910/11, providing the opposition in many of his matches as Gray astounded the Nation by compiling thousand after thousand with red-ball play.

Nelson later became a proprietor of a chain of billiard halls, and with his son, also George, established the firm which eventually evolved into the famous billiard table manufacturer Smith & Nelson.

Outside the billiard world he became equally famous for his card playing, being regarded as an expert in contract bridge. Amongst all this he also managed to produce ten children before he died at the age of 79 in 1956. 

His “Yorkshire Champion Cue” would have been made during the five year period when he held that title and was manufactured by William Sykes who where an established firm operating from Hombury near Leeds. It has a plain ebony hand-spliced butt with an ash shaft. One we have also seen has a star shaped mark on the bottom of the butt which may be a maker’s identification. As far as we are aware, Sykes did not make any other “named player” cues.

An unusual feature of the ivory badge is that it is secured with three brass pins. This feature is not totally exclusive to the “Nelson”, but we have only seen it before on one other cue. The value of this cue would be about £300-£350 possibly a little more because of its rarity. 

The only other cues that carry George Nelson’s name were produced some time after the Champion Cue and made by the family firm, Nelson of Leeds. These are round badged cues, produced as both machine and hand spliced versions, having a plain rosewood or ebony butt. They would be valued at about £150. 

When the Nelson company became Smith and Nelson they produced a lot of different plain, run-of-the-mill cues (e.g. the Standfast cue). These have a negligible value in the collector’s market.

Andy Hunter & David Smith

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