The billiard table has been around as long as the game of pool. Word is that the game evolved from trucco, a lawn game played in 15th century England. Although nobody knows exactly when and where the first billiard table was built, a record of King Louis the Eleventh's possession in 1470 had included a table with a stone bed covered in melt cloth and a hole in the middle where the balls went. Around the same time, the game was declared illegal by some parts of Europe and the United States based on the Church's views of it as a sinful and dangerous activity.
The Parts of a Billiard Table
Although there were a few changes in the type of materials used to make it, the pool table's present form has remained the same since the 1800s. The stone bed came from slabs of slate, which must be cut even and joined together with resin or hard putty before sanding and the surface into a smooth finish. It was John Thurston who first thought of using slate to create the table's bed because he was dissatisfied with wood's tendency to warp when exposed to moisture and heat.
Originally, the cloth came from finely spun wool, but today's technology has turned the felt into a much stronger wool and nylon blend. The table's edges are made of hard wood and etched with artistic marks, but the rails are made of rubber filled with air to cushion bank shots and remain unaffected by intense heat or cold. John Thurston was also the one who made good use of Charles Goodyear's vulcanization process to create rail cushions.
The Balls, Cue Stick, and Cue Tips
Before plastic was invented, the balls used for playing billiards came from elephant tusks. The ivory balls had to be carved from the core of the largest part of a tusk, which produced only three whole balls. This made ivory balls difficult to produce and led to the discovery of celluloid, which made the composite billiard ball possible to manufacture at a lesser expense than ivory hunting entailed. John Wesley Hyatt, the discoverer of celluloid and the inventor of the billiard ball's present composition, was inspired to search for a substitute for ivory because of a $ 10,000 prize.
The present form of the leather cue tip can be traced back to Captain Francois Mingaud's obsession with the game. Although he was imprisoned for his political opinions, this French officer played billiards to while away the time, which led to his idea of using leather to prevent the cue from sliding off the ball. His invention also led him to devise new tricks and gaining expertise in playing the game.
As mentioned before, the game of billiards was an offshoot of a lawn game, which used equipment that looked like golf clubs with spoon-shaped iron heads to hit the balls. When billiards became an indoors game played on a table, the balls had a tendency to get stuck in the rails. So, using the club or mace to strike the derailed ball seemed cumbersome. Players started using the tail end or queue of the billiard stick until it became the tapered wooden cue that players now use.