©  "CHarli's" Opinion    

 Please look at all the pictures I have to offer, they will show you all the important things to look for when buying a set.  

So you're thinking  "I can buy one just like this on eBay" 

Maybe!  First many sellers don't know what they are selling, you have to be very diligent in reading their descriptions.  Just because they say there are 152 tiles it is not a guarantee that they are all from the same set or that all the tiles are there.  Sellers are very reluctant to either re-count or try and figure out if any tiles are missing - they don't understand why it's important and they couldn't care less.  The first time you buy a "quality, vintage, antique" and you can smell it all the way to the edge of the property from the front door, you will realize that there was something left out of the description.  I could show you a set that has survived at least two hurricanes and another that has seen at least one flood (maybe it was a dust storm).

It is not easy to match tiles and you can accumulate thousands trying. In the end it isn't a bargain and you have a ton of work now trying to figure out what to do with all the orphans you have.  I say let someone else do it for you.  

Now, let's look at prices........ so you bought a set on ebay, right? You paid $49.95 (plus $29.99 shipping and handling)... but wait, there are 152 tiles but you're missing a red dragon, a birdie bam, a 3-dot and a 6-crak... but you have 12 flowers—sort of ?? — plus 8 miss-matched tiles that are covered with tape and/or nail polish. "It sure was a bargain, all right!" (Did I forget to mention that three of the racks are cracked and two are missing the coin holders?)

Buy quality—it's the only bargain!!!

I look at each set to make sure the tiles are all there and match, and if I add extra tiles to make jokers, I make sure they are clean and have the best quality joker stickers available "CHarli's Stickers". All the racks are in good condition, plus when I have extras (like coins, bettors and dice) available, I include them. Please note that when I do add accessories to a set I strive to maintain the integrity of the set — by making sure that the case, racks and accessories are from the same period, and even from the same manufacturer, if possible. If you're a serious collector, these details are very important to the value of the set

I do not sticker tiles in the main part of the set (in the sets that I sell), only the jokers! However, if you have a wonderful set that you are not going to part with I sure don't have a problem putting a sticker on an extra tile so you can play with the set and preserve it. With orphans depleting it sure is better than trashing an otherwise perfectly playable set.

Why sticker the jokers? In 1964, the National Mah Jong League started playing with jokers, and shortly after that manufacturers started adding them to their sets. So any set manufactured prior to 1964 either didn't have any jokers, or had only 2 (some sets had 2 blank tiles). These 2 extra tiles were included to use as replacements in case of tile damage or loss. After the NMJL began playing with jokers, older sets then had to have tiles added for jokers.

Once you find tiles that match in size and color, it's easier and less expensive to put joker stickers on them than have them re-engraved. Finding extra tiles is doable, but it's a challenge because bakelite and catalin are forms of early plastic that age according to their environment... for example, heat will darken tiles, moisture will affect the inks in the designs, and so on. In almost every set, you can see variations in the color of the tiles.  There is nothing wrong with these tiles in fact I find a nice older set with character much more pleasant to play with than some of the pristine blinding white sets. 

The other challenge in finding extra tiles is the number of different sets manufactured and ultimately destroyed.  Don't get me going on the destruction of tiles by people who think that because some movie star wears a tile bracelet in a movie that the whole world is going to jump in.  Get over it!!  


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