Whether you play it as a hobby or you play professionally, there’s no doubt that pool is one of the most popular sports out there. Like most of today’s top sports, the pool has been through a lot during the last couple of centuries, and there’s already a lot of history with it.
More often than not, people consider the pool cue as the heart and soul of the sport. Though merely a stick used for the sport, pool cues had undergone many changes before becoming the excellent tool that we used today.
Maces During The 16th Century
The early 16th-century version of the pool cue had a thin body and a large shovel-like head, used to shove the ball into the table’s pockets. If you want to see what the early forms of the cue looked like, you can check the A Game of Billiards painting by Adriaen van de Venne which dates back to the early to mid-1620s.
Eventually, the sizable mace-like head became smaller and smaller. Alongside the development of heads, Quedos outline the differences in cues here, and they reveal that by the 1800s, the mace’s head was significantly smaller than it used to be. Still, the purpose of this pool cue iteration remained the same as its early variants.
Rise of The Queue
Despite the large end, players had trouble using the mace-type cue stick. They wanted something more efficiently. As an early solution, players would use the other end of the mace, which was called a “queue.” This is where the pool cue got its name from.
When the cue stick was finally around, the player base was split into the mace users and those who wanted the slimmer cue stick. It took practice to master the cue stick, especially if you’ve been used to the mace. During the years since its inception, only men were allowed to use the cue stick. Women that wanted to play were only allowed to play with the mace.
The reason behind this bias was that the men felt that the sharper end of the cue stick meant that women had a higher chance of ruining the pool cloth during their turn. By 1807, leather cue tips were already in use. They also went through many iterations until it was perfected in 1823 by a prisoner in France named Francois Mingaud. He was also the one who discovered the mass shot.
The two-piece cue that we now use today came during 1829. The two-piece cue only served as a convenient means to carry the cue stick because of its adjustable size. The next breakthrough came around 1987 when William Spinks and William Hoskins patented the chalk that people now use for cue tips.
From having a large mace-like head to now being two-piece equipment with a leather tip, there’s no doubt that the humble cue stick has been through significant changes already. It’s tough to say what the future is for the cue stick as it seems like it has already been perfected. Still, we never know what the future holds.