JOSS CUES LTD.
Maker of pool cues from 1968 to present in Towson, Maryland.
Dan Janes was running one of the top pool halls in Baltimore, Maryland in the mid-1960s. When road players came to Baltimore, he was the man to see to set up games. One of these road players was Bill Stroud. The two became friends, and before long, the two were on the road together. They spent three years traveling the country during warm weather seasons playing pool and selling cues. They found that good cues were very easy to sell, but very hard to come by. They believed that George Balabushka made the best playing cues, and he could not make them fast enough to keep up with the demand. Dan and Bill knew that there was an open market for great playing cues, and as players, they thought they were best suited to make them.
Tired of life on the road, in 1968, Dan and Bill set up shop in a two-car garage in Baltimore, Maryland. The two visited George Balabushka to try to learn how he was making cues, but he would not tell or show them anything, so they visited a few cuemakers in Chicago to learn some basics. With a manual lathe, a butcher shop band saw, a drill press, and a work bench, they set out to make cues that were better than what they had previously been playing with.
Although the first cue they made ended up in the trash, they sold the second one at a profit. Soon they were hand engraving the word "Joss" on the Delrin butt caps of the cues. The first one was for Ronnie Allen. They chose the word Joss from an oriental term that loosely translates to luck. It can mean good or bad fortune, depending on the individual.
Since their road experience introduced them to the best players in the country, they had a large market for cues. Soon these players were using Joss cues, and they quickly became known as one of the most popular player´s cues of that time. Early Joss cues from that time period have become very desirable to collectors. They will have a very distinctive hand-carved Joss logo on Delrin or Implex butt caps, and will usually have a 5/16 in. joint screw, although they experimented with several other screws, settling on the 5/16 in. very late in their partnership.
The two worked together until 1972, when Dan bought out Bill´s end of the company, and Bill began making his own cues under the name Joss West in Aspen, Colorado. Right after Bill left, Dan sent out pictures of his cues to all past Joss customers. The result was more orders than he could handle by himself. So, he called his friend, Tim Scruggs, who had worked for three months at Joss around 1970, and offered him a permanent full-time position. Immediately, they began filling the new orders.
Believing that a logo was an unnecessary, time-consuming cosmetic detail, Dan did not put any on these cues in an effort to complete these orders more quickly. Once these orders were completed, in 1973, Dan returned to hand engraving the word Joss on all cues as a result of customer demand. But the lettering would look different than on the early cues. The new lettering was more of a straight up and down block type which would continue to become more uniform over the next ten or so years. Some experimentation was done with logo markings during these years, and some cues will be seen with the Joss logo stamped into the butt cap, or signed with a pen or pencil.
Tim continued to work full-time at Joss until 1978, when he left to make cues on his own. In the summer of 1979, Dan´s son, Stephen, began working for Joss cues full time. Mike Sigel also spent some time at Joss, when he was not playing in tournaments.
In the early 1980s, Joss cues saw some major construction changes. During this time, pantographed points replaced the short splice used on forearms. In 1981, Dan stopped using lacquer finish, in favor of a superior UV polyurethane. Later, Dan developed a finger joint as a means of attaching the forearm to the handle. This eliminated the potential for a rattle to develop from the screw which would otherwise be there. In 1983, Dan stopped engraving the Joss logo (which by then was very uniform) on the butt caps, and put the logo on the black joint collar rings on the butts. In 1986, Dan experimented with butt cap materials to replace Delrin, settling on cyro that same year. This was also the year that Joss provided the cues for the film "The Color of Money," including the "Balabushka," which was actually a standard model Joss that displayed the typical Balabushka style. In 1989, Dan trademarked the name "Aegis" for a new synthetic that has been used on Joss ferrules since. By the mid-1990s, a more stylized Joss logo was appearing on the butt cap. In 1995, the current logo appeared. It features the front of a cue within a bridge hand between "JOSS CUES" in a circular pattern above and below. In 1998, they started embossing a serial number into the joint of each cue that is randomly generated by a cu
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