Antique billiard cues are well crafted. It is hard to tell them apart from modern ones unless you know what you are seeking. They are made from the finest woods and are meticulously crafted so that the cue is perfectly balanced and perfectly sized. Antique billiard cues are quite a feat of engineering since they were made before the advent of modern day machines and materials
Billiard cues made their first appearance in the 17th century. The earliest cues did not have tips. Hitting the ball with just the wood did not give the player much control over the trajectory. The cue tip was invented by Francois Mingaud in the 19th century, and it was invented while he was in prison. He was an avid player, and he actually asked to remain in prison so he could have the time to perfect his invention. He made the first cue tip using a piece of leather cut from his own shoe. Cues were made of wood until the 20th century when graphite was used to make the most expensive models.
Brunswick made its first billiard cue in 1845. Brunswick cues were made with maple, rosewood and ebony. France was where billiards first became popular. Henin Aine was one of the most popular French cue makers, and his cues featured embedded mother of pearl. In Germany, antique billiard cues were made by The B. Finck Co., which opened in 1839 and made some of the most elaborately styled billiard cues. They featured inlays of exotic woods.
Antique billiard cues have intricately carved handles. Many, especially the European ones, will have inlays of precious metals like gold and silver as well as mother of pearl. The cues may be wrapped in materials like silk.
There are several features that will give hints as to the age of the antique billiard cues. Two-piece cues appeared in the early 20th century. Cues made before that would have to be one piece. The maker will have engraved his mark on the cue. Check the condition. It should show natural wear. In the older cues, the edges of the letters would be starting to wear away. The butt end of the cue will be thicker in older cues, and the fore part will be thinner than in modern models.
Antique billiard cues are very collectable. The handles can have such intricate carvings that they are like works of art, and many collectors display them on the wall of their billiard room. There is a great demand for antique billiard cues, and that makes them increase in value, making antique billiard cues an excellent investment.
There are really hundreds of billiard cue makers, both big companies and individual craftsmen. Those who play billiards will be familiar with them. Yet, if you are new to the sport and collecting antique billiard cues, focus on one maker. Study all about what woods and decorations it used. There will always be someone trying to market a cue as being older than it is.