Antique Pool Tables

by Dr. Lori Verderame

Billiards was a game played by monarchs and common people beginning in Europe in the 1400s. French kings were the first to own billiard tables, around 1470.

Ground billiards was the game’s original name and in a manner similar to crochet, players moved balls around a grass court. The green fabric table replaced the grass once the game was moved indoors.

Men and women played the game including famous names such as William Shakespeare, Mozart, Napoleon, Louis XIV, Maria Antoinette, George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Elvis Presley, Ozzy Osbourne, and the list goes on.

In the early 1900s, American businessmen and robber barons like Cornelius Vanderbilt, J. P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie included billiard tables in their mansions.

Big Names

J.M. Brunswick & Balke Co.

Collectors look for antique tables, cue racks, and cue balls and look for brand names and good quality. In the late 1800s and early 1900s in the United States, the majority of tables were produced by Brunswick-Balke and Brunswick Balke Collendar.

In the late Victorian period until the 1930s, pool table designs featured solid hardwoods, inlaid ivory diamond sights, marquetry work, Roman style leaf motifs, and/or geometric Greek key patterns borrowed from the architecture of the ancient world. Some styles have decorative ivory inlaid diamond sights, felt tops, bridge rests on underside of the table, hanging pockets, and inlay marquetry designs with satinwood and other decorative secondary woods.

Pool Table Styles

Pool table

Some of the most popular Brunswick pool tables were models including the Union League, the Monarch and the Nonpareil.  Some other popular tables of the time period include the Union League, the Southern, the New Acme, and the Manhattan. Tables were made of solid maple, walnut, and rosewood with values from $25,000 and $250,000 for some fine examples of antique pool tables.

Get an online appraisal of your antique pool table or antique billiards table from Dr. Lori.