Recollection Cues

Collectible Cues, Cases & Quality Players


Here is a prime example of the "Stradivarius" of cues ... a rare old Gus Szamboti in original condition. (It was refinished by Barry Szamboti in March, 1995.)  According to Barry Szamboti, it was made in 1985, and has been the "everyday player" of Mark Griffin (owner of Griff's in Las Vegas) until now.  I recently acquired it, and I was very pleased to have it accompanied by very good provenance on its history. 

Considering its age, and the fact that it's been in regular use for most of its life, this cue is in good condition.  When you hit a few balls with it, you'll understand why the owner couldn't keep this one in the safe.  It's a natural player, and performs in the way that gave Gus his great reputation for building outstanding cues.  Mark told me that he never played with another cue that could draw the ball the way this cue does, especially with the "knotted" shaft.  He said he once owned 37 Szambotis, and the great playability was the reason he held onto this one.

First, a little entertaining back story on the birth of this cue.  The story goes that has been told for many years that this cue was first made for a local guy, who had been pestering Gus for a cue for some time.  When Gus had it ready, the guy complained that there was a small spalted spot in the maple nose between the points.  Gus got so angry, he took it back and told him he didn't want him to have it, and immediately turned around and gave it, free, to a friend of his who'd been hanging around his shop.  An unusual story, but if you knew Gus, you could easily believe it to be true.

In any event, the cue was sold to a Frank Ryan on March 17,1985, on or about St. Patrick's Day.  In Frank's version of the story (I have his letter), he actually bought it from Gus, but the rest of the story as told above seems to be true.  He named it the St. Patrick's Cue, because he thought it was a lucky cue.  From that time forward, its owners have referred to it as the "St. Patrick's Cue."  On July 7, 1995, Frank sold it to a Christopher Miele, who later sold it to Mark Griffin, then owner of the Anchorage Billiard Palace, now owner of Griff's in Las Vegas.  It came into my possession just recently.  (I have the original letter from Frank Ryan to Christopher Miele, and the original letter from Miele to Mark Griffin, when he bought the cue in '95, along with the copy of his check to Miele.)

According to the letter from Christopher Miele in 1995, "the green speck wrap is original.  The cue was refinished by Barry Szamboti in March of 1995."  That would have been just before he sold it to Mark that same year.

So, enough on the cue's history.  It is a four point cue with an ebony butt sleeve and points, going into a maple nose.  The veneer colors are Black/mahogany, green/white.  It's a very traditional cue for Gus to have built at that time, and very consistent with what he was building then.

What distinguishes this cue from many others Gus built are the veneer rings just above the butt cap.  He uses the same veneers as used in the points.  He didn't do this often, so it makes this cue a little different than most. 

Here's a closeup picture of the veneer rings above the phenolic butt cap.

Here is a picture of the spalted spot in the maple, which caused the cue to end up in Frank Ryan's hands.  Not a big thing, cosmetically, but has actually added value to this stick over time because of the interesting history.

Another unusual thing about this cue is the unique wood in the one shaft.  It contains a large knot, which you normally wouldn't expect in a Szamboti shaft.  However, whoever has played with this cue believes there's something special about this shaft.  It plays extraordinarily well.  I agree.  I hit with it, and it really does play well.

A couple more looks at the pretty veneers ...

The green speckled wrap (which appears to be Cortland) shows the use the cue has had, but is still in relatively good shape. 

There are some dull areas in the finish on the butt sleeve that I think could be easily removed by polishing.  I've tried to show it in the pics, but it is fairly unobtrusive, and doesn't show up well in the pics.
This cue was kept in a soft case for many years prior to my acquisition of it, and I think this is from being left in the case for prolonged periods, where it has absorbed something from the case.  (Just speculation on my part.)  However, I think this might be easily removed by a good polishing performed by a reputable cuemaker.

It is built with the traditional piloted stainless steel joint with a 5/16X14 pin, and has traditional maple dash rings at the joint and on the ring collars of the shafts. 
It has two shafts that are both pretty straight, with slight taper wobbles when rolled.  When put together, it rolls reasonably straight, especially for the age of the cue.  It is certainly very playable.  The shafts are 12.8mm and 12.9mm, measured a couple of inches below the ferrules.  The ferrules are ivory.
I weigh it at 19.5 ounces.  The butt is 15.5 with the two shafts at 4.0 and 3.9.

The butt is 29 inches long, and the shafts are 29, making it a 58 inch cue.

As with all Gus Szamboti cues, this is a rare cue, and a bit rarer than most.  In addition, it has an interesting back story, and good provenance along the way.  If you're looking for a great playing, very collectable cue, here is a great opportunity.