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Pro9's Simon D'Vali manages to collect a mythical cue
 Posted on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 08:45:47 UTCby admin
Cue Corner Cue Corner

Presented by Simon "The Diamond" D'Vali
The UK's foremost authority on collectable cues

A cue collecting article about a mythical cue?

I have the greatest story to tell (for cue freaks anyway).

In 1999, my wife Michelle was working in America for a few months. I went to join her for a couple of weeks, bit of a holiday, shoot some pool...and buy some cues (naturally). Anyway, I went into a cue shop (Why don't we have cue shops over here?) and picked up a catalogue from Cue and Case Sales. Cue and Case Sales are one of the largest distributors of cues and billiard products in the US. Contained within its pages was a section on Meucci Cues. Flicking through, one cue caught my eye.....a 97-30. It looked stunning. I have never described a Meucci like that. Ask Big Dave how I feel about them, lol!

"Read More..." for the details.

So I got on the phone and rang Cue and Case. They didn't have one in stock...but they could get me one. I explained I lived in the UK but was on Holiday in the US. If I ordered it now, could they ship it to the UK for me, of course they could. Jurassic Park and everyone is a winner. Happy days.

Got back to the UK and a month went by with nothing. Then after 2 months I got back on the dog and bone to Cue and Case and asked where my cue was. They didn't know. Plus, they couldn't give me a price of the cue...which I found very strange. I wasn't bothered at the cost (well, as long as it was within reason), just wanted the cue. They said they would look into it and get back to me. Another month passed, then another. In the meantime, I contacted other dealers in the US about the cue. They had never heard of it. What???? A Meucci 97-30. I have a picture of it in a catalogue I obtained from Arizona (which I still own to this day). I knew it existed...or did it???

Again, every dealer I spoke to had never heard of it. This was now getting strange. I decided to ring Meucci direct about this matter. The person on the end of the phone told me there was no such cue!! What am I hearing??? I have a picture of it. Anyway, I looked on the Meucci website and the catalogue numbers went 97-28, 97-29....97-31!!!!! No 97-30. I took that as an acknowledgement that there was at some point in the past a 97-30. US Dealers couldn't tell me, MEUCCI couldn't tell me. I placed fake eBay auctions asking to buy a Meucci 97-30, for owners to please get in touch if they wanted to sell. That's when I got my first break. After another year and my third fake auction, I got a reply....one reply in two years! The chap explained to me that he BELIEVED the cue to be a one off. He tried to buy one in 1998 and was told it was a custom cue, only one made. I said I had been trying to get one for years and no one believed me that this cue existed, still I had the evidence that this cue existed in my Cue and Case catalogue. So now I was getting somewhere, it looks like MY cue was unique but it still doesn't explain what it was doing in the line up in the 97 Series if it was a one off. If it was unique, the chances of getting it were slim to none....it would probably reside in a private collection, never again to see the light of day.

I thought that was it. I had tried for years and whilst I had not found my quarry, I had established (I wasn't going mad?) that at least one 97-30 existed at some point.

More years went by. One night, don't ask me why....I resurrected the thought process on the fabled 97-30. I typed 'Meucci 97-30' into Google and I couldn't believe what I saw.....under the archive section on the Meucci Home Page was a picture of a 97-30.

Underneath it said 'Discontinued'. Was it ever continued I asked myself? So now, Meucci had acknowledged its existence. Were there a few made, was there only one? I still didn't have the answers. The pain and suffering that I had gone through since 1999 was re-awakened.

Cut to the present day, last month in fact. By this time, I have bought and sold more cues than would be considered healthy. I was looking at a thread on Meucci cues on AZ Billiards. Someone had asked about the most expensive or collectable Meucci Cues available. I had replied saying I wasn't sure about the most expensive (Meucci Crown Jewels, Meucci Taj Mahal?) but the most desirable for me was my fabled 97-30. I said I had some evidence to say it was unique but I wasn't sure and I ended the post by saying that there was a reward for the location of one. Not long after, a reply came back asking me to look at an eBay auction. I clicked on the link and I couldn't believe it. It was a 97-30 for sale. It looked EXACTLY like the cue in my catalogue, EXACTLY like the cue on the Meucci website. One problem, the cue had sold, the auction had ended. I emailed the buyer and seller in the hope one of them would sell me the cue (whoever had it). Turns out the seller didn't want to sell it at the $1000 the auction reached. Made sense to me. I rang the seller and we spent an hour on the phone. It turned out the cue WAS unique. He had owned it from new. He bought it direct off Bob Meucci himself and he sent me the photograph of him with Bob and the cue when he bought it at a trade show in 1998. Bob had made this cue himself as an addition to the 97 Series and called it the 97-30. On its completion, Bob decided that the cue was too complex in design to make as a production cue, it would cost many thousands of dollars per cue, even more than the Meucci 97-31 and 32 one of which is $2500 already. Cue is hand signed by Bob and says 'Prototype' on the handle. It also comes with a certificate signed by Bob explaining this. It turns out Cue and Case got the pre release photographs of the cue in 1998 and wanted to jump the gun in the assumption that was the complete 97 Series line up. After printing, Bob took the decision to pull the cue from the series. So the reason why this cue looked EXACTLY like the Meucci website photo and the Cue and Case Catalogue photo is that it IS that EXACT cue. Only one made, by Bob.

Well, negotiations took place, we agreed a price (I would have gone higher, Brian :-)) and finally, after 7 years, I have it in my hands. See the pictures. The design is super complicated and you get a feel of what Mr Meucci was thinking after he made it....words to the effect of 'never again' spring to mind. The clear acrylic windows in the forearm and butt sleeve cover 3 dimensional mitred boxes with an intricate design, surrounded by gold leaf foil. The ringwork consists of deep routed boxes with the gold leaf foil also, it must have taken a great deal of time to complete. The butt-sleeve also contains solid gold inlays (like one of the really early Meucci cues). The routing for the windows is extremely deep and would have required careful cutting to avoid damaging the thin curly maple pillars between the windows. One shaft supplied that doesn't even look like it has been chalked.

I can't recall ever devoting so much time to the acquisition of one single item. A happy man then but at the same time quite melancholy. No longer will I have to let my supper go cold because I am on the computer. No longer will I run up £20+ phone calls to the U.S. chasing a non-existent cue (hang on....?). No longer will my wife utter the immortal words 'Its me or the cues, you choose!' (love you, babe). It became almost a quest to a) prove its existence and b) acquire it. So I have reached the end of my journey and at last found my quarry. We don't have world peace yet but at least I have found the only 97-30 made, lol! The itch has been scratched. I think and contemplate on the words of those famous scholars...Motorhead.....'The chase is better than the catch'. In this case, the chase probably exceeded the catch but at least I have it.

Thank you for reading.

I think they call it OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

....and just to show Big Dave I don't really hate them, here is a picture of my new acquisition along with two other Meucci cues in my collection. Both have history though, which is what makes them as interesting as the 97-30. The middle cue is a 97-22, just a stock example. This cue was Steve Knight's main shooting cue for many years after he had his custom Bear cue stolen. It has been all over the world and if the cue could talk, it would give some great accounts of tournament matches and money matches over the years. Cue comes with Steve's own Predator 314 with his trademark whittled down ferrule. Another bit of trivia, Steve was the first player to bring Predator to the UK. The bottom cue is equally as interesting. This custom Meucci was made for UK snooker/pool legend, Steve Davis by Bob Meucci shortly before the 1996 Mosconi Cup. Steve, not wanting to switch to a pool cue at the time (or at least a larger tip) continued to use his snooker cue and subsequently gave this Meucci to Andy Richardson (who was also in the Mosconi Cup Team that year). Andy then gave this cue to my dad shortly after. My dad has used this cue for American pool since then.


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