50 Centers

The following article was posted by Jim on the old Prodigy Board on January 31st, 1998

Chip Rack #4 lists approximately 311 50 cent Nevada chips. I am aware of another 10 to 20 50 cent Nevada chips that are not listed. I am sure as this hobby grows we as collectors will learn much more about this denomination than has already been revealed. 50 cent chips, in my opinion, are the second rarest denomination to collect next to the elusive 10 cent piece. When casino owners order 50 cent chips common sense should tell us they order far less than any other denomination. Generally they are used on a specific game or promotion as well as in the blackjack pit where a $5.00 bet will get you $7.50 on a blackjack! Over the years 50 cent chips have come in just about every mold, hot stamp and inlay, no cash value, and combination of each.

However, no 50 cent chip has received as much attention from collectors as the beautiful "dovetail". The "dovetail" is a work of art!!! It usually will be found in the Christy & Jones hat and cane mold characterized by those shiny hats and canes. You will know it immediately when you see it. Two different clay colors joined at the center by a dovetail cut. The two most striking colors to the eye are generally the red and yellow combination. Other combinations of green-red, blue-grey, green-purple, etc. have also been used. When you talk about a dovetail it should be defined in terms of the color of the "tail". When the two colors are joined together, the tail section will be in one or the other of the two colors used. So, if a chip has a red half and a yellow half the dovetail section or tail could be red or yellow. If it is red - you have a red dovetail; if it is yellow - you have a yellow dovetail. If you find a "red" dovetail you can rest assured it's sister "yellow" tail also was made. This would apply to any color combinations used by the various manufacturers.

Most of the dovetails were produced during the 60's and early 70's. The majority of them are in the 50 cent denomination. Some $1.00 dovetails were also made such as the $1.00 Mustang Club in Ely, Nevada. The only dovetail I am aware of that was manufactured in a mold other than Christy & Jones hat and cane was the Golden Nugget 50 cent grey-blue dovetail made in the Golden Nugget house mold. This chip sold for $1,000.00 at our last convention. How do I know this??? I saw it with my own eyes!!!! I am also aware of the Riviera 50 cent red-green dovetail that has been offered for sale at $800.00. This one has not as yet sold but it will. Why? How many have you seen in your lifetime? The sale of the 50 cent GN dovetail is but one example of what a "rare" dovetail will bring.

The next chip rack should reflect this value since it was an actual sale and not merely an "offer" to sell. 50 cent dovetails are disappearing fast and soon will join the all but gone 10 cent chips. Some of the more common dovetails such as the Diamond Jim's Nevada Club can still be found but the $40.00 - $50.00 price tags are not there. At the recent Arizona Charlie's show, I saw maybe a half-dozen pieces priced from $75.00 and up. In general, ALL 50 cent pieces, dovetails included, are starting to become tough! If you are thinking about putting together a collection of 50 cent pieces I would suggest you start now! If you wait too long you may need a 2nd on your home just to get started.