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Billiards Christmas Ornaments

Billiards History

The forerunner of billiards was an outdoor game similar to croquet that was played on grass. It was played in northern Europe ln the 1400s. The game was adapted so it could be played during the long winters. It was played on wooden tables that had walls to keep the balls from falling off. The tables were covered with green fabric to simulate the grass of the outdoor game.

By the early 1600s, billiards had become popular enough that Shakespeare mentioned it in his play “Antony and Cleopatra.” In the late 1600s the first book of billiard rules was published and the cue stick was invented. Up to that point, a device called a “mace” was used to strike the cue ball. It had a large head and was difficult to use when a ball was near a rail. This led to the development of the cue. The British later brought the game of billiards to America. They also taught Americans how to use spin to control the cue ball, which is why it is often to referred to the United States (And nowhere else in the world) as “English.”

With the Industrial Revolution, numerous improvements were made to billiards. These include:

  • The use of chalk on the cue tip
  • The invention of the leather cue
  • Vulcanization of rubber led to better cushions on the rails, making bank shots more consistent
  • Use of slate for the table bed

In the 1800s, the term “poolroom” referred to a place for betting on horse races. Owners installed billiard tables to keep patrons entertained between races (So they would stay and keep betting). This is why billiards is also known as “pool” today. At that time, the most popular billiards game was known as Four-Ball. Most of today’s popular games originated early in the 1900s:

  • 1900: Eight-ball
  • 1910: Straight pool
  • 1920: Nine-ball