Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Judge Roy Bean was a Brunswick Man

These are pictures of the the famous Jersey Lily Saloon, located in Langtry, Texas. One was taken in the early 1900s, the other taken during a family outing about six weeks ago. This place is so remote, even the tumble weeds have tumble weeds. Nothing but desert, mountains, cactus and dirt. The Jersey Lily is pretty much all that's left of this west Texas ghost town. That, and the Texas Parks & Wildlife tourist center marking the site.

The Jersey Lily is the famous court house and saloon where none other than Judge Roy Bean held forth. For those unfamiliar with cowboy lore, Roy Bean was the somewhat larger-than-life "Law West of The Pecos." He was a businessman, showman, and famous teller of tall tales. In that regard he reminds me somewhat of our own Minnesota Fats.

And that brings us to the subject of pool. What does an Old West figure, a man made famous in a Paul Newman film and TV shows, have to do with our fair sport? Well, as it turns out, Bean had a table in his saloon. The table wasn't portrayed in the famous John Huston movie, but the table was there nonetheless. That's a picture of me with what's left of it — the iron legs — inside the old Jersey Lily.

I'm told by folks smarter than myself that these are legs associated with a Brunswick Monarch, which has been described as the "King of Pool Tables." One knowledgeable person tells me that the tables, when restored, can fetch upwards of $100,000. Monarchs of varying styles were apparently manufactured by Brunswick between 1845 and 1875.

I went online and found a couple of websites devoted to the Brunswick Monarch. The image just above is taken from a website maintained by John Sears, who restores vintage tables. The similarity of the legs to those in Langtry is unmistakable. Sears has bought and sold several Monarchs over the years and tells me that the restored table featured in the photo just above went for $165,000. You can see more photos of restored Brunswick Monarchs here.

-- R.A. Dyer

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