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BURTON SPAIN Pool Cues

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BURTON SPAIN
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BURTON SPAIN
Maker of pool cues from 1965 to 1994 in Chicago, Illinois.
Burton Spain was a Chicago native who enjoyed pool and billiard games. In 1964, at the age of 24, he began playing at Howard-Paulina Billiards in the city. It was there that he met and became friends with Craig Petersen, who was making cues at the age of 18. At Craig´s shop, early in 1965, Burton saw a Titlist forearm that was split down the middle, and became fascinated in the construction of the splice. He could see how it was made, and convinced himself that he too could splice woods. Burton started going to a public woodworking shop at a Chicago park every evening, and, before long, he made his first four-point spliced blank. He kept turning it down, trying to make it perfect. When he was done, he had a blank that was thinner than a shaft, and only thirteen inches long. But he knew he could master blank making.
On June 1, 1965, he rented a storefront in Chicago and set out to make cues. Very soon, he was making blanks for his cues that were superior to what was available from Brunswick. At this time, some custom cuemakers did not make their own spliced blanks. They purchased them from Brunswick. When "Tex" Fitzgerald and "Whitey" Stovall, of Ace Cue Service in Chicago, saw that Burton was making his own high-quality blanks, they wanted to buy them. Burton had intended to use them only in his own cues, so he did not know what to say. Soon afterwards, Tex went down to the Jansco Jamboree tournament in Johnson City where he told some cuemakers about what Burton was doing. Soon there was demand for Spain spliced blanks. As a result, Burton began selling blanks to some of the top cuemakers of the time, including Frank Paradise, Gordon Hart, Craig Petersen, and George Balabushka.
In June of 1970, Burton had the opportunity to buy and restore some gray stone row houses in one of the better neighborhoods in Chicago. He sold his equipment to John Davis, a tool and die maker who had been helping him for a few years. John moved the business to a building that he owned on Division Street in Chicago. In 1974, Burton returned as a partner, and bought the business and building a couple of years later. Burton kept his shop at this location until the end of his career.
Burton had experimented with several joint designs for his own cues over the years, and in 1977, he found one with which he adopted for good. Although cues made before 1977 may feature a variety of joints, Burton Spain cues made after this time have a unique joint with the screw in the shaft.
In the late 1970s, Burton called Craig Petersen, who had been living in California for several years, and convinced him to come back to Chicago to help him. Craig worked off and on for Burton for the next several years. Through the late 1970s to mid-1980s, Burton continued to make blanks for other cuemakers, along with making cues of his own. In 1987, Burton stopped all cue work, except for servicing cues that he had already made, and went to school to learn computer programming. Burton finished school in 1988, and although he quickly discovered that he did not like computer programming, he was unable to return to serious cue work until 1991.
When he finally returned to cuemaking, he set out to make full-spliced blanks that were to his satisfaction. Although his early blanks featured a full splice, they were not long enough to continue all the way into the butt sleeve. This was because the ebony in the points and lower piece of the blank was too heavy and too expensive. Burton solved this problem in 1992 with an ingenious full-spliced blank featuring ebony points that were spliced onto maple for the handle area. For blanks with points lighter than ebony, the lower splice simply continued to the butt sleeve. Burton Spain was truly a gifted cuemaker, in fact he has been called a cuemaker´s cuemaker in the industry. Burton was inducted into the ACA Cuemakers Hall of Fame in 1993 and into the International Cuemakers Association Hall of Fame in 2005. Building cues, however, was not Burton´s only gift. Burton had a very high IQ and was a member of Mensa and the ISPE (International Society of Philosophical Enquiry). To be a member of ISPE your IQ must must into the top 1% of the population. In 1982 durning a mid-month meeting of Mensa, Burton gave a speech titled "Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Billiard Cues And Were Afraid I´d Tell You" The following is the text of that speech:
When I was a teenager, one of my haunts was Sheridan Recreation, a bowling alley and pool hall in the heart of Uptown - sleazy, down-and-out Uptown. Back in 1920 or so, when the building was new, it had been called Leffingwell´s and it had been large and rather grand. In the late 1950s, it was still large, but time had eroded much of the grandeur. To give you an idea: the billiard rooms were on the third floor and entered by a staircase that came from the st


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