Help for identify an old roulette wheelcheck set

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Hello! I have an old roulette wheelcheck set. All I know it is originally from an illegal casino from Helsinki, Finland. Maybe sixties-seventies. Made of clay, weight 8,3 grams and diameter 39 mm.

Does anyone have any idea about manufacturer and value this kind of set? Here is few photos.

IMG_3582.jpg
IMG_3584.jpg
 

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Brookston

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I sold a similar set. LINK TO LISTING

Mine were made by Mason and Co. The style of chip are known as "Paranoids." I don't think they were still being made into the 60s but I could be wrong.

I don't think a lot of people on this site collect them. I ended up selling my set on ebay for right around $1,000
 

mipevi

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Can’t help with the chips unfortunately.

And welcome aboard! :)
 
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CrazyEddie

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As @Brookston said, those sorts of chips are known as "Paranoid" chips. Paranoid might be the brand name of the material that they were made out of, or it might be the brand name of the chips themselves - I've seen claims made that it's the material, but I haven't seen a good source to back up those claims.

More generally, they're compression-molded inlaid chips with die-cut inlays: complex shapes cut out from a single piece of colored material, as opposed to circular inlays with a full-color printed design. Chips of this type were manufactured by the US Playing Card Company, and possibly some other competitors or successors (such as the Burt Company) but I'm not certain about that. USPCC and Burt manufactured chips that were sold by many different distributors and retailers under their own name, including Mason & Co. These kinds of compression-molded inlaid chips are the forerunners of the modern casino clay chips we know and love.

They were made featuring a wide variety of symbols. Some of the most common seem to be Crescent Moon and Star, Fleur de Lis, Iron Cross, Clover/Shamrock, and of course letters for people's initials. Here's a couple of examples from early advertisements:

1599925944625.png


1599926751683.png


I don't know how well we can pin down the dates of manufacture beyond "early to mid 20th century". I suspect they stopped being made about the time that Paulson, Burt, and TR King started making modern, edge-molded, printed inlay chips for legalized casinos in Nevada. I think that was roughly post-WWII era. I'm guessing here. We could know better by reviewing sales and marketing materials from the chip makers over the years; I know some people have done that, but I don't know what conclusions they've drawn about Paranoid chips, if any.

Paranoid chips come up for sale on ebay all the time, but almost always in small lots - ones and twos, dozens, almost always less than a hundred. Quantities that make for playable poker sets - two to four hundred - come up maybe once a month or so. I've never seen a complete roulette set like yours before.

I'd encourage you to take your time selling your set. It will probably take a while to establish a fair market value. Large and complete sets like yours are uncommon, but the number of interested buyers is also probably quite small. You might be able to get a very good price per chip by dribbling them out in ones and twos, but that could take years to sell the whole set (and in my opinion it would be an absolute shame to break up the set like that). Also, I'm not at all convinced that the people advertising single chips for several dollars are actually seeing any sales; I think they just keep the same chips up on ebay forever.

Here are some listings I've seen for playable poker sets of these types of chips. Perhaps you can use these to help establish a value for your set:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Clay-Poker-Chips-with-Wood-Caddy-and-Box-/124312255992

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Ba...w-Solid-Hardwood-Caddy-184-Chips/383257059551

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-IN...chip-set-with-caddy-1890s-1900s-/164063364223

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Vi...ard-Box-Gambling-Wimbledon-Cards/193320890290

https://www.ebay.com/itm/300-Vintage-Clay-Poker-Chips-in-Original-Box-Tray-/313108536679

https://www.etsy.com/listing/660444296/vintage-clay-casino-pokerchips-antique

Searching for "Paranoid poker chips" won't turn up much. You can instead search for "inlaid poker chips" or "vintage poker chips" and you'll usually see plenty of them, mostly in small quanties per lot.

Good luck with your efforts! If you do decide to sell them, please post something on PCF to let us know about it. You might find an eager buyer here.
 

CrazyEddie

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Plus, honestly, you wouldn't like the results. These kinds of vintage chips don't feel or handle at all like modern clays. They're much lighter.
 

CrazyEddie

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I did, though, recently buy a pair of these on ebay:

1600113293781.png


That's a vintage leaded Paulson THC chip, with an inlay using a symbol ("comets") typically found on the older Paranoid-type chips. Unlike the Paranoids, though, the inlay is printed rather than die-cut. It's a weird chip! It's sort of a transition between the old era and new era. Which is why I bought them.
 

moose

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As @Brookston said, those sorts of chips are known as "Paranoid" chips. Paranoid might be the brand name of the material that they were made out of, or it might be the brand name of the chips themselves - I've seen claims made that it's the material, but I haven't seen a good source to back up those claims.

More generally, they're compression-molded inlaid chips with die-cut inlays: complex shapes cut out from a single piece of colored material, as opposed to circular inlays with a full-color printed design. Chips of this type were manufactured by the US Playing Card Company, and possibly some other competitors or successors (such as the Burt Company) but I'm not certain about that. USPCC and Burt manufactured chips that were sold by many different distributors and retailers under their own name, including Mason & Co. These kinds of compression-molded inlaid chips are the forerunners of the modern casino clay chips we know and love.

They were made featuring a wide variety of symbols. Some of the most common seem to be Crescent Moon and Star, Fleur de Lis, Iron Cross, Clover/Shamrock, and of course letters for people's initials. Here's a couple of examples from early advertisements:

View attachment 531651

View attachment 531665

I don't know how well we can pin down the dates of manufacture beyond "early to mid 20th century". I suspect they stopped being made about the time that Paulson, Burt, and TR King started making modern, edge-molded, printed inlay chips for legalized casinos in Nevada. I think that was roughly post-WWII era. I'm guessing here. We could know better by reviewing sales and marketing materials from the chip makers over the years; I know some people have done that, but I don't know what conclusions they've drawn about Paranoid chips, if any.

Paranoid chips come up for sale on ebay all the time, but almost always in small lots - ones and twos, dozens, almost always less than a hundred. Quantities that make for playable poker sets - two to four hundred - come up maybe once a month or so. I've never seen a complete roulette set like yours before.

I'd encourage you to take your time selling your set. It will probably take a while to establish a fair market value. Large and complete sets like yours are uncommon, but the number of interested buyers is also probably quite small. You might be able to get a very good price per chip by dribbling them out in ones and twos, but that could take years to sell the whole set (and in my opinion it would be an absolute shame to break up the set like that). Also, I'm not at all convinced that the people advertising single chips for several dollars are actually seeing any sales; I think they just keep the same chips up on ebay forever.

Here are some listings I've seen for playable poker sets of these types of chips. Perhaps you can use these to help establish a value for your set:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Clay-Poker-Chips-with-Wood-Caddy-and-Box-/124312255992

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Ba...w-Solid-Hardwood-Caddy-184-Chips/383257059551

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-IN...chip-set-with-caddy-1890s-1900s-/164063364223

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Vi...ard-Box-Gambling-Wimbledon-Cards/193320890290

https://www.ebay.com/itm/300-Vintage-Clay-Poker-Chips-in-Original-Box-Tray-/313108536679

https://www.etsy.com/listing/660444296/vintage-clay-casino-pokerchips-antique

Searching for "Paranoid poker chips" won't turn up much. You can instead search for "inlaid poker chips" or "vintage poker chips" and you'll usually see plenty of them, mostly in small quanties per lot.

Good luck with your efforts! If you do decide to sell them, please post something on PCF to let us know about it. You might find an eager buyer here.
Wow thanks for the great info. I have several of the M chips pictured, plus a few of the lucky clovers.
 

allforcharity

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I did, though, recently buy a pair of these on ebay:

View attachment 533047

That's a vintage leaded Paulson THC chip, with an inlay using a symbol ("comets") typically found on the older Paranoid-type chips. Unlike the Paranoids, though, the inlay is printed rather than die-cut. It's a weird chip! It's sort of a transition between the old era and new era. Which is why I bought them.
I'm sure you saw the ships wheel ones, as well.
 
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As @Brookston said, those sorts of chips are known as "Paranoid" chips. Paranoid might be the brand name of the material that they were made out of, or it might be the brand name of the chips themselves - I've seen claims made that it's the material, but I haven't seen a good source to back up those claims.
It's the material. I already proved it by a dictionary entry from around 1910:

Paranoid is definitely the material. According to the Century dictionary 1910 supplement paranoid is the "trade-name for a plastic material which resembles celluloid, used for dominoes, poker chips etc." It is derived from paranite.
 

CrazyEddie

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Ran across a little more information regarding Paranoid chips / material, roulette inlaid chips, and other types of vintage chips. Check this out:

1600203134829.png


Source: http://www.ccgtcc-ccn.com/ClayChips.pdf - That's from the Casino Chip and Gaming Tokens Collectors Club. The relevant observations are:
  • "Paranoid" is definitely a material - "a fibrous composition that is tough and durable"
  • "Composition chips" were a fairly common description of lots of different chips sold at the time, but in this particular instance, note that the inlaid roulette chips are described as Paranoid whereas the plain chips are described as composition chips. So this pretty strongly suggests that the two types of chips are made of two different types of materials, with Paranoid being reserved for the premium chips.
Probably both of them are composites of celluloid or a celluloid-like plastic (i.e. derived from cellulose, nitric acid, and camphor or similar subtances) plus clay, sand, or other minerals, plus a variety of other materials such as whatever makes Paranoid "fibrous". There weren't a lot of choices at that time for plastic-like, moldable, workable materials. But of the two, Paranoid was tougher and more expensive than the other.

The full article notes that at least in the early days TR King was reselling chips manufactured by USPCC using the TR King exclusive Crowns mold. USPCC was also marketing chips using the Paranoid label. I wouldn't be surprised if Paranoid was their own house name for the material, and the material itself may even have been unique and proprietary to USPCC.

This is also interesting:

1600204214730.png


From this we can see that TR King (via USPCC) offered molded, hotstamped chips that were also made from Paranoid. So it's not just plain-mold die-cut inlaid generic symbol chips that used this material, but also customized molded chips.

Even more interesting is that here we see the "speed chips" being offered that use a material with "extra weight". So that's three different types of chips on offer here: "composition", "Paranoid", and "extra weight" (plus the paper chips, but never mind that). I think we would recognize any of them as "clay" chips today - they're compression-molded, have inlays or hotstamps, and are made of a plastic composite with a substantial mineral content (presumably, but not certainly). We just need the inlays to be litho printed, and maybe some further improvements to the composite to make it heavier and tougher, and hey presto we're talking about real casino chips! Not quite there yet, but getting close.
 

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I have expressed an opinion about these chips privately a week or so ago, to a prospective buyer, and suggested these chips might be fakes. I have one of the larger collections of these sorts of chips but certainly not the largest one.

These chips have the appearance of Paranoid chips - that is a brand name. These types of chips were commonly produced ~75 - 100+ years ago. Please note old does not equal rare or valuable. Paranoid chips are not "clay", they are a lot closer to Bakelite than clay.

Problem is, there have been a number of modern era Chinese knock-offs running around. Not only the chips are fake, but even the boxes were faux vintage boxes. Here is a picture of real Paranoids vs the fakes:


Please note the bisque edges on the fakes vs the buttery glow of the vintage chips. The chips in the OP look a lot more like "china clay" than pre WWII plastic.

Square edged Paranoid chips aren't very common. Jbutler put together a fleur de lis set that was in really good condition but not as good as the chips shown in the original post. Sadly, we aren't going to get his input these days. I don't have a single square edge Paranoid chip aside from the boxes of fakes I bought a number of years ago.

Modern Chinese chips sometimes flake. I wonder if that is what happened to the yellow sailboat chips shown in the OP?

There is no mistaking the feel of vintage Paranoid chips vs the fakes. The fakes don't have inlays, there are printed. There will be a texture to the Chinese chips vs a smooth inlay on the real deal. < note a Paulson inlay isn't anything like a Paranoid chip even if I used the same word to describe it > [ and, some paranoid chips are engraved not inlays ]

The provenance of this chip set is vital. If it could be known with certainty these chips were 50 years old, then they obviously aren't modern fakes. Who can say what happened to the Paranoid line of chips? Maybe the business was sold many times and the formula changed? I can't say what might have been sold at the very end of the line. But I can say the chips pictured don't look like the sorts of chips I have collected.


So, are the chips in the original post fakes? I can't really say. I also can't even being to guess what the current owner knows about the chip set. It is entirely possible there is no intent to deceive or defraud even if the chips aren't vintage.

While Paranoid chips aren't all that rare, finding a large number of matching chips is pretty uncommon. The OP looks to be ~2,300 chips. That is remarkable, rare and perhaps of some value. Assuming that the buyer is looking for that large a set of chips. I don't ever recall seeing anything close to that many Paranoid style chips in one place.

Just for the record, I paid between ten cents and a quarter per chip for my paranoid chips. But that was a number of years ago. Prices today are no doubt different.

PS $65 in 1935 is $1,200 in 2020 inflated Dollars. That is a buck-twenty per chip in today's money.
 
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Brookston

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I've owned 3 sets of paranoids. None of them looked as glossy as the "genuine" set above.
 

Brookston

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Looking through the Seymour Antique Gambling Chips book. Masons sold both round edge and "thick square edge" chips. Apparently the round edge were $5 cheaper per thousand.

@DrStrange I'd love to see any more info you have on knock off paranoids. I didn't think they were valuable enough to counterfeit.
 

CrazyEddie

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I agree with the good Doctor that provenance is important. @Pokerator , hopefully you have some reasonable confidence that the chips are in fact rather old, based on something other than the fact that they look old.

Square edged Paranoid chips aren't very common. Jbutler put together a fleur de lis set that was in really good condition but not as good as the chips shown in the original post. Sadly, we aren't going to get his input these days. I don't have a single square edge Paranoid chip aside from the boxes of fakes I bought a number of years ago.
I only have a small number of these sorts of chips, but I'm reasonably confident that mine are not fakes. I acquired them in multiple purchases, from multiple sellers, in small lots of mixed vintage chips. That doesn't seem like a way that a would-be faker would inject counterfeits into the market. I have both round-edge and square-edge in my collection, from different sets and different sellers, sometimes with both round and square in the same mixed lot.

If my square-edge chips are fake, they got mixed in with "assorted sets of random old chips" much further upstream than I'd have expected.

There is no mistaking the feel of vintage Paranoid chips vs the fakes. The fakes don't have inlays, there are printed. There will be a texture to the Chinese chips vs a smooth inlay on the real deal. < note a Paulson inlay isn't anything like a Paranoid chip even if I used the same word to describe it >
That would be one way to tell for sure. Real chips of this type from that era were compression-molded; the die-cut inlay was pressed into the surface of the chip. You can use a sharp knife to pry the inlay loose, which should leave behind a recess in the chip surface the same shape as the inlay. If you try to pry it loose but discover that it's printed onto the surface rather than pressed into the surface, then it's bound to be a fake. I don't think a modern forger would make a compression-molded chip; even the folks trying to emulate modern clay chips (i.e. the China clay producers) use injection molding because compression molding is expensive.

I'll take a closer look at my square-edge chips and see if I can tell whether or not they're actually inlaid.
 

CrazyEddie

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I got these chips from this auction. Here's the seller's picture:

1600221637114.png


The edges are perfectly square. Most of my Paranoids have very round edges, some are mostly straight but slightly rounded, and some are square, like these; as square as mint Paulsons. Some of them even have sharp corners (not all of them, though).

As my vivisection above shows, though, these definitely have die-cut inlays. The inlay was pressed into the chip using compression molding; the design was definitely not printed onto the chip's surface.

Besides having straight, sharp edges, these chips also are substantially thicker than my other Paranoids. Here's twenty of the sharpest stacked up against twenty of the roundest, next to a stack of twenty Starbursts:

IMG_1758.JPG


My best guess is that @DrStrange 's speculation is probably right:

Who can say what happened to the Paranoid line of chips? Maybe the business was sold many times and the formula changed? I can't say what might have been sold at the very end of the line.
Maybe during the transition from the "vintage" era to the "vegas" era, Burt Co and/or one of the other manufacturers (were there any other manufacturers at the time?) started pressing chips using the existing die-cut stock from the old Paranoid inlaid chips but with the new, thicker molds that ended up being the standard for casino chips. Maybe? Pure guesswork on my part.
 
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