For the last 75 years, clay chips have not actually been constructed out of pure clay. Actual clay chips were used in the United States during the late 1800's; however, these easily broken chips were quickly replaced by clay filled composites that provided much greater durability and security. In the early part of the 1900's chips were commonly molded from Plaskon, an urea formaldehyde molding compound. In the 1930's die cut metal foil was applied to the chips to give unique identity and added security. Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo Casino with these chips. In the 40's printed centers appeared and edge spots were added for even greater security. The 1950's saw most casinos using the newest chips with house designs, logos or both molded into the rim and top of chip. Today the style and materials utilized in the manufacture of gaming chips are unique to the particular casino. Some have metal "coin" centers with structural plastic outer rims. Cloth fiber reinforced polymer molded chips and a just introduced all metal alloy poker chip that is anodized in different brilliant colors.
These heavy (8g or 11.5g), very durable chips are readily available and can usually be customized through a hot stamping or decaling process for added security. These chips are injection molded from a particulate filled thermoset (does not soften when heated) plastic around an internal metal slug for that exact "Casino" look and feel. Almost all metal core chips are manufactured in either Taiwan or China. Chips from China are, on the whole, of a lesser quality, probably owing to the lack of quality control including less precision in composite mixing, and imperfect dyes used in manufacturing. Chips manufactured in Taiwan are usually of a higher overall quality that becomes quite evident in the general appearance and feel. There does not appear to be any price differential between the two. However, good quality chips are available from China and "made in Taiwan" is not always a guarantee of acceptable quality so it is important to examine a sample before making a large purchase.
Poker Chips Info provides detailed information about the history and types of poker chips, as well as poker chips cases and sets, and advice on where to buy poker chips. Poker Chips Info is the sister site of Pool Tables Web.
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