The History of Cue Cases?

JB Cases
Silver Member
This question was posed on another forum so I thought I would answer it here with what I know on the subject, which is by no means a complete history.

RUNSCOTT asked "Can someone (or multiple people) provide information on pool cue cases over the years? I'm especially interested in the relationships, history and timelines among the various cases and their makers. What cases came out when, who made them, who taught who, etc.? I've read versions of this info as it relates to Justis, Swift, In Stroke and their predecessors (although putting on this forum would be nice). But, I have not heard the same about Fellini, Gore, Engles, Whitten and others.

Scott <<== started thinking when seeing Hunter's Engles case that looked similar to a Fellini"

I want to give Chris Tate some recognition as well as he has an excellent resource on cue cases at

I started making cases in 1991. At that time I only knew of the following case makers that were actively making cases,

Jay Flowers, It's George, Jack Justis, and Porper. Around that time Guiseppe and New Image cases also came on the scene but I don't know if they started before or after me.

I didn't start studying cases until 1990 when I started to think about building my own. So my knowledge of case history prior to 1990 is sketchy but I will try and expect those with more knowledge to fill in the gaps. For the purpose of this essay I will stick to hard, tubular style cases.

From what I understand Brunswick had square leather cases that were patterned after fishing pole cases. These were popular throughout the 40's through the 60's. These cases were made of thick leather with a felt liner and typically held one cue and up to two shafts. I have also seen what has been called Martin cases that were said to have been made by or commissioned by cue maker Harvey Martin. These cases also featured a cloth interior but used a plastic tube as the structure.

Throughout the 70's and through the mid-80's the dominant case was the Fellini style case, which featured a plastic tube shell. Fellini cases were started by Bob Hemphil. Ann Gore worked for him and later started Manx Cases but were known as Ann Gore cases. Other cases spawned by the Fellini style include the Centennial, Kelli, It's George,Ron Thomas, and Engles. McDermott and Adams also had their mass production versions of this style.

More recently, the latest entry into this genre are the GTF Cases which were created specifically to replicate the Fellini and Centennial style cases.

In the mid 80's Joe Porper brought out a new type of case, the foam core style. Bob Meucci claims to have invented this style, which consists of filling a steel mold with expanding structural foam. This resulted in a form fitted interior that was lightweight and fairly strong. Leonard Bludworth says that he helped Joe Porper to get the mixture right and modified his foam injection machine to ensure consistency in the forms. The Porper case was revolutionary and quickly gained popularity. Up until the introduction of the Porper cases It's George was the dominant mass production case.

In the mid 80's through the early 90's Jay Flowers was also making tooled leather cases. From reading I have learned that Jay Flowers had a sort of production workshop with up to 8 people making cases. I met Jay Flowers in the late 90's in Vegas when he came up and introduced himself and told me that he was the first to begin making the plumbing tube style case that I was selling then. The plumbing/electrical tube style case is one where the interior structure is made of individual plastic tubes that are lined with cloth. According to Chris' website at one point Flowers had up to 1000 cases on order.

Jack Justis started in 1989 according to him. His cases were tube cases in the Flowers style. I have seen mention of another case called a Curtis case that was dated at the late 70's. In the one picture I have seen it is hard to tell what the interior construction is but the exterior design is a clear predecessor of Flowers, Justis and Instroke.

Instroke started in 1991 in my attic as Stroke cases. My first cases were tube cases that were an improvement over the Flowers case I dissected as far as the interior construction went. But the exterior was more like a Porper with a zipper top and funky pockets. I just liked the softer feel of the Porpers and it was easier for me to do that style than to do the tooled leather versions. The early cases were all one of-a-kinds.

In 1993 I went to my first BCA trade show in Kansas City as a guest of Toby Kim of Kim Steel pool tables. At that show I saw Gusieppe Cases from California, New Image cases from Arizona, Porper of course and It's George. At this point Instroke was not mass producing cases. I had only 18 cases to show. So the dominant cases were still Porper and It's George but from what I remember Guiseppe and New Image were doing great business. I don't remember that there were a lot of import cases on display then. Jay Flowers didn't have a booth and neither did Justis that I remember.

The next year, 1994 Instroke debuted the mass production lines. At this time a few other case makers that are unknown in the USA came on the scene. Waldemar Eisele and True West cases. Both of these were done in the Flowers style, with the Eisele case being crafted one at a time and the True West being mass produced. Neither of them made any impact in the USA. Throughout the 90's the two brand names that became most dominant were Porper and Instroke.

From 1994 - 2000 a few case makers have come and gone, one being Jim Knott from California. Jim had a partnership with a local leather worker wherein Jim designed the cases and the leather worker built them. This worked out great until the leather worker upped his prices and Jim couldn't compete. Jim Walker from Oklahoma also built and may still build great cases.

I have to mention Dennis Swift. Although Jay Flowers said he started the tube case style I am not sure. Swift cases have also been around for as long as I have been making cases but I never knew much about them other than the few I owned and studied. According to Dennis' website he has been making cases for over 25 years which would mean that he started at least by 1983. Swift cases were mostly sold through Mueller Sporting Goods (but not under Swift's name) and Cuemaker Tad Kohara as TAD cases.

And Whitten of course. I first became aware of Whitten in 1994. Their cases are tube cases with a twist. They fill the space in between the tubes with expanding foam so that the cases have a flat surface for the soft upholstery leather to cover the interior. Whitten cases have developed a singular style that has been emulated but never duplicated.

With the exception of the Fellini-Ann Gore relationship I am not aware that any other case makers had learned directly from any others nor received anything but friendly advice or sharing of resources.

Until recently Joe Whitten was the only second-generation case maker in the business. Now, according to the information on this forum, Mike Roberts and his son are making It's George cases again.

Another notable case maker who isn't only a cue case maker but instead is a crafter of cases of all types is Chas Clements. Chas came into the world of cue cases through a commission to make a case for Paul Rubino, one of the co-authors of the Billiard Encyclopedia. Chas' cases were works of art that also were pretty much bulletproof. He didn't do a lot of cases and unfotunately suffered a hand injury that all but ended his leatherworking career. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with Chas and although I did not apprentice under him he was generous with his techniques and that has helped me to make better cases. Chas was active from 2000-2003.

Another case maker of interest that is no longer active is New York cases. New York cases were made by a man who was active in clothes and bags in New York of course. The distinctive feature on these cases was that the pockets were inside the case. This however made the cases really large and bulky. These cases were very nice in their patterns of leather overlays and inlays.

A few years ago Jim Murnak came on the scene and has quickly gained a nice following. Jim comes to cue case making though his other business making leather fighting gear and archery quivers. Since taking up pool Jim decided to make cue cases. Jim's cases are primarily tube cases that are a blend of several styles infused with his own style to create unique pieces.

In Arizona there is Garth Bair and his On Q Cases. His cases are reminiscent of the New York cases but nicer. On Q Cases are tube cases and he specializes in doing cases decorated with inlays. Garth also has a unique way of doing the pockets that is very interesting. Garth started in 2002.

Lately Brian Bonner of Nittany Leahter has been making great cases in the Swift-Flowers style. I think Brian has been doing it for couple years.

There are other case makers out there out well that are less known but equally as good.

I have not mentioned the Asian cases because they have been mostly copies until the past few years. There are a few case makers in China and Taiwan that are doing original stuff. An original brand that also showed influence from other styles but had it's own look is Talisman from Thailand. Tony Jones has created a nice case that is durable and functions well. Talisman started around 2001ish I think.

I don't mention any distributer brands whose offerings are mostly copies of the brands I mentioned above.

Okay, that's about all I know or care to think about right now. :)

I look forward to others adding their knowledge to this and together we can put together a pretty decent history of this part of the industry.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Man,,,,,,,,,,''everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Cases But Were Afraid To Ask "..........great Insight Into The Wonderful Art Of Casemaking !!!!


Still life.
Silver Member
Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Cue Cases And Were Afraid I'd Tell You

I can't wait for The Recollections Of John Barton! Great post - and I love the vids on your site too.

Thank you for all the info and best of luck for you with your cases!


AzB Gold Mensch
Silver Member
Nice job on this, John.

I would like to add something about the fly rod and cue case connection.

The picture below shows a fly rod case (left side) made in the 1930's and branded "Lyon and Coulson, Buffalo, New York", a sporting goods supplier. This is the case I believe was adapted by Brunswick in the 1940's to use for cues. The case has a flip tip lid with straps. It's hard to see it in pictures, but the case also has a tooled design. Brunswick offered a "Deluxe" case in the 1950's which was used in the movie "The Hustler" with a nearly identical tooling pattern. This case also features a strap and handle configuration later used by Jay Flowers and is still used on many cue cases.

The case to the far right is my Jack Justis daily playing case from the mid 1990's.



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The King of Memes
Silver Member
Nice Brunswick case, Chris ;) !

I have always heard that the case used in The Hustler was actually an A.E. Schmidt, which looks like a smaller version of the flyrod case you pictured. I have watched the movie a time or two and in one scene, it looks just like the Schmidt, but everywhere else that you see it, it looks like the Deluxe... Brunswick would make more sense, though, since they were using Rambows. Ever hear this theory?


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AzB Gold Mensch
Silver Member
Hi Steve,

Thanks for the photo - remarkable similarities to the fly rod case, huh?

There were a few years where Brunswick was offering their standard case, which is the plain case, and their tooled case, which is hard to find and looks just like the one you showed in the picture. I have a catalog or two with these in them. I'm pretty sure the AE Schmidt case is a re-branded Brunswick case that was sold through AE Schmidt with their own label on it. I've seen pictures of these exact cases with both Brunswick and AE Schmidt labels on them.


Hunter said:
Nice Brunswick case, Chris ;) !

I have always heard that the case used in The Hustler was actually an A.E. Schmidt, which looks like a smaller version of the flyrod case you pictured. I have watched the movie a time or two and in one scene, it looks just like the Schmidt, but everywhere else that you see it, it looks like the Deluxe... Brunswick would make more sense, though, since they were using Rambows. Ever hear this theory?


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Cue cases

I think it would be a shame if Centennial cases were not mentioned in this thread. I owned several of them and they provided excellent, air tight, protection for a cue. I wish I had kept them all. For modern day case makers, the equivalent to Centennial or Fellini, would have to be Ron Thomas. He makes a great, classically styled case, with great protection. Plus, he's a hell of a nice guy.

JB Cases
Silver Member
I think it would be a shame if Centennial cases were not mentioned in this thread. I owned several of them and they provided excellent, air tight, protection for a cue. I wish I had kept them all. For modern day case makers, the equivalent to Centennial or Fellini, would have to be Ron Thomas. He makes a great, classically styled case, with great protection. Plus, he's a hell of a nice guy.

I did mention Centennial but only in reference to what most people know as the "Fellini" style.

Centennial did in fact make a major improvement over the Fellini as far as the function went and that is the O-ring. With the O-ring the case sealed better and the lid fit tighter.

To date the only maker who has copied the O-ring has been Sam Engles. I believe that he did a double O-ring. Not sure if it really helped any more though. And Ron Thomas does a sort of button that is not really intended to seal the case but does have similar functionality in keeping the cap secured.

Centennial also introduced the treated wood endcaps. I personally prefer the folded endcaps as Harvey Martin, Gina, Fellini and now GTF does them because it give the case sort of an endless feel to them.

I have to say though that capping the ends with wood, plastic or again now as GTF does them, with leather, offers quite a bit of flexibility in design to make complimentary or contrasting elements.

Also Centennial might have been the first to introduce the 2x4 cases. I can't find any information on this for a timeline but I have a feeling that they did introduce them before it's George. AND furthermore they were definitely one of the first if not the first to offer cases with a big pouch on them. (which I neglected to mention in my What's in the Case blog segment recently, )

So the Centennial is definitely iconic and it's George and Ron Thomas can thank Centennial for the influence on their own products.


Grandpa & his grand boys.
Silver Member
Thanks John. I enjoyed the "trip" through the case world. I like cases!!


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Very interesting history, thanks for sharing.

As a collector, anyone know where I could get one of the "Hustler" cases?


aka uncle larry
Silver Member
any info out there on the unmarked cases sold by brunswick that were shaped as an oval at top and round at bottom? the top was removable with two push type latches. who made them, etc? these were very nice looking leather cases. since my computer crashed, i don't have any pics.


RIP Kelly
Silver Member

What about your experiment with making a modern version of the hustler case? I bought one from you at this year's Super Billiard Expo. Great quality and finish, I feel special owning it and I'm surprised you're not offering it in your catalog.


AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Didn't Ernie Gutierrez make a tube style case? I'm pretty sure the Glenn Collection has one.


daydreaming about pool
Silver Member
John, do you have any knowledge of Steve Price's work? He currently produces cases out of the Tampa/Clearwater area.


Cowboys are my hero's
Silver Member
The Cases Roy has are 1 x 2, Black, or Brown like the Cue Case in the movie The Hustler,
they were made by Murnak of NYC. As I said Roy @ INDYQ has some specials going so if this is what you are talking about contact Roy for prices, etc.