Casino chip collecting

Casino chip collecting

Casino chip collecting is the practice of intentionally taking casino chips from Casino premises or trading or collecting online, or in person, for the purpose of collection. Casino chip collecting is a variety of exonumia, or coin collecting. Before it became a more serious hobby, casino chip collecting was simply a case of people keeping them as souvenirs from a casino they may visit. The biggest boost to the hobby came with the creation of the online auction site eBay. Ebay has now become the most popular way to collect and trade casino chips with listings in the casino category regularly including over 20,000 items for sale.

Casino chip collecting became increasingly popular beginning in 1988, with the establishment of the Casino Chips & Gaming Tokens Collectors Club (CC>CC). The club was formed after it was realised how popular the hobby had become and how many people were involved in it. The club held its first annual convention at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in 1992. The convention still runs to this day and in 2008 will be held at the Riviera Hotel and Casino.

As the number of collectors grew, the demand for an official grading system as one was necessary to determine the value of the chips. In 2003, members of the CC>CC agreed on a grading system that would be used worldwide. This also came with the publication of the club's book, The Official U.S. Casino Chip Price Guide, now in its 3rd edition. Some chips are considered high-value and some worth up to $50,000. The largest recorded sale for a casino chip to date is $39,000. Below is the system that is currently used to grade them:

Grade Description
New Never used in games; square and round edge chips will be as from the manufacturer with absolutely no wear, no dings or nicks; no scratches on surface of chip or inlay.
Slightly Used Only slight signs of use, edge still crisp but ever so slightly dulled with very little wear; cross hatching may show slight wear near edge; few or no edge nicks; still retains luster in mold design; bold hot stamp; inlays excellent.
Average Typical chip found in play after months/years of use; slightly rounded edges; will have minor defects such as small nicks on edges; inlays are beginning to show even wear and about half of the cross hatching has worn from the body surface; hot-stamps have dulled, beginning to show even wear and may be missing a small amount of foil.
Well Used Moderate and uniform wear of edge, surface and hot stamp; noticeable edge nicks and/or surface scratches; no luster in mold design; cross hatching is nearly worn off; hot stamp is still readable but much of the foil is missing.
Poor Edges that were formerly sharp and square, are now well worn bicycle tires; original hot stamp foil is mostly missing with only the recesses visible (may have to hold towards a light); moderate to large chips (nicks); surface cross hatching barely visible (if at all); severe scratches to inlay or chip surface; severe color fading; partial wear up to half of Chipco design from the edge to the center of the chip. Damage, such as cracks, breaks, missing inlay or other chip structure do not apply to this category.)
Cancelled or Modified (Either by the manufacturer or the casino): A. Drilled, B. Notches, C. Overstamped, D. Clipped, E. Bent, F. Painted.
Damaged A. Severe nicks or chunks, B. Loose or missing inlay, C. Cracked, D. Broken, E. Warped, F. Permanent Stain, G. Severe Fading, H. Cigarette Burn(s). fire damage, I. Over-cleaning.

As well as the system for grading chips, there is also a system for identifying chips shown below:

Issue The chronological order in which the chip was issued.
Denomination Refers to the dollar amount of the chip.
Basic Color The base color for most of the chip.
Mold Identifies the look/manufacturer/distributor of the chip.
Inserts The different color patterns used on its edge.
Inlay Refers to the size and shape of the inlay, as well as composition and color.
Rarity The best estimate of the number of surviving chips of its kind known to exist.

There are many different ways to collect casino chips. Because of the amount of chips available and the increasing price of some, collectors have begun to specialize. A collector might choose to collect every chip from a certain casino or one from every Las Vegas casino. Collecting by denomination is also very popular, such as only $1 or $5 chips. The first rule of proper care and storage is to keep them away from sunlight, the same goes for fluorescent light. The best way to store a collection is to keep them in a folder. As opposed to coin collection, cleaning the chips will not decrease their value but is still not recommended unless really necessary.

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