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View Full Version : How 'Palmer' Cues came up with the name



Fran Crimi
12-05-2005, 09:32 PM
I just found this out today and thought it was really interesting trivia. When the Balner family started their cue company, they felt that the name 'Balner Cues' wouldn't be very catchy or recognizable, so they picked the name of the person most recognizable during that time---Arnold 'Palmer'.

Cool, eh?

Fran

cueball1950
12-05-2005, 10:03 PM
this post deserves a GOLD Ribbon....Nice piece of trivia. Please keep them coming Fran. Your wealth of knowledge makes me proud to say i know you......................mike

tateuts
12-05-2005, 10:58 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fran Crimi:</font><hr> I just found this out today and thought it was really interesting trivia. When the Balner family started their cue company, they felt that the name 'Balner Cues' wouldn't be very catchy or recognizable, so they picked the name of the person most recognizable during that time---Arnold 'Palmer'.

Cool, eh?

Fran <hr /></blockquote>

Hi Fran,

I'm glad to see that you're interested in Palmer cues. I have a little interest in this subject myself.

I've been in touch with Peter Balner who contributed heavily to the History of Palmer on my web site. He also provided me with documents which were not previously available. There is a newspaper article at the end of the history which mentions this very subject, as well as the final letter Ilona Balner wrote when the company closed its doors over 10 years ago.

My site also covers my collection, collectible cases and a lot more.

http://www.palmercollector.com/Palmerhistory.html

Let me know what you think!

Chris

rackem
12-06-2005, 12:05 AM
Say Chris if you don't mind me asking, I am wondering how you developed such a keen interest in Palmer cues and just how large is your collection? I was raised right in the next town where they were originally manufactured unfortunately I was not into pool that much back then. So I never had any old ones. But, I have always thought it strange that I would become so connected with the present day Palmers much later in my life. If only I knew!! /ccboard/images/graemlins/ooo.gif

Fran Crimi
12-06-2005, 07:52 AM
That's a teriffic website, Chris. Good for you in preserving the history of Palmer Cues. I used to own a Palmer Balabushka model, circa 1977, beautiful cue but...

My father has a bad habit of borrowing one of my cues without telling me, and back in the 80's he borrowed my Palmer to play with his friends. He left the cue in the trunk of his car and that night his car was stolen. He finally got up the nerve to tell me about it a week later. I almost got the cue back when 10 years later at Chelsea Billiards, a guy showed up on the table next to me with a cue that looked like my old Palmer. I asked him what cue that was and he said it was a Balabushka. I examined the cue, and sure enough it was my Palmer because the day I bought it from Palmer Cues, I dropped it and nicked the varnish right near the buttcap. The nick was there. I probably shouldn't have done this, but I then said, "Do you steal cars for a living? " His face dropped and he turned pale. I then said this is my cue and it was taken from the trunk of a stolen car." He grabbed the cue out of my hands and took off. Gone for good. I'm still on the lookout for the cue. Don't worry, it's not in your collection. LOL

So, to make a long story longer...

Last week my father did it again. He said to me, "Oh, by the way, I borrowed one of your cues to play with at the Senior Center." I went into a panic. WHICH CUE DID YOU TAKE???!!" He said, "Oh, don't worry, I took your oldest looking one." YIKES! "WHERE'S THE CUE?" I asked in a panic. He said, "In the trunk of my car." "QUICK, GIVE ME THE KEYS!" I ran out to get the cue and sure enough, it was my Balabushka.

So I decided it may be time to get it authenticated and think about selling it in the near future. So I hooked up with Paul Rubino yesterday and brought three shafts that fit the butt because I didn't know which one was the original. Turns out one of the shafts was from my old Palmer. Paul said the shaft was so well made that at first he thought it was a Balabushka shaft. I knew I didn't have two Balabushka shafts and we eventually figured out it was from the Palmer cue. They really did fine work back in those days. We started talking about Palmer Cues and he told me the story about the name.

Fran

tateuts
12-06-2005, 08:13 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote rackem:</font><hr> Say Chris if you don't mind me asking, I am wondering how you developed such a keen interest in Palmer cues and just how large is your collection? I was raised right in the next town where they were originally manufactured unfortunately I was not into pool that much back then. So I never had any old ones. But, I have always thought it strange that I would become so connected with the present day Palmers much later in my life. If only I knew!! /ccboard/images/graemlins/ooo.gif <hr /></blockquote>

The first guy I ever played for money was when I was 16 at the pool room. we played straight pool back then and he had a Palmer. The way he said "It's a Palmer" was kind of like someone whispering "it's real gold ". Well, he beat my pants off with that cue so I guess I remember that really well!

Some time ago, I had read about them in the Blue Book and Billiards Encyclopedia. I was pretty impressed they were given such a large spread in the Encyclopedia and I liked the story, how a Hungarian immigrant (my grandparents were immigrants too) started such a great company with his wife and young son using his old-world skills.

Anyway, I saw people falling all over themselves to get Balabushka's, Paradise's, and Rambow's, but these old Palmer cues were of the same ilk and were pretty much available to be had, so I thought I would pick up one to see what they were like.

I bought one that someone found at an estate sale. I cringed when I opened the case because the case almost disintegrated and it was all moldy.

The cue looked terrible. Someone had drilled a hole through the butt cap, presumably to hang it on a nail. The finish was white - you couldn't see through it to ID the wood. The cue was filthy and I thought, why would anybody collect these old cues? I started cleaning it up and looking at it, and I was fascinated with handwriting on the shaft tenons, the quality of the inlay work (the best in the business at that time) the way the cue was balanced, the screw on ferrules, the big window with the name and the rock solid hit. The cue had a certain nobility to it. It was an old war horse, downtrodden and defeated, but not out. It was so different I was just fascinated.

So I sent the cue to my friend, Scott Sherbine, and when it came back about 10 days later, I couldn't believe my eyes.

It looked something like this:

Model 11, first catalog (http://www.palmercollector.com/Model11page.html)

I took it to the pool room to show my buddies. Everyone huddled around the cue and I let some friends hit with it.

I was hooked and made up my mind right then and there, I had found my interest.

The cues on the site represent my collection unless noted as belonging to someone else. I have others not on the site yet. I add them as I have time. I now have most examples of the first 3 catalog cues. Some day a "just for fun" goal would be to do a photo shoot re-creation of one of the catalog photos and have it published in a magazine, maybe with a picture of Peter Balner and his mom.

Chris

tateuts
12-06-2005, 08:31 AM
That's a good story, Fran. Close call on the Bushka. You should either lock up our cue or your dad!

I lost my first custom cue the same way. I had a 1960's Gina and a shiny new 1984 Corvette. I went out to the street where I had parked and only found broken glass. The car was stolen which insurance covered but the first thing I said to myself was "My Ginacue".

If I dig up any good info on George Balabushka, I'll publish it. Palmer was one of his suppliers. Can you tell Paul about my site sometime? I'm sure he has a lot of great Palmer stories too.

Chris

ceebee
12-06-2005, 08:56 AM
In about 1979, my pool playing buddy had a nice veneered 4 point Palmer, but I had long since quit playing. I was at his house &amp; we were playing cards, he mentioned the old cue, but one of his friends had borrowed it &amp; the shaft was missing. He offered to give it to me. I declined, because I had really quit playing &amp; I didn't have a clue where to send the cue for having a shaft made. You just never know , do ya?
I also had a 4 point Rambo in the late 60's... it had warped in the butt, just about 1/16th of an inch. One night I broke it over a outside parking meter.

Fran Crimi
12-06-2005, 09:18 AM
I will definitely pass your site on to Paul. I just added it into my favorites.

Fran

Rich R.
12-06-2005, 09:25 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fran Crimi:</font><hr> So I decided it may be time to get it authenticated and think about selling it in the near future. <hr /></blockquote>
Fran, it may be time to buy your father his own cue. After all, Christmas is around the corner. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Fran Crimi
12-06-2005, 09:46 AM
Hey, thanks Mike. I can't take credit for that one. Paul Rubino told me and I see now that Chris has it up on his website.

Here's one: Did you know that Steve Mizerak and Petey Margo were brothers-in-law? They were married to sisters. Steve and his wife eventually divorced and he remarried later to Karen, his present wife. Not sure what happened with Petey.

Here's a story of pretty historic significance that involves Pete Balner of Palmer Cues. Back in the early 80's when I was WPBA President, our prize funds for the women were pitiful. That year, our National Championship total prize fund was $1000, and our sponsor renagued on $500 of it.

I knew we had to do something, but what? Nobody knew who the WPBA was, and we needed publicity but we had no money to spend. I came up with the idea that maybe we could tag along with the men and ask them to let us play side-by-side with them at their events so we could get noticed. So, I contacted the men's association, the PPPA, and asked if they'd be open to a meeting. They agreed, and Pete Balner offered to hold it at his home (or should I say, 'mansion').

I showed up at Pete Balner's house, not knowing what to expect, and was warmly greeted by the PPPA Board of Directors: Steve Mizerak, Ray Martin, Pete Balner, Petey Margo and Joan Margo.

I submitted my proposal for the women to play side-by-side with the men and they thought it would be a fun idea. That was the beginning of the next 15 or-so years of the men and women playing side-by-side.

It was during that first year we played together that Jean Balukas started playing in both men's and women's events. Both organizations worked together to make sure Jean wasn't scheduled for conflicting matches....that is...until she started beating some of the men. Then the war began....

The men weren't so open to adjusting their schedules and Jean was forced to choose which event she wanted to play in, okay, we agreed...she had to pick one. Then it became a battle of the sexes as Jean continued to win more and more matches, the men became uncomfortable with her playing and some began to protest her playing in their events at all.

I remember Ray Martin threatening to wear a skirt and enter the women's event if Jean continued to play with the men. I wanted to let him do it. I thought it would be a great publicity stunt, but he never went through with the threat.

Those were fun times. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif


Fran

Cueless Joey
12-06-2005, 11:04 AM
Since we're on pool trivia.
I did not realize billiard balls were the first plastic objects made.
Saw that on a game show and I guessed wrong. DUH!

tateuts
12-06-2005, 11:25 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cueless Joey:</font><hr> Since we're on pool trivia.
I did not realize billiard balls were the first plastic objects made.
Saw that on a game show and I guessed wrong. DUH! <hr /></blockquote>

I would have got that one wrong too. I would have said Meucci's were.

Chris

tateuts
12-06-2005, 11:26 AM
Fran,

I'm going to send Peter the story - I'm sure he'll get a kick out of it.

Chris

Cueless Joey
12-06-2005, 11:33 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote tateuts:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cueless Joey:</font><hr> Since we're on pool trivia.
I did not realize billiard balls were the first plastic objects made.
Saw that on a game show and I guessed wrong. DUH! <hr /></blockquote>

I would have got that one wrong too. I would have said Meucci's were.

Chris <hr /></blockquote>
Good one! /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
I thought condoms were. /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

rackem
12-06-2005, 12:06 PM
I have always found it curious that a pro pool player, Pete Margo was the one that talk Pete Balner out of the cue making business and into the video business. I guess a good idea financially, but still strange! /ccboard/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

Rod
12-06-2005, 12:25 PM
Interesting how we just take a name for granted. I mean what's in a name? Fran, I too discovered how the name Palmer was used for Balner's cues a few short years ago.

When I bought my first Palmer I had no clue where the name comes from. For all I knew it was a guy named Palmer who owned the company. Of course later on I read it was owned by Balner.

This Palmer had a Rosewood butt with MOP inlays, a 4 point rosewood forearm with 3 or 4 veneers and MOP dots and diamonds in the rosewood. It also had a screw on ferrule.

A similar fate met my Palmer as well. I come home late one night. Being tired I forgot and left it in the trunk. The next morning, life as normal until I went out to the car to drive to work. There wasn't any car! You know the feeling when your heart just falls to your stomach. I called the cops, report was made and I went on to work. At work it dawned on me my cue was in the trunk. My heart just fell to my toes! The police never recovered the car or the cue for that matter. I was sad for a time but life goes on. Oh, did I mention the car was a 61 Corvette. Not just any corvette this one was a rarer Fuel Injected model. Not to mention one of the best painters in the LA area just painted it in a beautiful pearlescent color called Fast Violet. The final nail in the coffin was my insurance had lapsed! I was in-between insurance companies and went past the 15 day grace period. I still have the car title.

Oh well, I needed a car so I found a 61 Corvair. Somehow it just wasn't the same as the Vette. However it took me all over the country. Which brings me to what I thought was another Palmer that I bought here in Phoenix. I remembered the guy said M&amp;F but somehow I guess I assumed it was a Palmer. I even remember him mention M&amp;F when he sent it back to have two shafts made. Not until a few years ago did I even give it a second thought. However it bothered me that I could not find another Palmer that looked like this one. In the last few years I dabbled a bit more and recently found it is an MF or M&amp;F. It looks like a Palmer because the guy or two guys that made the cue use to work for Palmer. So here I've owned this cue for 35 years and just discovered it really is an MF/M&amp;F, which the guy told me, but no one ever stepped forward with the info until early this year. I've owned two other Palmers but these two certainly are the most memorable.

Rod

rackem
12-06-2005, 12:41 PM
I was back in Jersey a few years back. I went to this pool room in Toms River. The owner show me a Palmer which he claimed they had made for Willie Masconi. He claimed Willie had given it back, claiming I can't shoot with this it feels like I'm looking in a mirror. It was one that had the first part of the shaft ebony with MOP inlay. Chris do you have a Palmer Mirror cue in your collection.

tateuts
12-06-2005, 01:00 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote rackem:</font><hr> I was back in Jersey a few years back. I went to this pool room in Toms River. The owner show me a Palmer which he claimed they had made for Willie Masconi. He claimed Willie had given it back, claiming I can't shoot with this it feels like I'm looking in a mirror. It was one that had the first part of the shaft ebony with MOP inlay. Chris do you have a Palmer Mirror cue in your collection. <hr /></blockquote>


Yes, I have two. They're the Palmer Model 20 from the 3rd catalog and among my prize possessions.

There are two pages on the cue. Here is a general page:

Palmer Model 20 (http://www.palmercollector.com/Model20ThirdCatPage.html)


Next, this is my favorite page on the web site. I was looking at my other Model 20 a short while ago, and I looked at the name on the label. Now, I had always just looked at them like they were a label but it just struck me, who was this person? Who was this pool shooter (like me) who was motivated to buy the Palmer Ultra Supreme?

I thought, what if I found this man from 35 years ago? What if I found him and called him and asked about his cue.

I looked on the internet and actually located the name in Houston. I nervously called the number and a tape recorder came on. It was a younger man's voice giving his cell phone number. I called the cell phone. The boy was at a party and could barely hear me. I said "Are you Kerry Kooken?" he said "yessir" I said "did you ever have a Palmer cue with your name on it" he said "Oh my god, you've got my dad's cue!"

So it begins .. the story of "The Name on the Label"

The Name on The Label (http://www.palmercollector.com/Model20KerryPage.html)

Chris

DickLeonard
12-06-2005, 01:07 PM
Fran When I was driving truck I had a Saab with the Hatchback model, which I left unlocked, someone opened it and took my CB unit but left my two Palmer Cues one of which Chris now owns. No one knows what someone values.####

tateuts
12-06-2005, 01:39 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote DickLeonard:</font><hr> Fran When I was driving truck I had a Saab with the Hatchback model, which I left unlocked, someone opened it and took my CB unit but left my two Palmer Cues one of which Chris now owns. No one knows what someone values.#### <hr /></blockquote>

I didn't know that, Dick. When I look at your "J", I thank goodness that those crooks are either dumber than dirt or like to gab on the CB more than shoot pool. They might have used the cue to pry out your radio too!

By the way, looks like someone had a pic of your old custom made "J" cue and it's in the brand new Blue Book 3rd edition in the Palmer section listed as a "Custom Model J" -so I guess it's FAMOUS! :

Here's Dick's cue:

http://www.palmercollector.com/ModelJ.html

Scott Lee
12-08-2005, 02:52 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fran Crimi:</font><hr>
Here's one: Did you know that Steve Mizerak and Petey Margo were brothers-in-law? They were married to sisters.
Fran
<hr /></blockquote>

Fran...Actually, Pete Margo married Mizerak's sister, and that's what made them brothers-in-law!

Scott

Scott Lee
12-08-2005, 03:11 AM
Interesting thread Chris. Of course I've known for more than 25 years, the story of Palmer. Jack White was very good friends with Gene, and Gene made him two custom cues, one rosewood, and one ebony, that he played with for decades. I bought the rosewood cue from Jack, when I bought his tour. Jack also sold many hundreds of cues for them back in the 60's &amp; 70's. Pete was a kid pushing a broom in the shop back then, and is still a close friend of Jack's. I also heard the Margo/Mizerak story from Jack back in the early 70's too!

I'll guarantee you one thing, for sure! Pete Balner NEVER regretted going into the video rental store biz...it made him a VERY wealthy man...1000x more than the cue biz ever would have! Pete is a great guy, and I'm proud to say, a friend of mine!

On another note, Randyg probably owned the largest collection of Palmers ever...over 1100 Palmer cues, that he collected over the years, as he toured the country running the Texas Express Tour. Most of them he bought cheap in pawn shops...some were junk, some were treasure. He's sold most of them now, and you have a few in your collection. He also currently owns what can be considered the "holy grail" of Palmer Cues...the VERY FIRST THREE cues made by Gene, as the prototypes for the company, before they started manufacturing. They were discovered behind a door in the shop, in the original case made for them, where they had been inadvertently 'stashed' out of the way (since the early 60's), and found when the shop was being shut down years ago. They were authenticated by Gene's widow (Ida?), and the buyer got a letter from her and Pete, certifying what the cues are. I've seen the cues, and they are something. Like any artist's early stuff, they don't look like anything spectacular, like the after product lines did, but you can certainly tell they were the first
"originals by Palmer"! LOL BTW, they are for sale, for the right price, and would certainly make an interesting investment for someone.

Scott

Fran Crimi
12-08-2005, 06:54 AM
Thanks for the correction, Scott. I had forgotten who was married to whom.

Fran

tateuts
12-08-2005, 04:29 PM
Scott, Fran

I am going to save these stories and eventually assimulate them into the site at appropriate moments. All of them are really helpful. Thanks!

Chris

Scott Lee
12-08-2005, 09:51 PM
No problem Fran! You're certainly a wealth of information yourself! Happy holidays!

Scott