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Maker of pool cues from 1947 to 1969 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and currently in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
The Schmelke Manufacturing Company was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1947 by Duard and Richard Schmelke, two brothers who made a living playing pool in the early 1940s. They saw a need for quality cues in the Twin Cities area and began making custom cues in a small shop in their home. By the late 1940s Duard decided to make two-piece cues on his own; it remained a one-man operation until 1969 when his son, Jim, joined him in making billiard cues. (Richard also made one-piece cues on his own, and eventually sold his end of the business to the Valley Manufacturing Co.)
Duard and Jim formed a partnership and began to expand the business, moving it to Sarona in Northwest Wisconsin. A few employees were hired. Jim concentrated on the manufacturing aspect of the business, while the chatty Duard and his wife, Eva, traveled throughout the Midwest selling their cues. They built a network of dealers, many of whom are still customers today. In the early 1980s Duard and Eva retired, with Jim purchasing the business and changing it to a corporation. In the spring of 1995, Duard Schmelke passed on, leaving James and his wife, Judy, to continue the Schmelke cuemaking tradition of high quality at an affordable price. That year the business made another move to a new manufacturing facility in Rice Lake. With the new building came new manufacturing techniques of higher speed. This new speed and efficiency allowed for greater production without compromising the quality craftsmanship of the original product.
Since 1985 the manufacturing facility has expanded three times. Today, Schmelke sells both one- and two-piece billiard cues, cases and accessories throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada. Schmelke Cues has gone from a one-man shop to a manufacturing plant that employs over 20 people year-round in a 15,000+ square foot manufacturing facility. A new state-of-the-art UV finishing system and a complete climate-control system has since been added. Woods are cured for at least a year to guarantee their consistency and stability. Climate-control allows the wood to stay straight and true throughout the manufacturing process. Throughout the process each cue is checked for straightness five times. Through the 1980s and 1990s Jim and Judy managed the company while raising a family of one son and two daughters. Their son David joined the company after college in 1997, and is now general manager. Daughter Carrie has worked at Schmelke part time since 1994. Her husband, Steve Johnson, joined the business in 1999, when Steve started making cues with David. Steve and David share production responsibilities, with Steve also serving as sales manager. Jim and Judy are now semi-retired, and come into the office several times a week. They hope to maintain Schmelke Cues as a family-owned business and continue to provide their customers with the same quality, value, and customer service as Schmelke has done for over 50 years and three generations.
Schmelke cues can be easily identified by the "Schmelke" logo on the butt sleeve, which they started to put on their cues in the early 1980s. Some early cues were sold under the name "True Stroke," and this logo will appear on them. Schmelke´s most identifying feature is their original brass-to-brass joint with a wide 9/16 screw; older cues will have a shorter screw than the 24 thread used on their current cues. Around 1992, three more joint types were designed and offered on all their cue lines. All joints are available with a variety of colors of pearlized rings at a small extra charge. Laminated shafts were used on Schmelke cues as early as the 1970s, and are still offered as an option. Schmelke offers these and other custom options, and can fill most orders within two weeks. The D-Series cues with decals replaced earlier hand-painted cues. The M-Series and S-series were in production for a number of years with slight changes. Other current two-piece cue lines are the T-series and the BW-series of black and white cues.
Schmelke cues are guaranteed against construction defects that are not the result of warpage or abuse. If you have an old Schmelke cue that needs repair, or would like to order a new one, contact Schmelke Manufacturing Inc., listed in the Trademark Index.

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