The billiard table was originally designed as a diversion for royalty in the Middle Ages, and since has been constantly refined by the modern technology of each era to improve the playing experience. But just how much has the table changed over the centuries? Consider these fun facts:
- One of the earliest recorded billiard tables belonged to Louis XI of France, who reigned from 1461 to 1483. Ordered by the king in 1470, Louis’s table was a simple bed of stone covered with cloth with a hole placed in the middle. This early table looked more like a modern day putting green and was a far cry from the sleek, six pocket version we know today.
- Like Louis XI, billiard players would struggle with rough or uneven playing surfaces until 1826 when English inventor John Thurston realized a slate bed would provide a better experience. This discovery also led to another big change in billiards — sturdier table construction, a must for that heavy slate. Just think, a modern table can weigh in at up to 1,200 pounds. It takes smart construction and incredibly durable materials to bear that weight.
- Instead of today’s cushioned rails, early billiard tables had flat walls bordering the playing surface. Their only function — to keep the balls on the table. Charles Goodyear would change the game forever with his rubber, which industry insiders quickly found made for a consistent, reliable cushion….and the bank shot was born!
The one constant over the centuries, however, is billiard table cloth. Incredibly, it’s changed very little since the 1500s. We use wool as the foundation today, much like the game’s early pioneers, and while we have many cloth color options available, most enthusiasts still pick green — a color that pays homage to the game’s origins as an indoor version of a lawn game similar to croquet.