Maine State Candlepin Bowling Proprietors Assocation
""  
""
MSCBPA
Candlepins
Bowling Centers
Schedule
Results
Averages
Results
Results
Results
Results
Results
Results
Results
Results
Results
Results
Results
Archives
Hall of Fame
2005 International Champions
2005 International Champions
2005 International Champions
2001 International Champion
HISTORY OF THE GAME

The pins in ten-pin bowling were originally tall and slender, almost cylindrical. It was hard to get high scores with such pins, so bowling alleysBowling Pins in New York City about 1850 began to use the familiar larger, bottle-shaped pins.


After the Civil War, "big pin" bowling became the dominant version of the sport throughout the country. But in 1881, Justin P. White, the owner of a billiard room in Worcester, Massachusetts, and John J. Monsey, an expert billiards player, revived--or perhaps re-invented--the older form of bowling.

The original candlepins were 11 inches high and tapered to a diameter of 1 inch at each end. Bowlers used a wooden ball, 3 inches in diameter and weighing about 3 pounds, on a regulation-sized tenpin alley.

Because of the size of the ball and spacing of the pins, it was very difficult to get a good score, so White and Monsey hit on the idea of leaving fallen pins, or "deadwood," on the lane to increase scoring. Using deadwood to help knock down the remaining pins is an important tactical feature of candlepin bowling.

The pins are now somewhat bigger than in 1881: 15 3/4 inches high and 2 15/16 inches at the middle, tapering to 1 3/4 inch at the ends. The ball is 4 1/2 inches in diameter and weighs from 2 pounds, 5 ounces, to 2 pounds, 7 ounces.

Scoring is the same as in regulation tenpin bowling, except that a bowler is allowed three balls per frame. If all ten pins are knocked down with three balls, the score for the frame is simply a 10.

The perfect score in candlepins is 300, but no one has ever accomplished that, or even come close. The highest sanctioned score is 240, by Gerry Montminy.

The "new old" version of bowling spread quickly through New England and Eastern Canada, often existing side by side with big pin bowling as an attractive alternative for youngsters, seniors, and some women, as well as an interesting challenge for other bowlers.

After World War II, big pin bowling gradually began to replace candlepin in many locations, in large part because Brunswick, the major manufacturer of bowling equipment, opened alleys devoted exclusively to that form of the sport. National television of the Professional Bowlers Association tour also contributed to the popularity of big pin bowling.

Nevertheless, many adherents remained, and remain, devoted to candlepin bowling, although their numbers have been declining.

A candlepin bowling show was telecast every Saturday by a Boston channel for more than 40 years, and it was one of the highest-rated shows on local television in that city. It was dropped in 1995, however--not because of poor ratings, but because the station felt the audience was not "demographically attractive to advertisers."

The sport certainly hasn't died, but it lives on in only a few alleys, primarily in western New England and Canada's Maritime Provinces.

""
Information for this page was adapted from Hickok Sports.com
"" "" Home | History of the Game | Maine State Records | Site Map