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Selected Poker Chips a Good Bet

Times Staff Writer

Question: I collect items from gambling establishments here--such as in Nevada--and abroad, such as in London and Monte Carlo. I particularly have a large collection of poker chips from European clubs going back half a century or more. Do they have much value?--F.W.

Answer: We have seen individual chips--properly authenticated as to age and gambling house--listed for $50 or more.

This is not to say that collectors at the entry level cannot round up a wide assortment of gambling-related items at reasonable prices. In this category would be card decks, dice, books on the subject, casino ashtrays and signs. Little wonder, then, that there is growing collector interest in this colorful field.

As for your poker chip collection, many collectors mount them the same way coin collections are displayed.

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Serious collectors say they keep a communications line open to casino officials so that they have an opportunity to purchase old inventory.

Among magazine collectors, National Geographic has always been a favorite. In the March, 1989, issue, Gilbert M. Grosvenor, president of the National Geographic Society, notes that “people have always found it difficult to part with National Geographics.”

For example, he says Dr. Lew Begley of Mesquite, Tex., has about 400,000 copies of the magazine.

“These individuals are among hundreds of collectors who share a passion for our magazine,” he writes. “Belonging to no association or formal network, they trade news on the whereabouts of rare issues, such as the flag number of October, 1917, with its 1,197 color drawings of the world’s flags, or the mushroom issue of May, 1920, treasured by botanists for its detailed paintings of fungi.”

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The rarest issues are those published before 1910. Of these, Grosvenor says: “The earliest issues, they tell me, have become rather expensive. A well-preserved copy of October, 1888, (Vol. 1, No. 1) might be worth $10,000.”


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