Knapp on Books
Unlike the other token books reviewed in this column, the Mowery catalog is actually a price list. The Mowerys have many of the listed tokens for sale, and the prices shown are prices, not value guides.
The 175-page book is of particular interest because it lists not only casino tokens, but those used in bars, supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants and drug stores – virtually any establishment that has slot machines.
Descriptive notes are included for all tokens, along with date of issue, the mint which produced the tokens, and condition notations. The Introduction indicates how the catalog’s condition descriptions can be converted to Official CC>CC Grade and Condition Descriptions.
Some black and white photos of tokens appear, but unfortunately I found some of them a bit difficult to read, while others are quite clear. Silver strikes are not included in this catalog.
The B & V Catalog can be obtained by contacting the Mowerys by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Periodically the death of the casino token is announced and funeral services are held (as has also been the case with fractional chips and dollar chips), but – to paraphrase Mark Twain – rumors of their death have been greatly exaggerated! It’s clear, however, that there is now a viable alternative to casino tokens, and they’re making significant inroads into the casino market.
Bill acceptors and TITO (Ticket In/Ticket Out) slips have, in a number of casinos, completely replaced the well-known casino token, change person, and rolls of quarters, nickels, dimes and half dollars. In his Introduction, Noll says that more than half of US slot machines have been upgraded to use TITO technology!
Jim hasn’t limited his 128-page book to Nevada tickets. Tribal casinos, riverboats, Atlantic City, and even trade show sample tickets have also been included.
Five to a page, Noll shows a color photograph of the ticket, listed by the casino that issued it, and briefly describes the ticket in code which is easily expandable for new tickets as they appear. Rather than attempting to assign a market value to each ticket, Jim has shown a rarity scale from one to five, so that relative values will be easy to determine.
As TITO tickets become more prevalent, and the designs become more intricate and money-like, this area of collecting is likely to become far larger. Noll’s book is the only reference work of its kind, and will undoubtedly be of value to collectors of TITOs.
Copies can be obtained by contacting Jim by e-mail at email@example.com.
Prior to 1965, the casino token did not exist. Casinos used U. S. coinage for slot machine play. When the U. S. Mint stopped minting silver dollars to preserve the nation’s store of silver, collectors and precious metals dealers began hoarding the old silver dollars, and casinos needed a substitute for their customers to feed into the machines!
Ultimately the Nevada casinos negotiated with the Nevada legislature and with the U. S. Congress for a grant of permission to mint their own silver-dollar-like coins for use only in the casinos. The casino token was born.
While there were a few mints that made early casino tokens, by far the majority were minted by the Franklin Mint. The intricacy of the Franklin Mint designs, the quality of the coinage, and the beauty of their tokens has not since been surpassed.
When the Eisenhower “silver” dollar went into circulation in 1971, the dollar casino token was no longer made. Until, that is, the ill-fated, smaller Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was issued by the U. S. government. By then, however, Franklin Mint was virtually out of the casino token business (I suspect because their product was significantly more expensive than tokens made by competitors), and the original Franklin Mint issues gradually disappeared from the casino scene.
C. T. Rodgers’ book contains not only a complete listing of all Franklin Mint tokens, but color photos of the tokens, the issue numbers (Franklin Mint made not only the general casino issues, but sets of Proof and Proof-Like versions of all their tokens), and current market values for each token.
Throughout the 142-page book, C. T. has added photographs of the Franklin Mint books and cards containing the Proof and Proof-Like token versions, the casinos themselves, and other relevant historical and informational material. The book is not only a value guide and catalog to Franklin Mint issues, but a reference work as well.
The book can be obtained from C. T. Rodgers, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published in 1993, The Chip Rack is now considered by many to be the principal guide to Nevada casino chips and their values. It is not only the most complete catalog of Nevada chips, it is the only catalog that assigns a unique and permanent catalog number to every chip listed. TCR numbers have become the standard method of referring to Nevada casino chips within the hobby.
The 10th edition of TCR was published in two volumes, because the sheer number of chips that are fully described in detail had grown to such an extent that binding was not available to contain all 613 pages in one volume.
Those familiar with The Chip Rack know its contents well: a detailed Introduction that includes a discussion of what makes chips valuable, and how and why values change; new issues facing the hobby; and a complete glossary of terms, abbreviations and details used in TCR’s description of the chips listed. The main body of listings follows, and Part I concludes with the informational notes that explain some of the chips described.
Each chip is described by location, casino, address, opening and closing dates, color, mold design, edge inserts, inlay (or hotstamp), the color of the denomination that appears on the chip, a description of the center inlay, whether a logo is found on either or both sides of the chip, the approximate date of issue of the chip, and in many cases the number of chips issued. In addition, the condition of the chip as valued in this edition of the book is shown, along with the value the authors believe represents the fair market value of each chip.
The Chip Rack is the only Nevada casino chip guide published by chip collectors rather than dealers, and the values shown in the book attempt to reflect actual fair market value based on actual sales.
Part II contains the pictorial section that allows the collector to identify similar chips (large vs. small print, for example); the cross-reference section that lists all chips by their number and shows the casino that issued the chip; a mold reference section indicating which molds were used by each casino in Nevada; and a statistical section that contains a summary of the chips listed in the catalog.
New for the 10th edition is a chip value history in Part II. At a glance, the collector can tell how the value of a particular chip has progressed over the last seven editions of TCR – that is, back to 1996!
More than 20,000 Nevada chips are fully described, cataloged, and valued. No other Nevada chip guide comes close to that number, and no other guide is as current as TCR10. In addition, the 10th edition incorporates for the first time the official CC>CC grade and condition standards.
The Chip Rack is available from most chip dealers, and at Gamblers General Store in Las Vegas.
What a fantastic effort! This book is unlike any chip book you’ve ever seen, and similar only to The Gaming Table. Different because it is a list of all gaming tokens worldwide – no jurisdictional limits at all.
Earl Donley (an early officer of CC>CC, for those of you who don’t remember), has produced a descriptive list of all known gaming tokens including all U.S. jurisdictions, foreign casinos, riverboats, tribal casinos, cruise ships, silver strikes, and promotional no-cash-value tokens as well.
No other chip or token book has even attempted such a comprehensive listing. Part of the reason is that unlike chips, a complete listing of tokens is at least conceivable. Gaming tokens have only been around since 1965, whereas chips have been manufactured and have been in use for several hundred years.
The manufacture of a silver-dollar-like gaming token was prohibited by law until 1965, when hoarding of true silver U.S. dollars resulted in a severe shortage of coins in U.S. (Nevada) casinos. Author-izing silver-dollar-like coins took an act of Congress as well as a Nevada statute, but the shortage was so severe that the laws were passed upon the casinos’ request.
A few words about what this book is not. It is not a price guide. It is not a catalog (there is no catalog numbering system. There are no fancy pictures of tokens.
But what Earl’s done is to describe in detail every known gaming token, even going back to the early Osborne Mint issues in Nevada, along with the issuing casino, its address, the date of issuance (Donley has dated many tokens are even though dates do not appear on the tokens themselves), the type of metal, and other details of each token’s manufacture and distinguishing characteristics.
More than 12,000 tokens appear in Issue 14, which is the latest issue published. Another is due soon, though, because in addition to the monumental task Donley has undertaken, he republishes the book every 6 months. That’s right – twice a year!
And in between issues, he sends each purchaser of the current issue a periodic supplement, listing tokens newly issued since last publication as well as tokens he becomes aware of that were not included in the current book.
The book is broken down into four sections: regular tokens, silver strikes, cruise ship tokens (which also appear in the main regular section), and promotional non-denomination tokens.
A suggestion for Earl, although it’s a small matter: because I’m not a token collector (well ok, not usually a token collector!), I’d find it very helpful if there were an appendix with a list of gaming token manufacturers (mints). I’m not familiar with all of the names, and certainly not all of the abbreviations appearing on tokens as mint marks.
For anyone who has collected tokens, as well as for anyone interested in getting started, Donley’s book is an absolute must. Copies may be ordered from Earl Donley, The Gaming Token Book, P. O. Box 80572, Las Vegas, NV 89180.
Jim Munding is a dealer, and was instrumental in forming a specialty group of slot card and room key collectors. He promotes shows in southern California and in Nevada on a regular basis.
It wasn’t that many years ago that traditional metal room keys were replaced by programmable plastic cards, with greater security and lower cost. Room key collecting began soon after hotel and casino managers began to realize that the plain plastic cards could be used for advertising and promotion.
Jim’s 43-page book is not a price guide, although he does include a relative rarity rating, and each room key in the book is given its own catalog number for ease of reference.
The Munding book is not complete by any means: some prominent hotels do not appear, although I suspect that many will in future editions.
What Jim’s book does include, however, that all collectors love to see, are color photographs of the listed room keys. The book is not limited to Las Vegas or even Nevada. Some Atlantic City keys, riverboat keys, and even some foreign casino hotel room keys are shown, as are some older traditional metal keys.
The Munding book is a great start. Future editions will become even more valuable as they grow. The book can be ordered from Jim Munding at email@example.com
Some of our members reading this review may not know who Al Moe is. One of the earliest pioneers of the chip collecting hobby, Al Moe has also been employed for much of his life in the Nevada gaming industry. When Bill Borland ceased publication of his “World Wide Casino” newsletter, Al Moe took up the challenge and began publishing Casino & Gaming Chips Magazine.
The first issue appeared in August of 1986, and Moe ceased publication after 7 issues, the last appearing in October, 1987. After the first few issues, the magazine included a column about Atlantic City chips and tokens by someone named Archie Black.
When Al Moe ceased publication of his small but information-packed maga-zine, it was his mailing list that Archie Black used to solicit subscriptions to his new Atlantic City publication. Shortly afterwards, the Casino Chip and Gaming Token Collectors Club was born.
This is the second edition of Al’s wonderful book. In Chapter 4, he writes, “I admit to having a love for Lake Tahoe.” His book clearly reflects that love, as well as his love for the history of gaming in Nevada, especially Tahoe and Reno. The book is chock full of stories of the state’s gaming pioneers, the famous and the infamous: Bill Graham and Jim McKay, who virtually owned Reno in the early days; Norman Biltz; Eddie Sahati and his brother Nick; George Wingfield (whose bodyguard, Bill Graham, later became one of the kingpins of Reno/Tahoe gaming and other forms of entertainment); Barney O’Malia; Nick Abelman; William F. Harrah; the Tomerlin brothers; and many more.
In addition, nuggets of history and stories of the way it was in the beginning proliferate through Al’s book.
A few examples . . . .
I didn’t know that Elmer “Bones” Remmer ran the Cal-Neva Lodge for owners Graham and McKay, and that he learned the business as manager of the Menlo Club in San Francisco during World War II.
The story of the ownerships and name changes of the La Vada Lodge, the Cal Vada Lodge, the Bal Tabarin, the New Cal Vada Lodge, the Tahoe Biltmore, Joby’s Monte Carlo, the Tahoe Biltmore, the Nevada Lodge, the Sierra Lodge, and Jim Kelley’s Nugget is not only fascinating, but enough to confuse even the most careful of readers. I had to go over it four times and take notes!
Or how about the story of the beautiful Stateline Country Club $100 chips showing the swimming pool on the center inlay?
Las Vegas isn’t slighted either. Stories about Sinatra, Carl Cohen, Howard Hughes, and other names we all recognize are included, and each has a slightly different slant than what we’re used to reading.
Numerous photographs, many from the Nevada Historical Society, postcards, and personal collections, many of which are rarely seen, add greatly to the book. Al Moe’s first edition was a great book for any Nevada gaming historian or collector, and the second edition is even better.
Moe’s book can be obtained from Puget Sound Books, and if you mention this review when you order, shipping is free!
All collectors from New Jersey, and most who have attended the CC>CC conventions in Las Vegas know Jerry Birl as “Mr. Roulette.” Roulette chips are Jerry’s specialty, and his collection is likely the most extensive roulette chip collection known.
The Atlantic City book is the first in what may become a series of books devoted entirely to roulette chips. Jerry’s 95-page looseleaf-bound book is a must-have for serious collectors of Atlantic City roulettes.
The front and back of the binder in which Birl encloses his book contain two full-page color scans of the types of roulette chips described in the book and illustrated inside in black and white. 47 roulettes appear on the front, and another 47 on the back cover. Throughout the book, Birl references the color photos on the outside covers.
Unlike most chip catalogs and price guides, Jerry intends to issue annual supplements containing updates, rather than publishing a completely new edition each year. A form for supplement subscription is included with the book.
Something many collectors have found daunting is the sheer number of roulette chips available from Atlantic City. Roulette has been a far more popular game in New Jersey at times than it has been in Nevada, for example. Birl cites Trump’s Taj Mahal, which has had as many as 25 roulette tables in operation at one time. When demand slackens, tables are removed. But in order to operate so many tables, far more roulette chips are needed than one normally finds at casinos with two or four roulette tables, which is more likely what one finds in Nevada casinos.
Jerry’s approach to listing roulettes is extremely user-friendly. Each type of roulette used in a particular casino is given its own page, with black and white illustrations of the chip designs, along with a color grid, so the catalog is easily used as an inventory checklist.
For each page, the manufacturer is identified, the known designs or numbers specified, and additional historical and manufacturing information given.
Rather than assigning a collector value to each chip individually, Birl has shown a range of values for each type of issue.
Even in those instances in which particular designs of a series have never been seen, but should likely exist, Birl has noted that fact in his guide, and when (if!) the chips are found, it will be easy to update the book. Similarly, there are instances in which particular numbers in a series have not been found or are known not to exist, and Birl explains those gaps as well.
For example, in discussing the first issue Hilton (new: formerly Golden Nugget and Bally’s Grand) roulette chips, he says: “Numbers 9, 11 and 13 were not used in this Series. I suspect 9 was not used to avoid confusion with 6, 13 was not used because of superstition, and I have no idea why 11 was not used.”
It’s this kind of detail that makes the R.I.C.H. (“Roulette International Chip Hunters”) catalog valuable to the serious collector. In addition, Birl has given codes to all colors, which allows abbreviations in the type grids, and has illustrated the various types of designs used by manufacturers for Atlantic City roulettes. A copy of Jerry’s Atlantic City roulette book may be obtained by writing to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Helds’ book is not the first on casino ashtrays, but it is the most recent and most inclusive. Unlike many price guides, Casino Ashtrays is not limited to Nevada ash-trays, but includes ashtrays from U.S. casinos in many jurisdictions.
Inevitably, the Helds’ book will be compared to Art Anderson’s Casinos and their Ashtrays, published in 1994 and still available from specialty bookstores. Anderson’s book was the first such publication, and rather than replacing it, the Helds have sought to expand and update Anderson’s work. They’ve done an outstanding job.
It became apparent when the Anderson book was pub-lished that many collectors had ashtrays not included in the book. And Anderson decided early on that he would not write a followup edition to supplement his original work.
The Helds have taken Anderson’s seminal work and enlarged it, adding descriptions of hundreds of trays not included in the earlier book. They found it impossible to continue with Anderson’s catalog number-ing system, but with his permission, they have inclu-ded his numbers for the ash-trays in both books, while creating a new numbering system of their own. Thus, additions bear RG numbers, but not Anderson numbers.
Imprints are shown in their actual language, and bolded to distinguish what appears on the ashtrays from descrip-tive material in the book.
One of the major features of Casino Ashtrays is a built-in inventory system for the col-lector. For each listing, there are four blanks contained within the listing itself: “have,” “cost,” “traders,” and “obtained,” which allows the collector to indicate whether he collected the tray himself, purchased it, or traded for it.
While there are many photos of ashtrays, there are many more blank spaces, marked “Photo Wanted.” In time, the Helds will add to the database that comprises the book’s content. If Casino Ashtrays has a failing, it’s the quality of the illustrations. Given the printing-on-demand method they’ve used, rather than professionally printed content, the quality of the pictures doesn’t match what appears in the Anderson book. But in most cases the pictures are clear enough to read, and certainly to distinguish each type of ashtray from another.
Values are shown in ranges, as they are in the Anderson book, although updated. As the authors point out, values are there as guides, not as “prices.” On occasion, and depending on the area of the country, ashtrays can be purchased at flea markets for very little. To the serious ashtray collector though, more purchases are likely to be made at casino collectible shows where the values shown should be more common.
The Helds have shared their passion for casino ashtrays with the hobby, and their book is a valuable one for others so infected! It’s available from the authors by e-mailing them at email@example.com.
Until Patty Smith and John Long released the cruise ship book they’d been working on for some time, there hadn’t been a book devoted to the cataloging and pricing of “wet chips” that so many collectors have as part of their collections. That changed this past year when Cruise Ships and their Casino Chips was released just before the convention.
Spiral-bound and with a clear acetate cover, the Smith/Long book is a valuable addition to the literature of chip collecting. Rather than written descriptions, the book contains very clear, high-resolution scans of the chips cataloged.
Each chips is assigned a catalog number, which aids collectors in referring to chips, as well as a guide to value. Obsolete chips (as well as ships and cruise lines) are specifically noted. Often, varieties are listed, as are dates of operation.
The 56-page guide is organized by category: current cruise lines, former cruise lines, management companies, poker tournament chips, fantasies, samples, etc. An alphabetical index is also included, and I found it an absolute necessity because when I tried looking up some of my own chips, I found it a bit difficult to flip among the sections to find the particular chip.
Something I found a bit disconcerting was the inclusion of the same chip with different catalog numbers in cases where the chip was used on more than one ship owned by the same cruise line. To my thinking, a catalog number, once assigned to a chip, should be discreet and not repeated. Nor should the same chip be assigned a different catalog number merely because it was used in more than one place.
I must also say that one of the decisions the authors made reduces, for me, the value of this book. Chips which appear illustrated elsewhere (for example, on Greg Susong’s online Chipguide) have been omitted from the book. That means that the book is not an exhaustive list of cruise ship chips, and the collector must resort to several different sources to identify and value the chips in his collection.
For what it covers, however, the Smith/Long book is an excellent resource, and the clear, colorful chip illustrations will be appreciated by all “wet chip” collectors. Copies may be ordered from John at firstname.lastname@example.org or from Patty: email@example.com.
The third edition of Ed Hertel’s Illegal Chip Price Guide is now available. It covers chips from illegal clubs in 16 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming.
The book is almost 180 pages long, and includes black and white scans of almost all the chips listed and described.
In addition, Ed’s included an index a very helpful feature that acts as a finder, so that a collector can look up what he sees on a chip and locate it without knowing its origin.
The listings are extensive, and with illegal club chips, even more so than casino chips, the illustrations are tremendously helpful and informative. On occasion, because of the printing method and relative illegibility of some old hotstamped chips (and most illegal club chips are the hotstamped type), the scans show little more than black circles, but far more are legible and helpful.
Hertel includes the customary disclaimer which most writers of price guides say, in one form or another: “This book should be used as a guide, and not the ultimate source to determine value.” He’s right, of course, but even so I found the guide values to be more aspirational than reflective of market experience. In other words, I thought most of them were consistently too high.
Even if you think that Ed’s values are high, however, they are extremely helpful (as is the case with other price guides) to determine relative value. In itself, that is a very significant contribution. A collector, regardless whether he agrees with the price placed on a particular kind of chip, for example, is greatly assisted to find that the yellow chip is generally worth twice what the brown one is, obviously because more browns have been found and are in circulation. Similarly, it’s important to know that the chips from X club are generally worth only a third of the value of chips from the Y club in the same city.
This kind of relative valuation is extremely helpful when searching for chips and when looking through them at a dealer’s table or in a trade session.
The illegal club area is one which is both fascinating and frustrating. Because of their very nature, illegal clubs usually had to remain somewhat clandestine. They did not ordinarily advertise that they were in business and most often used only initials or numbers or pictures to identify the clubs and to distinguish one club’s chips from another.
That being the case, illegal club chips are often very difficult to authenticate. As an example (a fabrication – this does not appear in Ed’s book), if the Knapp Casino used chips with the initials KC on them, it’s not safe to assume that every KC chip in existence was a Knapp Casino chip. Collectors being what we are, however, we tend not to like blank spots, and we are all aware that positively attributed chips are more valuable than UFC’s (Unidentified Flying Chips, for those of you who joined the Club after The Information Booth ceased to be a regular column in this magazine).
As a result, chips are sometimes attributed to illegal clubs for no reason other than that their initials match those of the club’s name. Many such attributions are wrong, but like many rumors and fish stories and urban legends that are repeated often enough, eventually they become accepted. Hertel’s book contains a number of what I consider to be “guesswork attributions,” some of which I believe are wrong.
Because of Ed’s continued work with illegal club chips, however, we can expect to see some of these erroneous attributions corrected in future editions as information becomes available.
There are some other mistakes which will also, I assume, be corrected in future editions. For example, the chip illustrated in the listing for “Alexandria Club” clearly says “Club Alexandria.” The chips shown for the “Paradise Club” in East Peoria, IL are clearly stamped “Para Dice” and “Paradice Club.”
Aside from some errors of that sort, which are easily corrected and are obvious, Ed Hertel’s book is a valuable addition to the library of any collector interested in the rich and extensive history of illegal clubs and their chips.
The book can be obtained from its author by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the collecting of silver premium tokens has grown, so has the need for an authoritative and inclusive catalog and price guide for collectors. Richard Anderson’s book is just that.
Anderson’s book, 275 pages worth, contains sharp, color photographs in almost full size, of silver premium tokens from Nevada casinos, as well as a few from outside Nevada.
One of the most valuable things about a catalog or price guide for the collector is the extent and consistency of catalog numbers. Catalog numbers can be shorthand for a complete description of an item, and they certainly aid in helping to make sure that two collectors are talking about the same item.
Anderson’s book shows a catalog number for each token listed, and the num-bering system is intuitive: ALLV, for example, is used for the tokens of the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.
Nevada Silver Strikes indi-cates when silver premium token machines were pulled from a casino’s inventory, as well as showing the dates casinos closed.
This is a “no-frills” book: not much space is used for narratives, discussions or descriptions. The entire 275 pages consists of pictures, details, catalog numbers, and values of tokens, five to a page. Both the obverse and reverse of each token (with few exceptions) are shown.
The taciturn approach, how-ever, leads to some usability issues. For example, it took me five minutes of careful study to determine the dif-ference between HCLV-02 and HCLV-02a, when it would have been easy to point out that the wording under the logo is different on each version.
I’ll admit that I’m not a silver strike collector (although I do have a few in my collection, of course!). For that reason, I may not be the best judge of the accuracy of the values shown in the Anderson book.
Unlike some price guides, Nevada Silver Strikes shows a specific price for each token listed, rather than a value range. That makes it very easy for a collector to determine relative values. But many of the values seem a bit high to my untrained eye. I’ve seen quite a few silver premium tokens going for less than the value that appears in the Anderson book, and I’ve usually obtained the few I have for less than the prices shown.
That being said, the quality and inclusiveness of the Anderson book is extremely high, and it will certainly find a place on every silver striker’s bookshelf. Copies may be obtained from the author by e-mail at email@example.com.
This is both a new book and a followup to my review of Richard Anderson’s excellent Nevada Silver Strikes, which appeared in the last issue of Casino Chips and Token News.
The main volume of Anderson’s silver strike work, reviewed here last time, covers all $7, $10, $20, $28 and $40 silver strikes approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission from 1992, when the first silver premium token appeared, through 2001 (some of the 2001 approved strikes are dated 2002 but went in play in 2001).
As noted in the original review, Richard has used Marv Weaver’s catalog numbers and extrapolated from those, since Marv’s was the first silver strike guide published, but is no longer being updated.
While I haven’t seen a copy, Anderson tells me that he’s revised some of the text to make his listings easier to follow and more useful to the silver strike collector. He’s also continued his work, and has now published a 2002 supplement to the main volume, this one covering all strikes, including $200 values, that went into play in the year 2002.
In addition, Richard is working on completing another supplement which will cover denominations above $40, back to 1992, and still another supplement, to appear early in 2004, which will cover the 2003 issues. Anderson’s silver strike books can be ordered from him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If chip collectors are obsessed and compulsive, Tom Stroh is at the top of the list! The third edition of his excellent book devoted exclusively to Playboy casino issues is now available, and it surpasses the previous two.
As chip collectors tend more and more to specialize rather than trying to collect every casino chip ever produced, Tom Stroh’s research and eye for detail sets the standard for the highly specialized collection. His book contains information that will be new to any collector interested in Playboy casino issues.
Few collectors realize how many Playboy casinos were actually in operation, and how many more were planned. Tom’s research, however, solves that problem for us.
No Playboy casino is in operation today, the last – the casino on the Greek island of Rhodes – closed in 2000. As Stroh reveals to us, even before the casinos closed, many were no longer owned by Playboy Enterprises, but were operating under license and only used the Playboy name.
In addition to a lengthy and detailed introduction, which Stroh has illustrated in color, and which contains much information collectors have not previously had, there’s a checklist grid of Atlantic City Playboy roulette issues and colors. Each Playboy casino merits its own section, and Tom has included color illustrations of all the chips he’s been able to locate in his collecting and research.
In addition to the descriptions of the casinos themselves and the color chip and token illustrations, Stroh includes both a rarity guide and a price guide for each known chip and token he lists.
Separate sections for the London clubs (do you know how many there were?); the Manchester and Portsmouth clubs; the club in Nassau, Bahamas; of course the Atlantic City Playboy Hotel Casino; Rhodes, Greece, and even two I’d never heard of: a Playboy cruise ship and a club in Des Moines, Iowa! (Ok, that wasn’t fair, was it? The Des Moines club was just that: a Playboy Club, not a casino. Stroh speculates that the chips attributed to Des Moines may also have been used in other clubs, and most likely for private games or fundraising events.
For collectors of Playboy memorabilia or of the casino issues of Playboy, Tom Stroh’s book is indispensable. It can be purchased by writing to Tom at KJ7AV@aol.com.
Steve Goodrich has long been known as “Mr. PNW” (Pacific Northwest), and the two books he’s published so far on the chips of Washington and Montana are the standard price guides and catalogs for those areas. This is the second edition of his Washington State book, the first having been published in 2001.
This is not a place for pretty pictures, but it is the place for the most detailed descriptions of Washington chips available to the collector. Unlike the first edition, Steve has added very helpful catalog numbers to his descriptions, allowing collectors to refer to chips by number rather than lengthy descriptions.
Goodrich’s introduction briefly discusses the history of gaming in Washington. From territorial times through the 1950’s, gambling in the State was most often illegal. There was, however, little if any enforcement, and card clubs which grew from early saloons were widely tolerated.
In the 1960’s, many of the State’s poker rooms were slowly shut down by local pressure, until finally in 1969 the State’s Attorney General announced that Washington would strictly enforce its ban on gaming. Before the process of shutting every card room was complete, the legislature legalized card rooms in 1973, taxed them, and regulated them on a statewide basis.
The next major event for Washington was the opening in 1991 of the Lummi tribal casino, which included Las Vegas style blackjack and roulette (and later, slot machines as well). Reexamination of the State’s policy on gambling followed, and in 1997 the first non-tribal full casino (there still aren’t dice games in Washington) opened. Since then, casino-style clubs have proliferated, but the unintended effect has been to squeeze out many of the smaller poker rooms that had operated before (and even after, clandestinely) the 1969 gaming ban.
The varied and colorful history of gaming in Washington is similar to that in Montana and other western states, whose history is firmly planted in saloon/gambling hall roots.
Although the pages aren’t numbered, the book contains about 120 pages (I cheated: I counted them!) which, aside from the introduction and index, are detailed listings of Washington’s chips, with catalog numbers and valuations.
The book is organized alphabetically, regardless of geographical location, which is contained in each listing with the address of each club. Usually, dates of operation are also provided, although sometimes the dates are approximate. The index is indispensable, because many Washington chips contain only initials or symbols, making identification challenging. The index simplifies that task.
Goodrich’s book may be ordered from the author by e-mail at SteveMrPNW@turbonet.com