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Maker of pool cues from 1969 to 1988 in Penndel, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.
Cues by Gus Szamboti have become among the most sought-after items in the field of cue collecting. A master draftsman and designer for RCA in the late 1960s, he had a passion for pool that began at the age of eight. Gus started repairing cues in 1969, after selling his Harley Davidson to buy his first batch of wood, and using the same year´s tax refund check to buy a lathe and other necessary supplies. By the end of the year, he had made his first cue. This cue was not of the standards of his later cues, and when he saw it again, years later, in a Philadelphia pool room, he purchased it, took it home and destroyed it.
Early on, Gus met and became friends with Doc Fry, a pharmacist who had been making cues for some time in the Philadelphia area. Fry was influential in Gus´s work, and soon Gus was making parts for him. The first ten or twelve cues with points Gus made had blanks that were made by WICO of Chicago. These blanks had four ebony or rosewood points with four colored vinyl veneers. The known examples have forearms of rosewood or bird´s-eye maple. Gus also made a few cues during this period with Titlist blanks which were the only full-spliced cues he ever made. These first cues had ebony or rosewood butt sleeves and, if inlaid, had mother-of-pearl notched diamonds and dots. Very early cues did not have bumpers.
His son, Barry, remembers the night in 1972 when Gus figured out how to make a spliced blank of his own. Gus sent his two sons on several trips to Sears that night to get more tools and equipment. Gus was soon making blanks so well that George Balabushka became his first customer that same year. Balabushka continued to use Szamboti blanks until his death in 1975.
Early Szamboti cues usually had bird´s-eye maple forearms, with ebony butt sleeves and four ebony points, although rosewood was also available instead of ebony. Mother-of-pearl notched diamonds or dots were common inlays, as were maple windows. Most cues had four colored veneers on the points with matching colored stitching in the joint rings, or nickel silver joint rings. In 1976, Gus introduced his "barbell" inlays, which were done in a variety of sizes and materials. Ivory joints were always an option, with the early ones being flat-faced but after 1977, they were all piloted. From the years 1975 to 1977 Gus liked to use two black outer veneers on his cues. These veneers were so well executed that they appear to be one thick black outer veneer. It was after this time that he became much more innovative in his designs, and Gus started using ivory more often in his inlays.
In the late 1970s, he made his first eight-point cue. About 60 of these cues were made, most with ebony points, and one even had veneers. Even more difficult to make were six-point cues, of which he made between 25 and 30. Another rarity was four ebony points on an ebony forearm, of which only about 25 were made. These cues appear to be a solid piece of ebony, with only the veneers revealing the splices. Rare Gus Szamboti cues such as these are among the most valuable cues in the field of cue collecting.
Gus reached his peak in the 1980s. The cues of this time period were the most playable, and the high-end cues were the most elaborate. Propellers, spears, and chain links, all inlaid in ivory, were common themes. By this time, customers had to wait years to receive a cue, and when they got it they could resell it for far more than what they paid. Many customers ordered cues specifically for resale. Gus Szamboti cues were recognized and sought after by players around the world. Since his cues were so popular and so hard to get, some competitors tried to imitate his work. A few even used his blanks to do so.
To this day, the demand for Gus Szamboti cues is so great that buyers are in danger of fakes, frauds, or misrepresentations. On genuine cues, the points will usually come to within 2 1/4 in. of the joint collar and will always be within 3 in. Gus´s points and veneers were perfectly executed with razor-sharp ends. The thickness of the veneers is also a factor, as many of the fakes have thinner ones. Original shafts should always weigh at least four ounces, and since he finished them by hand, they should have minimal taper waves. Original paperwork, and/or an original box, add credibility to a cue being genuine.
Before you buy, be sure to get a money-back guarantee, and have an expert authenticate the cue as soon as possible. Barry Szamboti is the best choice, as he has probably seen and worked on more Gus Szamboti cues than anyone. Barry is also the best choice for restoration or extra shafts. For more information, contact Barry Szamboti, listed in the Trademark Index.

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