The Intricate World of Casino Chip Collecting
Casino chips represent more than just currency; they also stand for history and culture.
Chips differ from coins in that their value lies more with their design and history; therefore, collecting these objects attracts collectors with significant investments in mind. This allure lures enthusiasts into this niche hobby of collecting chips.
Collecting casino chips has quickly become increasingly popular. Many individuals who collect these collectables see them as art pieces and historical memorabilia; thus many collectors value older chips above their face value.
Las Vegas and other Nevada gambling towns such as Lake Tahoe, Reno and Laughlin are incredibly popular gambling locations among collectors, making their chips especially valuable to collectors.
Prior to the Internet, collectors found it difficult to gain information on old chips and their values. Thanks to online communication among collectors, however, more collectors came together and developed a grading system to identify true value of individual chips. Grading systems also make the hobby more legitimate akin to art collecting making it more attractive among non-gamblers who wish to invest in memorabilia that stands the test of time.
Though casino chips typically lack intrinsic value, some can be highly sought after among collectors. Highly valued casino chips tend to have higher denominations, rare designs or unusual shapes. Furthermore, collectors often seek out rare chips made of special materials which enhance their value further.
Chips vary greatly in terms of materials and manufacturers, from smooth finishes to cross-hatched patterns with intricate etching patterns that can make them hard for counterfeiters to pass off as real chips on the floor. As such, Paul-Son, Bud Jones, and Chipco each employ stringent quality controls designed to help deter fraudsters.
Most serious collectors organize their chips by denomination, specific casino and geographical area. Chips from Las Vegas casinos, along with those from other Nevada gaming towns such as riverboats or cruise ships are particularly prized by collectors.
Some collectors specialize in specific denominations or manufacturers; others seek chips from specific casinos. Printed designs with dice or card suits adorning mass-produced chips are especially sought-after; many casinos even print their logo, phone number, or website information on these chips to promote themselves and give away free drinks!
Detail designs are harder to counterfeit, making it easier for casino management to monitor people who attempt to steal chips or pass off counterfeit ones on the gaming floor. Furthermore, some casinos choose to include denominations on their chips so players can more quickly count out initial stacks and establish value; though this design element doesn’t always increase it.
Storage and Display
Chip collectors tend to specialize in particular casinos or denominations of chips before collecting and cleaning them – an arduous task as each chip goes through multiple hands before reaching its collector.
Chips have an extensive history and are often surprising collectible. Made of clay composite or ceramic material, many chips feature holograms or RFID transmitters to reduce fraud.
Casino chip collecting gained momentum during the 1980s due to casino and chip collector newsletters like Bill Borland’s Worldwide Casino Exchange and Al W. Moe’s Casino Chips magazine, which inspired people to collect these small pieces of history and show them off.
Chip collectors can derive great satisfaction from their hobby. Even one high-denomination chip from an era or casino may prove invaluable if acquired properly.
Many collectors are wary of the increasingly popular grading process for coin collecting known as slabbing. Slabbing involves sending chips to an independent third-party known as a slabber who then examines and seals it into its case with its grade written on it for storage.
Slabbing removes collectors’ ability to be the judge of their chip, taking away from them the ability to gauge its history – including any dirt and grime it has accrued during its lifespan – that gives its appeal. Slabbing also allows dealers to overcharge for chips without regard to catalogue numbers as the definitive determination of its identity.