L. Details of a billiard cue.

Elements, manufacturing and decoration of a billiard cue.

1. Billiard cue shaft

a. Wood
b. Screws
c. Ferrules

2. Billiard cue butt

a. Wood
b. Manufacturing
c. Ends
d. Bumpers
e. Carvings
f. Inlays
g. Collars
h. Marks and decals
i Grips

3. Billiard cue


1. Billiard cue shaft.

a. Wood


1. Maple 2. Tiger (curly) maple 3. Bird's eye maple 4. Hornbeam 5. Service tree 6. Ramin 7. Ash 8. Amaranth and service tree 9. Wenge. White hickory and white ash from America were also used in the past.

b. Screws

Here are some screws. The maximum diameter D of their shaft, the estimated year of manufacturing A, the engraved mark of the manufacturer (or his presumptive name) or a manufacturing location, and the material are given.


1. D = 20.0 mm, A = 1920, BRUNSWICK FRANCE, wood.
2. D = 20.0 mm, A = 1920, (Brunswick France), aluminium (also wood).
3. D = 20.4 mm, A = 1925,
L. VAN LAERE, wood.
4. D = 20.5 mm, A = 1930, St. MICHEL = Van Laere, wood.
5. D = 20.6 mm, A = 1930, HIOLLE, wood.
6. D = 21.2 mm, A = 1970, brass.
7. D = 21.6 mm, A = 1980, HIOLLE, wood.
8. D = 21.8 mm, A = 1980, (Brunswick USA), brass.
9. D = 22.5 mm, A = 1990, MADE BY VAN LAERE, wood.

An analysis of D and A values and of many others too, shows that D has increased with time (see Section Q). Note the variety of shapes and building materials: wood, aluminium and brass.

Some remarks:

i) In the late 1800s a HIOLLE wooden screw, for example

is longer than those shown above (5 and 7) and a FINCK screw, such as

is sometimes even longer.

The wood screw pitches HIOLLE, VAN LAERE and CARO are the same and have not changed with time. As can be seen from the two screws above, the FINCK ones are different (longer).

iii) When a cue shaft is constructed, the left side of the wooden screws used

is coated with glue.

iv) The metal screws

are often screwed between shaft (on the left) and butt (on the right) as shown above.

v) The next models, also made of metal, are old and very rare.


vi) From the sixties inverse joints came up with the screw fixed in the butt (not in the shaft).

Here are some of them:

Sampaio ..Tremerie

Left to right: they belong to Sampaio, Meucci and Tremerie cues.

c. Ferrules

They prevent shafts from splintering. Some specimens made of ivory (1 and 6), hard plastics (2 and 3), aluminium (4) or an aluminium-leather combination (5), are shown below. Ferrule 6 has a 'double tip', i.e. a hard leather tip topped by another softer one, and is very large (15 mm). It probably dates from the 1800s.

The ferrules are partially hollow to fit the tenons at the end of the shafts. However, when ferrules are made of metal like No.5, the opposite sometimes occurs: they themselves are provided with tenons,

which fit into the cavity bored in the shaft end.

Below, a scarce bell shaped ferrule (wider on the side of the cue-tip).

Bell shape

2. Billiard cue butt.

a. Wood

The list below is not exhaustive. See also Paragraph 1 a Wood.
The average wood density is given in brackets.

Amaranth (1.0) Maple (0.7)
Ash (0.7) Merbau (0.8)
Bloodwood (1.1) Mutenye (0.8)
Bocote (0.8) Padauk (0.8)
Brownheart (0.9) Palissandre (0.9)
Bubinga (0.9) Panga panga (0.9)
Cocobolo (1.1) Ramin (0.7)
Ebony (1.2) Rosewood (0.8)
Ebony (Macassar) (1.2) Service tree (0.7)
Greenheart (1.1) Snake wood (1.1)
Lemon tree (0.9) Thuya (burl) (1.15)
Lignum vitae (1.25) Tulip wood (0.5)
Mahogany (0.6) Wenge (0.9)
Mansonia (0.7) Zebra wood (0.8)

Here are some photos:

Bocote... Bubinga
Bocote........................................................................Bubinga (light) and Wenge (dark)

Macassar ebony... Mutenye
Macassar ebony .........................................................Mutenye..

Panga panga....Rosewood
Panga pangaa .................................................................................Rosewood

Thuya burl.....
Amboyna burl................................................................................Amaranth

Bocote's veneers are worth the close-up shown below:


Pear-tree, sycamore and box woods are also used in marquetry.

b. Manufacturing

Different woods are often used to make a '1-piece' butt. They are joined using a tenon or peg (below left), screwed to each other like in a St-Michel (below centre) or spliced together like in a '4-point' Hiolle (below right) and finally stuck together.

Tenon...........St-Michel...........'4-point' Hiolle

Below, the inside of a three veneer rounded 'Vignaux' style splice (named enture à 'fourche' in French catalogues around 1900), similar to that of cue 11 shown in Section B, sawn in half across the tops of the two opposite rounded points.

This cut should help to understand the construction of such a '2 point' splice.

When butts can be dismantled, their pieces bear wood or metal screws. Here are some examples. The upper one is very rare.


Below, 4 butt shapes.

From top to bottom, 'truncated cone', 'bottle', 'hexagonal' and 'fancy turned'.

Note finally that some special cue constructions enable one to easily change

- the weight (and the centre of gravity), see e.g. La Royale, La VICTORIEUSE, the UNIVERSELLE, the MONARCH and the REFORM in Section A

- the centre of gravity (*) (see the Brauers below wherein a metal threaded tube can be moved),



- the length (*) (see my personal telescopic prototype below),

Queue télescopique

Queue télescopique

and the shape (see 'cue/cane' in Section J. 2.).

(*) without weight change.

c. Ends


1. Amaranth, white synthetic material, black rubber (Brunswick)

2. Wood dyed black, rosewood, mother-of-pearl, dark red rubber (Sampaio)

3. Macassar ebony, mother-of-pearl, leather bumper (Hénin Aîné)

4. Bocote, ivory, red rubber (St.Michel, Van Laere)

5. White and yellow synthetic material, wound black thread, black rubber (Brunswick)

d. Bumpers

Butt ends are mainly made of ivory or hard wood and plastic. They are often protected against shocks by leather or rubber (see picture above). The picture on the right shows Brunswick and Hiolle examples (left to right).


Shocks may sometimes alter the look of an end, as simulated below in the case of an old Hiolle that is losing its protection.

Bumpers never bore inscriptions. Three observed exceptions are: 'Hénin Aîné Paris', 'Queue Brunswick' and 'Queue St. Martin'.

Note that an ivory butt end


is sometimes only half covered with leather. This allowed choosing the play material when the butt end was still used by sliding it on one of its triangles over the table.

e. Carvings

Here are examples some of which make good grips.


Motifs 1 to 5 belong to Hiolle, 6 to 9 to Van Laere and 10 to Laprévote. Engraving 4 has been used on the 8-point Hiolle cue and 7 on the St Michel. Carving 6 has been reproduced on several cue models. On the other hand, number 10 seems to appear only on a single copy of the La Technique.

Some handmade carvings. .

f. Inlays

The picture below shows a few specimens used by Van Laere. They are all in mother-of-pearl except the central one, which is in ivory. The second from the left has a rare gold tint.

Other examples of inlaid materials are exotic or coloured wood (in marquetry),

white or colour plastic

and bronze (in Boulle marquetry).

Some inlays occasionaly bear a monogram.

g. Collars

These 15 to 30 mm long ferrules protect the wood joints and can be in ivory, celluloid, hard plastic, brass, aluminium... These joints are mainly drilled and tapped directly into the wood of the butt (see photo left). They are sometimes prefabricated (see central photo) and then inserted and glued in the butt, like the Gallia cues. Note finally that an interior brass pipe (see photo right) strengthens some Finck, Brauers and Schrôder & Kartzke cues, too.

....Ivory collar....Brass pipe

For some metal joints, see Paragraph 1 b Screws above.

h. Marks and decals

They are often applied on the front of the cue butt so that, when a cue is frequently used, they gradually deteriorate and sometimes disappear.

1. Engraved marks:

Here are some European copies, in pretty good condition, from Van Laere, Horemans, Hiolle, Basile, Hénin Aîné, Brunswick, Grivaud (Lyon), Van de Kerckhove, Carrier & Laumé, Seguin, Barbier, Laprévote, Klein, Brunswick, Brauers (BREV. is short for breveté and means patented), Sampaio and G. Caro. The last one on the right is from Adorjan's cue 'La Royale'.

Hénin Aîné Paris....Brunswick


Carrier & Laumé....


..Brunswick's Monarch..Engraved marksAdorjan's La Royale

Finally, American logos of Brunswick and Meucci.

Brunswick U.S.A. ..

2. Decals (the distinction between decal and sticker is not made in this website, except in Section D):

Below are copies from Van Laere, Horemans and Basile.

Green Van Laere

The green Van Laere's decal is older than the red one. Hiolle used the decal below with the blue and gold blazon and the inscriptions Hiolle, C, M and Bté. S.G.D.G. (Bté. is short for Breveté).

Decals1 ; ..Olymp & CorinDecalls2 .

Longoni..Tremerie.(. Gallia. Duque .Wilhelmina ..

...................................................... .eSBee ....

Castor........... ..

Hiolle, Hénin, G. Caro, Gallia and Castor decals are French, Olympia (also Van Eeken) and Wilhelmina (Cees van Oosterhout) are Dutch, Longoni and Zenith are Italian, Wolsing, Bour and Braun are German, the last one (logo made up of a billiard cue and the initials of Harald Fihl) is Danish and the others are Belgian. Finally, American ones

Adam...... ....

left to right, an Adam and two Brunswicks.

i. Grips (see also Paragraph 2 e Carvings)

Materials (mostly embedded).

Left to right: leather, cork, rubber, textile thread, nylon thread and plastic.

3. Billiard Cue.


Thanks to the two catalogues from the early 1900s below


it is possible to evaluate how the value of a vintage cue depends on its decoration.

An analysis of prices in GOBIN's catalogue from 1912, shows that a '2-piece' '4-point' Hiolle, provided with a rubber bumper and an ivory ferrule, costs 9 FF (*) and that supplements are :

Carving (squares): 3 FF

Mother-of-pearl escutcheon: 5 FF

2 mother-of-pearl triangles instead of the rubber bumper: 1 FF

Ebony points: 1.5 FF

8 points instead of 4: 3 FF.

An '8-point' Hiolle is thus worth up to 22.5 FF.

This catalogue is very complete (32 pages) and also gives us information about model prices. Here are some examples:

- a '2-piece' Hiolle is about 4 FF more expensive than a '1-piece'
- l'Universelle (made by Hiolle) and La Royale, both of variable weights, cost 16 FF each
- the simplest cue is worth less than 1 FF.

As far as PRADEL's catalogue is concerned, it enables one to estimate that the presence of wooden marquetry considerably (about 20 times) increases the price of a cue.

(*) FF = French franc of that time.