of billiards and its tables.
The current French billiards results from the transposition on a table of a ground billiard game shown below in a 1480 woodcut [i] (based on the Saint-Lô Tapestry).
first known table was commissioned by Louis XI (1423-1483), King of France,
to carpenter Henri de Vigne in
by Adriaen van de Venne (the player is Frederick
Henry of Nassau, Prince of Orange (1584-1647))
and in the print of 'Third Apartment' [iii] engraved in
O 1694 by Antoine Trouvain (1656-1705) (the player is the King of France Louis XIV (1638-1715)).
goal of the game was to knock
down the pin. From the 1500s, tables started to be equipped with pockets
to trap an opponent's ball. Notice that the first known printed billiard
rules (5 pages of ) date from 1654 only.
drawing 'Ladies and gentlemen playing billiards' from
shows that at that time, the pin (probably replaced by a ball) and the arch disappeared, and that ladies were still using a mace while men were already using a cue. Note that the pockets, clearly visible on the drawing, began to disappear around 1850 to give way to the French free game .
Note that the above tables are stable thanks to the stretchers.
O 1700 to late 1800s. According to 'The Billiard Encyclopedia. An Illustrated History of the Sport.'  the tables built at the time become masterworks of sculpture, inlays, marquetry and the French style creativity influenced the table design all over the world.
O 1816. Table by P. Charles Chéreau, billiard table manufacturer, Kings patented, who founded his firm in 1806.
This table is one
of the most beautiful and original of the billiard history. It is provided,
under its bed shelf, with an organ which plays different sounds depending
on the pockets into which the balls fall. It is unique and was shown at
the Louvre Exhibition in 1827 .
as a result of:
"History of "Fancy
Billiards" and "Artistic Billiards", 1827 to date".
b) the appearance of firms dealing only with billiards (tables, cues and balls) (from 1816).
For more details on points a and b above, see section 'Collection 1. Q'.
c) the construction of table beds made of slate from Italy (1830s) on which the quality of the ball rolling is better than on wood, marble or metal. The slate porosity reduces the natural humidity of the billiard cloth slowing down the balls.
d) the replacement of the natural rubber of the table cushions by vulcanized rubber which is more stable and resistant (1845).
e) the use of table diamonds as aiming referenties (around 1850).
f) the production of synthetic balls that starts in 1868 (for details, see section 'Collection 3').
g) the use of electricity to light and heat table beds (early 1900s).
h) a constant development of billiard cloth, especially the one made by Belgian firm Iwan Simonis founded in 1680.
old billiard tables of various countries are shown in Section 5. Old ROOMS
of this site.
For more details, see Sections 2. BOOKS a and b. of this site and
V. and RUBINO P., The Billiard Encyclopedia. An Illustrated History of
the Sport. Balkline Press Inc., New York, U.S.A., 2008, 629p.
a nice fourteen-leg table, which is in the Billiard Room or Kings
Room of the Real Casita del Labrador, Aranjuez in Spain.
O 1857. Creation of 'Billards Toulet' in Lille, France, producer of the table used during the memorable game between Vignaux and Slosson in1880 (see Section 2 A), as well as the next three
of the Louis XIV, Louis XV and Napoléon III styles. The latter,
dating from 1880, is rare as it can be converted into a dining table,
an invention byToulet. Indeed it is equipped with a device, actioned by
a removable crank, for reducing its height and a table top can be fixed
to it. Note that 'Billards Toulet' is still operating.
O 1910 (ca.). 'COMPAGNIE BRUNSWICK FRANÇAISE 'Album illustré du billard', Paris, France. 40 p.
"Empire" billiard table. Made of mahogany, with gilded bronze decorations.
a similar elongated octogonal billiard table [v] shown in a book of the
same period .
'Billards Brunswick', 24
"Herald" model six-leg table. Light brown oak and other types of wood. Marquetry.
French Brunswick Company was co-manager for Europe of BRUNSWICK - BALKE
- COLLENDER CO (= B.B.C. Co). until the 1930s. This important American
manufactory started in 1845 under the name of J. M. Brunswick and bore
other names during its evolution, with, for example, the one in the advertisement
below [i], probably dating from 1850-1860.
It is interesting as it shows that at the time, billiards in the United States was played with four balls on a table with pockets and markers on the cushions and that the mace was still used (see also the drawing in Phelan's book published in 1857 shown in Section 2. BOOKS B of this site).
is the large Phelan-Collender factory (Manhattan USA) in 1872 [i], that
produced 700 and 1000 billiard tables yearly.
shows the huge B.B.C. Co factory (located in Muskegon, Michigan, USA)
tables with pockets such as The Monroe
without pockets like The Regal
1925. HÉNIN AÎNÉ catalogue,
'Un billard parfait', Paris, France, 24 p .
"SIRIUS" billiard-table (left) and converted into a lower dining table (right).
Below, see the mechanism operated by the crank to quickly change the mode of this billiard table, called convertible billiard table.
"Louis XV" six-leg table, with marquetry.
Note that billiard tables are sometimes patterned after the period furniture.
further models, see:
Website "Aux billards anciens", which contains a.o. E. Briotet
and Blanchets catalogues, who both succeeded Chereau, and Toulets
are a few names of billiard table manufacturers featured in an advertisement,
a catalogue or another item of the collection.
O 1830. G. ERREMUS & FILS.
1925 (ca). VDK.
the VDK electric factory manufacturing billiard tables.
several billiard tables including the "RECORD" model (Art Deco)
fitted with the VDK electric heating system patented in 1925.
c) the evolution of the billiard table heating over time.
Both manufacturers, billiard champions and brothers-in-law
(see Section G.a), were also associates, see below.
Louis VAN LAERE, merging with John THURSTON in 1986. The latter is also
well-known and long-lasting (see below).
This advertisement, dating from 1932, shows the inside mechanism of a six-leg billiard table, provided with new devices and their functions.
and one of its plaques.
doubt most senior billiard players have played on one of the tables
sold by the last three manufacturers above.
'Handbuch der Billardspielkunst.' manual, 1908, by Gottfried KERKAU
Ficus Ginseng Bonsai.
Here are some of them, with the years when they were founded and advertisements.
first German billiard table manufacturer, Mainz.
J. B. Dorfelder, 1865. Billard-, Bllarqueue- & Billardball-Fabrik. Mainz ; Filiale in Mûnchen.
of billiard tables and accessories in Mainz and Munich.
Schröder & Kartzke, 1884. Billardfabrik. Dresden.
Heinrich Seifert & Söhne, 1848 - 1920. Wien-Budapest.
Billiard table manufacturers, Warrant holders of the Court (Serbia, Persia, Bulgaria). Vienna and Budapest.
The above advertisement mentions that German Hugo Kerkau (1874 - 1918) won the French free game world championship with 7156 caroms on a "Baroc" billiard in Zurich.
Note that Gottfried Kerkau, Hugos brother, writes in his 1908s book  'Auf Morgenthalerschem Billard vollendete Hugo Kerkau die höchste Karambolserie der Welt mit hilfe des Banden-seriespiels: 7156 Points.' (= 'Hugo Kerkau completed the highest carom series in the world with 7156 points on a billiard table manufactured by F. Morgenthaler & Co.').
performance could probably be achieved thanks to the improvements to
the table cushions, as illustrated (below) by Burroughes & Watts
Caption: The "Wilhelmina" billiard table is used by the greatest masters!
'Billiards & Snooker' - A Trade History compilation, dating
from 1981, by J. R. Mitchell
informs that in England:
1. The first billiard tables were built by cabinet maker Robert Gillow around 1770.
b) An aquatint 'The Billiard Table' ,1812 (**),
where the table legs are quite simple, which is normal for a first construction.
2. Cabinet maker John Thurston settled as a billiard table manufacturer in London in 1799. At the beginning the table bed shelf was made of wood and then of slate.
Elaborate Thurston table with eight robust legs (***).
Billiards - Match room. Thurston's Hall 1903. [vi].
Burroughes & Watts.Ltd. was founded in London in 1836.
This company is as reputed as Thurston for great quality and expertise.
summary, billiards was probably born in France in 1469. Its slow improvement,
which culminates at the time of the industrial revolution (1800s), has
finally resulted in the production of high quality tables. Some of them
are real masterworks and are still existing.
ALBOUKER Robert, Autour du billard. Découvertes. Gallimard N°162,
France, 1992, 160p.