Photo from the Archie Black Collection
By Archie & Brenda Black
When Mark asked me to contribute to his ashtray website project, I said, "sure we would be happy to". I thought that I would be just filling in some holes in Mark's collection with pictures of Brenda's trays that he did not have. Little did I realize that he didn't have any ashtrays from Atlantic City to begin with NOT ONE so began my involvement with this ashtray project. After taking photos of the A.C. trays in Brenda's collection Mark then asked me to write this introduction to this section.
First of all, let it be understood that I am no expert in this field and the relatively few Atlantic City casino ashtrays illustrated in this section surely are not all there are known to exist. The little bit of knowledge I have on the subject really rubbed off on me from my loving wife Brenda. Part of the fun of collecting in general, and ashtrays in particular, is the joy of spending weekends going from yard sales to garage sales to flea markets in the Jersey Shore area from Monmouth and Ocean Counties down to Atlantic and Cape May Counties. We check the classifieds in the local weekend newspapers and if there is a renegade (unadvertised) Yard Sale sign fastened to a utility pole along the way, we must stop to read the date and street address. Brenda always asks the yard sale proprietor; "do you have anything from the casinos?" The response invariably is "like what"? Elaborating further, Brenda will say, "like ashtrays, casino chips, glasses, coffee mugs, shot glasses, dinner plates, advertising items, etc." Several responses we have received especially when ash trays are mentioned is a curt disdainful; "we don't smoke in this house!" Or, "Geez we threw all our ashtrays out when we stopped smoking". Or; "You should have been here earlier we sold a whole milk crate box of them for $5!"
At any rate back to collecting A.C. ashtrays and some brief history. Unlike Nevada, where legalized gambling was approved in 1931, legalized casino gambling was not approved in Atlantic City until the Nation's 1976 Bi-centennial year and the first casino to open was Resorts International two years later in May, 1978 and the very first Atlantic City casino ashtray made it's initial appearance with the clear glass tray and the now-familiar Resorts building logo decal.
Fellow CC>CC club member, Steve Picollo, wrote about that glorious day back in 1978 when New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne cut the ceremonial ribbon at 10:00 a.m. allowing the thousands who gathered outside to enter the casino. "At one point, the line outside the casino stretching far along the Boardwalk was so long that Resorts officials decided to place a sign outside stating "Two Hour Wait From This Point" and gentlemen were required to wear jackets in order to enter. If the would-be casino patron did not have a jacket to wear the casino would loan you one. I'm sure that many a casino patron walked out with a Resorts International souvenir ash tray hidden in an oversized slot machine coin cup.
Lots of things have changed over the next 28 years and with the exception of only one or two properties in town, ashtrays with casino names on them have ceased to exist in Atlantic City's casino hotels. With the anti-smoking movement now underway throughout the country, I'm sure that finding casino ashtrays with casino names on them will surely become extinct in the years to follow.