Company Name: John B. Butzbach

Primary Business: Billiard table sales and repair etc.
Business Address:  44 Peterson (1892)
Home address: 44 Peterson

Notes: John Butzbach was born in Germany in 1839. He grew up there
and eventually married his wife Charlotte, who was a year younger than
himself. On June 21st 1870 John, Charlotte and two children arrived in
New York aboard the ship
Shakespeare. See the ships' passenger list
clicking here. (John is the second person listed) You'll also notice
that Chicago is already listed as their destination

By 1875 John had gained official citizenship and by 1888 he was a
registered voter in Chicago. By 1892 he had opened a billiard shop,
which lasted until at least 1900, but John was getting older and the
competition was fierce. (and the market was flooded) Butzbach was
forced out of the billiard business by either age or expense within a few
years time.

Company Logo: N/A !    

Company Name: John D. Freese & Sons

Primary Business: Billiard game table sales and repair. Freese's
"Klondike" tables, beer coolers, various inventions.
Business Address: 1013 N. Campbell Ave.  (1900)
Home address: 279 Cortland (1900)

Notes: We know that John D. Freese was a prolific inventor. He filed
patents for a number of different things around the turn of the century,
including his game table, an ice skate design (1891), a special
packing blanket design(1907), a hand cranked vegetable slicer(1887),
a beer dispenser(1899), and a window blind (1882).

But unfortunately, we haven't been able to find much more on Mr.
Freese so far. It is assumed that he probably wasn't in a billiard related
business for very long.  John died in 1914.

Patent # 33,315  Oct 2, 1900    J.D. Freese    Game Table

Patent # 628,084   July 4th 1899   Beer Dispenser / pipe cleaner.

Company Logo: N/A

Company Name: Kieckhefer Mfg Co.
Kieckhefer Recreation Co.

Primary Business: Billiard table sales+ accessories and supplies etc.
Business Address: Rec Rooms: 20 E. Randolph  (1923)  1211-15 N. Clark (1928)
Mfg Co:  1948 Ogden (1923)   1900-02 S. Washtenaw Ave. (1928)
2100-02  S. Kedzie Ave. (1952)

Telephone: Dearborn 5614 (1923)    Rockwell 2687 (1928)

Home address: 516 34th St. (1920)  7746 Euclid  (1930)

Notes: August "Augie" Kieckhefer was born in Wisconsin on the longest day of the
year, June 21, 1889. He was the 4th son of nine kids altogether: Arthur Henry, Edwin,
August, Anne, Meta, Hilda, Norma and Emma. Augie's father August Sr. made good
money in the elevator business, his mother Anne had her hands full at the house.

As he grew up, it turns out that Augie did everything right-handed, except play billiards,
which he did
very well with his left. And, ironically enough, it is also believed that his
left eye hardly functioned at all. Nonetheless, when a billiard table was installed in
their home, young Augie soon became the family champion. But he didn't stop there...

With his parent's permission, and barely old enough to shave, Augie went out and
played against the locals and won. So he played against the not-so-locals, and won.
Soon he was playing at both 3-cushion tournaments and pocket billiard tournaments,
almost as if he couldn't decide which type of game he liked better...

But Augie finally found his groove, it was going to be
And he also found a wife. On June 17, 1916 Augie married Genevieve Victoria White, a
beautiful young lady known for her work on stage and in cabarets.

Generally speaking, life was pretty good for Augie but it was about to get much better.
As predicted by
Billiards Magazine in January 1918, August Kieckhefer went on a
winning streak that broke multiple world records and landed him not one but TEN
3cushion world titles. An amazing accomplishment by anyone's standards.

And like any typical sports hero would do, Augie rode his wave of fame and opened a
couple of billiard recreation rooms around town. In 1921 he partnered with room
owner and cue tip inventor
Steve Nemecek to create Kieckhefer Mfg Co., a billiard
table retailer and accessory company which lasted until 1976, when the company's
assets were purchased by the
Tweeten Fibre Co.

See also: Tweeten Fibre Co. on this page.

Sadly, August Kieckhefer died at the moderate age of 47 on Friday September 11th,
1936 due to a blood clot in his brain.

Company Logo: See images below

Kieckhefer Beats DeOro Wins World 3Cushion Title - Billiards Magazine March, 1918.
Courtesy Charles Ursitti Collection

Below Left: 1918 photo of Kieckhefer shooting.
SDN-061343 Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.
Below Right: Kieckhefer on the cover of Billiards Magazine, Jan 1918.
Courtesy Charles Ursitti Collection

Company Name: Joseph L. Fowler
J.L. Fowler Co.  J.M. Fowler & Co.

Primary Business: Billiard table sales and repair etc.
Business Address: 672 (627?) W. Vanburen (1900)   1812 W. Lake (1910)
J.M. Fowler & Co. - 1134 W. Lake (1910)  1731 Madison (1923)

Telephone: West  917 (1910)

Home address: 677 Monroe (1900)   Joseph Jr. 166 N. Clark (1910)
(167 Main St. Lockport, NY 1880)

Notes: Joseph was born in January of 1828 in New York. He grew up there and  
eventually married a young lady by the name of Mary from Michigan. Mary and Joseph
had two daughters and two sons: Mary, Rosalie, Joseph and Lincoln. (Lincoln could
be a misspelling of his real name)

Mr. Fowler and family moved to Chicago some time in the late 1880s or early 1890s
and proceeded to open a billiard table shop. With his son's help, Joseph's family
business did well enough to open a second location by 1910.

Unfortunately, Joseph (Sr) died April 6th, 1910 and things slowly went downhill from
there. The Fowler business was bought out by the Finklesteins'
National Billiard
shortly thereafter.

*Joseph Fowler (Sr.) was in fact experienced with wood, from back in NY. But we still
haven't found enough evidence (yet) to determine whether or not he actually produced
his own billiard tables.

Company Logo: Below nameplates courtesy R. Montgomery
( National Billiard Supply bought out JM Fowler)

Company Name: Leo Brederlow

Primary Business: Billiard table sales & repair etc
Business Address: 224 W. Division  (1910)

Home address:  334 Larrabee (1900)  224 W. Division (1910)

Notes: Leo Brederlow was born in May of 1869 in Germany, where he also grew up.
As a single man he immigrated to America in 1892 and made his way to Chicago.

Leo was employed as a music teacher for a while (@1900) but by 1910 he was in the
business of billiard tables. It was a curious change of career. What exactly might
cause a person to switch from music, to carpentry?

As it turns out, Leo's change of heart probably had something to do with his neighbors
at the time. The "apartment " building that Leo had moved into was basically full of
German craftsmen, including carpenters and cabinet makers, but one neighbor in
particular may have given him the final push...  

Back before the existence of Chicago cue masters like Burton Spain and Herman
Rambow, there was *Fritz Hampel, the 30 year veteran cue maker. And he lived right
next door to Leo.

Fresh off the boat and probably looking for better money than teaching music had to
offer, Leo apparently liked the prospect of working on billiard tables, so he opened up
a shop and let the wood chips fly.

However, that is where our story ends for Leo. Apparently his business didn't last very
long and he may even have died. Records of him and his business abruptly cease to
exist after 1910. Hopefully, further research will help us find out what exactly happened
to Mr. Brederlow.

Company Logo: N/A

*Cue maker Fritz Hampel died Oct. 20, 1924 in Chicago

Company Name: Laner Billiards Inc.
Sydney Laner & Co.

Primary Business: Billiard table sales, repair + accessories. (previously also bowling
alleys and related supplies)

Business Address:  160 W. Lake (1923) 219-221 W. Lake (1926)
310 W. Randolph (1928) 323 W. Randolph, 5315 N. Lincoln, 2306 Main, Evanston IL,  
3716 Dempster, Skokie IL (also Detroit location)

Home address: Sydney: 705 47th St. (1910) 4852 N. Ridgeway (1931)  
6112 N. Mozart Ave. (1941)

Notes:  Sydney Laner was born January 5th, 1901 in Montreal, Canada. He moved to
Chicago in March of 1908 with his parents Samuel and Ester, who were originally  
born in Austria. Samuel was a tailor and ran his own shop. Sydney was the oldest of
five children; Sydney, Jacob, Bertha, Arthur and Lillian.

After working for both another billiard supplier and Sears Roebuck, Sydney Laner
established his own company in 1918 - and the Laner family has been a permanent
fixture in the Chicago billiard and pool industry ever since....

  • Founded the Billiard & Bowling Institute of America
  • Acquired Marvel Billiard & Bowling Supply
  • Acquired assets of Keefe & Hamer and the right to commercially use Herman Rambow's
  • Owned General Billiard & Bowling supply

Sydney died September 18th, 1978 but his son, Mr. Stan Laner, was still very much a
part of the company up until 2010 when the company closed it's doors for good.

Company Logo: see table nameplate below.  Courtesy Joe Newell collection

Below: Portrait and a short bio of Sydney Laner from Billiards Magazine June, 1929.
Relocation announcement ; Billiards Magazine  Aug 1928  
Middle: Sydney's Profile 7/25  Bottom: Sydney's marriage announcement  9/25  (Billiards Mag.)

Company Name:  Louis Portner

Primary Business: Billiard table sales & repair etc.

Business Address:  160 Michigan (1866)   76 & 78 LaSalle St  (1870)
Factory: 61 & 63 Illinois St  (1870)

Home address: 6 N. Wells (1863)  210 N. Franklin (1869)  201 N. Dearborn (1871)
281 Franklin (1880) 1208 Diversy (1890) 49 May St. (1892)

Notes:  Louis Portner was born in 1825 in Germany and immigrated to the U.S. in
1855. He made his way to the Columbus Ohio area and by 1860 he was married to
his wife Jerome or Jeroma, with the first two of what will later become five children,
Julia and Kate. He was working as a "merchant". (probably a retail store of some kind)

By 1863 he had moved his family to Chicago and was working as a carpenter. By
1866 he had opened a shop making billiard tables and it was then that Louis ran into
a man by the name of Rudolph Kleemann.  

Rudolph and Louis joined forces with another gentleman by the name of George
Stephani and the three men founded a new billiard table dynasty called:
The Chicago Billiard Table Manufactory. (see 1869 image below)

They built and sold Phelan and Collender's Standard American Billiard Tables which
was a big threat to Brunswick's domination in Chicago. And their new company was
large in stature - they employed dozens of men and their factory stretched almost a
whole block on one of Chicago's busiest streets. No doubt they were being watched
very carefully.

But ironically it wasn't Kleemann that Brunswick had to fear. It was Kleeman's factory.
It turned out to be a breeding ground for new billiard table company entrepreneurs.
In fact, there were at least a half-dozen former employees of Kleemann that ended up
opening their own shops, including Louis Portner.

For reasons that we may never know, in 1870 Louis decided to do his own thing. So
he split up with Kleemann (while recruiting a few of his best men*) and opened
himself up a billiard room and a shop. (see 1870 image below)

*William Ruehl and Nikolaus Stoll.

Looking to make a name for himself, Louis walked away from a perfectly good job
and put it all on the line to be an entrepreneur too.......and he blew it.

Not that it was actually his fault, but about a year later Chicago burned to the ground.
October of 1871 to be precise and his shop was gone. Thankfully, he didn't get injured
in the actual fire but he was unable to recover from the expense of his losses, so
Louis ended up going to work for someone else as a salesman. Perhaps he sold
billiard tables?

Louis Portner died at the age of 72 on Dec. 15, 1897.
His wife outlived him by over 20 years, she died March 22, 1922.

Company Logo: see images below

Below Left: 1869 Kleemann ad with Portner (and Stephani) listed as partners (top)
Below Right: 1870 ad for Louis Portner's "Excelsior" billiard tables and hall.
Bottom Left: Portner's 1868 patent for an improved billiard table gas lamp.
Both ad images from: Edward's Chicago City Directory 1869, 1870

Company Name: Merle & Heaney Mfg Co.

Primary Business: fixtures, desks, chairs, office fittings, billiard and pool tables.
Business Address:   John F. Heaney  83 5th Av (1871)  40-42 5th Av  (1885)
Merle & Heaney 188-190 E. Washington (1890s -1914)

Home Address: William F. Merle - 184 Ewing (1892)  451 Warren Av (1900)
James B. Heaney -  Edgewood Av (1900) 48 N. Morgan (1902) 2807 Humboldt (1910)

Notes:  Merle & Heaney was initially a furniture company owned by William F. Merle
and James B. Heaney. They had many contracts with the City of Chicago for desks,
school desks and other office furniture. Eventually they expanded their interests to
include billiard tables.

James B. Heaney was born in Chicago in 1862, the oldest of five sons: James,
Charles, John (jr), Thomas and Edward.  It was an Irish household, the parents of the
family ( John F. and Mary D.) having immigrated to America in 1860.

Father John was a long-time furniture dealer in Chicago, so as they became of age,
the sons all joined in the family business and worked for John F. Heaney & Co.
(circa 1880-1890)

William F. Merle was born in Germany in October of 1855. He immigrated to America
in 1875, married an Irish lass named Annie in 1876, and went to work in Chicago as
a cabinet maker (carpenter).

We're not exactly sure how they met, but in about 1890 James Heaney and William
Merle joined forces to create the Merle and Heaney Manufacturing Company.

In 1894 the two men merged their company with another one of Chicago's most
successful school desk and furniture makers;
Alfred H. Andrews. (A.H. Andrews)

Company Name: Marvel Billiard & Bowling

Primary Business: Billiard table sales, repair & resales + bowling supplies.
Business Address:   1604 W. Lake St. (1950s)

Home Address: Charles Nicholas 2826 Summerdale Av  (1955)

Notes: A somewhat short-lived billiard and bowling supply company owned by
Charles Nicholas. (1950s)  Feb. 19, 1955 Charles was shot in the stomach during a
foiled robbery attempt. The robber ( James Robinson) was quickly found and brought
to the hospital for Nicholas to identify.

Mr. Nicholas retired soon thereafter and the company's assets were purchased by  
Stan Laner of Laner Billiards. See also Laner Billiards in this directory.

Company Logo: See images below
Top: 1957 Chicago Tribune ad.
Bottom: Marvel brand table nameplate.  D.B. Bond Collection

Company Name: Rudolph Kleemann & Co.
Chicago Billiard Table Manufactory

Primary Business: Billiard table production, sales & repair etc
Business Address: Saloon: Green Bay Rd. (1866)
Factory: 190 - 204 S. Water (1869) Office and Wareroom 143-149 Randolph (1870)

Home address: 372 Chicago Ave. (1869)  383 Chicago Ave. (1870)
Sophia: 500 4th Ave (1880)

The above and below companies are listed together because they merged into one.

Company Names: Stephani, Monheimer & Hart.
Stephani & Hart / Brunswick Bros.,Stephani & Hart

Primary Business: Billiard table production, sales and repair etc.
Business Address: 191 & 193 Randolph (1873) 57 State, 44 & 46 Dearborn (1875)

Home address: Hart: 562 Michigan Av (1875) Stephani: 372 Michigan Av (1875)
E. Brunswick: 536 Michigan Av. (1875)


And so it began... Rudolph Kleemann was born in (Saxony) Germany in 1827,
where he also grew up. He immigrated to America around 1850 and by 1860 had
married Sophia Gooden (or Golden) and resided in Osage Township Missouri,
employed as a miller.  

In 1861 with a newborn son, Rudolph and Sophia moved to Chicago where he
opened a saloon on Green Bay Road and worked part time as a carpenter.

Perhaps looking for a better income than that of a bartender, Rudolph decided to build
and sell billiard tables instead. So, in about 1868 he gathered together a crew of
talented wood-workers and several investors* - forming a sizeable new billiard table
company known as:

The Chicago Billiard Table Manufactory "Sole Manufacturer in the Northwest of the
Phelan & Collender Standard American Billiard Tables
"   (see images below.)

Notice how they still called it "The Northwest ". Also notice that Kleemann was not designing and
building his own tables, he was building and selling Collender's.

*at least George Stephani, Louis Portner, Henry Monheimer & Nikolaus Stoll. Possibly Robert Hart,
John Berlien and Milton Hasbrouck.

Rudolph's business thrived for several years as a major competitor of Brunswick until
the Great Fire of 1871, at which time some heavy losses were incurred. And for
unknown reasons, possibly debt, or perhaps because of his health or age, Rudolph
immediately got out of the billiard table business and turned over the company to his
remaining partners;
Stephani, Monheimer and Hart.

With Monheimer dropping out as well, Stephani & Hart continued together for a few
more years but eventually they abandoned the Collender brand name and joined
forces with Emanuel Brunswick, effectively becoming a part of the Brunswick empire
that they had tried so hard to compete with. Their new name:
Brunswick Bros.,Stephani & Hart Co.

The new team roster as of 1875 was as follows:
Joseph, Solomon, Hyman & Emanuel Brunswick + George Stephani, Jacob Lindauer
and Robert Hart.  (Hyman and Solomon worked in St Louis)
SEE ALSO - This article on Emanuel Brunswick

Apparently, things did not go very well for the new company. So Emanuel moved to
San Francisco and went to work for his step-brother again as an agent for the J.M.
Brunswick Co. The company he left behind was changed to simply Brunswick & Co  
and a few short years later, it ceased to exist altogether, having been bought out or
simply shut down.

Rudolph Kleemann, father of Albert, Charles, Rudolph Jr, Mary E., Agnes and Louis F.,
died in about 1877. Sophia outlived him by over 20 years.
Company Logo: See images below

Patent # 101,888  April 12, 1870 Improved Lamp For Billiard Table  Rudolph Kleemann

Below: A series of advertisements showing the evolution of Kleeman's company.
1st: 1869 Chicago Directory Advertisement for Kleemann
2nd: 1870-71 Chicago Directory Advertisement for Kleemann
3rd: 1873 Ad showing the new company name after Kleemann's departure.
4th: 1874 Ad showing the new name after Monheimer's departure.
5th: 1875 Ad showing the new name after merge with Emanuel Brunswick.
6th: 1875 BBSH Letterhead.  
Courtesy Joe Newell Collection
7th: BBSH rare table nameplate.  Private Collection

Company Name: William A. Spinks, WASCO

Primary Business: Billiard chalk, cues, supplies & accessories. Various inventions.
Business Address: 362 W. Erie (1910)  Also in Niles, Michigan and Duarte, CA.

Notes: Avid billiard player and co-inventor of modern cue "chalk". (among other things)

An extensive article on William Spinks can be read by clicking here.  

Company Logo: See images below.
See also: Portrait Gallery

Patent #578,514   4-9-1897  Substitute for billiard chalk   E. Hoskins &  W. Spinks

Below Left: Spinks portrait from Billiards Magazine 12/1920
Below Right: Spinks promo button*
Bottom Left: Partial Spinks catalog   courtesy Joe Newell collection
Bottom Right: Spinks letterhead*
*Images from: "Pool & Billiard Collectibles " © Mark & Connie Stellinga

Company Name: Keefe & Hamer Co.

Primary Business : Billiard table sales & accessories. Cues by Rambow.

Business Address:  17  N. Wabash Ave.
Telephone:  Randolph 5856

Notes: A joint company formed by Edward C. Hamer and Gerald J. Keefe. Edward
was married to Gerald's only daughter. Gerald was a former employee of Charles
Passow & Co. For further information, read the biographies and see the images
Images from: Billiards Magazine May & June 1926 Charles Ursitti Collection
Above Left: Partial Kieckhefer Catalog 1951-52   Courtesy Joe Newell Collection

Above Right: Kieckhefer chalk and slate cement.
Image from: "Pool & Billiard Collectibles " © Mark & Connie Stellinga

Below: Kieckhefer's new billiard room, furnished by Albert Pick and Co. circa 1920  
Image from: Billiards Magazine March 1920.  Courtesy Billiards Digest archive.

Company Name:
United States Standard Billiard Table Co.

Primary Business: Billiard table sales & supplies.
Business Address: 125 Clark (1885)

Notes: Short lived company owned by D.J. Delong and Balkline billiard champion
George Slosson.

No further information at this time.

Company Logo: N/A

Company Name: Taylor & Hasbrouck

Primary Business: Billiard table sales, repair & supplies etc.
Business Address: 86 Randolph  (1869)

Home Address: Both men: 140 Wabash (1869)  Hasbrouck: 104 Huron (1870)

Notes: Small short-lived company. Hasbrouck went to work for Louis Portner in 1870.
No further information at this time. See also: Louis Portner on this page.

Company Logo: N/A
Below left: Keefe bio page 1 & 2                                               Below Right: Hamer bio
Below Images from: "Pool & Billiard Collectibles " © Mark & Connie Stellinga
(except bottom right : Jim Parker collection)
Aaron B. Griffith
Adam Jochem
Adolph Zeller
Albert Pick & Co.
Brunswick Brothers
Burton Spain
C.G. Akam
C.S. Prindle
Charles Passow
Charles & Henry Tuckhorn
Charles Lufsky
DeThier & Blaurock
Economy Billiard and Fixture
Fred Haupt & Sons
Gerhard Lohmann
H.C. Thomas & Co.
Hannah & Hogg
Henry Kadin & Co.
Herman J. Rambow
Jaburek Family
Jacob Salomon
J.C. McFarland
The Billiard Companies of Chicago

The following information is an ongoing list or "directory" of every
billiard table production company that has ever
existed, along with many of the more notable billiard related
companies as well. If you have any additions or corrections, feel
free to let us know.

As a companion to this list, we've also put together a gallery of the
Chicago men (and sometimes women) who were the driving
forces behind the industry.

Visit the Portrait Gallery here
John Butzbach
John D. Freese & Sons
Joseph L. Fowler
Jost Family
Keefe & Hamer
Kieckhefer Mfg Co.
Laner Family
Leo Brederlow
Louis Portner
Marvel Billiard & Bowling
Merle & Heaney Mfg Co.
National Billiard Supply
Nicolas Stoll  (Garden City)
Rudolph Kleemann
Stephani, Monheimer & Hart
Schaub & Strehl
Sykes Steel
Tweeten Fibre Co.
Taylor & Hasbrouck
U.S. Standard Billiard Table Co.
William A. Spinks
William Blome
Below: This marvelous 5x10' Keefe & Hamer table is made almost entirely of steel,
(except for the slate and rail tops) which was then hand-painted to look like real
wood. It also converts from a pocket table to a carom table via an extra set of
cushions and weighs roughly 4000 lbs. Produced by Sykes Steel Chicago.
The table now resides and is in use at the Illinois Billiard Club.
Mr. Andrews remained president of the new Merle and Heaney conglomeration until
his death on June 10th of 1914, at which time William F. Merle took over with Mr.
Heaney as treasurer.

So far, it has been difficult to discern exactly when it happened, but the Merle &
Heaney company appears to have gone out of business by 1923.

Company Logo: See images below
Below left: Merle & Heaney 1907 patent for convertible carom/pocket table
Below right: nameplate images from: "Pool & Billiard Collectibles " © Mark & Connie Stellinga

Bottom: pristine example of Merle & Heaney letterhead from 1902.
Image courtesy: The Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery,
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Above left: A.H. Andrews advertisement from 1883 Chicago Elite Directory
Above right: Merle & Heaney advertisement from 1892 Chicago directory (notice A.H. Andrews
ad also on same page, right above M&H )

Company Name: Tweeten Fibre Co.
Formerly: Kieckhefer Mfg Co

Primary Business: Billiard chalk, cue tips, supplies & accessories.
Business Address: Nemecek's pool hall - 2048 W. Madison (1910-1923)
Tweeten Fibre Co. - 113 S. Jefferson (1923-29)  2029-31 W. Fulton (1942)
1756 W. Hubbard  (currently)

Home Address: Steve (Stephen) Nemecek -2430 S. Spaulding (1910-20ish)

Notes: Stephen (or Steve) Nemecek, a son of Czech immigrants, was born in Illinois
on December 16th of 1875. He grew up and married Martha from Michigan and they
raised two sons, Albert G. and Irvin S. Nemecek.

Steve opened up a billiard room in Chicago by 1910 at 2048 West Madison, and soon
began experimenting with new cue tips in the back room. Billiard champion Augie
Kieckhefer was a friend and frequent visitor of Steve's room, so it's no surprise that
they ended up in business together. In 1921 the partnership known as Kieckhefer
Mfg. Co. was born.

A few years later, Augie sold his stock in the company back to Steve, while still
allowing the use of the Kieckhefer name. But unfortunately Steve died in 1926, so the
business was taken over by his sons Albert and Irvin, who successfully ran the
company together until 1965. At that point, Albert retired and sold his assets to Irvin.

So Irvin S. Nemecek ( who was also a State Champion 3-cushion player) took over
operations and with the help of his son, Irvin J. Nemecek, they drove the modest
family business into the future with new chalk formulations, new patented products
and new automated production processes.

When Irvin S. passed away in 1974, Irvin J. became the principal owner until 1976,
when the assets of Kieckhefer Mfg. Co. were purchased by another Chicago based
billiard supply company known as Tweeten Fibre Co.

Tweeten Co had originated in about 1917, founded by Oscar Tweeten. (or Tweetin)
See also:
The Portrait Gallery

The Kieckhefer Manufacturing Company no longer existed per say, but ironically, just
a few short years later, Irvin J. Nemecek bought back the assets of Tweeten -
effectively returning control of the company to the family that had spent a lifetime
building it.

In 1985, Irvin J. was joined by his son, literally passing the torch on to the fourth
generation of Nemeceks, who are now driving the family-founded company into the
future once again. Drop by their website and say hello at www.tweeten.us

Company Logo: shown below
Below: Steve Nemecek Portrait and Advertisement from Billiards Magazine Dec. 1923
Courtesy Charles Ursitti Collection
Below: Early images of Steve Nemecek and sons working in their shop.
From Billiards Magazine Aug.1923   Courtesy Charles Ursitti Collection

Company Name: Schaub & Strehl
Schaub & Miller

Primary Business: Hand-crafted wood and ivory products, furniture, billiard tables.
Business Address: 21 South Canal, 135 N. DesPlaines (1868)

Home Address: Schaub: Green Bay @ Pierce (1868)

Notes: Company founded by German immigrants Conrad Schaub and Louis Strehl in
1864, and lasted until the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. After the fire a new company
was formed with a new partner:
Schaub and Miller. However, they stayed out of the
billiard table business the second time around.

Company Logo: See images below from Baileys Chicago Directory 1864 and 1868
Above: Sykes advertisement from Billiards Magazine  1928
Courtesy Charles Ursitti Collection

Below: A steel 10ft table produced by Sykes Steel for Keefe & Hamer.
This table resides at the Illinois Billiard Club
Below: Mr. Sykes died Feb. 11, 1914  article appeared in Chicago Tribune.

Company Name: Phil Jost & Co.
Harry Jost, Jesse E. Jost

Primary Business: Ivory turning specialists and cue manufacturers. Also offered
billiard table sales and repair etc.

Business Address: Phil: 229 & 84 Market St. (1901) 160 N. Wells r302 (1923)
Jesse: 1703 W. Lake St.

Home address:
Phil: 156 W. 70th (1920)   457 W. 71st (1930)
Jesse: 3049 Lincoln Ave. (1920)  
Harry: 3051 W Irving Park (1918,1920)  59th Street, Downers Grove, IL (1930)

Notes: Originally from New York, Phillip Jost and his sons operated several shops
around Chicago and were known for their expert ivory turning skills and cue
manufacturing. Harry in particular (in addition to ivory turning) was a skilled cue maker
and the holder of many patents for tip and ferrule construction. Jesse worked part time
for the Finklestein "National Billiard Supply" shop located next door to his own shop
and billiard hall on Lake St.

Unfortunately, the stiff competition, the billiard crash, and the changing from ivory to
synthetic billiard balls, all had their hand in closing the Jost shops down for good. By
the 1930's Jost was out of business

Company Logo: See images below

Below left: Jost Ad from July 1922 Billiards Magazine. Charles Ursitti Collection
A Jost table nameplate.  Joanne Charron Collection
Below right: WWI draft registration cards for Jesse and Harry Jost circa 1917-18
Company Name: William Blome

Primary Business: Specialized in turning ivory billiard balls and other ivory products.
Business Address: Corner of Madison & State (1879)  67 Washington (1883)
57 E. Washington (1885)

Notes: Came from Germany to Detroit in 1872, having learned his trade in his native
country. Moved to Chicago the following year and by 1879 had opened his own ivory
shop. For more details see bio below.
Also mentions his predecessor G.G. Thomas - see 1859 Thomas ad below ]

Excerpt below from: Origin, Growth and Usefulness of the Chicago Board of Trade..[etc] 1885
1870 - Nikolaus left Kleemann and formed a new company with Louis Portner.
(another former Kleemann employee)  But for some reason, perhaps vanity, their
budding business relationship didn't last very long.
Image from 1870 Chicago Directory
1880 - Local legend Thomas Foley invests in Stoll's operation, which is largely  
expanded and given a fancy new name: "
Garden City Billard Table Factory "   
(see 1880 advert below)

But the 1880s proved to be rough. The competition was as fierce as ever and to make
matters worse, Nikolaus found himself at the wrong end of several lawsuits. For
example, by 1888 things had gone south with Mr. Foley, so they were sued for a
billiard hall management breach of contract. No doubt a public relations nightmare
when you consider Foley's stature in Chicago.
(see news article below)

Nikolaus Stoll's Garden City Billiard empire was injured and bleeding, so like a
hungry lion picking off the weakest of the herd, Brunswick moved in for the kill.
On April 18, 1893 Brunswick bought what was a $100,000 company for $25,000 plus
%60 of the inventory value - and shut it down.

Nikolaus continued his carpentry, possibly for Brunswick, until at least 1910.
Nikolaus Stoll died Aug 31, 1914.  Minnie died May 7, 1918.

Company Logo: See  images below.

Patent # 5,779  April 1, 1873  Nikolaus Stoll   Design for a six-sided billiard table

News: Jan 24, 1888   Tom Foley files suit against Garden City Billiard

Below right: 1880 Chicago Directory  Garden City Billiard Table advertisement.
Below left: Unique 1880s Garden City Billiard chalk holder. Mounts under rail.
Courtesy Joe Newell Collection  
Bottom: A beautiful and rare Garden City poster from 1891 with portraits of the
owners and views of their billiard hall and factory.
Photos courtesy Ginny Holt.
Garden City billiard table nameplates courtesy R. Montgomery
1871 - Nikolaus then got together with a man by the name of John Berlien who was
also experienced in the business and was a patent holder as well. They formed a
new company known as
Stoll & Berlien, but the Great Fire of 1871 ruined their plans.
Image from 1871 Chicago Directory

Company Name: Nikolaus Stoll, Stoll & Berlien,
Stoll & Claussen, Stoll & Merz,
Garden City Billiard Table Factory

Primary Business: Billiard table production, sales & repair etc.
Business Address: 164-166 Michigan (1871) 61 & 63 Dearborn (1880-85)
179-183 Illinois (1892)

Home address:  51 Cedar (1869)  45 Clyborn (1870)  72 N Dearborn (1871)
423 Chestnut (1880)

Notes:  Nikolaus Stoll was born in 1843 in Switzerland, where he also grew up.
He immigrated to America in 1864. By 1866 Nikolaus had made his way to Chicago
and was working as a cabinet maker.

1868 he married his wife Wilhelmina "Minnie" and right around the same time,
began working for Rudolph Kleemann at the
Chicago Billiard Table Manufactory.
Below: 1869 Chicago Directory showing Nikolaus Stoll as an employee of Kleemann
1872 - 77 Nikolaus went to work with Adolph Zeller, who had also lost his business
to the fire. See also Zeller in this directory.  
Image from 1874 Chicago Directory
1878 - 79 Nikolaus left Zeller and joined forces with another German by the name of
Claus C. Claussen and formed a short-lived company called
Stoll and Claussen.   
Below: Stoll and Claussen nameplate courtesy Jerimy Chambers

Company Name: The Sykes Steel Company
Sykes Steel Roofing Co.

Primary Business: Various Steel Products, Billiard table production
Business Address: 500 Walnut St Niles, Ohio (1908 thru 1914)  611 S. Morgan,
Chicago (1892, 1900) 2300 W. 58th (1928)

Home Address: Raymond : 4523 Ellis Ave (1900)  4321 Grand Blvd (1910)

Notes: Company founded by Raymong Gilson Sykes, see his biography below.
During the pre-WWII "steel table fad ", Sykes produced billiard tables for a short time,
not only for themselves, but also for other billiard table selling institutions as well,
such as the Keefe & Hamer Co. and  William A. Spinks.

Company Logo: See images below:

Company Names: National Billiard Supply Co.
National Billiard & Bowling Supply Co.
Finklestein Billiard Supply

Primary Business: Billiard table and billiard room accessories and repair. After 1919
billiard table production. After 1925 bowling pin production.

Business Address:  1710  W. Lake (1910-23) 1747-1755  W. lake (1923)
1721-25 W. Lake (1926+)

Not to be confused with the "
National Chalk Co." ( also in Chicago) or the  "National"
billiard table company from Ohio, or the "
National Cue Co. ". None of them are related
to each other.

Started by Polish immigrant David Finklestein and his cousin Harry in about 1910, the
family company did well for many years, acquiring the assets of both the
J.M. Fowler
and 90% of Charles Passow's inventory as well. But eventually, National
Billiard Supply was sold to Brunswick's largest competitor at the time:

For more information see the biography and images below from Billiards Magazine
April 1919, Jan. and  Feb. 1923, April 1926
Table nameplates courtesy R. Montgomery
Below: Spinks' partner Edmund Hoskin and various photos of their facility in Niles, MI
From Billiards Magazine July 1923 Courtesy Charles Ursitti Collection
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1879 - 80 Nikolaus had another short-lived partnership known as Stoll and Merz.  
Below: Stoll and Merz nameplate courtesy R. Montgomery