The True Story of Maybe the Most Collectible Pool Cue Ever
Steven (known as bbantiques at Panjo.com) grew up in Queens Village, New York with a professional pool table in his basement, and it was here where his lifelong love of billiards began. When he was 15 in 1967, Steven procured phony proof to say he was 16 so he could play at Community Cue Billiards, the local pool room two blocks from his house.
Bobbie Brown, a player there, had a second-hand George Balabushka cue, a brown wood cue with no frills and Irish linen wrap. This was the first time that Steven had ever heard of George Balabushka.
While Brown’s cue wasn’t the fanciest, Steven could easily recognize the craftsmanship that went into it. So, in July 1970, Steven called George Balabushka to make an appointment to stop by his home shop, and discuss the prospect of him making a cue especially for him.
Even as the preeminent cue maker at the time, George made his cues in a humble, detached garage behind his home. Hanging on the wall behind his lathe was a large cartoon of a guy midair jumping in the air, with his feet clicking together, and a caption that said “Oh boy! I finally got my Balabushka.”
And, if you were lucky enough to use a genuine George Balabushka cue, you would probably be jumping for joy, too.
Balabushka was, and still is, widely regarded as the greatest pool cue craftsman of all time. Considered to be “the Stradivarius of cuemakers,” Balabushka’s cues were used by billiards legends including Willie Mosconi and Ronnie “Fast Eddie” Allen, and were famously featured in the films The Hustler and The Color of Money.
When Steven went to George’s shop in late 1970, Steven told George that he had wanted a very fancy black ebony cue with lots of detail and his name in the cue. Not exactly a unique request, George showed him a large photo album of his finest and most expensive cues made for professional players.
Back then, George made custom cues for all of the best professional players. However, despite being a young, amateur billiards player, George told Steven could make him a fancy cue for $125.
However, even though George showed Steven some of his finest designs, Steven wanted something more than what he showed him.
Steven asked George if he could create a custom cue made up of several of his different designs. George initially balked at the idea, saying he had never made such a fancy cue before. But, Steven insisted, and George finally relented, saying it would cost $200. Despite the hefty price tag (the equivalent of $1,250 today), Steven agreed to the price, and was already excited to use his new custom-made cue.
Little did he know that George had a one year waiting list for a cue.
But, when he finally did receive it, Steven was thrilled.
With a race track plate in the butt with Steven’s name in it, and a very rare A joint, Burton Spain foreman, and the mystery gold foil ring, Steven’s cutom cue was the envy of everyone at his pool hall. However, it was almost too nice to use. Steven logged just three years of limited play with this cue, and he is even selling an original shaft that was never used.
This beautiful, one-of-a-kind cue is up for sale on Panjo.com.