Sands Casino chip may bring $30,000 at auction

DALLAS — In a time when Las Vegas casino revenues have dropped steeply during the recession, some of the city’s historic gaming chips have increased, literally, thousands of times in value. A Sands Las Vegas $5 Casino Chip, ninth issue, circa late 1950s, is expected to bring more than $30,000 as part of Heritage Auction Galleries’ May 22 Political & Americana Auction, in-person at Heritage’s Turtle Creek headquarters at 3500 Maple Ave., and online at

The auction will include some 60 lots of scarce and rare casino chips from a variety of legendary Vegas casinos, with values ranging from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.

This ‘hourglass’ chip features one of the best-known vintage Vegas logos; it was used in advertising and promotion throughout the 1950s and was a very appropriate emblem back when Vegas was a Western-themed town. Even more impressive is the fact that this is one of only three good Sands $5 chips known, with one additional chip drilled (a common practice casinos used to make tourist key chains of defunct chips). Of the top four chip sales to break the $100,000 mark, two were Sands chips, with a $100 eighth issue bringing $145,000. This example comes from an old collection and has not previously been offered for public sale.

Among the more intriguing of these visually stunning and valuable chips is a rare Flamingo $5 Las Vegas Casino Chip, first issue, R-6, dating to 1946. This chip is a Bugsy Siegel issue, probably the most popular chip from this famous casino as depicted in the film “Bugsy.” The chip is estimated at more than $4,000.

Two more early Vegas chips provide added heft to the collection, with a Desert Inn $5 Las Vegas Casino Chip, “Wilbur Clark’s,” Seventh Issue, R-9, circa 1950s expected to bring between $4,000 and $7,000, and a Hacienda $5 Las Vegas Casino Chip, First Issue, R-9, Circa 1956 estimated to bring $4,000-$6,000. There are only five to seven of the blue, odd-colored “Wilbur Clark face” chips known to be in collections, and the Hacienda chip, one of just six or seven known, is a rare and desirable early original chip showing the distinctive Gaucho on a Horse image that mirrored the same famous image on the revolving marquee outside the Hacienda Hotel before it was imploded in 1996.

Further highlights include a Flamingo $5 Las Vegas Casino Chip, fifth Issue, R-8, circa 1950s. Opened originally in 1946, the Flamingo is the oldest resort on the strip still open. This casino drilled their chips as souvenirs, though some — like this one — didn’t get drilled all the way. It could sell for $2,000 to 4,000. A Dunes, Roulette, first issue, 1955, R-8, of which approximately 10 of these chips are known. The Dunes likely had three tables, each with six chips; the additional chip is probably a color variant due to a re-order or a change out of a regular house chip. It could sell for $1,200 to $2,500.

Heritage can be found online at ?

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