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Important Events
Brunswick Billiards: Historical highlights from the first 150 years, 1845 to 1995

John Moses Brunswick, after emigrating from Switzerland in 1834 and apprenticing in New York City and Philadelphia, establishes his Cincinnati Carriage Making Company. The product line is expanded beyond carriages to include cabinets, tables, and chairs. The company’s first billiard table was produced this year for a successful Cincinnati meatpacker. Word-of-mouth promotion quickly brought requests for more tables.

Brunswick opens its first sales office in Chicago on State Street. This first branch soon expands to include two factories and an 8,000 square foot billiard parlor on Washington Street. Additional offices, sales rooms, and billiard parlors open in New Orleans in 1852 and St. Louis in 1859.

Demand for Brunswick tables continues to increase. Brunswick merges with rival Julius Balke’s Great Western Billiard Table Manufactory to become The J. M. Brunswick and Balke Company. Pamphlets published two years after the great Chicago fire describe the company as manufacturing 700 tables annually, with 350 Brunswick tables in play in the city of Chicago, and selling from Canada to Mexico, with tables in every principal city in the west.

Brunswick joins with another rival to become “The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company,”  the largest billiard equipment operation in the world, larger than all its competitors combined. Expansion of the product line now includes elaborate and ornate front and back bars made of rich woods, flawless mirrors, and stained glass. Originally offered as special order items, demand from taverns grew so great that a new factory in Dubuque, Iowa manufactured and shipped the bars around the world. The bars began to gather design awards at international exhibitions. Many of them are still in use today, becoming focal points in popular bars and restaurants around the country.

Brunswick is one of the most successful businesses in Chicago, operating from a five story building on State Street, with an additional factory located at Rush and Kinzie and one at Huron and Sedgwick that covered an entire city block with its factory, warehouse and lumber drying plant.

Company President  Moses Bensinger works to experiment and research better ways to make billiard tables and equipment. Important patents for rubber cushions are registered and other technical innovations evolve.

Brunswick opens a new 100,000 square foot plant in Muskegon, Michigan. Among the many departments at the plant: billiard table assembly, billiard balls, cue manufacturing, and chalk. Company-owned boats brought cut maple from  Brunswick’s lumber mill in Big Bay on Lake Huron; the lumber itself came from a thousand acres of Brunswick timberland near Lake Superior. The company owned its own slate quarries in Vermont and Pennsylvania. It was the world’s largest user of hardwood. Manufacturing over 400,000 cues a year, there was enough reserve maple in Brunswick drying kilns (the world’s largest) to make an additional 600,000 cues.

Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co. has main offices in Chicago (executive headquarters since 1908), New York, Cincinnati and San Francisco, with factories in six U.S. cities plus Toronto and Paris, offices and salesrooms in 43 cities across America, “foreign” offices in Honolulu, Mexico City and Paris, and Canadian offices in Montreal, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.

Ivorylene Pockets Balls make their first appearance in Brunswick-Balke-Collender Price List No. 785, for $16 per set  Preceded by Compo-Ivory and Empire sets in 1905, Ivorylene balls receive the Brunswick registered trademark “Dart” in the early 1930s and eventually evolve into today’s world renown Centennial
® Ball.

Willie Mosconi joins the pro staff of Brunswick Billiards. Mosconi is destined to become pockets billiards world champion 15 times between 1941 and 1957. In 1932 Brunswick sponsors a World Tournament, with Ralph Greenleaf placing first and Jimmy Caras second. Caras was offered his first Brunswick contract to play exhibitions around the country on Brunswick tables. During 1933–34 Brunswick’s staff of 21 professionals travel the country doing exhibitions.

Brunswick celebrates 100 years of continuous operation...Brunswick engineers develop the “cast phenolic resin” ball. The formula was so new and different that the Chicago firm manufacturing the balls had to post a heavy armed guard around the factory to ensure the formula’s security. That basic ball remains in use today and through many improvements over the years has evolved into today’s “Centennial
® Ball”. During the years of World War II more than 13,000 billiard tables were installed at military and naval bases here and overseas.

The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company changes its name to Brunswick Corporation.

In development since 1958, it’s the debut year of the AR6100 series Gold Crown
table. Destined to become the finest table ever made, it set new standards for the industry. Refinements and upgrades over the next 30 plus years bring the table to the ultimate Gold Crown IV, unmatched in reputation, preferred by professionals, used in tournaments and exhibitions worldwide.

A devastating flood in Brunswick Billiards’ Marion, Virginia facility results in the destruction of many records and the loss of much historical data.

St. Ignatius College Prep was one of the few buildings to escape the Chicago Fire. It still stands today and houses this magnificent library built by Brunswick craftsmen under the direct supervision of John Brunswick in 1872. In 1985 Brunswick funds the complete restoration of the Brunswick Library.

1995 to today
Brunswick, an American company, begins its second 150 years with a dedication to product and service quality, to design excellence and craftsmanship, and to market leadership. A Brunswick billiard table is quintessentially American, with a heritage and reputation backed by the traditions established, built, and nurtured over the last 150 years. Do you own your piece of history?