Old Vintage Dice Identification & Valuation (Guide 2023)

Do you know that dice are an antique item that was discovered around 5000 BC? Its material, shape, and design from different eras hold a unique story, and if you are lucky, you might already be the owner of a vintage die!

All you need is a good understanding and a keen eye to identify vintage dice, and this is exactly what this article is about. So, go ahead, give it a good read, and become the master of vintage dice identification and valuation!

Key Takeaways

  • The earliest dice are made from bones, clay, ivory, glass, bronze, alabaster, marble, bakelite, etc. So, look out for those, as they can cost up to $1,000. 
  • The highest-selling vintage die was sold at an auction for approximately $18,000. It was a Roman Glass d20 Dice from the 2nd century. 
  • Twenty-sided polyhedron die, known as an icosahedron, traces its history to Romans around the 2nd century BC and is thus a rare vintage item. 
  • An antique bronze dice from the ancient Roman empire is a rare commodity costing close to $100.

What Makes Vintage Dice Different?

Antique Standard Wooden Dice

Vintage dice are different from modern ones based on their size, design, material, and more. Here’s how you can identify them.

  • Often made from bones, ivory, celluloid, or bakelite. 
  • Show signs of wear, discoloration, patina, oxidation, sprue marks, etc. 
  • Engraved with brands, logos, initials of firm or place. 
  • Unusual designs and patterns – astrological signs, animals, birds, figures, and god faces.
  • Belong to Egyptian, Roman, Indus Valley, Art Deco, medieval century eras, etc. 

The History of Vintage Dice

The earliest dice are believed to have been found in 5000 BC with two sides, one flat and one round, and made from a stick, seed, or shell. Soon, knucklebones and ivory were used as dice for fortune-telling, and the evolution continued.

The oldest known dice were found in a game set found in Burnt City, Iran, around 2800-2500 BCE, and a game of senet in Egypt around 3000-2500 BCE. Romans and Greeks thoroughly enjoyed playing with dice made from bone and ivory. Even 20-sided dice were used in Rome and Egypt around the 2nd century.

The unearthed terracotta dice found from graves at Mohenjodaro and other Indus Valley sites are dated between 2500 and 1900 BCE. These were the oldest known cubic dice made from clay or bone. Later models were uniquely made from marble, amber, and metals.

Post-16th century, 10-sided and 8-sided dice were also introduced and given mathematical meaning. Soon, the invention of non-cubical, spherical, non-numeric dice made from bakelite, celluloid, glass, and soft plastics was on the way!

5 Main Types of Vintage Dice and Their Base Prices

These are the main types of vintage dice that every collector should know about.

1. Polyhedral Dice

A Polyhedron Die

These types of dice have multiple – 4, 6, 8,10, or 20 sides, along with some multi-color swirls or marbling effects. They may be marked by numbers, symbols, or spots, often with uninked numbers, mold lines, or game-specific engravings. They typically cost between $30 and $200.

2. Standard Dice

The regular six-sided cube, with mythological, cultural or natural designs, is available at almost every thrift or online store. They can be found in several materials, including wood, stone, glass, and metal but usually plastic. They usually cost from $10 to $1,000!

3. Crooked / Loaded Dice

These special dice are altered in a way that adds extra weight on some sides, making the dice roll in a biased way. Usually, they have rough surfaces and random pips, with both even and odd numbers. Overall, they cost $10 – 200.

4. Promotional Dice

These are commercial dice that are used for the promotion of a product, company, or event. Usually, one side of the die is replaced by the logo or slogan of the brand. These unique dice are priced between $5 and $150 or more.

5. Teetotum Dice

Teetotum, or a spinning dice, is a unique dice with four, six, or eight sides and a pointy base and top to spin it. Unlike regular dice, it has inscribed numbers, glyphs, and federal marks that make it stand out. You might also see unique instruction tables and booklets, raising their cost up to $250.

6 Identification and Valuation Factors of Vintage Dice

Finally, let’s learn about the main identification factors, like age, material, design, and shape, to help you easily spot & value the vintage dice!

1. Vintage Dice’s Significant Eras

Aged Antique Dice

Even though there is no record of dice’s origin, they can be significantly divided into their earliest, pre and post-15th era. Features like material, style, shape, etc., separate the timeline of these eras. Check them out below.

Significant Era  Main Features Estimated Cost (Set)
5000 – 1800 BCKnucklebones, bones, ivory, bronze, terracotta, material used, non-numeric, simple markings on random objects like sticks, seeds, shells, etc. N/A
Pre-15th century D20 and d14-sided dice, made from bones, ivory, wood, asymmetrical shapes, etc., cubical, prime arrangements, etc. N/A
Post-15th century Colorful, variety of styles like gem or swirl, etc., cubic and non-cubic shapes, made from bakelite, plastic, celluloid, etc., Dungeons and Dragons era, standardized and symmetrical shapes, sevens arrangement, etc. $10 – $1,000+

2. Vintage Dice Material

Vintage Wooden Dice

The easiest way to spot a vintage dice is via its material. For instance, bone, wood, and metals were used before the onset of the 15th century, after which soft plastics, celluloid, and Bakelite were used for dice making.

Check out the table to see how the dice material affects its resale cost!

Material Time Period Estimated Cost (Set)
Bone  5000 BC – 1800 BC$30 – $700 
Wood – Pine, Beech & OakPre-15th century $15 – $200
Metal – Brass, Copper & IronPre-5th century $20 – $1,000
Bakelite Early 19th century $10 – $2,000 
Celluloid 19th century $20 – $70
Glass1800s – 1900s$20 – $200

Pick antique dice with an etched, gilded, lacquered, or hand-painted finish for the best value.

3. Vintage Dice Mold & Brands

Once you have an eye and keen understanding of vintage dice molds, you will find it rather simple to tell which one comes from a different yet significant era. This table would definitely help!

Brand Name Mold Characters Estimated Price 
Chessex Underlined 6 and/or 9, 7 with a hook on the horizontal line, 1 has an upstroke, 3 with rounded top half, etc. $10-$100
Kraken  Leaner fonts, a stylized logo, 4’s diagonal line is a little convex, etc. $15 – $200
Q Workshop  Distinctive design inspired by various themes like runic and steampunk, intricate patterns, etc. $15 – $50 
Koplow 1 has an upstroke with a horizontal line at the bottom, 3 has a triangular top half, d4 is bottom read usually, large dot behind 6 and 9, rounder zero, etc. $10 – $50
Crystal Caste 6 and/or 9 with a dot, no hook on 7, it doesn’t have an upstroke, 0 is more rounded than usual, etc. $10 – $50
Game Science Pointy with crisp edges, sprue marks, uninked and untumbled, etc. $10 – $40

Try to get vintage dice with a foreign, 4-sided Egyptian or 6-sided Roman, Indian, Chinese, or European make for better returns.

4. Vintage Dice Shape

Apart from material & brands, you can also identify a vintage die simply by noticing its shape. If it’s cubical, its origin can be traced back to 2000 BC, making it the most vintage on the list.

And here’s how the vintage dice shapes can help you value them:

Dice’s ShapeIdentifying Features Estimated Price 
Cubical(2000 BC) Hexahedron, six sides, the upright number is the value of the roll, etc. $10 – $200
Spherical (19th century)Spherical shape, an added internal activity shaped in a dual polyhedron, etc.$10 – $40 
Other Non-Cubical(1960s)Even equilateral triangles (d4, d8, d12, d20), three visible sides at one time, etc. $20 –  $200

5. Antique Dice Edges

Vintage Dice with Round Edges

Most of the old dice had hand-carved or chamfered edges. But, by the 1700s, makers added different grooved, indented, or rounded edges for better grip and rolling. So let’s check how to identify and value old dice with such varying edges:

Vintage Dice EdgesHow to identify them? Average Value
Rounded edgesLook for smooth & curved edges, just like a rounded rectangle $30 – 200
Chamfered edgesBeveled or slightly slanted edges with varying, angular cuts$50 – 300
Irregular or hand-carved edgesRough or uneven edges with minute hand-carving or religious and political symbols$40 – 2000, as per the condition
Faceted edgesMulti-faceted edges, just like a hexagon or polyhedron$50 – 300
Indented & Grooved edgesThese have visible grooves & indentations along the top surface for better grip & rolling$30 – 600

6. Vintage Dice’s Aging Signs and Irregularities

It is no surprise that vintage dice show signs of aging, such as yellowing or discoloration. The surface can also develop a patina over time, along with irregular or rusty edges costing between $10 to $1,000. However, if the antique dice are damaged or have cracks, their value may decrease.

Where to find the best vintage dice for purchase?

You can find the most vintage dice at online stores like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay, but you can also visit your nearest thrift store.

Should I purchase a discolored vintage die?

If it is not too damaged, a discolored vintage die can be handsomely precious and, thus, cost between $50 to $1,000.

Are old dice worth money? 

If you find dice invented during ancient Roman and Greek times, it will cost a significant sum of money.

Now that you know how to get your hands on rare vintage dice, go ahead and find a stunning piece for yourself at the nearest antique store. If you have fun reading about dice identification, you’d surely love to learn to identify and appraise antique marbles, too!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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