Tom Reece is somewhat famous for
two main reasons, one of them is his long rivalry with Melbourne Inman and the
other is that he compiled the highest break ever recorded in a billiards match.
This was a huge 499,135 which he completed at Burroughes & Watts Hall, on
Saturday 6th July 1907. The massive break took Recce five weeks to compile by
means of the "cradle" cannon a scoring method which was banned after his great
All of the cues that carry his
name are inscribed with this famous "record" break and additionally carry
reference to a second, lesser break. It is this which provides the most
recognisable distinction between the available versions, with the shape and
style of the badge remaining consistent. All of the early cues have either an
ash or Greenheart, shaft and an ebony butt with a front dark elm burr splice.
The cue would have been first
manufactured by Burroughes & Watts, probably shortly after his great break,
in late 1907. The badge on this first version also makes reference to a break
of 627 together with the date "6th January 1907' This cue is the most sought
after and is valued at between £250-£350. David Smith has a good
example of this cue in his private collection and if you look closely at the
master shot of his cues on the title page of Cues n Views, you will see that is
amongst those cues pictured.
Click here to see the
In the second version of the Tom
Reece champion cue, the minor break increases to 692 and carries the additional
date "1st February 1911". This particular cue would
be worth only slightly less at £220-£320.
Both of these early cues have
more of a "billiard" shape than the others and can be very whippy, tending to
be a bit too springy for snooker and more suited to billiards, meaning that
their taper is much longer and so their shaft is thinner for more of its
length. Their butt can also be thicker too. Incidentally, the smaller break
recorded on these cues is important because it demonstrates one of the effects
of rule changes on the size of the breaks that, were able to be made.
Subsequent cues in the range are
usually shaped more like a more modern version of a snooker cue, with a taper
that suits snooker and more strength at the shoulders. The first of this new
design has a secondary break reference of 773 (March 1913). Finally the break
moves to 901 which Reece made 13th-14th June 1916. Both of these breaks were
made against his perennial opponent at around this time, Melbourne Inman and
the latter was Reece's highest with ivory balls, if you discount his cradle
Examples of either cue would be
worth between £150-£200. Early badges were made from ivory or bone,
later badges were made from plastic. There is an additional subtle variation to
the badge design which appears to be linked to the material used, with ivory
badges having the text underlined by a wavy line and the plastic ones having a
straight line to separate the text.
During, the mid-1920s
another version of the Tom Reece cue appears. This cue is identifiable by a
plain ebony butt without the decorative front-splice. This cue would have been
made well into the 1930s and is valued at £150-£200. This
particular edition is usually a good snooker-playing cue. The majority of these
have an ash shaft although maple examples are known to exist and being rarer
will have a slightly increased value.
Andy Hunter & David Smith