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Some casino items worth the gamble to collect


Larry Cox

Q: I started collecting casino ashtrays after finding several dozen in a shop in Tombstone. Since then, I found several others on eBay and have expanded my collection to include poker chips, menus, premiums and other related materials. I have two questions: Do you consider gambling memorabilia a feasible hobby and which reference books do you recommend? – Stacy, Tucson

A: Collecting casino memorabilia can be both fun and inexpensive. A quick check of eBay reveals dozens of lots and items such as a Showboat Casino ashtray, $5; poker chips from Reno’s Hilton, $9; an assortment of Las Vegas paper items from the early 1950s including programs, postcards and brochures, $11; and open bidding for a lot of memorabilia from defunct and closed Nevada casinos including dice from Caesars’ Tahoe, matches from Harvey’s Wagon, the Senator club and the Silver Spur, and a drink token from the Ormsby House. Ashtrays pop up in Tucson shops occasionally and most are priced in the $5 to $10 range depending on condition and rarity. Collecting casino items is a feasible hobby if – and this is important – you enjoy it. For the whales in this field of collecting, there are slot machines. A Draw Poker video machine manufactured by International Game Technology was spotted this past week at Annabell’s Attic priced at $1,395.

There are several reference books I recommend, all of which are available at www.gamblersbook.com. They are:

• “Gambling Collectibles: A Sure Winner” ($29.95) by Leonard Schneir, published in 1993, which documenting the values of books, posters, and equipment

• “Casinos and Their Ashtrays: A Collector’s Guide” ($19.95) by Art Anderson, published in 1994

• “Antique Gambling Chips” ($24.95) by Dale Seymour, published in 1998.

• “Slot Machines: A Pictorial History of the First 100 Years” ($35) by Marshall Fey, published in 1994.

Q: I found an old magazine at an estate sale that could be valuable. It is an issue of Chambers’s Journal from 1895. I paid $20 for it. What do you think? – Susie, Tucson

A: First, let’s review a little background about this publication. Chambers’s Journal was first published as Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal in 1832 and originally was a tabloid weekly. By the 1890s, it had become Chambers’s Journal. It ceased publication in December 1956. Most 19th century issues sell in the $10-$15 range, depending on condition and content.

Q: I have an old Columbia hand-cranked phonograph. Earlier this year, the spring broke and I would like to find someone who can repair it for me. – Ted, Tucson

A: Dave Vaughn of Dave’s Antiques can repair your phonograph. His contact information is 449 W. 29th St. (790-2618).


This wonderful old parlor organ was manufactured by J.G. Earhuff and Company in Chicago in about 1910. It is $279 and available at Annabell’s Attic, 6178 E. Speedway Blvd.

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