Recollection Cues

Collectible Cues, Cases & Quality Players


Mike Bender has been making excellent cues for many years now, and since he makes very few these days, finding an old one in mint condition - particularly a very nice one - is a rare find.  I jumped at the chance to acquire this one.

PROVIDENCE was made for the International Cue Collector Show in Sarasota in 2010.  It was his contribution to the "Special Collection", which that year had a theme of "Maritime" cues.  Each cue had to have a sea or marine theme, and it was a superb collection comprised of entries from 10 or 11 of the top cuemakers in the world.

All these years, this cue has been sitting in a private collection in a display case on exhibition.  It has never been played and is still unchalked.

The central theme of this cue is based on an old  painting.  William Gilkerson was a noted maritime artist who was famous for his tall-ship battle scenes.  Dunham, who is a well-known artist in her own right, happens to be the wife of Mike Bender.  For this cue, their partnership was perfect - Mike made one of his beautiful ebony,ivory and silver cues and Tracy adapted his historical painting, Providence, 1776, for the scrimshaw scene in the butt sleeve of this cue.  The painting is based on the sloop Providence, which was John Paul Jones first command.

You'll notice from the pictures that on one side it is scrimshawed "Prividence, 1776"  and on the other side are Tracy's initials and the date of her work on the cue.

I have the original letter that accompanied his presentation of this cue to the ICCS, which will stay with the cue and tells its story and details of its construction.

Tracy's scrimshanding is about as good as it gets.  It is detailed and precise, and comes to life as you turn the cue in your hand.  She adapted the old painting by modifying it in a way that allowed here to do a continuous, uninterrupted scene all the way around the cue.

Back to the cue itself, it is an unusual Bender "fifteen spliced points" cue in "holly, ebony (high), and ivory (low)."  He is known for his elaborate forearms, and this one is as gorgeous as any I've seen.  In looking at the cue, I thought the five long ebony points were veneered in holly, but according to his original letter with the cue, it sounds as though the ebony points may be recut into the holly. 

You can tell he carefully selected the materials for this cue for the ICCS cue, where it would be judged by the other top cuemakers in the world.  The ebony is black, black, black, and the ivory is pure and white.

This design has always been one of his best, and he used it in various ways in most of his finest cues.   His cues have always been in high demand, partly because of the limited number made, especially in recent years.  The quality, and especially the playability, of his cues has always been beyond question.

He uses a beautiful ring pattern in this stick, and uses it profusely.  It is a check ring of ebony and ivory squares, sandwiched between two bold silver and ebony rings.  It looks good throughout the cue, but especially in the butt sleeve where he used it generously to frame the gorgeous scrimshanding.

He goes even a little further in framing the scrimshaw scene.  He uses more ebony and silver rings just above and below the picture.

I don't know what I can say about the scrimshaw work.  It is simply beautiful, and the pictures tell the story.

There is a little finish shrinkage in the butt sleeve around the extensive number of rings, but otherwise, this cue is mint.

For the handle, he chose a classy, smooth black leather and finished it at each end with a double embossed circle.

Pictured opposite is the original letter of submission that accompanied this cue when it was presented to the ICCS.  It comes with the cue.

This cue is made to play.  It weighs only 19.25 ounces - surprising, with all this evbony and silver.  It comes with two shafts of well-aged hard maple, with ivory ferrules and the original tips, which I can't identify with certainty.  Both shafts measure almost exactly 13 mm. 

It is built with a flat faced ivory joint with a steel 3/8X14 pin.  All white in the cue is ivory.  It comes with a custom set of matching ebony joint protectors made by Mike.

This cue represents the best of both worlds - a great playing cue, and a superb work of art.  In my opinion, this may be one of Mike's most accomplished pieces of work.  It is indeed a masterpiece.