Monday, May 6, 2013

Patent: Lathe for Turning Billiard Balls

"The difficulty of turning Billiard Balls so to make them perfectly round and true, or in other words a sphere, has until lately been regarded as insuperable. Heretofore the universal method of turning balls was in a common lathe, with, for the most part, hand tools. This, as every mechanic knows, was a tedious process, as it was necessary to take the ball out of the lathe very frequently for readjustment; yet notwithstanding all this pains-taking it was almost impossible for the most skillful adept to produce a perfect sphere. This great mechanical difficulty has at length been overcome; for by a process patented by Messrs. Phelan and Collender, and invented by a gentleman in California, all kinds of spheres, from billiard balls to cannon balls, can be turned perfectly round with very little more trouble than placing the raw material in its place after the machine has been properly adjusted to size...."

- from "A New York Billiard Table Manufactory", A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to 1860: Exhibiting the Origin and Growth of the Principal Mechanic Arts and Manufactures, from the Earliest Colonial Period to the Adoption of the Constitution, by John Leander Bishop, Vol. II, pg. 612, Philadelphia, 1864

The uncredited inventor was Luther A. Johnson, whose billiard inventions included:
Hand-turning of billiard balls was still a challenge decades later, as these articles attest:

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