Newsletter November 2014

It's More Fun When You Are Winning!

Volume 14 : Issue 11


In This Edition:

Collector's Dice

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Hi there, could you possibly tell me if a set of 5 dice stamped Sands Las Vegas on the 2 side 
are genuine? They show plenty of signs of wear and are marked with ring eye dots. Are they
likely to be genuine casino used or just souvenir / tourist issued? Any help would be appreciated.
Many thanks, Phil L. / Liverpool, England
Hi Phil,
Are the dice canceled in any way? Are the dice foil wrapped? Are the dice numbered the same? 
Phil, it sounds like you came by the dice not as a direct source from the Sands. Hard to say from 
here. It is possible that you have casino dice if they are numbered and canceled. 
Bird’s eye dice were more prevalent back in those days, and occasionally still seen in play today. 
The Sands dice I picked up years ago after the Sands was long gone have Sands Las Vegas on 
the one spot and the spot is solid white. No number and no cancel mark. Upon closer look, I just 
discovered one die is breaking down, concave sides, which is typical decay of old dice. So, doubt
my dice were ever handled by Frank Sinatra. 
You may do some research with or without results at the UNLV web site, look up Sands Casino. 
May find examples of old dice once used there.

Hi again, thanks for your email the dice are not foiled wrapped, no serial numbers or cancellation 
marks, just Sands Las Vegas in ordinary Helvetica text on all five dice on side 2, in gold ink with 
plenty of wear and chips to all five of the dice. Not very transparent, more of a dense red, does this 
info help? Thanks Phil
Hi Phil, No not really much help to tell you with certainty that you have dice played at the Sands. 
However, it sounds like you have what is known as sanded dice. My set of Sands dice are sanded. 
Not that they have been sanded or altered, just as you describe, not transparent. The dice I have 
seen labeled Sands were sanded. Without knowing history of craps in Las Vegas, I don’t know 
when dice started being numbered or if they were always number going back to 1934. The fact 
of noticeable wear can mean anything, but nothing to do with lots of casino play. Just the opposite. 
Casinos want sharp edges that is why they change them frequently. How often? Have to look that up. 
Back in the Sand’s day, I would guess changing out the dice, checking the dice, would be common 
practice. Again, have to research that. I have seen plenty of casino dice without numbers. The 
explanation had to do with imperfections so the manufacture did not bother to number the dice as 
they would not be used in a game, but were still sold to the casino for souvenir purposes. 
In my search to add Sands dice to my collection of old casino dice, dice from the Sand’s were 
most scarce. Gambler’s general store in Las Vegas had a large bin of mixed dice from Nevada 
casinos. I’d spend an hour turning through the collection looking for matching numbers and dice from 
the old days. Mostly dice from downtown and Tahoe. No dice from the Dunes but I did find two 
mismatched dice from Sands. Upon closer examination, they are not the same size. One is ¾ the 
other 5/8 and made of different material as well as the font and point size are slightly different. I guess
twenty years or so ago, I was excited to find Sands dice and did not bother to critique. I have a book 
of old Las Vegas and the author favored the Sands Hotel over all the others. He writes about coffee 
mugs and ashtrays from the Sands, I image dice and chips are just as sought after at the time of closing.

Thanks Ed for your time to email me back and give me all that information, I will keep them as a souvenir to go with a Sands key and fob that I possess. I am in Liverpool, England, so Sands items are quite rare to find in this part of the world. Many thanks Phil


Mate, seeing how those Sands’ items are especially rare this end, good plan on your part.


Here is my final thought. I doubt casinos went out of their way to make souvenir dice. You either have dice used in a game or you have dice that were intended to be used in a game, but may have been imperfects. Either way, the dice that you have likely were once inside the doors of the Sands Hotel and Casino. The excessive wear can have explanations from actual casino play to actual play from the person that removed them from the Sands or both can be true.


Dice can come in sticks of five or six. So, it is probable the five dice you have were “brothers”, went into the game as five and came out as five. They would have been re-foiled and sent to the gift shop for sale as souvenirs… back in those days, maybe 50p.


I have a few sticks of dice used in play that are not canceled. I account for this from being a familiar customer over time and a courtesy extended to me by the pit boss. The point of canceling the dice is for protection. It protects the casino from cheaters loading their on die. In my collection, most of the dice are canceled with a pressed dimple on the four spot side. It ruins the die but it is the only way. Now for a laugh… all the dice I collected from Atlantic City, New Jersey are drilled with a hole all the way through the die. Not worth having really. The dice only serve as a memento that I had played there. I have also been in casinos that do not make their dice available canceled or not.


I dug around and found a book my wife gave to me years ago. “Dice” by Ricky Jay, 2003, The Quantuck Lane Press. More about the history of how dice evolved and the material used.


Ed Jones

Editor / mailto:ed@dicesetter.com


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