Reference Books

By Jim Perlowski (August 28, 2003)

I have always intended to write an article about Casino Chip reference books. Oh, heck any reference book for that matter.

Reference books are a wonderful addition to our hobby. They provide us with a tool that we often consider indispensable in pursuit of our knowledge. We use them for all aspects including answering questions that arise in our discussions with other collectors.

I have always held reference books in high esteem. I give them the honor and respect they deserve. After all the author(s) have put a tremendous amount of work and research into their product. Generally, without much public appreciation from us who use the product, we are quite vocal when we find mistakes or errors. Mistakes and errors will happen they will always happen it is the nature of the beast.

I guess you have figured out by now that I am not going to "bash" our reference books or their authors. I am going to bash those who give these fine books an artificial status of power and final authority. What exactly do I mean?

Our collecting fraternity as well as society in general create and transfer power to inanimate objects such as signs, books, magazines and what have you. A dangerous practice that can result in a dead end for knowledge and the will to learn and research for ourselves.

Let me give you an example of what I am referring too. One will often over hear discussions between collectors involving chips as to origin, location, color, etc. Sometimes these discussions get hot and heavy. After minutes, that often feel like hours, someone will ALWAYS point to one of our fine reference books and say........."It's in here". Usually, everyone shuts up and moves on to a new area of discussion. Why?????

I find this ludicrous. How and why do we allow ourselves to transfer that much power and authority to a book? Any book! I guess it's because you can not argue with a book. We give this book authority and power over us and we act accordingly. After all "it's" in the book so how can it be wrong?" People authority is a perception. If YOU give something authority as in our case chip reference books than they have authority. If you choose not to give them authority than they have none. I say give it respect but not authority. If you don't you will turn off your inquisitive nature of researching and become a victim of "it's in the book".

I have learned over the years the best way to approach reference books is with respect. Utilize them as the authors intended. The books are a starting point for YOU to carry forth the research that will make you a knowledgeable person and the book a better reference tool. Don't give a book, sign, magazine or whatever power over you. If you do, your learning will stop with that book!