In the early 1800s the ivory from Elephant tusk was the only material suitable for billiard balls. However, there wasn’t enough ivory to go around. So in 1863, Phelan and Collander the worlds largest Billiard Company offered to pay anyone $10,000.00 for a suitable substitute.
Fueled by the promised reward money John Wesley Hyatt accepted the challenge by experimenting at nights to develop an ivory substitute. Hyatt’s first billiard ball patent was acquired in 1865. They were made by dissolving shellac in alcohol and mixed with sufficient quantity of ivory dust, bone dust and other ingredients. John Hyatt and Peter Kinnear then formed the Hyatt Billiard Ball Company to produce wound fiber core and shellac composition billiard balls.
In 1868 Hyatt devised a method of making billiard balls with collodion or nitrocellulose. The process began with nitrocellulose which he ground into a fine pulp and combined with camphor, formed in a mold and placed under pressure and heat. The pressure was applied for an extended period of time to create a dense, durable billiard ball. He called this new product Celluloid and renamed the Hyatt Billiard Ball Company the Albany Billiard Ball Company. The composition Celluloid billiard balls of the Albany Billiard Ball Company were more durable, had a stable center of gravity and rolled more smoothly than ivory balls.
The Albany Billiard Ball Company was an industry leader making Celluloid billiard balls for more than 100 years. The company folded in 1986 due to cheap imports.
Manufacturer of Celluloid Billiard Balls