The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV

The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV
The El Rey Resort & Casino, Circa 1957-1962

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A New Addition to the Family

Just picked this little gem up yesterday!

Pre-1957 El Rey Club Matchbook

Poker matches w/Royal Flush
I already had one El Rey matchbook with Willie's image on it.  That one is among my favorite things in the collection since it is A) SUPER RARE, B) Complete with all "poker" matches, C) in AMAZING condition.

However it wasn't until just before winning this auction that I realized the "new" matchbook was actually an earlier version with different artwork on the spine and the back cover (No idea if these were poker matches as well).

It is my belief that this matchbook was issued before 1957.  The evidence I cite is within the artwork itself.

1957 El Rey Resort Hotel Matchbook
Notice how the back artwork only refers to the casino as "The El Rey Club" and not "The El Rey Resort Hotel."  Prior to 1957, there was no established hotel and Willie was working frantically to make renovations to the El Rey.  Those improvements and additions were not ready until mid-to-late 1957 and the grand opening was held on October 17, 1957.

1957 El Rey Resort Hotel Matchbook & Spine
With the new and improved El Rey came a little more self-promotion on Willie's part.  The spine of the old matchbook simply had the phone number of the club, whereas the newer matchbook proudly announced Willie as the owner.

It is truly amazing to find anything that survived the years.  It is also a greater pleasure to discover variations on the precious few artifacts remaining.  I'm hopeful that more great new artifacts will pop up once the book has been released.  STAY TUNED!

The research & collecting of photos and memorabilia from the El Rey Club never stops! Please contact me at 702-465-5604 or email me at if you have stories or memorabilia to share.