George Nelson was Champion of
Yorkshire between 1906 and 1911. He also arranged the first United Kingdom tour
of the Australian wonder-boy, George Gray in 1910/11, providing the opposition
in many of his matches as Gray astounded the Nation by compiling thousand after
thousand with red-ball play.
Nelson later became a
proprietor of a chain of billiard halls, and with his son, also George,
established the firm which eventually evolved into the famous billiard table
manufacturer Smith & Nelson.
Outside the billiard world he
became equally famous for his card playing, being regarded as an expert in
contract bridge. Amongst all this he also managed to produce ten children
before he died at the age of 79 in 1956.
His "Yorkshire Champion Cue"
would have been made during the five year period when he held that title and
was manufactured by William Sykes who where an established firm operating from
Hombury near Leeds. It has a plain ebony hand-spliced butt with an ash shaft.
One we have also seen has a star shaped mark on the bottom of the butt which
may be a maker's identification. As far as we are aware, Sykes did not make any
other "named player" cues.
An unusual feature of the ivory
badge is that it is secured with three brass pins. This feature is not totally
exclusive to the "Nelson", but we have only seen it before on one other cue.
The value of this cue would be about £300-£350 possibly a little
more because of its rarity.
The only other cues that carry
George Nelson's name were produced some time after the Champion Cue and made by
the family firm, Nelson of Leeds. These are round badged cues, produced as both
machine and hand spliced versions, having a plain rosewood or ebony butt. They
would be valued at about £150.
When the Nelson company became
Smith and Nelson they produced a lot of different plain, run-of-the-mill cues
(e.g. the Standfast cue). These have a negligible value in the collector's
Andy Hunter & David Smith