Collecting $2.50 Chips

By Jim Perlowski  (March 27th, 2003)

Over the years, I have written different articles about collecting various Nevada fractional chips. Nevada fractional chips are those that have a face value under $1.00. Nevada fractional chips are becoming more and more difficult to collect for the average collector as well as for the "newbie" The primary reasons are easy to follow and understand.
First of all, very few if any Nevada casinos still produce fractional chips. Thus, making the time frame between adding a new chip to ones collection seems endless. Kinda like waiting for your wife or girlfriend in a woman's department store. Much blame can be placed upon the cost of production of these little gems. No casino likes to produce a chip that will cost them more than what the face value of the chip is worth. Secondly, casinos can not keep their fractional chips in inventory. Collectors "pounce" upon a new issue fractional chip faster than the chip dealers can carry them out of the casino by the "rack". The depletion is unstoppable and leaves a terrible impression upon the casino of chip collectors in general. Finally, inflation has made fractional chips obsolete. Let's be honest, when is the last time you saw a 10-cent roulette game or a 25-cent crap game? These types of games are around but locating them is almost impossible.

The resulting situation has put undue pressure upon the available dealer stock of fractional Nevada chips. Collectors now collect them by denomination. We have 10 cent collectors, 25 cent collectors and of course the 50 cent collector. Chip dealers just can't fill the demand for these little pieces of clay therefore the retail prices keep going up and up and up. For a new Nevada collector to start collecting fractional chips he or she will need to obtain a second and possibly third mortgage on the old homestead just to get started.

Never fear Nevada collectors! You are possibly overlooking one of the premium collectable chips ever made for a Nevada casino. The $2.50 cent pieces of clay known affectionately as the "Snapper". Old time Nevada collectors have been putting aside duplicate snappers for years. Ask one of them why and they will tell you "it's a good chip". Guess what? They are right! There is probably less $2.50-cent chips made than any other denomination currently in production for a casino. The chip "wreaks" with potential. Don't miss the boat on this one! If you were left at the starting gate for obtaining 10 centers; and you failed to jump on the bandwagon for 50 centers - don't miss out on $2.50 centers. Currently, "The Chip Rack", one of my favorite publications when I'm not lambasting it for lack of correcting known errors, lists 155 $2.50 cent chips in its 8th edition. Now people if you eliminate the 28 $2.50 cent Horseshoe poker chips and the 12 Four Queens "snappers" you have 115 different $2.50 cent chips to collect. Compare that total to 173 10 centers, 642 25 centers and 403 50 centers. You don't have to be a chip guru to figure out in total what is the rarest denomination to collect.

There isn't a chip show I attend browsing through various dealer books that I don't spot 10 or 20 different $2.50's the dealers have for sale. Compare that to how many 10 centers or 50 centers you find for sale. You get the message!

I have been asked on numerous occasions what $2.50 chip do I believe to be the rarest. I usually "skate" the question not wanting someone else to buy it in case I come across it. Guess what? I have only seen one in five years of looking. The one I have in my collection. It is N2815. The $2.50 cent Del Webb Primadonna Hat and Cane inlay with no inserts from Reno, Nevada. The Chip Rack has it listed as a "Q". Pardon me while I chuckle! I'll pay $400.00 if you can deliver me one in an acceptable condition. If you read my friend Doug Saito's "Chip Chat" you would know most of these Del Webb Primadonna chips have been destroyed. Now If I'm willing to pay $400.00 - what do you really think it's worth? Anyone got two dimes?