Billiard & Snooker Balls
Ivory balls replaced wooden ones in the early 1800s but by the
1880s about 12,000 elephants a year (mostly female) were being
killed to supply Britain with billiard balls. By 1890 artificial
balls, invented by an American, began to be available in Britain.
Ivories were last used in professional games in 1928, though they
are still sometimes used in "artistic billiards" played in Europe.
Snooker, invented in 1875, became popular after 1900 mainly because
it became cheaper to buy full sets of artificial balls. By the late
1930's it had outstripped the older game of billiards in popularity
The museum has many set of ivories including a magnificent box of
billiard, pyramids, and life pool balls. Note that life pool and
pyramids, were killed off in Britain by snooker. Modern pool is an
imported version of the American 8-ball game.
Billiard, Life Pool &
Pyramid set of Balls
A consignment of Ivory Billiard
© Norman Clare 1990; ©E.A. Clare & Son
Ltd. 2015; ©Peter N. Clare
©Reproduction of this article allowed only with the permission
from E.A. Clare & Son Ltd.