Over the years I've enjoyed many visits to Las Vegas and like most of the 41 million annual visitors I usually came home a loser. But there was always hope that the next time, the cards would fall right and I'd come home a big-money winner. Sound familiar? Last night I fell asleep thinking about a heart-breaking blackjack hand I once played -- split eights, 3 on both cards allowing me to double down. The dealer placed an 8 on one hand and a 9 on the other. And then, just like that, the dealer gives herself a 21 and my money is scooped off the table. Rather than dwell on that memory, I started thinking about my gambling jewelry and decided to write about the collection. So, let's get to it.
Casinos! Las Vegas is home to 17 of the 20 largest hotels in the U.S. and of course each has a casino. I collect vintage silver casino charms. And they are not easy to find. Most listed as vintage silver are in fact reproduction in white metal. Here's what I've collected so far.
A work in progress, vintage sterling silver charms of the original Vegas casinos. From the top moving counterclockwise: Dunes, Sahara, Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Vegas Vic*, Tropicana, Circus Circus, Stardust, Thunderbird, Caesar's Palace
* Vegas Vic is the world's largest mechanical sign
Six-sided cubes or dice have been used in gaming for centuries. Archaeologists have dated some found in Egyptian tombs to the 24th century BCE. That's some serious age. My dice and dice holders are only 50-75 years old.
You probably know that opposite faces of a die add up to seven. But did you know that Western dice are "left-handed" with the numbers on the cube positioned clockwise. Chinese dice are "right-handed" with the numbers positioned counterclockwise.
Playing cards are a popular motif in jewelry. The four suits make for good design.
Slot Machine or One Armed Bandit Charm
Gold Roulette Wheel Charm with Jeweled Reverse
Gold Safe Charm with Emergency Money Inside
I think that Vegas is one of the wildest places I've ever been to. You can look to your left and there's a drag queen getting married by Elvis, to the right there is some old bird sticking quarters into a slot machine for hours.
Marsha Thomason, actress
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