Vegas Baby! Silver strikes in the land of Bugsy and Elvis!

welcome to Las Vegas

On my First trip to Las Vegas, Nevada (aka: the world’s playground, or Sin City), I stumbled upon a a Silver Strike slot machine:

Silver Strike Slot machines dispense a $10 casino token, which most winners save as a genuine collectible souvenir of their visit to Las Vegas (or any one of the casino’s that have a Silver Strike machine.  There is even a “Silver Strikers Club” with members devoted to the collecting of the strikes.  My first Silver strike was won at the Venetian (Machine since removed):
Every time I returned to Las Vegas, I went on a “Strike Run” to try and win more collectible Silver Strike coins. On this last trip I won 11 coins and a Flattened penny from the container park.
All from the El Cortez and 4 Queens casinos!
Until the late 2000’s,Silver Strikes had a solid silver (.999 pure) center, and most recent ones have silver clad centers inside a brass ring.  The rising price of silver plus the cost of minting made the coins worth more than $10, and a losing proposition for the casino.  If the casino discontinued the coins, or was imploded (a popular way to raze a casino in Las Vegas), the silver Strikes become bona fide collectibles.  As of this writing, only the 4 Queens and the El Cortez casinos have silver strike slot machines.  (Tip – The machines get crowded on weekends and nights, try to get there in the off hours, when the casino’s are not crowded, like weekdays or mornings).
While you may not consider Casino tokens “pocket change”, they are prized for their collectible value, and make a nice addition to your coin collection.  They drop out of the machine encased in a plastic holder (although not the best holder for a coin), and are ready for a cigar box or wall display.  Some of mine are in a display case in my man cave:
Silver Strikes at Grandpa’s fabulous man cave hotel and casino (sic).

Even if you went to Vegas specifically to try your hand at winning some silver strikes, Many gift shops and pawn shops have silver strikes for sale.  If you are unlucky at the machines, you can reduce your risk of not winning by buying vintage strikes.  I must confess that at least half of mine were bought on EBay, or from friends who won them in Vegas – and knew I would buy them from them!

When you find yourself in Vegas, Make sure you do things that are fun and don’t stay cooped up in a casino the entire time.  The Las Vegas landscape is changing, and becoming more focused on experiences, wine, restaurants, shows, and parks.

Here is a short list of cool things in Las Vegas:

The First Friday Arts Festival,  Held on the First Friday of the month in the Arts District.
The Container Park, on Freemont St.
Park on Freemont Gastropub (try to hangout in the back, it’s really nice)
The Mandalay Bay Casino has a glass enclosed 4 story wine cellar
The Excalibur Casino has free Craps lessons at noon (many casinos offer lessons, I had fun brushing up on Craps)!
NYNY casino has, among other things, a statue of Liberty made of Jellybeans.
The Flamingo Casino has a flamingo Habitat. it’s very cool.
Both the Bellagio and the Wynn Casino’s have amazing floral decorations.
The Venetian has a replica of the grand canal in Venice
There is a street between the Linq and Harrah’s that leads to the “High Roller” ferris wheel, and it is lined with bars, shops, and restaurants!
Not to mention the Stratosphere Casino Hotel, with their amazing tower over 1,000 feet above the desert floor.
Did you know there is a Las Vegas Speedway? And you can ride a genuine NASCAR Race car there? (At racetrack speeds, with a real NASCAR driver).
Not to mention the Hoover Dam, Red Rocks, and Helicoptering to the Grand Canyon.
…And there is more!  -When you go, find something unique and share – I will review it on my next trip!
Here are some pictures from my romp through Las Vegas:

(Note: clicking on the image will open it in a new tab)

Atomic Liquors on Freemont st., Longest continuously operating bar in Vegas!

Flamingos at the Habitat at (where else?) the Flamingo Hotel, Bugsy Siegel’s place.

Pool scene at the Flamingo, taken from the walkway to the Monorail.
The lake in front of the Bellagio hotel, where music and water shows happen all evening!
This heart is covered with lover’s locks, like the bridge in France.
An ominous sign at the Venetian…
Neon Cowboy on the strip near Freemont st.
 Carousel of flowers at the Wynn
Montgolfier Balloon in Flowers, also at the Wynn
If you liked this post, please repost and share!

The Last Word:

 

 

Coming in 2019:

If I created my own currency backed up by USD. If I use a substance like a plastic, or metal coin bought online, for transfers, is it illegal?

In the united States. Article 1 Section 10 of the Constitution renders congress as the only power with ability to MINT coinage that’s used in US transaction. Currency (paper or electronic) you can legally do, although most fail several areas.  In addition to the obvious problems of acceptance (banks and merchants) you also need a way to police counterfeiting. At the time of the foundation of the US secret service(1865) it is estimated that 1 in 3 bills in the US was fake. That’s a huge invisible tax on the general economy because if a dollar should be worth a dollar its really only then worth 67 cents because so many fakes drags down the value of the currency. Creation of souvenir coins not intended to act as currency, however, is not illegal.” – Quote from Laws Related to the Issuance and Form of Currencies.

 Gold Elvis Commemoratives – EBay (Note Dollar values)

Bitcoin (cryptocurrency) can be made (mined) at home, is widely popular, electronically based, but must be subject to taxes, and not a physical coin.  You can buy a token or souvenir coin with the Bitcoin logo, but it is a novelty, not representative or linked in any way to the crypto currency.  One unusual exception is the Casascius physical bitcoin, which had a chip implanted in it.

FYI, you can buy or mint actual Gold or silver coins, and they would be worth the value of the base metal, which can be in USD. Note the Elvis coins above.

You can use your coins as a method of exchange, based on their bullion or collectible value.  For example, a 1oz Gold coin is pegged to the value of an ounce of gold. Please make sure you work with a lawyer on your team to make sure you are not breaking the law, by declaring your coin legal tender.  If you do decide to make your own currency, as opposed to a novelty coin or souvenir/commemorative coin made out of a precious metal.  (Note: I am not an attorney, this is just what I got from the web – my opinion does not constitute legal advice).

Good luck in your quest!

Disclaimer: I own Gold and silver coins. If you liked this, please repost and like!

The Last Word:

Copper is expensive, should I be saving my pennies?

Hoarding pennies

The value of the penny is pinned as 1/100th of a US Dollar. The value of a dollar changes all the time, as does the value of the copper and zinc in a penny.

There have been proposals in Congress to eliminate the penny:

“Two bills introduced in the US Congress would have ceased production of pennies, but neither bill was approved. Such a bill would leave the nickel, at five cents, as the lowest-value coin. On February 15, 2013, President Barack Obama stated his willingness to eliminate the penny.” – Penny debate in the United States – Wikipedia

As to why there is zinc in the Penny:

“The cent’s composition was changed in 1982 because the value of the copper in the coin started to rise above one cent. Some 1982 pennies used the 97.5% zinc composition, while others used the 95% copper composition.” – Penny (United States coin) – Wikipedia

What is the cent (Penny) worth?

“That made the value of copper in each penny worth about 1.4 cents. The meltdown value of a penny was 40% more than the face value. Copper moved to a higher price at the end of 2016 of around $2.70 per pound, making the value of copper in older pennies even higher.Aug 18, 2017″ – As Price of Metal Has Risen, Copper Penny Is Worth More Than One Cent – from the Balance.

Do people hoard pennies?

“Over the last few years, the market for copper has skyrocketed. Just last January, the market peaked at $3.649 per pound. At 146 pennies to a pound, a single penny’s copper has a value of about 2.5 cents.
That’s not a bad deal! Get a penny for 1 cent and sell the copper for 2.5 cents? How often do you find an intentionally undervalued investment that is easily purchased?
If you think that making money on your pennies is too good to be true, there is a catch. It’s illegal to melt down currency and sell as scrap. Also, there is no crossing the border with your penny bags either. It’s illegal to leave the country with more than $5 in pennies. Most penny hoarders are stockpiling their currency in the hopes that the law will change and allow them to finally cash in on their stockpiles.” – Why Some Americans Are Hoarding Their Pennies…. (Literally).     

Even better than the value of the copper, is the collectible value of older pennies.  Specific years, even in circulated condition, have value in excess of the .01 cent face value, and in excess of the copper value.   I use eBay as the yardstick for the current value of any specific year penny.

Now that you have my 2 cents, enjoy your pennies (especially the ones minted before 1982). You can purchase bulk pennies on Amazon and Ebay.

Here is a way to make your pennies more valuable – by adorning yourself with them! (links in pictures open in a new tab)

Lucky Penny PendantDouble Keychain Set 2017 US One Cent Penny Keychains with Heart Around Year; 1 Year Anniversary Gift, Couples KeychainNovelty Silver Toned Washington D.C. Lucky Penny Spinning Centre Key Chain, Washington D.C. Souvenirs

Disclaimer: I own pennies (not a lot), some silver and gold coins, and don’t hoard pennies because they weigh so darn much!

Thank you Wikipedia and The Penny Hoarder for your research, quoted above.

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to repost and share! Thanks!

Last Word:
 

 

What are these silver coins? I tested them with the ice and sound tests, and they appear to be silver.

Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector and hobbyist

Coin in question:


Based on a quick look, that appears to be a token for a Japanese “Pachislo” skill-stop slot machine. They are usually a stainless steel or aluminum alloy. Pachislo tokens are lightweight and non-magnetic, to prevent any influence on the outcome of the slot machine wager.  The only thing “silver” about them is the color.

Here are some from a google search:

This is a Pachislo skill stop slot machine:
The tokens are “approximately” the size of a US quarter. These tokens are not rare, but specific ones may be hard to locate. They also work in some gaming machines at Chuck E Cheese[1] , and some arcades[2].
I have owned several Pachislo machines, usually reconditioned ones from Japanese cruise ships.  They are usually noisy and have bright lights, which makes them lots of fun, especially when they pay out winnings!  Most machines are easy to maintain, and there are companies devoted to parts and service.  Many owners convert their machines to us US Quarters, although I liked the tokens, and frequently needed to buy more (which is how I learned so much about them).  Reconditioned or used Pachislo machines can be bought for around $500 (USD) – LCD display machines are more expensive, and older machines can sometimes be found on Craigslist or Letgo.  If you buy one on Ebay or Amazon, verify the shipping cost, because they are heavy.  If you have a playroom or home bar, a pachislo machine (or two) can be a fun conversation piece.
 
Thanks for reading my Blog! Feel free to reblog or share!
Footnotes
Edited and expanded from my Quora answer.
 

Last Word:

 

Welcome to Pocket Change Riches

Valet tray (coins not included) from Amazon

By Alan Chenkin, who jingles his coins…

With Credit cards and smart phone payments we hardly need to carry cash anymore.  While it makes me a bit of a throwback, I will miss the bulge and jingle of change in my pocket.  For example, slot machines Have been using paper money, credit cards, for wagering and paper slips for winnings when you cash out.  They used to have big trays to catch the players winnings, and the noise of all the coins dropping was like a siren call to all the nearby gamblers.  Casinos used to distribute sealed towelettes to slot machine players because of the dirt that would accumulate on their hands from handling coins while playing.  And kept coin cups nearby to hold the winnings of the lucky players!

 

In my man cave, I have always been in the habit of throwing my loose change in a cup on my dresser every evening.  every so often I will sort it out, and hunt for coins of value;  old silver coins – the odd foreign penny or farthing; sometimes a Euro – so I can celebrate my “find” and put them aside.  For the older silver and well preserved coins I have “Coin Flips”, for keeping the coins clean after I wipe them with a cotton sock, er, “coin cleaning rag”.

Coin Flip Assortment - Cardboard 2x2 Holders - 25 each of 6 Sizes
2×2 coin flips from Amazon
Collecting coins is almost a passive hobby in this way – seeking finds in pocket change (ergo “Pocket Change Riches”) and finding fun collectible coins in stores, on EBay, or yard sales.  We all have need for money, and what painless way to accumulate coins and potential wealth, just by emptying your pockets!
 
I hope you will join me in this journey of coin collecting and enjoyment as I answer questions from my readers and post them.  feel free to comment or share, and I will respond to any requests or queries to the best of my ability.
 
 Welcome and thanks for reading my blog! – Feel free to repost and share!

How much are US wheat pennies (Lincoln cents) worth?

Wheat pennies are fun to find in your pocket change
Image result for value of wheat pennies
These websites will guide you to the specific values of different years and grades of wheat pennies:


Lincoln Pennies (1909-1958) – JM Bullion
Wheat Pennies (1909 to 1956) Values – Cointrackers
Find Out How Much Is Your Lincoln Wheat Penny Worth? – The Spruce

If you sort your coins, you can collect pennies in many forms:

Lincoln Wheatback Cents Album, 1909-1958 P, D & S (Cornerstone Coin Albums)1c Lincoln Wheat Cent Penny Album/Book/Kit & 200 Random Coins Included #53303^
Lincoln Wheat Penny Starter Album Collection Kit; Great for Beginner CollectorsBCW Peel-N-Seal Self-Adhesive 2x2 Coin Flips for Pennies 100ct
Wheat pennies, because of their minted volumes, are easy to collect and fun.  Kids like them, because they can understand the value of a penny.  
 
You can even buy Wheat Pennies on-line if you don’t have any, or need specific years:
 
coin collecting does not have to be fancy.  A cardboard box or a cigar box, a magnifying glass, and an old sock (to wipe any fingerprint oil or dirt off the coins) is almost all you need.  You can almost feel history when you hold a 100 year old coin in your hands!
Coin Collecting - Newbie Guide To Coin Collecting: The ABC's Of Collecting - Including Gold, Silver and Rare Coins: What Every Investor Must Know
Thank you for reading my blog – I hope you enjoy it and find it informative! – Feel free to share!

 
The Last Word:

How can a currency become worthless?

Most currencies are Fiat Money, not backed by a commodity (like Gold and Silver) but backed by the government that printed it.
Fiat money is a currency without intrinsic value established as money, often by government regulation. It has an assigned value only because the government uses its power to enforce the value of a fiat currency or because the exchanging parties agree to its value.
It was introduced as an alternative to commodity money and representative money. Commodity money is created from a good, often a precious metal such as gold or silver, which has uses other than as a medium of exchange (such a good is called a commodity). Representative money is similar to fiat money, but it represents a claim on a commodity (which can be redeemed to a greater or lesser extent). From Wikipedia

If the government behind the Fiat currency becomes insolvent, or acquires extensive debt, their currency may be devalued (relative to other Fiat currencies), their ability to borrow money will be affected (lenders will demand higher interest rates because of the risk), and prices will climb as the currency loses value. At present, Venezuela, Argentina, Zimbabwe, and other countries are suffering due to the inflation they are experiencing. Venezuela is even considering making their own cryptocurrency, the “Petro”, as a solution to their problems.

Some related websites:
What would you do if your money became worthless? – Prosperous Way Down website
A worthless currency – The Economist (Article on Zimbabwe)
11 Times Currency Was Rendered Almost Worthless (and Why) – Ranker
What Happens When Your Money Is Suddenly Worthless? – Cracked (article on India)

The Greek Crisis Explained – (Infographic) – from Gainesville coins

Many people invest in Gold and Silver as a “Hedge” against devaluation. This can be done with collectable coins and jewelry, or bullion.  Gold and Silver bullion – on eBay.

Here’s hoping your value is strong!
The Last Word:
Thank you for reading this heavily referenced piece!  Please enjoy your money and share this with friends!

How is the value of bullion coins determined?

Bullion coins have, at their base, the smelt value of their base metal (e.g. Gold, silver, etc.).  Even though we consider Bullion to be Silver or Gold, Copper, Platinum, and Palladium are all used in coins.  You also have to consider the purity of the product – 24 karat gold? .999 Silver?  Alloys are often hard to spot, unless you use a test kit . (link to Amazon)


Smelt values for US coins can be found here: U.S. Silver Coin Melt Value Calculator – Coinflation

Bullion prices are based on weight (usually ounces or Troy ounces) and  subject to are supply and demand, based on market forces.

Bullion Values – Bullion Values website

 

Many coins are considered “Culls” or rejects because of circulation marks and wear. These can usually be bought at near melt value because they have diminished value as a collectible coin.

Coin Speak: 10 Coin Terms You Need To Know (And They’ll Help You Sound Like A Real Numismatist!) | The U.S. Coin Guide

How To Invest In Gold And Silver: Buy Gold And Silver Bullion The Easy And Safe Way

The Gold Book: What’s It Worth? A Guide to Commonly Traded Gold Bullion Coins, Bars and Karat Gold Jewelry

One of my favorite places to buy Bullion coins is eBay, especially if you like Bullion coins with Elvis or Koalas.

US Money, Even Bills, were backed by gold (on the gold Standard), until 1933:

Executive order, and 1905 $20 Gold certificate

Good luck with your bullion – know your values!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share!

The Las Word:

 

What is the proper way to clean coins?

By Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector.
The general rule of thumb is to never clean coins. Ever.
This is particularly important with valuable coins, because a speculator might clean the coin to improve it’s worth – but most cleaning actually is visible to coin graders, and such attempts actually reduce the coins value. But there are times to clean a coin, and consider the best way to handle them – look at this from the internet:
How to Clean Coins – Wikihow
If you are considering selling the coins, definitely do not clean them; store them separately and bring them to a dealer for appraisal. If your coins have sentimental value, souvenirs of a trip, or a gift from a friend, preserve them in a holder or frame, and clean them if necessary – the sentiment is worth far more than the coin.
There is nothing wrong with wiping your coins with an athletic sock or polishing cloth, as these do minimal invasive damage to the coin. You may also want to polish a coin that is deteriorating due to corrosion or oxidation – consider it’s value before attempting this, cleaning can actually diminish the collectible value of the coin if done harshly or with strong chemicals.
After you polish your coins, reduce any further damage by keeping them in plastic holders or traditional coin flips.
A fun thing to do with some coins is to use them as jewelry. In that case, having a clean finish will be necessary, and the finished piece may be worth more than the coin itself.
Here is how you can put an amazing shine on a coin:

He uses Mothers Metal Polish and a Dremel tool with a buffing wheel. (Links to Amazon)

If you are unsure as to clean your coins or not, bring them to a coin dealer and ask! Most are helpful professionals, and have a wealth of knowledge. You can also get an idea from these sites on coin grading, especially when dealing with a coin you suspect has value:
How To Grade Coins Using the Coin Grading Scale – Coin collecting guide for beginners
The Westin St. Francis Hotel washes it’s coins, and has an employee dedicated to the task! “Rob Holsen is the coin washer at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, and perhaps the only coin washer on Earth. He said the hotel on Union Square started washing its coins in 1934 when the general manager noticed a woman’s white gloves getting dirty.” From NBC news
Remember to have fun with your collection! Clean or not, sort your pocket change, and see where your coins have traveled from in the world!
Of course, if you don’t want to mess with those nasty, dirty, coins, just send them to me and I will “take care of them for you”.  Honest.
Thanks for reading my Blog! – Feel free to share!

 

Edited from my Answer on Quora.

Where can I get my coin collection converted into cash?

By Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector and hobbyist
Converting coin collections into cash is a sometimes necessary event that requires some caution, to get more than the face value of the coins.
Collectible coins have a smelt value, a face value, and a collectible value.
You have several options. I would recommend calling in a coin dealer to estimate the value of your coins. some may be valuable, some common, and some just worth their “Smelt”[1] value.
Where to Sell Your Coins – Cointrackers

Several caveats;  Don’t clean the coins, Keep them together in some boxes and handle them with white gloves or a sweat sock to keep finger oils off the coins.  Take pictures of them to send to a remote appraiser and to establish that you had them (proof of ownership).  If you are going to keep them, organize them into coin flips and tubes, and make notations on the contents, condition, and dates.  Consider getting a safe, to keep them together and secure.  (coins can weigh a lot, too – keep that in mind).

Selling to a reputable dealer, collector, (or pawn shop) is the fasted route to liquidating your collection for cash. Keep in mind that these buyers are looking for values below market, to reduce their risk and make a profit on the eventual sale; you may be offered between 10 and 70% of the retail value of your coins.

 

If you have the time and ambition, you can use the internet for valuing your coins, and sell them on your own. Craigslist, EBay, and some of the popular coin sites (forums and for sale sections) are your best options.

 

There are even books on this topic:
Many public libraries have books on coins and periodicals on prices, that you can access for free.
I buy and sell coins on EBay and from individuals, at estate and yard sales. It’s a fun hobby for me, especially when both parties feel they got a good price!
You will need to understand coin grading, as there are many valuations for coins based on condition (grade).  Circulated coins (pocket change) are not worth as much as graded and certified “Mint-State” coins.
If you have the time, and enjoy coins, sort through them and get the valuation of each coin – so you can have a good idea of what the collection is worth.
I use eBay for that a lot, especially with older coins.
Best of luck – Please post a response and let me know how you fared!
Thank you for reading my blog! Feel free to share!
Footnotes
Edited and expanded from my original answer on Quora.
The Last Word:
link to coin-swallowing piggy bank! – from Amazon