In the coin collecting world uncirculated mint condition coins are the most sought after and generally most valuable. Paper money is the same. Sports cards, comic books and magazines…same. However, if you are collecting furniture the worst thing you can do is clean off the “patina”. The richness and character that has been acquired through use and life should only be removed under the most dire of circumstances. So where does the dice world fall into this spectrum?
I have studied more than my fair share of dice collections. Maybe that’s a little weird but it keeps me out of jail. I usually run through my hotlist of collections every 2 or three months looking for new acquisitions which spark that jealous desire to own those little baubles. Like Gollum and his ring I am. My Precious! And in those collections one of the things I find myself gravitating towards are those items which show the wear of use. Not broken…not rotten…worn. Worn dice show the death of a thousand dragons or the conquest of many a kingdom. Worn dice show that these were not cloistered objects destined to never be touched by human hands. But they were in fact cursed, and blessed and caressed in hope and thrown in anger. Worn dice show the love of age or the hatred of betrayal. They are like Woody in toy story. You can almost feel the fear in them of being surpassed by the new love. It is my opinion that most collectors value mint condition dice over used dice. I am not that idealistic. Yes I have mint condition dice but also I have the well used dice which show every bit of life they have earned.
In my collection these dice have found a home. I photograph them with the same respect as the latest and greatest mint, in the package designs. They are given a place of honor in my heart if not in placement within the collection. These dice have soul; they have a story to tell us and the represent the people who held them in their hands and waited with anticipation as they rolled to a stop. And in that moment there was humanity. And while the games change and maybe even the stakes change, the human emotion of hope carries through the ages. As I roll them over in my hand this is what connects me to these dice and to the people who used them. Would you want a prestine set of dice from the roman age? Or would you rather like to know a roman soldier travelling through Slovakia rolled them. I know where I stand on that.
I will forever argue that worn dice are just as important if not more important than boxed sets. Boxed sets tell us something but used sets tell us more.