Chequers Book Reviews
The Professor, Michael Knapp

Collecting Casino Cards, Donald D. Spencer (1997)

132 pages, perfect bound, $25 plus $3 postage Camelot Publishing Company, 39-B Coolidge Ave., Ormond Beach, FL 32174

Another in the series of Don Spencer's picture books, Collecting Casino Cards highlights another of the adjuncts to a casino chip or token collection: playing cards used in the casinos. Spencer's book is especially welcome because it's the first of its kind devoted to the "ammunition" of some of the table games where chips and tokens are used.

I don't know how representative my experience is, but I first started collecting casino playing cards almost by accident. I noticed at a casino gift shop that "used" cards were being sold for a fraction of the price of a new deck of Bee's at my local drug store. I like to play card games at home, and as most of you will know, the limited use that playing cards see in casinos makes them virtually the same as "new" decks from a retail rack. I bought some cards to take home to play with.

At some point, I realized that the logos on the card backs were as varied and as personal to each casino as the logos and designs on the casinos' chips. And after a few trips to Las Vegas, I also realized that playing card types and styles actually change more frequently than chips do. An new part of my casino collectibles area had begun!

Collecting Casino Cards contains very little text, but it does have an alphabetical index. And its most important feature is the illustration of almost 1,000 different casino playing card back designs. Nine cards per page are numbered, so that the collector can refer to (for example) Spencer 84-6 as a catalog number. The number 6 card on page 84 is from Elk Creek Gambling Hall in Blackhawk, CO, and any collector with a copy of Spencer's book will be able to see at a glance exactly what card a fellow collector is referring to.

If casino playing cards form a part of your collection, Spencer's book will be a welcome addition to your collecting library.