We live in a post-billiards age. There was an age of billiards, and it has been over for so long, most of us have no idea how huge billiards once was. For many decades, starting in the mid-19th Century, billiards … Continue reading →
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm Roman, Mars, we live in, post billiards world. There was an age of billiards and it has been over for so long. Most of us have no idea how huge billiards once was a hundred years ago there were eight hundred and thirty who halls in my city of Chicago. Now, if you add up all the gas station, all Mcdonald's and all the Starbucks in Chicago right now you'd be nowhere. I stood at number, you be a little under six hundred. If you want to be exact- and I know you do you beautiful nerds today- Chicago has fewer than ten porthos That is Dan Weissmann reporter Chicago. Then originally reported the story for marketplace place so billiards now what it used to be. But this is a post billiards world in a much more profound sense, because the gap,
with a billiards led to the development of a material that for better or worse aim to define the modern world. I just I say one word to just one word: use plastics This story starts with a gun in Michael Phelan, pools, by everybody is really the Father of American Billiards. That's Michael Seamus he's the author of the illustrated encyclopedia of billions. Feeling was a brilliant player, but he also raised awareness of the sport promoted it arranging the biggest big money matches felon was totally remarkable because he was everything He was at all around everything guy. He started a huge billiards hon San Francisco. He patented a new kind of billiard cushion, and then he took money. He had one playing billiards and writing books on billiards and use it to become the first big manufacturer, a billiard tables
fail and created the age, a billiards in the? U S, and he felt that two further popularize the game of billions and some more tickets to matches and somewhat books and sell more equipment he would meet. Standardized gear, because, if tables and balls weren't the same from one location to another your were basically playing indifferent game. Every time you went somewhere knew, but standardizing the billiard ball was no easy task is a very, very high standard to meet. The billiard ball has to have certain physical properties. It has two rebound properly. It has to be a uniform density and, at the time really only one material that would do ivory, which was not cheap going to Africa. Shooting elephants that is dangerous and expensive, not to mention horrible people for decades have been trying to find some it's for ivory. They try to variety of materials, including even metal, balls iron balls, which really don't perform.
Iron billiard balls just work. The same ivory balls had just the right wait, the most even rule the best rebound off the queue stick off each other up the side of the table. Nothing was good and not only that only the best greed ivory would do. In fact, when you look at records me ivory trade, that great of ivory is actually called billiard ball, ivory and billiard balls required a lot of billiard ball grade ivory unlikely we on piano keys, which were just a veneer over would billiard balls had to be made of a hundred per cent solid, ivory and vat, for the average number of billiard balls that could be obtained from a single tusk was three. If you are the best luckiest billiard ball turner, maybe you could get five boss from one task, Even so that means one set. A billiard balls is going to require killing at least two elements, so billiard balls were very expensive and when you
the building industry that a problem for felons company it was the problem for entire trade depended on the forgers of one exotic material. That's Robert Fidel a professor at the University of Maryland. He studied the history of technology and he wrote the book on what happens now failing and his colleagues were acutely aware that their dependency on ivory was not ideal. There really dashboard about think it proved wrong. A word define some kind of substitute mercurial, but other simply want anything feelin takes out an ad in the paper, and here a modification of what happens when a guinea John Westley fire found that add, say, John look at this rate, it yourself cries of ten thousand dollars for the discovery of a satisfactory substitute ivory and me. Billiard balls, that's from nineteen. Thirty, seven episode of a radio show called Cavalcade of America
That's a lot of money, certainly is in terms of wages. People earned at the time it was like three million dollars, hi, it wasn't a chemist, but he was a tinkerer any work for years to win. Valence Bryce by trade high, it was a printer and printers use, nitrate cellulose to protect their hands. Still sold as liquid bandages and that mercury, Turns out to have very interesting properties and in particular it dissolved and create diversion roughly liquid in the radio dramatization high. It gets his key inspiration when a bottle of the stuff overturns any watches, dry into a film that he finds interesting. Why this bitter? Given me an idea, and the idea might be worth ten thousand dollars. Hi, it's idea might have been worth ten thousand dollars, but it was also dangerous night It's a loss is highly highly flammable
so you're gonna heat that my credit continent comprises at right here because far away, I cannot avoid don't you think but John High, it in his lap assistant Jim kept going they'd heat up, I tried, can put it in the brain. And ready to open a propaganda will ever got wondered. Why don't you speak? What's the matter? Look Jim Press look at it. Human. It will have a kind of I'd always time and material that would take the place of ivory. The material that would take the place of ivory was plastic. I called his new material cellulite, but so you Lloyd did not win bail and ten thousand dollar price. Cellulite is a wonderful material itself. It's a beautiful plastic can be colouring offered wage. My shape beautifully as a wonderful range of uses, but failure ball for not.
And balls Muso Lloyd, just didn't bounds right, but high. It tried to make a go anyway. He got shot. A billion while company, but Both are not made of failure like they have a thin veneer of shyly light on the outside, but their mainly plaster on the inside and their very inferior by your boss I didn't give up on so you would you want to. With his brother Isaiah, say, shut up a whole series of companies to try to exploit what they are convinced that a very nifty material but they can't figure out what on earth the market friendly They tried dental plates, you can color, so Lloyd looked just like real gums, but there the problem turned out that dumb show you lie, get soft. If you're drinking hot tea. Eventually they find them
asked use for celluloid is imitation ivory, albeit not for billiard balls, but for versions of popular ivory luxury goods. Nice handles combs hand mirrors even tore Asia boxes. Gigantic arrange, range of think, many of which would never actually have been made at irate. Also piano, keys, Sears cat The nineties offers pianos with a choice of key coverings, ivory or cellulite enough It's the most famous use of celluloid would eventually be to make films stock for movies. Meanwhile, billiard ball. Kept getting made out of ivory ivory It came mostly from Africa which, of course, the Europeans had been busy colonizing unexploited in the eye. Betrayed was pretty awful for the people of Africa. Joseph Conrad wrote heart of darkness, based largely on his own. Experience in the belgian Congo, where ivory was the big product
Conrad called the whole enterprise quote, the violet scramble for Lou than ever disfigured the history of human conscience and car didn't necessary care about this part, but obviously the ivory trade was also terrible for elephants, What watch? In fact, a pretty common animal in Central Africa in the middle of the nineteenth century is becoming increasingly scarce, by the twentieth by the time of world war. One the ivory supply crunch, the one than Michael Phelan, had started worrying about fifty years before had arrived in, and this time the real significance of high it's. So you Lloyd, had begun to show itself and had worked for billiard balls. However Redemptor inspire p would offend about what artificial material might be available, what what people could make what people could invent?
in I do seven a chemist, namely LEO Gland, comes up with a new kind of plastic made from petroleum. He names bake light after himself and war cool thing about big light. You can melted Nixon fillers, and it turned out that with that capability, you can vote If a density you can vary, realise Geoffrey and you can make a perfect value. And so they finally replaced ivory balls with this new plastic baker. Light by the nineteen forties, even top portraits were being played with plastic bottles, but by then pool had passed its peak. It crashed as the depression began, never regained its former prominence. The age of billiards was over, and this post, Billiards AIDS, the age of plastics and real, he'd gotten into gear. For example, they handle of your toothbrush is probably a plastic so
not only are the barrel of your bounden PAN the instrument panel in your car, and yet these are just a few of more than twenty five thousand modern uses for plastic. Get plastics plural by that time, a bunch on the market, pvc, final polyethylene, plexiglas, nylon and in labs, discovering the step that would end up becoming teflon in saran, wrap in good old. So he lowered the plastic that started at all had been retired either. From the movies get rich and refresh about the beginning of motion picture by there were highly dangerous, improbable. So you film called several disastrous in fatal fires in movie theaters by one thousand nine hundred and thirty four, a new form cellulose acetate had taken the place of Hyatt Cellulose nitrate for film. So you Lloyd, borne out a billiards was the first plastic it ushered in a new age of modern products, but it never succeeded in revolutionizing the game, a billiards. It did
however, revolutionise another tables warrant, ping pong Also Lloyd, was invented. Pink long was played with something more closely resembling. A golf ball, which, as you can imagine, doesn't didn't have that perfect bout sell you ping pong ball reused for years, but finally got thumbed from turn would play in twenty thirteen. The reason they were a little too bouncing poor satellite- it just can't win someday, Oh fine, the perfect for you, my bouncy friend. We around your ways in store for the website. You walk back up. What are you read, like? Maybe one placement
Ninety nine percent. Invisible was produces week by Dan Weissmann, with gaiety mingle, same Greenspan, a breach of human and me roman Mars, special thanks to day bond who runs the Chicago Billiard Museum and Online Museum, which has an amazing collection of billiards, related documents and data and images we'll have a link on our website. We are directive. Ninety one point: seven k, L, W San Francisco and produced under the offices of oxide torture and in two years for in beautiful, downtown Oakland California, we often don't think of winter as a time of growth or creation. But if you think about it, it's the perfect time to greet your own website gives recouped job you thinkin about being productive, and now square space can help you do it. Whiskers Bates can take your cool ideas. You ve creative content, your services, goods, and you can turn them into a beautiful website in just a few clicks. Does it because there is to use templates created by war?
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.