Brief History of Billiards

Billiards past

The game of Billiards has a long, rich and fascinating history. The game has been loved and played by a myriad of people throughout history, from kings to commoners, to presidents and hustlers, to everyday people like us!

It may be surprising to learn that the game of Billiards actually evolved from a lawn game similar to croquet in France during the 15th century! The game continued to develop throughout the century, and was moved indoors, being played on a wooden table with green cloth to simulate grass. The pool balls were shoved rather than struck with a wooden stick, called a “mace.”

The cue stick as we know it today was developed in the late 1600’s. The “mace” had proven consistently troublesome for players, especially when the ball lay near a rail. The solution was to turn the mace around and use its handle to strike the ball. The handle was called a “queue,” which is where today’s word “cue” comes from. For many years, only men were allowed to use the cue, while women were forced to remain using the mace. Why, you might ask? Men felt that women were more likely to rip the cloth with the sharper cue than with the mace!
The game of Billiards continued to develop well into the 1800’s, largely as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Chalk was introduced, as was the leather cue tip, and by 1829 the two-piece cue had arrived. One of the most important developments was the use of slate as the material for table beds. By 1850, the pool table as we know it today had essentially developed.

How the game of Billiards spread from Europe to North America has never been definitely established, however, it is largely believed that it was brought over by Dutch and English settlers in the 1700’s. The game quickly spread throughout North American colonies, and even George Washington was reported to have played the game. The American Billiard industry continued to rise and prominence and popularity throughout the years, and from 1878 until 1956, billiard championships were held annually, along with monthly one-on-one challenge matches.

The game of Billiards received a massive revival of popularity in both the 1960’s and the 1980’s as a result of the hugely popular movie, “The Hustler,” and its sequel, “The Color of Money.” Pool rooms opened up all over the country, and a new found excitement for billiards was brought to a new generation of players. The game of Billiards gave people a chance to meet socially, engage in playful interactive competition, regardless of skill level and experience.

Today, the game of Billiards has evolved from a pool hall outing to an at-home form of entertainment that can be enjoyed by all family and friends. Its long-standing popularity, spanning for centuries, is a testament to the game’s timeless appeal and enduring legacy as one of the world’s greatest games.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *