Joe Davis Cues by David Smith
There are so many Variants of the Joe Davis cue that I could create a whole web site about them. I rote this prohetic phrase almost ten years ago in my first article about Joe Davis cues and here we are partisipating in the launch of Chris Lloyd's welcome addition to the collecting web sites, Vintage Billiards.
Joe was such an entrepreneur that he always took every opportunity to promote the game of Snooker and of course himself. Both E J Riley and Peradon Limited produced cues that bore his name. The Riley cues always had a tombstone or bell shaped badge, either cream in colour or on occasion, black. The Peradon versions always had a rectangular badge.Peradon also produced a few Joe Davis cues for Thurston as well.
It was customary for a player to have a "Champion Cue" carrying his name made once he had won the World Billiards Championship in the late 19th and early 20th century and after about 1940 the same tradition was applied to the World Snooker Championships. These cues are known as "Champion Cues". Other cues were made to commemorate high breaks and world record breaks carrying the name of the player who made the break. sometimes these cues were made to commemorate the highest break of a particular player even if they were not the current world record.
Joe Davis made a high break at Billiards of 2.501 in 1927, so naturally all cues that bear this mark were made after this date. Incidentally Joe Davis made a Snooker break of 100 in the championship of 1928, the two breaks often appear together on some cues. The 2,501 cue was still inproduction until at least 1968 as I have seen a Riley Burwat additional disk affixed to one which was in as new condition.
Joe also recorded record Snooker breaks right up to 1955 when he made a 147, this break was not in the World Championship as he had retired from competing in the event after 20 years of domination. His major breaks and dates that they were made are as follows;
Incidentally, the first ever total clearance was achieved by Sidney Smith in the year 1936, his break was 133 and appears in the badge of the Gold Cup Snooker cue that also bears his name. The reason that I mention this is that Sidney was a rival of Joe's throughout his career and possibly inspired Joe to continue to strive for higher and higher breaks as he was famous for making large scoring visits himself.
As you can no doubt imagine the early days of Snooker coincided with the demise of Billiards as a major box office commodity. This meant that making the most of any Snooker related publicity was a must. Prolific break builders like Joe Davis, Horace Lindrum and Sidney Smith would make the papers if they could make a record break, particularly if they made it in the world championships.
It is a little known fact, today that from 1936 until 1947, Snooker’s high break record was held by Horace Lindrum with a total clearance of 141. From what I have gathered Horace would have held other high break records if he had been familiar with how to register his achievements, at any rate his 141 still stood for many years until Walter Donaldson made a 142 in 1946 to eclipse it by a solitary point.
Returning to Joe Davis for a while, the cues that bear his name often appear in ash, maple and hornbeam for the shafts with an ebony butt of either machine or hand spliced configuration, with either a maple or birds eye maple facing splice.
Exceptions to this design include the 500 and 600 century break cues and the pre 100 Snooker break cues which either had a facing splice with ebony with maple lines or were simply, black butted cues like the Champion cue produced for Thurston.
I myself have a Joe Davis special Snooker cue from 1946 which is signed on the shaft by both Joe and Fred Davis, their signature is dated too, this cue is machine-spliced and yet, I would think that it is worth quite a sum of money.
Some people think that the Joe Davis cues that bear additional round badges are cues made by other manufacturers, such as Hixon, Raper or Alec Watson. The truth is that these cues were all made by Peradon Limited on behalf of these other companies and then sold through their own individual outlets. From my point of view they are worth about the same as the standard cues.
Some of the Riley versions are very pleasing indeed and often make excellent cues to use, they usually fetch a higher price than the Peradon version, this is, I believe, because people think that they were made in fewer numbers. I tend to doubt this, I favour the theory that states that as more of them were playable for Snooker they were more likely to have been used and abused by their owners over the years. Only time and research will reveal the true answer. The Joe Davis Riley cues have, hand spliced version a white plate with black writing and the reverse, black plate with white writing for the machine spliced version.
Many collectors start out by collecting Joe Davis cues on solely. I myself prefer to try to put together cues that commemorate the achievements of all the great players of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Which ever you prefer, I feel sure that there is plenty of opportunity left to gather substantial collections in either field of interest.
Good luck with the site Chris, we all owe you a debt of gratitude for allowing us to see your very impressive collection.
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