Our. illustration represents a great improvement in the form of billiard cushions, which is intended to overcome two great evils that attend the ordinary construction. Fig. 3 is the old form of cushion and pocket. A is the table, B the side, and C the cushion ; D the pocket, and E the pocket-iron, covered as usual with leather. In this form of cushion it will be seen that it is gradually sloped off from its proper width to the pocket, and the player when his ball strikes any portion of the sloped part, can never be exactly certain of the angle at which the ball will rebound, by this means a great quantity of accurate reflecting surface is lost to tho player ; again, when a ball enters the pocket, it is almost sure to strike the pocket-iron at one of the points marked e, and in practice, it is found that the leather covering of the pocket-iron quickly wears away from those points, leaving the metal bare against which the ball strikes, and becomes "in consequence quickly worn out and injured, so as to be unfit for playing. Fig. 2 shows a side pocket on the new principle, the same letters referring to the same parts as in Fig. 3, in which it will be seen that the cushions, C, are extended perfectly even in their width close to the pocket-holo (as will also be observed in Fig. 1, which is a corner pocket on this plan), so that a greater amount of reflective surface is obtained ; for the game of billiards is not one of chance, but one of mathematical precision and accuracy. The cushions turn off, abruptly at a slight angle to the pocket, just enough to give a clear entrance to the ball, and of such a shape from the corner of c, that should the ball once strike these, it cannot fail entering the pocket, and they also project about one-eighth of an inch in front of the pocket-iron. The shape of the pocket-iron has also undergone a material change in shape ; it is, as will be seen, perfectly concave, and there is no part which can possibly be touched by the ball, but the moment it enters the space between the cushions, it is sure to fall into the pocket without touching the iron at all. We regard this as a great and important improvement in the billiard table, and will no doubt bo thoroughly appreciated by the numbers who take delight in this popular and almost universal game. It is the invention of Michael Phelan, of New York, who has assigned the invention to H. W. Collender, No. 53 Ann street, New York. A patent was secured January 12, 1858, for the shape of pocket irons and angular cushions, combined or separate, and was previously noticed on page 155 of the present volume of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.
This article was originally published with the title "Phelan's Improved Billiard Cushion" in Scientific American 13, 22, 176 (February 1858)