There are probably hundreds of thousands of poker chips in California’s Gold Coast ballrooms, and some of them are priceless.
Collectors and dealers at the Southern Nevada Casino Collectibles Club showed off their poker chips, tokens, drink stirrers, decks of cards, matchbooks and more on Friday, the first day of its first memorabilia show.
Club officials hope showing the history of old Vegas will encourage more people to join or visit a reunion, which is held monthly at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at the El Cortez Hotel and Casino.
Brad Smith, the club’s publicity manager, said many locals don’t even realize the gaming and history buff social group exists.
“I think the reaction is often, ‘I didn’t know there was one. You mean there’s a club or other people who love casino memorabilia like me? “Said Smith.
Participants said they felt a connection to the objects as part of Las Vegas history. Small details give clues to his period and purpose, such as a medallion from Caesars Palace which was a free gift and a Riviera matchbook, listing his restaurants.
Also on display was a mark recognized by Guinness World Records for the largest private personal collection of casino chips and gambling chips from various casinos – 2,222 items belonging to Las Vegas resident Gregg Fisher.
Fisher said his collection actually numbered more than 8,436. The first item was purchased from the Desert Inn in 1975 and the last was bought in Gold Coast on Friday before the show. But number 2 is his favorite number, so he stopped there for the recording process.
“I remember old Vegas and I remember shaking hands with Dean Martin – like before,” he said. “I love casinos. I love everything about them. I fell in love with them the first time I went there and I feel the same way.
Mark Hall-Patton, a retired administrator of the Clark County Museum, attended the show on Friday. Although he is not a collector of gambling memorabilia, he has seen many collections at the museum showcasing the history of gambling in Nevada.
And there’s a lot to learn from each element. Hall-Patton recommends visitors and history buffs ask dealers what items interest them.
“They like to educate people, they want to bring new people into the field,” he said. “They are just as interested in making you aware of the pleasure it is to sell or trade. They’re just as excited about it as getting something new.
The souvenir show continues on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5. The public is invited to buy, exchange or sell many objects and can have objects appraised on site.