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Mission Place Apartments, Jessup, MD  Among our many amenities, we have a billiard table in our game room. Today we share a brief history of billiards.

Living in the Mission Place apartment community in Jessup, MD means having access to an awesome game room complete with a billiard tables. This is of course just one of the amenities available to residents at Mission Place apartments. Today in our blog post, we want to share some information about the history of billiards (also known as pool) and some fun trivia about the game too.


A Brief History of Billiards

According to Merriam-Webster, by definition, billiards is “any of several games played on an oblong table by driving small balls against one another or into pockets with a cue; specifically : a game in which one scores by causing a cue ball to hit in succession two object balls.”  Therefore, the game of pool, which is popular in America, is a type of billiards game. So now that we have that information cleared up, a bit of history.


The game was an adaptation of outdoor lawn games such as golf and croquet which migrated indoors. The first documented pool table was owned by King Louis XI of France. It was included on an inventory of property owned by the king. The table was made of stone with a cloth covering, and a hole in the center where balls would drop in. Pool was played by royalty and commoners alike.


According to The Billiard Shop History*:


Billiard equipment improved rapidly in England after 1800, largely because of the Industrial Revolution. Chalk was used to increase friction between the ball and the cue stick even before cues had tips. The leather cue tip, with which a player can apply sidespin to the ball, was perfected by 1823. Visitors from England showed Americans how use spin, which explains why it is called "English" in the United States but nowhere else. (The British themselves refer to it as "side".) The two-piece cue arrived in 1829. Slate became popular as a material for table beds around 1835. Goodyear discovered vulcanization of rubber in 1839 and by 1845 it was used to make billiard cushions. A two-to-one ratio of length to width became standard in the 18th century. Before then, there were no fixed table dimensions. By 1850, the billiard table had essentially evolved into its current form.


Wool is still the fabric choice for covering billiard/pool tables, having been in use for over 400 years (though today’s wool is a high-tech blend). Billiard balls were once made of ivory; today’s versions are composed of various plastics and resins. And the goal of the game is still to get the ball in the pocket!


Fun Trivia**

— At times, including during the Civil War, billiard results received wider coverage than war news. Players were so renowned that cigarette cards were issued featuring them.   


— The term “poolroom” now means a place where billiards is played, but in the 19th century, a poolroom was a betting parlor for horse racing. Billiard tables were installed so patrons could pass the time between races. The game of billiards and the poolroom became connected in the public’s mind. Today, the two terms are used interchangeably.


— The first coin-operated billiard table was patented in 1903. The cost of a game on the first pay-for-play table: one penny.


— Throughout most of the 1800’s, the chalk used on the new leather cue tips was carbonate of lime, better known as blackboard chalk. Most chalk used today is comprised of fine abrasives and does not contain a speck of chalk.


Head on over to the game room soon and enjoy a game of pool or billiards! Thanks for reading today’s post!


*For a more in-depth look at the history of billiards and pool, check out this article from The Billiard Shop.


*Fun trivia taken from this site.


*For a more in-depth look at the history of billiards and pool, check out this article from The Billiard Shop.


*Fun trivia taken from this site.