Mingaud was a captain in the French infantry, and spent the last years of the 18th and the first
years of the 19th centuries in prison, either because of a debt or because of his politics -- sources
differ on this point. He spent his copious spare time practicing billiards. He came up with the
brilliant idea of cutting hemispherical pieces of leather from the straps of old saddle bags and
gluing them onto the ends of billiard cues. The story goes that even after he was released from prison,
he stayed on, or at least asked to stay on, so that he could further perfect his art.
I love cue games and have played 24-hours sessions under my own power. I used to think that I was
a real degenerate. But God, I don't think I'd stay in jail to keep playing...
The date of Mingaud's invention of the leather cue tip is usually given as 1807, but
Byrne gives this date as circa 1815.