Basics to collecting casino chips
October 03, 2017 3:00 AM
by Sheldon Smith
I speak frequently to collectors who are now considering collecting casino items. Are you one of them?
What I have learned is that they seem to want to collect everything from everywhere. But this month, though there are many items of collectability from casinos, I will only address casino chips. Next month I will tackle other casino memorabilia.
There are many different ways to approach the collecting of casino chips. First, you should decide if you want to collect by denomination. Most chip collectors identify a level of denomination they are comfortable collecting. Obviously, the least expensive to purchase “new” is the $1 chip.
There are many more $5 chips than any other denomination, by a factor of 3 to 1 over the $1 chip, at least in Nevada. The $5 chips also tend to carry a higher premium because of their desirability. Many experienced collectors believe the $5 chip has more unique art work; hence, they choose to collect them exclusively.
Chips with a denomination of $25 and above have a certain appeal but, as new chips of those denominations come out, there is the higher cost to consider in maintaining a complete and up-to-date collection.
Once you decide what denomination to collect, there are other issues you should consider, including geography and location. Some options are:
• Las Vegas Strip casinos
• Downtown casinos
• Closed casinos
• Northern Nevada casinos
• Small town casinos
• Limited Edition chips
• House chips
• New Release chips
The list goes on and on. Samples of some of the chips you could collect are:
• Circus Circus brand new in Sept. 2017 (bottom left)
• Ambassador closed casino (below)
• Caesars Palace Strip casino (right)
• Jobys Monte Carlo closed Northern Nevada casino (far left)
There are, also, chips from the many illegal casinos and cardrooms throughout America such as SS REX, Santa Monica, California
My suggestion is to concentrate your collecting efforts in ONE area. If you go “scatter shot” across the board, you may never have a complete collection and may not be completely satisfied with what you are collecting.
Christine (my wife) and I made our decision a long time ago – we collect only $1 chips and our goal is to get one from every casino in Nevada. Because we stick to a single denomination, limited to a single geographic area, we have been able to build a very satisfying and directed collection.
This is not to say we haven’t bought other things. We have. But our “collection” is something finite and “do-able” within our financial constraints.
Have we achieved our goal? Not yet. But, we are hopeful and, to us, the search is half (or more!) of the fun!
Keep in mind that no matter what you choose to collect, collecting is about the chase to find what you don’t have. And, above all else, have fun with your collection – in the quest and in the possession of what you’ve collected.
Until next month, enjoy the hobby!