In 1868 the Albany Billiard Ball Company was formed and produced the Hyatt ball, which was sold towards the end of the century in England by the Bonzoline Manufacturing Co. Ltd under the name of ‘Bonzoline’
In 1900 George Birt left the Albany Company and came over to England and with the help of Percy Warnford-Davis started to produce the Crystalate snooker table ball. This was made up of a composite of celluloid.
In 1909 the Endolithic Company (who were marketing the crystalate ball) brought over from Australia the sensational young player George Gray. He made a series of the largest breaks ever made on a snooker table and established the reputatton of the crystalate ball. Eventually it was adopted as the standard ball for all matches by the Billiards Association and Control Club. Meanwhile a chemical firm in Germany was experinenting with the production of an entirely different type of ball with a phenol and formaldehyde base.
It was a cast resin snooker table ball and was rather lighter but had beautiful bright colours and had a very attractive translucent appearance. The experiments were carried out by a briiliant German chemist, Dr Koebner, who in 1937 fled to London as a refugee. From then until his death twelve years later, he worked for the Billiard Ball Company, where a ball similar to the German product was perfected and marketed under the name ‘vitalite’.
Snooker tables balls are two inch and one sixteenth and English pool table balls are two inch. When pool table recovering I am often asked why the white ball comes out at one end of pool tables and the colours at the other???