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Type of decorated billiard cue made predominately in the 1700s and 1800s in Europe.
Marquetry is the art of inlaying various colored woods to form pictures or patterns. Marquetry furniture has been crafted for over 500 years, and the technique has been applied to embellish European billiard cues since at least the 1700s. The word "marquetry" derives from the French "marqueter" meaning "inlaid work." Once an image has been designed, the marqueter selects contrasting colors, wood grains and shapes of veneers to create the composition. These veneers are then cut out, carefully fitted and glued to a base wood. The veneers themselves are generally thin sheets of wood, and sometimes metals.
During the Renaissance, new marquetry techniques were developed and the designs themselves became highly sophisticated, creating landscapes, figures, and other complex scenes, often making full use of architectural perspective. Polychrome marquetry was invented, using natural or stained woods. This new advance in marquetry technique became known as "intarsia" or "tarsia," from the Italian words "intarsiare" (to inlay) and "tarsiare" (an inlay or incrustation). It was Italian marqueters working in southern Germany in the Augsburg region around 1620 who saw the potential of the recently invented fret saw, and who developed the next important marquetry technique: "tarsia a incastro." Tarsia a Incastro is more commonly known as Boulle (or Boule) marquetry, from its association with the work of the French royal cabinet maker Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732). Probably the most famous of all the marqueters and cabinet makers in history, Boulle popularized the use of this technique using predominately brass and tortoiseshell.
Marquetry cues were crafted in Europe for playing billiards, and reached their heyday in the 19th century. They were expensive objects even then, ordered primarily by the nobility for use in their private billiard rooms. In the 1800s a fancy marquetry cue would sometimes be presented to the winner of a tournament as a trophy. Fine antique examples are rare and command many thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars, depending on intricacy, quality, originality, and condition.
A few marquetry and intarsia cues are still being produced today. The Italian pool and billiard cuemaker Longoni makes several models of marquetry cues, and American custom cuemaker Samsara is particularly known for their unique intarsia cues. Richard Black, pfd Studios, and Thomas Wayne are among the contemporary makers who have created cues using intarsia.

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