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RICHARD BLACK CUSTOM CRAFTED CUES Pool Cues

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RICHARD BLACK CUSTOM CRAFTED CUES
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RICHARD BLACK CUSTOM CRAFTED CUES
Maker of pool cues from 1974 to present in Humble, Texas.
In the early seventies, Richard Black was one of the more successful stockbrokers in the Houston area. He was also a fan of billiards. In his home, he regularly held black-tie pool tournaments for his business associates. These tournaments became so well-known that a story, "The Fanciest Game in Town," was written in Texas Magazine, and a picture from one of the tournaments was featured on the cover. At one of these tournaments, Richard gave away a Joss Cue, made by Dan Janes. Richard was so fascinated with the artistry of this cue that he decided to try to make one himself. That was 1974. This first attempt was not up to Richard´s personal standards, but his persistence would not let him quit until he could make a cue of which he was proud.
By 1976, he loved cuemaking so much that he decided to give up stockbrokering to pursue making cues full-time. Although Richard is self-taught, he has been inspired by the work of the late George Balabushka. Richard´s cues are the same length, same taper, and most have used the same joint screw as Balabushka cues. The exceptions were made from 1980 to 1983, when Richard used a 5/16-18 joint screw. Other changes in Richard Black cues include the following. Cues made before 1980 were not signed, but had these characteristics: the first cues made in 1975 were four-point, four veneer cues with flat-faced, stainless steel joints. These cues had a maple band in the joint rings with four ebony checks. In 1976, the same rings were used, but the joint was changed to the piloted type that Richard has used ever since. In 1977, the number of ebony checks in the joint rings was increased to six. In 1980, this number was increased again to eight. In mid-1983, Richard went back to the 5/16-14 joint pin and started using the nickel silver joint rings that have appeared on most Richard Black cues made since. Richard has also made joints of ivory (piloted and flat faced), brass, micarta, water buffalo horn, and phenolic. He has also used 3/8-10 and a few 3/8-8 joint screws. One of the unique features on a Richard Black cue is the tip. He has them custom made and they are not offered for sale (he will only put them on the cues he makes).
Since most of the early cues were not signed, sometimes identification of these cues can be difficult. With Balabushka dimensions, many having Szamboti blanks, some of these cues have been misrepresented as Balabushkas by unscrupulous individuals. The fact that some of these cues were purchased as Balabushkas by fairly knowledgeable collectors is a testament to the quality of Richard´s work. If there is doubt, Richard is the best person to contact, as he can identify all of his early cues. Almost all Richard Black cues have been signed on the forearm since 1980. If Richard knew that he was custom-making a cue for a specific individual, he would sign the cue and also include the date that the cue was finished on the forearm. If he knew or sensed that the cue was being purchased for resale, he would sign the cue but not date it. Of course, he was not always correct in his assessment of the situation, so this rule does not hold true 100% of the time.
Richard has been one of the more creative cuemakers of our time. He has made some limited edition cues which are of special interest to collectors. Among these were the "Helmet" cues, which were identified by an ivory helmet, like the one in his former logo, inlaid in the butt sleeve. These were all four-point cues made in the early nineties. There was also the 20th Anniversary Cue, of which 20 were made in 1994, featuring an ebony butt heavily decorated with ivory and sterling silver. The "Pinnacle" limited edition cue was made from 1983 to 1990 with 39 being made. In early 1996, Richard started to date and add a serial number to all one-of-a kind-cues and cues over $2,500. A four-digit number appears on the joint screw, the butt screw, and under the wrap of these cues. The first two digits represent the year of completion, and the last two digits are the number of the cue. Richard was one of five custom cuemakers who designed cues for Joss Cues´ (Dan Janes) 1998 "Collector Series" cues. In 1999 on Richard´s 25th anniversary of cuemaking he celebrated by making twenty-five 25th Anniversary Cues.
He refers to cues as "functional art," which may be the most appropriate term for what he makes. Richard has won awards, including "Best of Show" for his "Ambassador" cue at the 1993 American Cuemakers Association Show. His cues have received quite a bit of publicity. For example, the cue "Ewa Mataya" held on the cover of the New York Times Magazine was a Black cue. Richard is one of ten cue makers who have donated a cue to the National Museum of American History-Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. at the curator´s request. Richard´s "El Bla


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