image from: First Five Years of Chalk Up - AE Schmidt 1966

News: Dec. 7, 1935  Andrew Ponzi Files Lawsuit Over Championship Billiard Match
Andrew (Ponzi) D'allesandro refused his invitation to the December championship match
because the National Billiard Association refused to pay him a $1000 bonus for time spent away
from his billiard hall. Ponzi then tried to stop the match from taking place with a lawsuit.
It didnt work, the suit was denied.

Way Back When:  Billiard Tables Evolve Into Pin-Ball Machines
In the 19th century, one of the more popular billiard-table-derived skill games was known as
Bagatelle. The object of the game was (instead of playing an opponent)  to use your cue to shoot
balls into various designated scoring holes.
Bagatelle and other similar games were eventually made in smaller "table-top" sizes to save
space. And to eliminate the need to bring your own cue the games were modified to include a
built-in spring loaded "ball shooter" or launching device. A gentlemen by the name of
was a pioneer in this area with his very pin-ball-like bagatelle game patented in 1871.
Left: Redgrave's bagatelle "pinball" game   Right: The patent for his game


Patent #1,826,538  Oct 6, 1931   Walter Wallaston assignor to Brunswick
A mold to create billiard balls with numbers.

In 1931 Al Capone was indicted for income tax evasion for the years 1925-29. He was also
charged with the misdemeanor of failing to file tax returns for the years 1928 and 1929. The
government charged that Capone owed $215,080.48 in taxes from his gambling profits. A third
indictment was added, charging Capone with conspiracy to violate Prohibition laws from 1922-31.
Capone leaving court during his 1931 trial for tax evasion. (CHS DN-96927)

Brunswick Harrison — 1931 to 1933
Brunswick Commander, Commander B, V — 1934 to 1946
Designed by Paul C. Perrin
See the patent here.


News:  April 24  Schaefer Jr. Beats Hoppe
And sets a new high run record. His victory is short lived.

News: April 30 Hoppe Beats Schaefer Jr. For Title

May 1-7 Greenleaf defends title against Ponzi (p.23)

Patent # 2,008,613   July 21, 1933   Frank Hernes
A billiard table that converts to a dining table.

Patent # 1,933,917  Nov. 7, 1933  Jesse O. Matteson assignor Brunswick
An "outdoor" billiard table.

The Chicago World Exposition "A Century of Progress" 1933 & 34
A Century of Progress International Exposition was held to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Chicago. Its theme was to "
attempt to demonstrate
to an international audience the nature and significance of scientific discoveries, the methods of
achieving them, and the changes which their application has wrought in industry and in living
. "  See a map of the event grounds here.  Read the visitor brochures here

The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co. participated in the event with an exhibition of their wares
and craftsmanship. They also produced several informative brochures for visitors, one of which
can be read below:  
Courtesy University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center.

News:  Top 10 at 18.2, 3-Cushion, and Pocket Cue announced - Champions head list...

Ralph Greenleaf is placed first in pocket billiards, Johnny Layton first in 3-cushion and Jake
Schaefer [Jr.]
first in 18.2 balkline, according to the rating list just announced by the ranking
committee of the
National Billiard Association of America.

These selections should occasion no surprise, as the three are at present the champions of the
world in their respective divisions. However, in 3-cushion the unexpected is found, for three
balkline players are placed among the first 10. Willie Hoppe is placed at number 2, Welker
Cochran at number 6, and Schaefer at number 8.

Hoppe has been dropped to number 5 at balkline and barely managed to escape 7th position.
He has failed to compete in either of the last world's 3-cushion or pocket billiard tournaments, but
the ranking committee rated him on past performances and felt that no list would be complete
unless Hoppe was assigned a position. The ratings for the three divisions follow:

18.2 Balkline
1. Jake Schaefer, San Francisco
2. Welker Cochran, New York
3. Edouard Horemans, Belgium
4. Eric Hagenlacher, Germany
5. Willie Hoppe, New York
6. Roger Conti, France
7. Kinrey Matsuyama, Japan
8. Felix Grange, France
9. Edmond Derbier, France
10. David McAndless, Chicago
Honorable mention - Tadao Suganuma, Kamekichi Suzuki, Koji Yamada, Japan; Ary Bos,
Holland; Ora Morningstar, San Diego

Three Cushion
1. Johnny Layton, Sedalia MO
2. Willie Hoppe, New York
3. Otto Reiselt, Philadelphia
4. Allen K Hall, Chicago
5. Augie Kieckhefer, Chicago
6. Welker Cochran, New York
7. Gus Copulos, Detroit
8. Jake Schaefer, San Francisco
9. Tiff Denton, Kansas City
10. Earl Lookabaugh, Chicago
Honorable mention -Art Thurnblad, Len Kenney and Joseph Moriarty of Chicago; Charles E.
Jordan, Los Angeles; Alfredo de Oro, New York; Walter Riley, Philadelphia

Pocket Billiards
1. Ralph Greenleaf, New York
2. Frank Taberski, Schenectady
3. Edwin Rudolph, Chicago
4. Onofrio Lauri, Brooklyn
5. Pasquale Natalie, Detroit
6. Charles Seaback, Boston
7. Arthur Woods, Pawtucket R.I.
8. Andrew Ponzi, Philadelphia
9. Marcel Camp, Detroit
10. Spencer Livsey, Los Angeles
Honorable mention - Charles Harmon, NewYork; Charles (Cowboy) Weston, Chicago; Larry
Stoutenburgh, Buffalo; Andrew St Jean, Minneapolis; James Maturo and Joseph Concannon,
Brooklyn; Harry Oswald, Pittsburgh

Published April 13, 1930 in the NY Times

News:  Champion George B. Sutton died.
Worried himself to death over his sick wife. See Also: Living Links

News:  Schaefer Jr. prefers Balkline games  over 3-Cushion


News: Jan 12  Hoppe Beats Cochran for World 3Cush Title

Patent #98,533   Feb. 11, 1936  William Lescaze assignor to Brunswick
design for a pocket billiard table

News:   Sept 12, 1936    Billiard Great Kieckhefer Dies
Left handed, one-eyed world title holder and Chicago billiard room owner.

Berlin Hosts the Olympic Games
" For two weeks in August 1936, Adolf Hitler's Nazi dictatorship camouflaged its racist,
militaristic character while hosting the Summer Olympics."
Dec. 4th     National 14.1 Tournament - Chicago   (See also image below)
Mosconi came so close....
10 players, round robin, 125 point matches. This was Willie Mosconi's first World Tournament
appearance. But Willie didn't do so hot. In his first match against
Erwin Rudolph, he lost 124 to
125. Little did he know then, how much that one ball would mean later on in the tournament.
Willie ended up in a 4-way tie for second place, with 6 wins and 3 losses. Had he made
more ball
against Rudolph, he would have won the whole thing.
More details from the match can be read here. (page 31)

(Dec. 5, 1933)
You'd think that all the celebrating would have been a little distracting.
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Copyright © Chicago Billiard Museum. All Rights Reserved
Brunswick Randolph — 1930 to 1935

Chicago Population: 3,376,438  (as large or larger than year 2000)

Click here for Pocket Billiard scores and records from 1930-1940

Click Here for 3-cushion scores and records from 1930-2010

Click here to see maps of Chicago in the 1930s

The 1930s were a stressful time of significant change in America
The Great Depression was taking it's toll. Organized crime,
unemployment and poverty were running rampant. Not even the
weather seemed to cooperate. Long gone was the luxurious Victorian
era. Long gone were the 'roaring' twenties and indulgent spending.
The nation took on a whole new attitude about money - and as many
of you with living grandparents can attest -
frugality was to become
burned into the minds of an entire generation.   

The economic depression changed industry and cultural trends as
well. Almost overnight America's products and apparel became
distinctly more modern. And the new drive for efficiency quickly  
ushered in 'streamlined' factory processes with cheaper, stronger
materials. Plastics and laminates were found in and on products
never conceived of before. And for the first time in history, people found
themselves concerned about a former refinery waste product called

Even the foods we ate changed dramatically, with the invention of
frozen vegetables. The entertainment industry was changing also, with
the advent of movie theaters and television, and with radios going
from costing about $130.00 - to about $7.00.
(So important was public radio at the time, that the 1930 federal
census included a question as to whether or not you owned one. )

But one of the things that changed the most, was the way that
Americans spent their free time. Prior to 1930, billiard rooms in
Chicago (and in most major cities) could be found in great numbers,
in every neighborhood across town. Sadly though, the depression was
to become the beginning of the end of a
Golden Era of billiards and
pool. Public rooms began closing by the dozen and it seemed that
public popularity diminished more every year.

The average economically depressed "Joe" needed to make ends
meet, he didn't have time nor money to play pool. But if he did, he
might now be
more interested in going to the fancy new movie theater,
or to a baseball game out in the sunshine. And perhaps, instead of a
pool table, Joe might want one of those fancy new televisions, or a
phonograph, or maybe even a new automobile.

The times they were a changin'...
Below is a set of national statistics on the billiard and bowling industry
that illustrate the harsh reality of the "billiard crash" in America. In just
two short years, billiard industry revenues and employee numbers
were literally cut in half. (if not more) Millions of dollars were lost, and
public billiards has never recovered.
Excerpt from: Biennial Census of Manufacturers 1931 U.S. Dept of Commerce
The Brunswick " Wabash"  - 1932 to 1934
A rare and interesting table designed for Brunswick by Jesse O. Matteson covered with green
and silver foil embossing. Looking for photos.
Click here to see the patent for it.
~ 1930 continued below ~
During and immediately following the Great Depression era, coin operated bagatelle games
(under glass) began popping up all over the country. By 1932 the term "Pin-Ball" was a well
known phrase. By 1938 electric features such as bells, bumpers and lit-up score boards were
standard additions - and the modern pin-ball machine was born.

Pre-electric coin-op models shown below: Left: 1931 Center: 1932  Right: 1934  
Electric model circa 1939

Fancy Billiard Shots by fancy shot world champion Charles Peterson
Article appeared in Popular Mechanics Nov., 1935. Click image to read more.
" With the conclusion of the Games, Germany's expansionist policies and the persecution of
Jews and other "enemies of the state" accelerated, culminating in World War II and the
source: USMHM. image from: NARA



CBS Radio Jan. 13, 1937  "The Father of Plastics "
The weekly program Calvacade of America featured a skit portraying John Hyatt's discovery of
modern plastics while trying to invent a substitute for ivory billiard balls. Courtesy
please note: the recording was edited to remove 3 minutes of music before the skit. Run time: 27:00 minutes

News:  Nov 12   Ponzi Defeats Greenleaf, Caras Knocked Out Mosconi

News: Dec 4  Hoppe Sets Record Against Schaefer in 17.2 Match

The Brunswick Enterprise, Enterprise V  -  1937


News: Jan 9, 1938  Cochran Vs Hoppe Vs RJ Reynolds

Patent #113,972   March 28,1939   William C. Lawson assignor to Brunswick
design for a billiard table. See image below.

News: May 16, 1938  Handless Billiard Marvel George H. Sutton Died

Patent #110,083   June 14, 1938   Donald Deskey assignor to Brunswick
design for a billiard table

Brunswick Challenger, Challenger V — 1938 to 1946
Designed by William C. Lawson of Evanston, IL
See the patent here.

WW II Has Begun

News:  4 Year Recreation Survey of Chicago's South Side
215 Billiard Halls with 996 tables

News: Nov 12  Caras Defeats Ponzi for World Title

Below:  The Brunswick Streamliner — 1939 to 1941
Designed by Paul C. Perrin. A new line of tables utilizing wood laminates for the first time.
See the patent here.
The Brunswick Moderne — 1937 to 1946
The Brunswick Liberty, Liberty V — 1938 to 1946
The Brunswick Metropolitan — 1938 to 1940
The Brunswick Twentieth Century — 1937 to 1942
Below:  1939 Statistical Abstract - Places of Amusement -Summary, By Kind of Business
Just under 13,000 billiard halls in the U.S.  source: Bureau of Census


Brunswick Exposition — 1934 to 1940
Designed by Donald Deskey and won international awards.
See the patent here.

Jan. 8th - Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi
You should see his billiard room.

Book:  Code of Fair Competition for the Bowling and Billiard Industry & Trade.
Printed as a result of the 'great depression', by the National Recovery Administration. It was
intended to eliminate blatantly unfair and/or ruthless business tactics in the economically
depressed and
highly competitive billiard and bowling industry.

Patent # 1,215,215  Sept. 28, 1935  Jesse O. Matteson assignor Brunswick
Combination billiard and table-tennis without real slate.

Below:  1935  3-Cushion Championship - Chicago
The Chicago pinball-machine companies Gottlieb, Bally and Williams dominated the market for
almost thirty years. But pinball's new-found popularity also brought forth the question:
is it
gambling, or is it entertainment
? Many states such as New York looked at it as gambling and
banned pinball games in 1947. They were never banned in Illinois.

How To Play Billiards by Willie Hoppe. Also featuring Ruth McGinnis and Charles Peterson
Article appeared in Popular Mechanics Sept., 1935. Click image to read more.
Willie Hoppe and entertainer Fred Waring enjoying the challenge of an oval table.
Photo appeared in Popular Science Nov., 1939. Click image to see whole issue.
Below:  Angling for Better Billiards - By Charles C. Peterson
Article appeared in Popular Mechanics Nov.,1939. Click image to read more.