International Cuemakers Association - Hall of Fame
*INTERNATIONAL CUEMAKERS HALL
their outstanding contributions to the cuemaking art and industry, the following
individuals have been elected into the International Cuemakers Hall of Fame:
George C. Britner: Inducted 2004
George was building exquisite cues in the late 1800’s and early 1900's.
His designs were ahead of his time. He was considered the premier cuemaker of
the 19th century. Britner also went to work for Brunswick and there is speculation
that he may have trained our next inductee, Herman Rambow. Britner and Rambow
worked at the same location for 15 years. Britner was not only a master cuemaker,
but also a master ivory ball turner. Many of your fancier Brunswick models from
that time were built by Britner.
Herman Rambow: Inducted 2004
Born in 1880, Rambow worked off and on for Brunswick from the time he was 14
until 1950. He started out as a mail boy and turned Ivory Balls, working his
way up. Rambow built cues all the way up to his passing away in 1967. Rambow
is given credit with inventing the piloted joint. It had the screw in the butt
and a brass insert with wood pilot tenon similar to the stainless steel jointed
cues we see today. Rambow mainly used brass joints. He also patented an internal
pool cue weight and balance method. Rambow had a lot of equipment that he built
himself. He even had a homemade three jaw chuck that was completely made out
of wood. Almost everything on his lathe was made out of wood. His cues normally
did not have a rubber bumper and often had a thin ivory ring around the bottom
above the short plastic butt plate. This ring is now referred to as the Rambow
or Hoppe ring. It was a Rambow that Willie Mosconi ran his record 526 balls
in a row with in 1956. In 1968 Herman Rambow was the first cuemaker ever inducted
into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame.
Harvey Martin: Inducted 2004
Martin started making cues in the 1920’s. Like Rambow and Britner he also
turned Ivory Billiard balls earlier in his career. For decades more world champions
played with Rambows and Martins than any other cues. While Rambows were ruling
the east coast Harvey Martins were the favorite among the west coast players.
He popularized the 3/8" wood to wood flat faced joint. Martin did not do
inlay work as he felt it weakened the cue. He would watch a customer play and
try to build the cue to fit the customer's style. You will often find Martin
cues with several shafts. He would make shafts for the different type of game
and equipment the player would play on. He continued building cues until 1984.
That is six decades of his labor of love.
Frank Paradise: Inducted 2004
Frank started making cues in Brooklyn in 1948 and continued making cues there
until 1958. From 1958 to 1968 he built his cues in Little Falls, New Jersey.
His cues looked much like a Rambow but tended to be fancier. His cues were played
with by a majority of the East Coast players in the late fifties. He made some
of his ferrules removable just by screwing them on and off. This allowed a player
to carry an extra ferrule with well shaped tip, so they could change it instantly
if the tip came off or needed to be replaced. This eliminated the need for a
George Balabushka: Inducted 2004
George started in 1959 and made about 30 cues per year. He used the Brunswick
Titlist as the foundation for his earlier cues. In the mid 1960’s he started
using some blanks made by Burton Spain. He also purchased blanks from John Davis
and Bob Meucci. Around 1971 he started using blanks made by Gus Szamboti. He
was up to about 75 cues per year when he passed away in 1975. A cue that he
built for under $100 new might bring several thousand dollars today.
Gus Szamboti: Inducted 2004
Gus started making cues in 1969. His cues were as clean and well done as anyone’s
were at the time. His work surpassed Balabushka’s just as Balabushka’s
surpassed Rambow’s. It is said that Gus would discard about 80% of his
shaft wood in order to use only the best. He was considered the premiere cuemaker
of his day. When he passed away in September 1988 he left a standard that would
really have to be reached for to achieve. His son Barry is now following in
Bert Schrager: Inducted 2005
Bert started building
cues in the 1960’s and is credited with helping many up and coming cuemakers.
We won't list names, but it would be a who's who list of higher end smaller
cuemakers who spent time in Bert's shop. Bert has always been very helpful to
the beginning cuemakers and that is one thing the ICA stands for. Bert got his
start in cuemaking from his close friend Harvey Martin who is also an ICA Hall
of Fame member. Bert was one of the earlier cuemakers to break into the high
end cue market and one of the first few to crack open the Japanese market. Many
famous people have had Bert build cues for them. He never went the CNC route
and has produced some very high end cue designs with just a pantograph. He is
credited with popularizing the 6 point cue design. Bert was our first living
member to be inducted. His wife Pat has done much of the beautiful pantograph
inlay work on their cues. At 80 years of age he was still at his labor of love:
Burton started building
cues in 1965. Burton built great cues using full splice methods that often combined
a standard full slice over the top of a butterfly full splice that was usually
covered by the wrap. This allowed him to use any combination of woods without
producing too heavy or too light of a cue. His method produced the most warp
resistant butts around. The first thing that comes to most peoples minds when
they hear the name Burton Spain is, "Point Blanks". When cuemakers
saw that Burton was making his own full splice point blanks they lined up to
buy them from him. He made them for Gordon Hart, Craig Peterson, Frank Paradise
and George Balabushka just to name a few. He was part of a club called Mensa
that only allows people who have IQ's in the top 2% of the population. Before
he passed away in 1994 he trained and sold his business to Joel Hercek, who
continues making cues with the same full splice method Burton made famous.
started building cues in the early 1960's. In 1968 he took over the cue department
at National Tournament Chalk. He founded B.M.C. in Glenview, Illinois in 1969.
He also helped set up the WICO cue making operation. He made some point blanks
for Gus Szamboti, George Balabushka and for many other top cuemakers and perfected
the seamless plastic veneer points that were popular on some older cues. He
popularized the flat faced wood to wood joint with collars and the 58 inch length
cues. He moved his cue making operation to the Memphis area in 1975 and changed
the name to Meucci Originals. He was one of the first cuemakers to make points
out of Mother Of Pearl and inlay pictures in 14-karat gold. He was one of the
first modern cuemaker to use the forearm as a canvas with intricate inlaid scenes
instead of traditional points or inlays. He popularized the sealed Irish linen
wraps and was among the first to break into the 5 figure cue market.
He is credited with setting the standard
for the major cue manufacturers of using metal working equipment instead of wood
lathes to manufacture cues on. He helped modernize and establish some other cue
making factories. He has given training to many of today's top cuemakers and cue
manufacturers. He popularized the use of really white maple and the longer pro
taper on the shafts. He had more professional and semi-pro players playing with
his cues in the late 70's and 1980's than any other cuemaker. He developed a precision
robot called the Myth Destroyer to test the cue ball speed and deflection a cue
gives when striking the cue ball. He has kept the industry focused on the hit
of the cue. He developed materials and construction techniques in his cues that
produced more cue ball English, draw and follow than any other major manufacturer.
This is one reason why his cues ruled the pro circuit when they played on slower
cloth. He has been at the top of the cue making industry for decades, and has
had major influence on all aspects of our industry. He pushed the artistic designs
and price value of the cues to levels that were cutting edge at the time and paved
the way for the rest of us.
Jerry Franklin: Inducted
Jerry founded South West Cues in 1982, which soon became one of the most
sought after cues out there among serious players. The waiting list is and has
been, not months, but years to get one of the SW cues. They developed a rock
solid hit that is much sought after. The short joint rings design that you see
on so many cues now was first made popular by SW. SW also popularized the very
tight fitting wood to wood joint and very close joint size tolerances with interchangeable
It was at SW cues that Jerry and another cuemaker David Kersenbrock made
the first table saw tapering machine. This type of machine can now be found
in many cuemakers shops. Jerry was always open to showing other cuemakers his
shop and once said, "If someone knows enough to ask the right question, they
deserve an answer." SW cues probably have influenced more of the newer cuemakers
than any other cue out there. Jerry passed away in 1996 and is missed by all
who knew him. His company is still going under his wife Laurie's leadership.
We think Jerry would be proud of that.
Kohara: Inducted 2007
Tad was born in California and in the early 1940's Tad went to Hiroshima, Japan
to study cabinet making. In 1945 the school he was attending was destroyed by
the Atomic bomb. He returned to the United States in 1949. When Tad started
making cues in 1963, his first cues were based on Titlist blanks. Then he started
making simple birdseye cues. When Harvey Martin retired he bought Harvey's equipment.
He developed the hit of his cues by relying on the advice of players like Willie
Mosconi, Jimmy Caras and Joe Balsis. Tad moved far beyond just making great
playing cues, but also made his unique cue designs that use a lot of fancy ring
and slot work that include many dots inlaid inside of other dots. Tad currently
uses 18 lathes and 3 pantographs to produce those unique designs that Tad has
made so popular. He has stayed away from CNC equipment. Tad also developed his
own tip that he uses on his cues. Besides building great cues for decades Tad
is credited for opening up the Japan cue market for the American cuemakers.
Schrager and others quickly followed his lead and got their cues into that market,
but it was Tad who paved the way. Tad passed away in 2013 and his son Fred continues
building Tad cues.
got a great deal of experience as a young man while working for the prestigious
Italian Billiards manufacture “F.lli Dalla Chiesa”. In 1945 he decided with
the help of his wife Maria and children to start his own cue making company.
Because of the hard economic times in Italy following World War Two, he often
had to borrow the use of machinery and instruments from other local craftsmen
just building lower volume custom cues. In the fifties he got his production
cue business started. In the sixties his cues started gaining acceptance in
the USA and today they are one of the most recognized European cues in the US
market. Alessandro passed away in 1978, but his son Renzo kept the operation
moving forward. Now Renzo's son Pierluigi is also helping manage the business.
They now have sister operations in Brno (Czech Republic) and Germany. They build
some very unique cues. Some have hundreds of inlays that wrap around the cue
making Knights and Jesters and other medieval figures.
1995 they stated using CNC machinery and have expanded to making many thousands
of cues a year. They are most famous for their Pool and Carom cues but also
make cues of other cue sports like: Russian Pyramid, Carolina, Five Skittles,
Goriziana and Italians.
Dieckman: Inducted 2008
started building cues in 1973. He is one of many quality cue builders who trained
for a time in Bert Schrager's shop, who is another Hall of Fame member. Although
Dennis built a lot of pool cues in his lifetime. It was Carom Billiard Cues
that he was most famous for. Playing Carom Billiards was Dennis' love with golf
also competing for his heart. Dennis was one of the few American cuemaker that
kept the butterfly pointed carom cues with wood thread joints going in the USA
for a couple of decades. That was a great contribution, but his greatest contribution
to our industry has been teaching cuemaking with his videos that go back to
the 1980's and his Cueniversity where he teaches in shop cuemaking. One of Dennis'
students invented the Predator shaft and Dennis was involved in that. Dennis
shunned CNC machinery, and instead preferred old school points and butterflies
and pantographed inlays. He was also a founding member of both the American
and International Cuemakers Associations.
Horn: Inducted 2008
started making cues in 1961. He is considered the grandfather of cuemaking in
the central Midwest. Many cuemakers owe their start to Verl, as he was always
cheerfully sharing cuemaking techniques and other information and material sources.
Verl would load a cue up with Ivory and still keep his prices very reasonable.
He loved making the ivory V-points with veneers and his work was always sharp
and clean. Verl's Irish linen wraps were some of the best pressed and flush
with the finish in the business. He was a master auto body repairman and his
finish represented that in his cues. Verl was instrumental in getting the very
famous Prather Custom Cue Parts supply business started in the 1970's which
continues to this day. Without Verl's influence in that cue parts supply business,
we probably would not have seen the 1980's and early 90's boom in our cuemaking
industry. He continued building cues in Mooreland, Oklahoma until he passed
away in 1999.
Paul Kersenbrock: Inducted 2009
started building cues in 1972. David has worked with several cuemakers including
Hall of Fame members Bert Schrager and Jerry Franklin. He also built cues with
Omega/DPK from 1990 to 1996. David popularized the 3/8-11 thread wood to wood
joint. It had the flat bottom minor diameter thread like Harvey Martin had used,
but David put a starter pilot and center hole on the end of the pin. David pushed
manual pantograph inlaying cues to new levels by free handing inlays instead
of using template patterns. He used high magnification optics and a very steady
hand to accomplish this. David and Jerry Franklin developed the table saw tapering
machines that are popular today. David also wrote a cue building manual and
hired himself out as a trainer to many smaller cuemaking shops over the years.
His cuemaking designs, styles and methods have greatly influenced the custom
cuemaking industry across in the USA and around the world.
Rich: Inducted 2009
was born as Abraham Rutschaisky. He started
building cues in 1962 at his cousin Saul's “Rich Cue Company” in New York. In
1965 he and his brother Morris built cues as “Florida Cues” until Abe went out
on his own as “Star Cues” in 1973. Abe had been a wood worker by trade and even
carved wooden clogs and canteens while incarcerated in the Dachau death camp
during World War II. Abe came from a family line of wood turners and prided
himself on hand turning all of his cues. He did not use routers for tapering
or pantographs for inlaying. He was truly one of the longest lasting old school
cuemakers. He did not have any of the fancy equipment you might expect to find
in a 21 st century cue shop. He had a simple wood turning lathe, a few pieces
of wood working equipment and floor to ceiling shelves full of wood that he
had been turning on for decades. Walking into his shop was like walking back
in time a few decades. He kept turning cues by hand all the way up until he
passed away at age 82 in 2008. Our industry not only lost a great cuemaker,
but his passing closed out an era of cue making that had almost totally died
out decades ago. Abe was the last of the popular cuemakers that turned all of
his cues by hand on a wood lathe.
Huebler: Inducted 2010
has been involved in the billiard industry for decades. He has been a pool room
owner and the national sales representative for the famous A. E. Schmidt billiard
supply company. His experience in the billiard industry led him to found Huebler
Industries in 1974 in Linn, Missouri. Huebler rapidly became one of the better
known American-made cue brands. Although Paul's company might be considered
a mid-size production cue manufacturer, he also had what was known as The Custom
Shop. Many of the cues coming out of the Custom Shop rivaled other higher-end
custom cues and are highly sought after by collectors. Paul always favored V-Points
and even made his own Full Splice blanks for his hustler style cues. Another
feature that made Huebler Cues unique was the nylon insert in the shafts. Paul
loved chess and you will find chess pieces and crosses as themes in many of
his cues. Huebler was also one of the first to manufacture Jump/Break cues.
Bludworth: Inducted 2010
commonly referred to as BLUD, started doing cue repair in 1976. Around the same
time he developed the Bludworth Ball Cleaner. Since then he has sold thousands
of these machines. He was a master pool table mechanic and served as the equipment
coordinator for both the men's pro tour, as well as the senior tour, for about
15 years. He came up with the idea to take pool tables and travel the country
setting them up for pool events. He gave the plans to Valley Tables and they
ran with it. In the 1980's he converted Sears wood lathes into a workable cue
repair machine so others could make good money repairing cues. He sold over
400 of these machines around the world. He also made the first video showing
how to do cue repairs on those modified wood lathes. After a few years, nearly
every major tournament had a qualified repairman there repairing cues for the
pros and spectators alike using one of his lathes.
Leonard started building cues in the 1980's and many top pros rapidly started
playing with his cues. The most notable was Leonard's long time friend Buddy
Hall. Leonard also built a line of cues for Buddy. Leonard became known for
building very solid cues with a slightly thinner profile than most other cues.
Leonard was probably the first cuemaker to sell a cue for $100,000. In 1992
Leonard founded the American Cuemakers Association and served as the president
for a few years. His late wife Janice worked along side of him for decades and
he also passed his vast cuemaking and machinery knowledge down to his son Donald.
Leonard went on to develop many other mechanical and CNC (Computer Numerical
Controlled) cue building machines. Some were shaft tapering saw machines. Many
were CNC cue lathe/milling machines, and some of those were combo's, (saws and
mills), from single cutting heads to multi-heads. The largest machine was a
CNC mill with eight heads that went to Bangkok, Thailand. He traveled over 100,000
miles a years for about 22 years setting up tables and doing cue repairs at
the pro events. So Leonard was indeed the pioneer of the travelling pro shop,
and the one who made the first cue repair lathes available to the public in
the modern era. It was Leonard being at all those tournaments and selling his
cue machinery that inspired many others to get into cue repair and cue building.
McDermott Inducted 2011
started repairing cues in the mid 1960's around the Milwaukee area and started
working for another cuemaker in 1966. After working there for several years
and perfecting his cuemaking skills, he went out on his own and started the
McDermott Cue Manufacturing company in 1975 in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. McDermott
rapidly became one of the best known brands of cues. They were the first higher
production cue manufacturer to almost exclusively use the 3/8-10 wood to wood
joint. Although he was not the first to use that joint pin, it became so familiar
to the public, that many still refer to the 3/8-10 pin as the “McDermott style”
joint. They moved into their state of the art facilities in 1988 and were among
the first to make the transition
to CNC turning centers, 4-axis rotational milling capabilities, and automated
electro-static UV urethane finish. Jim
introduced many lines of cues through the years. One of the most popular was
the D-Line from the mid 80's. Many of these have already become sought after
by collectors. Jim was always there to help grow the sport. These efforts included
sponsoring players, developing the McDermott National 9-ball Tour, and even
supplying McDermott cues for the movie “The Color of Money” released in 1986.
Jim retired from cuemaking in the mid 90's, but McDermott continues to be one
of the top brands of cues worldwide and still uses many of the same methods
Jim used in the 60's.
Schuler Inducted 2011
a young man Ray mentored with Herman Rambow and although his main occupation
was as an engineer he did cue repairs on the side for years. Then Ray started
making his own cues in 1975. The Schuler cues are most famous for their unique
joint. Ray used a very thin wall short stainless steel joint collar and hollow
brass joint pin in the butt along with an aluminum insert in the shaft. The
hollow pin allowed Ray to glue the pin in with no air pockets. He was very meticulous
to get the pin in his cues very precise in order to be able to interchange the
shafts. He was the first cuemaker to make a major reputation for multiple tapers
and interchangeable shafts. Any standard shaft will fit any standard butt. He
made at least 8 different famous shaft tapers including his version of the pro
taper and unique carom billiards taper. Carom players from all over the world
fell in love with his carom shafts. Ray's love for 3 Cushion Billiards was evident
with the wide support he gave to promote that discipline. He had many of today's
well known cuemakers work in his shop for a time and he hand signed all of his
cues. Ray passed away in 2002 and the Schuler Cue company continues today under
Janes inducted 2012
1968 Dan and good friend Bill Stroud started the Joss Cue Company. The word
Joss means Luck. In 1972 Dan bought Bill out of the business and went into higher
production. Joss rapidly became one of the best known brand of cues. Even in
his earlier years Dan was among only a handful of cuemakers that made his shafts
interchangeable with a standard joint size on his cues. He kept up with the
market trends and developed one of the highest tech shops in the business. He
transitioned from V-groove points and pantograph work into CNC (Computer Numerical
Controlled) machined points and inlays. He pioneered some handle joining techniques
that no other cuemakers were using. You could see his unique finger jointing
method in some of his hustler type of cues. His cues have been considered to
be one of the top brands of cues world wide for decades. Dan has also been a
sponsor of some of the top pro players and has sponsored many tournaments. He
has truly been an ambassador for the cue industry.
Wayne inducted 2012
started building cues in 1979. He has been a craftsman of some sort most of
his life. He has made furniture, guitars, knives, jewelry, skateboards, etc.
Although Thomas was not the first to use CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled)
machinery to build cues, he pushed the CNC machining of inlays to levels that
were unheard of before. He trademarked the term 4-D Inlay, which refers to designs
he can achieve by using 4 axis machining with special programming. His designs
literally wrap around the cue. Many of the designs keep even the most experienced
collectors and cuemakers looking at his cues trying to figure out how he did
it. Some of the designs look like they were impossible to build. Thomas was
also among the first to build a cue in the six figure retail range. Even though
he is famous for his CNC inlay work, he still incorporates V-groove points into
many of his cues. Thomas is known as one of the top CNC experts in Alaska and
is consulted by makers of many other items on how to machine their products.
Thomas was also one of the founding members of the American Cuemakers Association.
When one thinks of Thomas Wayne they should think: Pioneer of CNC cue art at
Schmelke Family inducted 2013
Duard and Richard Schmelke started the Schmelke cue making business in 1947
in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Within a few years Duard took over the Two Piece
cue making operation and ran it as a one man shop until 1969 when his son Jim
joined him. Richard took over the One Piece cue manufacturing and ran it himself
before selling the one piece cuemaking operation to Valley Manufacturing company.
Valley went on to become the best known USA made one piece cue in the industry
the 1980s and 1990s Jim and Judy managed the company while raising a family
of one son and two daughters. Jim was one of the first to use the flat laminated
shafts and introduced several different joint configurations. Their son David
joined the company after college in 1997, and is now general manager. Daughter
Carrie has worked at Schmelke part time since 1994. Her husband, Steve Johnson,
joined the business in 1999, when Steve started making cues with David. Steve
and David share production responsibilities, with Steve also serving as sales
manager. Jim and Judy are now semi-retired. Richard passed away in 1987
and Duard passed away in 1995.
Cues is a third generation family owned and operated business that has gone
from a one-man shop to a manufacturing plant that employs over 20 people year-round
in a 15,000+ square foot manufacturing facility in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. They
are the oldest continual cuemaking company in the USA. Schmelke is known world
wide for building some of the most affordable USA made cues that can be found.
They are also famous for their exotic full splice one and two piece cues. They
never pursued the high end cue market, but stuck with their original business
plan, which was to offer quality affordable cues for the players and they are
still doing that today!
If you have more information on these cuemakers like the date
of birth and date of death or any other interesting information please email
it to us at:
include the source you got the information from such as newspaper, magazine
name, personal experience, website, etc.. If you know of pictures of any of
these gentlemen on the web please send web address. We appreciate any assistance
you might offer.
information on the above cuemakers please see the Blue Book of Pool Cues by
Brad Simpson and the Billiard Encyclopedia by Victor Stein.