Card decks a popular casino collectible
August 07, 2018 3:09 AM
by Sheldon Smith
One of the reasons people collect casino chips is how easily they store and how light weight they are. Silly, but sometimes that enters the equation.
However, this is not true about the subject of our discussion this month – decks of casino playing cards. Compared to a casino chip, a deck of playing cards is much heavier and takes up much more storage space.
The collecting of decks of cards from casinos is primarily limited to a select group of casinos – those in Nevada and, specifically, in Las Vegas. Collectors avidly seek decks of cards from this limited group of casinos and they are always on the look out for a deck they don’t have.
Ask them how they are going to display their collection and you will, many times, just get a shake of the head with the response, “I don’t know!” But, that doesn’t deter a card collector – and, it shouldn’t deter you.
I must mention at this time that two of the nicest folks I have ever known (who, unfortunately, are no longer with us) were avid collectors of decks of cards. Reno Reynolds and Janice O’Neal were two of the best and most knowledgeable card collectors.
Janice, along with Sandi Steffner, who is still, thankfully, very active in the hobby, produced the first and, I believe, the only reference book for Nevada casino card decks. Reno had over 3,500 decks of cards, all, theoretically, different!
There is a club that specializes in collecting cards and decks and – “52 Plus Joker American Playing Card Collectors Club” www.52plusjoker.org. They collect many different kinds of casino playing cards, not just those from casinos and not just those from Nevada.
In my humble opinion, the BEST decks of cards to collect are those that have never been used and are still in the original cellophane wrapper, like the two examples pictured here. The second best are those that have been used but were resealed by the casinos for sale to the public.
Believe it or not, there is a company that specializes in reconstituting desks of cards for sale. These decks are, obviously, not as valuable or collectible as those never opened, but if you don’t have any cards in your collection from that casino, that deck may be valuable to YOU!
Some of the decks have sold for an amazing amount of money both on eBay and elsewhere. The interesting issue for many of us that collect decks is: How long ago did the casinos start putting their casino logo or name on the deck?
There are no casino decks frrm the Flamingo in 1946. To the best of my knowledge, there are no casino decks with a casino name on them until the mid-1960s.
Among the most sought after and popular are decks of cards from the Dunes and Golden Nugget, dating back to the 1970’s. In addition to being rare and the most popular among collectors, these cards were made with very distinctive designs.
Despite my best attempts, even I don’t have a Dunes deck. But, I’ll keep looking. After all, I am a collector and the quest for what I don’t have (yet!) is part of the fun.
Next month, we’ll discuss how you can buy and save and not get ripped off when purchasing casino memorabilia.