Collectors are discovering a relatively new and fast-growing hobby with the high-handed name of Exonumia. We call it simply casino chip collecting and some casino chips can represent substantial value.
As with most collectibles, the first question that seems to come up is that of value. What are my chips worth? The first thing to do is to distinguish between casino gaming chips and poker chips that are mass-produced and widely sold for private play. Only the former has value as a collectible.
Casino chips are most often made of clay composite, tend to be marked with the name of the casino, the city, state, and denomination. Casino gaming chips are treated like money at casinos and are often destroyed when removed from circulation. For these reasons, vintage chips won or bought at a casino are rare and highly collectible, particularly ones of higher denominations.
There are five basic factors to be considered when determining the value of a casino gaming chip:
Rarity is simply the reality of supply and demand in the marketplace
The gaming chips origin is important as collectors favor the chips of Las Vegas and there is a strong demand to collect one chip from each club or casino be it Nevada or Deadwood. And then some casinos are more popular with collectors than others. The gaming chips of the major casinoes, such as the Flamingo, Sands, Dunes, etc. have greater value than the chips of lesser known clubs.
The aesthetic appeal of a chip also matters. We all like to collect the beautiful, even if beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For example, a chip with a nice picture inlay is far more desirable and valuable than a chip with a simple hot stamp. A chip with an inlay, but not a picture, would fall somewhere in between when valued.
Rim Mold Design
Rim Mold Design is a critical factor to be considered in valuing a casino chip. There are several types and, prior to investing any significant money in the hobby, a good understanding of the types and their values are essential.
Finally, as with all collectibles, condition is very significant with faults detracting from the value of a casino gaming chip and an absence of faults having the opposite effect.
With casino gaming chips, as with all collectibles with present or potential value, their archival care and storage is important. It need not be an expensive proposition but pride of ownership and enjoyment of viewing a collection in attractive albums or cases should also be a consideration.
How to Store and Display Casino Gaming Chips
The most popular means of storing and displaying a casino gaming chip collection is with an album using pages that are clear so as to allow viewing of both sides of the chip. The standard size for casino chips is 39mm in diameter, which corresponds well with the pages traditionally used by coin collectors for 2 inch x 2 inch (2x2s) coin holders. SAFE of Germany offers a nice line of binders with 2×2 pages in different sizes and with padded or non-padded binders.
A second means of storing and displaying a collection is the showcase. Consider wooden boxes with a glass top that positions the chips in velvet under a glass lid.
The third alternative is more complex but recommended for the better grade collections. It begins with placement of the chip in an archival plastic capsule. The cap is then placed in a lined box with a velvet lined tray designed to accommodate the 39mm capsule. The stackable box(s) can then be maintained in a lockable storage case holding 5 or 10 boxes. The best available in this format is the Lighthouse MB Box and Aluminum Coin Box Case.
However the collector chooses to store their casino chip collection, and which chips are chosen to collect, the enjoyment of exonumia can last a lifetime.