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SAMPAIO BILLIARD CUES
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SAMPAIO BILLIARD CUES
Maker of pool cues from 1880 to the mid-1970s in Lisbon, Portugal.
Sampaio was founded in Portugal in 1880. A family-owned and operated business run by meticulous old-world craftsmen, the company rose to prominence throughout Europe by the early 1900s. Their expertise was in three-cushion billiard cues and their reputation for quality and playability was well deserved. Their early cues (1880-1930) were on par with anything being made in Europe at the time. Exotic hardwoods gathered from the four corners of the world and quality craftsmanship combined to make the company world-famous by 1940. A wide assortment of designs was offered and, although they primarily made a line of cues, they also offered custom work to their clients. All of their cues were hand-carved and hand-polished rosewood with real mother-of-pearl inlays, and genuine ivory and ebony trim. Shafts were available in a variety of lengths and tapers for the assorted billiard games that were popular at the time. At different periods they were stamped with the "Sampaio" logo. Somewhere along the line, this logo was moved to the forearm and the word "Portugal" remained stamped on the shafts. Early cues featured a wooden pin billiards joint which continued to be popular in European carom players into the 1960s. Most cues had ivory ferrules.
Ben Shimel, the founder and then-owner of J-S Sales, was impressed with the quality of the Sampaio cues and visited the Sampaio family in 1962. A joint venture resulted and a new line of cues meeting American standards were developed. Shimel invested in and guided the redesign from billiard to pool cues as pocket billiards was unknown in Portugal. Pool cues with longer ferrules, pro tapers, brass joints and colorful nylon wraps were added to the line. Both billiard and pool cues were now available and proved to be very successful in America, and the Sampaio family struggled to keep up with the orders pouring in from the U.S. J-S Sales imported up to 60,000 cues annually. Though quite different in appearance from American cues of the time, both lines had solid old-world craftsmanship built into them. Today, the billiard cues are much more popular than the pool cues with collectors because of the hand craftsmanship, exotic hand-carving and use of ivory and mother-of-pearl. Among the Sampaio cues popular with collectors are the carved handle Sampaio cues The Premier, The Zenith, The Astro, The Navarro, The Lisbon, and also The Princess, with its intricate floral design. Sampaio ceased production in the 1970s after over 90 years in business.