Richard Black Custom Cues  

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CUESTOCK 2014, October 24-25, 2014

Discussion Topic October 24, 2014
Moderated by Richard Black and Andy Gilbert

Customer and Cuemaker Expectations:

The cuemaker prefers that the customer has experience in buying custom cues before they get to us. It helps in them knowing the different specs that we have to know and if they have specific design ideas they then have a pretty good idea of what we can and cannot do.

It is far better when they have thought out ahead of time the design, budget, materials they would like and things like that before they make their contact. It also helps when they can confirm the information relayed by e-mail after the phone conversation.

Repeated phone contacts have a tendency to confuse the agreement in that the cuemaker is probably in the middle of some construction task when the phone call is taken and if it doesn't get written down it can be lost in the shuffle.

From the customer side of things the biggest concern was provenance. Collectors seemed to want it all spelled out, sketches, list of materials, etc. provided with the original delivery of the cue. They also felt this was their entitlement with even the least expensive cues the maker provided. This evolved into a bone of contention in that the cuemaker does not price his lower end cues with a margin that allows for this service. It was also pointed out that many of the things they were asking for had been tried in the past and were a complete waste of time in that the buyer lost them and only felt they needed it when they were attempting to resell the cue. At that point the cuemaker was more inclined to not appreciate the request for the cuemaker to do all the extra work.

The cuemaker felt that the collector should be responsible for saving the provenance that was originally provided with the cue and that each cuemaker's provenance was his own identification and that it was not necessary that they all be consistent.


Cue Design Theft

It was of course unanimous that we did not condone cue design theft in any form but recognized the problems associated with customer sending the cuemaker a design that they have extracted from someone else's work and shopped around for a better price. The cuemaker may not have ever seen the design before and therefore quotes it on the basis of being original. There really isn't anyway the cuemaker should be held responsible for his actions at this point. The onus falls back on the buyer and should be held responsible for a "not so nice" action. In the case of foreign manufacturers copying a cuemakers design there seems to be no way to stop it - other than knowledgeable buyers refusing to be on the buying end and spreading the news.


Cue ID

There was great interest in the possibility of the cuemaker inserting an identification chip into the cue while it is being built. It was acknowledged that the cost of doing so was minimal and any cuemaker would be glad to do so. There was some concern there was no central location for the chip serial numbers to be stored and one attendee volunteered to pick up the gauntlet and see what he could do to establish such a location.

There were also questions about how to go about have already built cues fitted with the ID chip. Lots of ideas were kicked around and I believe the volunteer is going to be coming forward with some suggestions on that. If the building cuemaker is still alive he would be able to insert and register the chip on his own work at a minimal cost. Each maker would have to come up with that figure himself, since he knows his own work limits.


Cue Appraisal

It was pointed out that for truly reliable cue appraisal it was necessary to have a "Certified Art Appraiser" do the work and there are currently NO such beings. One certified appraiser attempted to penetrate the supposed market a few years back but was met with NO interest. Probably because it is a very expensive experience. Black circulated copies of three cues she did for him and they ran about $2500 each.

The only good appraisals now are from the living builder of the cue and that is strictly replacement cost.

Every owner that buys a cue should retain original purchase provenance (indefinitely) and if they are carrying an insurance rider on their policy they should update it about every ten years. A more frequent updating becomes very annoying to the cue maker and accomplishes nothing.