US Billiard balls
In the US, billiard balls or pool balls usually refers to balls used to play various pocket games.
The balls are numbered and colored as follows:
4. Purple (pink in some tournaments)
7. Brown or burgundy (tan in some tournaments)
9. Yellow and white
10. Blue and white
11. Red and white
12. Purple and white (pink and white in some tournaments)
13. Orange and white
14. Green and white
15. Brown (or burgundy) and white (tan and white in some tournaments)
Cue ball white
Note that balls 1-7 are often referred to as "solids" and 9-15 as "stripes" (colloquially they may also be, respectively, called "big ones and little ones", "highs and low", "spots and striped", etc.)
In Australia and New Zealand, balls are respectively called "smalls" and "bigs" referring to how much white is on the ball.
The English equivalent balls (like those of the pool game casino are in two unadorned suits, the "reds" and "yellows".
European Billiards balls
In the UK and Europe, balls are the three balls used to play the games known variously as English or carom (of which three-cushion billiards is a variant) but generally just "billiards" in these areas.
European balls are not numbered. They are colored as follows:
2. White cue ball for player 1
3. White with a spot (now sometimes yellow) cue ball for player 2
4. Composition of billiard balls
In the past, many balls were made of ivory; since the animals that produced this have become endangered species, other materials, such as wood and various plastics have been used.
In 1865, John Wesley Hyatt patented a composition material resembling ivory (Celluloid) for a billiard ball (US50359), winning $10,000 prize from Phelan and Collender of New York City for the best substitute for ivory.
This was the first U.S. patent for pool balls.
Unfortunately, the nature of celluloid gave these balls a tendency to occasionally explode, adding additional spark to the game but making this first plastic impractical for use.
Modern balls are most often made from phenolic resin.
By 1866 Elephants were being slaughtered for their ivory at an alarming rate, just to keep up with the demand for ivory balls.
No more than eight balls could be made from a single elephant.
Dimensions of balls
On average, the balls are 2.25" in diameter and all balls weigh 5.5 oz. except for the cue, which weighs 6 oz.
According to official BCA equipment specifications, the weight may be from 5.5 to 6 oz. with a diameter of 2.25 in, plus or minus .005 in.
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