In relation to the value of pool cues, "level" refers to a (not particularly useful or respected) grading system created by the (now defunct e.g. no longer updated since 2005) Blue Book of Pool Cues.
In general, the more complexity in a pool cue's design, the higher the level will be. For example:
- the more "points" a pool cue has, the higher the level
- the more "inlays" a pool cue has, the higher the level
Here is an example from the pool cue level grading criteria from the Blue Book of Pool Cues:
- Level 2 cue - 0 points, 0 - 25 inlays
- Level 4 cue - 4 - 10 points, 9 -25 inlays
- Level 6 cue - 0 -12 points, 51 - 75 inlays
- Level 8 cue - 0 - 12 points, 126 or more inlays
Many regard the Blue Book of Pool Cue's level grading system to be of no value and certainly not an indicator of how much a pool cue is worth, especially in the world of custom made pool cues.
I never put much stock in the Blue Book grading system as it places too much value on the number of inlays rather than the other work involved in the cue's design and execution.
Jay (AZB member "Type79")
Do you "value" paintings objectively with order and logic? Do you count the number of brush strokes or the type of strokes used? The media used? Does the art world have "standards" and "norms" to determine aesthetics or value. The answer is no.
AZB member "skins"
The goal of grading systems for pool cues is to create standards and norms, against which, a pool cue can be judged.
Say what you will about cue designs and values but the bottom-line is there should be, there has to be, standards and norms for grading the design of a cue in order to establish order and logic, some structure, to the universe of pool cue sales. Otherwise there really is nothing that can be measured and essentially, esoteric salesmanship will ultimately assign the value of a cue, i.e., what you'll pay. Everything has a way of being rated objectively, measured, compared and contrasted with some industry assigned benchmark, a scale if you will. Absent anything like that and cue values and prices become largely a measure of sales and marketing rather than design intricacy which is a very important factor.
Matt B (AZB member "Bavafongoul")
Some disagree and say a cue should speak for itself and it's value be judged upon the demand it generates and the supply available at any given time.
Some suggest that grading systems and price guides interfere with market-demand pricing as people fall back on the price guide's value too often, and don't consider current market conditions current demand for the pool cue.