Double Star chips from U.S. Poker Chips, pre WWII

DrStrange

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Once upon a time, long, long ago there were no legal casinos. Chips as we know and love them didn't exist, but the chip market was vibrant and alive - just different. I keep an eye out for special chips - here is something closing in on a century old. Double Star chips from U.S. Poker Chips.


I started this set when I found an auction for a dirty covered case. The pictures were bad and you needed to dig deep to find the good parts of the auction. Not only were the chips nifty, but the vintage wooden rack is sweet too!


I found the yellow chips last week in a BIN sale. What I didn't know was the chips were mint and still in the original box - itself in excellent condition. I was struck by the "Paranoid Engraved" notation on the box. I guess paranoid was more acceptable as a product description back then.


That brought the total to 387 chips, 167 white, 120 blue and 100 yelow.



So there we are. These chips are reputed to have been made prior to WWII in large quantity. There is a wide array of colors and designs. 75 years ago, these were common but time has changed that. It is diffcult to find more than scattered singles. I feel lucky to have stumbed on these.

I never have put these chips on the felt and am not sure that I will. But you never know, there might come a game where these chips have one more night on the table getting to play.

DrStrange
 

stocky

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I've always wondered what those chips were like. How do they handle? Comparable to CPC no molds?
 

DrStrange

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They are a little slippery. Nothing as bad as dice chips, but they do not stack like bricks. The chips are 15% thinner than a mint Paulson and lighter too.

They sound fragile, perhaps close to glass-like. They are closer to plastic than ceramic but the material is different than any other type of chip I have. I have one rack of red liberty bell chips that are even older, made from yet another material closer to a bisque china than anything else. I suspect we are seeing manufacturing technique evolve trying to find better materials.

You wouldn't play with these as anything more than a novelty.

DrStrange
 

Toby

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Nice find, Doc!

That "Paranoid Engraved" is an oddity. I checked the OED and the only refs relate to paranoia and medical terminology.

Did the company sell blanks? Maybe these engraved series were a security feature, to make it harder for nefarious types to smuggle chips into games..?

I see from old eBay listings that eagle chips from the same company also carry "Paranoid Engraved" on the box. I'm thinking they carried "Plain" and "Paranoid Engraved" as different lines.

Finding decent images is proving tough

images

il_570xN.347106301.jpg


^ yeah, looking at these compared with your pics I reckon "Paranoid Engraved" was an 'enhanced' security line.
 

jbutler

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saw this ad on ebay which the seller claims is from a 1923 catalog.

interesting to check out the prices of the cards relative to the chips back then. the engraved chips of the type in this thread appear to have been sold for $2.60 per 100 which is approximately $36.28 in today's dollars. the highest end chips advertised were $7.50 per 100 which is approximately $104.67 today. and the bicycle cards were $.65 per deck which is $9.07 today.

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DrStrange

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Very interesting. That explains why I just never see the inlayed chips I chase - $7.50/rack way back then vs a third of that for engraved chips.

Thanks! -=- DrStrange
 

jbutler

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just remembered that they used the paranoid inlaid chips for the rounders "municipal workers" game scene, too.

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atomiktoaster

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Huh, I have a smattering of the inlaid chips (including the dotted circle, comet and fleur de lis, as well as a lot of star & crescent and lucky clovers). I use them as spacers for racks that fit 21 paulsons to the barrel. Didn't realize quite how old they may be, or how premium the price was at the time.

Just by context, "paranoid" seems to refer to the colored coating on the chips, which would be engraved or masked off for creating the design (except for the paranoid plain chips). "Celluloid" would have been pretty new at the time, so I could see naming a colored-film process using an "-oid" suffix for marketing.
 

jbutler

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That explains why I just never see the inlayed chips I chase - $7.50/rack way back then vs a third of that for engraved chips.

out of curiosity, which are the inlaid chips you collect? i have been thinking of trying to start collecting one of the designs or letters, but haven't decided which. likely the FDL since it seems the most commonly available.
 

atomiktoaster

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out of curiosity, which are the inlaid chips you collect? i have been thinking of trying to start collecting one of the designs or letters, but haven't decided which. likely the FDL since it seems the most commonly available.

You're not going to dive right into the swastikas? Maybe a mixed set with the double stars?
 

DrStrange

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I have been looking for liberty bells, but not very successfully. Part of that is price. I will not buy a handful of chips at $4/ chip plus $10 shipping even if that is almost always how they are found.

DrStrange
 
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