Croquet balls have two directions of perpendicular milling resulting in a diamond pattern texture on the surface. The four points on the surface where this milling reduces to small circles are sometimes called poles. The properties of balls are defined in Law 3c of the Laws of Association Croquet - "A ball must be 3 5/8" [92mm] in diameter and must weigh 16 ounces [454g]". For tournament play however there is a bounce specification, a ball size and weight tolerance and for manufacturers an approval scheme leading to Croquet Association (CA) approval.
Croquet balls come in four sets of colours. This allows more than one game to be played simultaneously on a court. It would be most unusual to have more than two games on a court though.
* Primary Colours (or 1st colours) - blue, red, black and yellow. Blue and black always play against red and yellow.
* Striped Primaries are available mainly for the American market. Current manufacturers paint a stripe on, older manufacturers molded the stripe in.
* Secondary Colours (or 2nd colours) - white, pink, brown and green. White and pink play against brown and green.
* Tertiary Colours - different manufacturers have produced sets. There appear to be some by Dawson coloured lilac, turquoiuse, orange and purple, whereas Barlow produced porridge, peach, slate and aubergine (pictured).
Croquet balls are available for 'garden' play as well as for club and tournament play. The specifications for the latter ar e tightly constrained (see links above). Balls for garden use typically weigh less than 16oz and may lack any form of surface milling. The light balls will produce less damage the lighter 'garden set' mallets and some players prefer the way a lighter ball rolls on longer (garden cut) grass.
There are currently three main manufacturers of plastic moulded tournament approved croquet
Jaques (UK) - this company used to be the main world manufacturer of croquet balls, but a fire at their factory followed by commercial problems means that they no longer produce tournament standard croquet balls.
Barlow (SA) - used to produce a good plastic ball but they closed their factory in February 2008.
Articles on croquet balls from Croquet World Online
For a lineage of croquet balls see here
For technical articles on ball properties see the Technical section.
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