by ROBERT PARDUE , created dec'98, updated dec'02 by Chequers
Getting Started in Chip and Token Collecting
Welcome to the world of chip and token collecting. If you brought home a few chips or tokens from your last casino trip, and you've decided to begin a collection, you will find lots of company with other collectors who enjoy chip, token and casino-memoribilia collecting.
There are more than 2,500 collectors who participate in collecting through membership in the Casino Chips and Gaming Tokens Collectors Club (CC>CC), plus many more gaming collectors who pursue the hobby on a casual basis. Collectible items include casino chips (played on casino tables), tokens (the metal tokens used in slot machines), plus lots of other memorabilia (including matchbooks, dice, playing cards, ashtrays, etc.) Most collectors specialize in only a few of these collecting areas, with further specialization in certain denominations -- say, $1 chips only -- or locations -- say, Las Vegas or Atlantic City chips only. Other specialty areas include roulette chips, chips from other countries, chips from illegal casinos, antique ivory chips... something for everyone!
Fortunately, there's quite a bit of published information available now, mostly published since the CC>CC formed in 1988. Also, the number of websites related to casino collectibles has mushroomed in the past few years. Here's a few places to start on the web:
- www.ccgtcc.org -- the official site for the CC>CC club. Consider joining the club. You get a quarterly magazine; lots of helpful contacts; and an annual convention of chippers in Las Vegas.
- The ChipBoard -- an extremely active bulletin board read by avid chippers daily. Read, post a message, ask a question. It will keep your attention.
- www.chipguide.com -- also good information about chip collecting from the many jurisdictions (beyond Nevada) that have riverboat or other gaming.As you might expect, the broadest opportunities for chip and token collecting center around Nevada casinos. For books on Nevada chips, check out the Howard Herz book "A Collector's Guide to Nevada Gaming Checks & Chips" --includes b&w pictures; an invaluable book for learning about chips though $values are often outdated. Also, check out "The Chip Rack" book -- a list of Nevada chips, but no photos; includes $value guide, usually updated annually.
For Atlantic City collectors, "Black's Catalog of Atlantic City Casino Chips & Gaming Tokens" is a valuable and regularly-updated reference. Most other jurisdictions have catalogs or references available, though it's always a challenge to keep up with newly-issued chips and tokens. Click on the Chequers link for "Books" for additional books and reference materials.
So how do you know when/what chips have been issued by casinos? Several current publications focus on chip collecting: CC>CC publishes a quarterly magazine, which includes a list of recent chips issued by casinos. Additional publications/chip lists are available from dealers--check the banner ads for links to other sites. For advance notice of Nevada chips to be released, the Nevada Casino Control Commission sells subscriptions for a monthly list of chips approved for issuance by Nevada casinos. If you need a checklist of available chips or tokens from various jurisdictions, Janice O'Neal (a former CC>CC officer), offers such lists for sale at reasonable prices.
Some collectors build their collections by personally visiting casinos and purchasing current chips or tokens from the casino's tables, slots or cashier's cages. However, it's not convenient for most active collectors to "make the rounds" to all the casinos -- particularly if limited edition or special event collectibles are desired.
To collect chips or tokens through others, check out the many dealers offering chips and tokens through websites, through mail offerings or at casino collectibles shows. These dealers mark-up their offerings, in return for their service, but this can be a convenient way to collect chips and tokens from diverse locations that can't be reached otherwise. Example: for new Nevada releases, check out the chips and tokens offered for sale at Andy Hughes' site (www.NevadaCasinoChips.com) and at many other sites. Shop around, because prices vary between dealers. You might also click over to the Chequers NIS Directory, which is a free listing of chip dealers that offer a New Issue Service (NIS).
Chip and token collectors may prefer to trade items with others, instead of purchasing through dealers. Watch for trade offers from other collectors in the bulletin board postings, and in gaming related publications. Membership in CC>CC is very useful for meeting other collectors interested in trading. In fact, a growing number of regional chapters exist, where you can meet other collectors in your area. There are even chapters dedicated to a specific discipline such as The Silver Striker's Chapter. You can locate local chapters through the Chapter's page on the CC>CC's website.
Obsolete chips and tokens must be collected in the collector/dealer/auction after-market, since these types of collectibles are not available directly from the casino. Some scarce and rare items are in great demand, related to their supply, so you will occasionally see a chip offered at many times its "face value". A rare item is only worth what a buyer and seller agree it's worth. Certain chips have risen substantially in value in recent times, but be aware that values can go down, too. For a new collector, be sure you are knowlegeable and comfortable in assessing value before jumping into rare chip and token collecting.
Good luck in your collecting interests, and enjoy your collection!
Understanding The Weight Of Casino Poker Chips
When you start collecting casino poker chips you'll run into a lot of information about the weight of casino poker chips. It's good to get an idea of what the different weights mean first before getting too involved with your collection.
Poker chips can come in different weights but the average casino poker chip weighs 8.5g. Some casinos, however, have chips made of clay that can weigh up to 10g.
When you are looking at a "cheap poker chip set " in a retail store these chips will weigh approximately 2g - 3g each. These chips are made of a very lightweight plastic and are meant to be used in the home for personal enjoyment. A cheap poker chip set is not considered to be casino quality by any stretch of the imagination.
In most cases the heavier the chip is the more durable it is as well. This means that the chip will last longer than most other casino chips and it will have a heavier sound to it.
Most avid casino players agree that heavier chips are easier to handle since chips on the lighter side are often more slippery. Understandably, the cost of heavier chips is usually much more than lighter chips.
Identifying casino poker chips
Every casino has its own set of poker chips that is unique to them. A casino can tell right away whether a player is using a chip from another casino and will not honor it. There are a few casinos, however, that do allow chips from other casinos, but they are the exception to the rule.
Authentic poker chips from a casino have security features in the chip. Some will have specific colors on the chip's edges while others may add a piece of artwork into the chip's design. There may also be UV markings on the chips that you can see on the chip's inlay. As well, some chips have a radio frequency identification built into them and there is specialized equipment that can be used in order to identify this type of identification.
Collecting casino poker chips is a fun hobby that can also be quite lucrative. As you start your collection you'll learn more about these chips and be able to identify which ones you need to add to your collection in order to build up a stunning portfolio of casino poker chips.
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