A Brief History of the Palmer Custom Cue Company, continued...
Part 3: The Palmer Age, 1968 - 1971
Before the “Second Catalog” was introduced, there was a model card distributed featuring some of these designs. There was considerable demand for the new styles. Customers kept asking for a simple cue, like the old Rambows. Eugene designed the Model “C” to accommodate them and called it Rambow-style, creating what today is referred to as a “tribute cue”. Eugene also designed the H cue, with a classic bevel edge pearl name plate with veneers, and the most famous of all Palmer designs, the Model “M”, with it’s wavy veneers running all over the cue.
Peter Balner designed the remainder of the line including the beautiful model “J”, the elaborate “K” and the elegant “I”. Many of the cues were updates from the first catalog, but the “Second catalog” was really all about the new designs.
In the late 1960’s, Palmer was dealing in larger and larger volumes. Palmer was a major purchaser of Irish Linen supplied by the Cortland Line Company and sold to all the cue makers including George Balabushka, Dick Black and Gus Szamboti. As a major customer of Cortland, Palmer convinced them to make the first multi-colored linen besides the standard white with green spec. Palmer also sold other cue parts, such as ivory ferrules, stainless steel joints, plastics, and nylon wrap material to the other cue-makers. George Balabushka was a frequent visitor and purchased his shaft wood from them because he could pick through Palmer’s large inventory.
The demand for cues in the 1960’s through the 1970’s put great pressure on management. Production increased significantly. The supply of discarded house cues used on the bar cue styles was no longer enough. Palmer contracted with a quality house cue manufacturer, Irving Katz, located in Brooklyn, NY, for blanks, buying thousands at a time. Brunswick also supplied the Titlist blanks, which Palmer bought in thousand blank shipments.
Palmer made many of the forearms in house, especially for the premium cues. In the later 1960’s they bought several hundred blanks from Burton Spain, but his inability to supply Palmer in sufficient quantify lead them to seek others, and a connection was made with Gus Szamboti. Peter came to know Gus well and had deep respect for his work ethic and quality standard. Gus continued to supply Palmer for many years to come.
Palmer outsourced many things, and bought from quality suppliers, but they always built the first through third catalog cues themselves until well into the 1980’s. Every “M” cue made by Eugene Balner. He was the only one with the skill to execute the cuts into the rock hard African ebony.